Witch's Rock Surf Camp

Enfrente de Economy Rental Car, Playa Tamarindo, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

3 Reviews

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Satisfaction Excellent
Very Good


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Good For Business
  • Families82
  • Couples88
  • Solo93
  • Business100


    I took 2 weeks of surf lessons here in August 2012. After the 2 weeks spending several hours a day and living 1 week at WRSC I believe to have a very good understanding of how the WRSC works. I feel very strongly that you should NOT stay at the WRSC. Many of the other guests I spent time with agreed with my assessment and mentioned that they would never stay at the WRSC again. And if you wonder why there are that many positive reviews… I personally don’t understand it and don’t find they reflect the actual situation at the WRCS. Below some more details.

    >> Surf Camp/ Classes
    They have several instructors of which only a few are really worth taking classes with. Andres is by far the best and if you choose to take classes here make sure that you have Andres. He has a genuine interest in helping you to improve. Another good instructor is Pako. Jorge Luis is also ok. The student-instructor groups are made usually a day in advance and the list is at the reception. Make sure you check the list before leaving WRSC for the day (assuming that you follow my suggestion of not staying at WRCS). And if you have anything you want to be changed talk to Sophia. She is really nice, but might at times try to convince you to take another instructor as after a few days everyone has their favorite . There is another girl, Kailani, that is supposed to be the lead instructor, but she rarely shows up. I frankly have not seen her do much, besides scolding the instructors for minor or meaningless things. And she does it in a way that it even makes guests feel uncomfortable.

    If you are a beginner the boards will do, but be advised that they are VERY OLD. Some of the boards are almost 10 years old, broke and where fixed up again. If you are intermediate and want to make use of their day trips do NOT use their boards. There is a surf shop/ rental right across the street (Kelly’s Surf Shop) and for $15 a day you can use any of their boards they have for rental. They are newer and some have only been used a few times. The day trips are a great way to explore other breaks. But know that they don’t carry any first aid or safety kit in their buses, so just try not to get hurt .

    When considering to book classes in advanced just book the lesson itself, don’t bother with the surf camp deal. They don’t advertise the rates for classes only on their webpage but if you ask they will send you the details. For one the boards that you can use whenever you want as part of the deal are old and the few that are acceptable will not be available as everyone wants them. Some people even took them into their room, making it impossible to get the good boards. The seminars can be useful but if you make sure you have one of the good instructors you will learn what you need to know during your daily classes. And you can always buy the full package for a day or two at the beginning to get access to the seminars. Also the Robert August seminars might or might not happen. I was here two weeks and did not have any seminar with Robert August. In the 2nd week they put it on the board and he actually came but the WRSC canceled on him. Makes you wonder what the management actually does all day… The only two seminars that are useful are for beginners about safety and how waves work. And if you really want you can always book the surf camp but stay somewhere else.

    >> WRSC Hotel
    The rooms are old and run down. The beds are very old and not something you want to sleep on unless you have too. The place is also not particularly clean. The wifi was also not working. The excuse given was that a lightning had destroyed the router, which seemed to be true but it happened before I arrived and in 2 weeks they were not capable of getting it to work. When I complained the first answer was that it was a “hit or miss” and that sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. During my entire stay at WRSC it worked only during the last 2 days. Most rooms are also very noisy as the WRSC is right at the main street and the doors of the rooms, thin wooden doors, face the street. And if it is not the street than the noise from the restaurant/music will wake you up.

    >> WRSC Restaurant
    The restaurant is expensive for what they serve and I did not find the food to be particularly fresh or good. Breakfast was included and so it was the only thing I ate, after realizing that there are other great and cheaper places to eat in Tamarindo. Breakfast was ok, but if I would have to pay I would never eat here. Also, stay away from scrambled eggs. The service is also not something you will write home about. I always went up to the bar to order as at times they would not come by to ask me if I wanted to drink something despite me siting at a table for 15min obviously waiting. The other day I saw someone prepare a banana split and he chose to use his finger to scrub the ice cream from the spoon – yikes!

    >>WRSC Owners & Management
    WRSC is owned by Americans who moved here years ago. And I am sure back in the day the WRSC was a good place to stay and work at. But I guess they are now just interested in taking the profits without investing into the infrastructure. If they ever decide to bring the WRSC back to what it used to be they would most likely have to close for a month and essentially re-build the place as it is really old and run down. There is also no area to hang out besides the restaurant tables, no beach chairs, no beach towels or any amenities that would allow you to hang out in between surf sessions. There is also not a real camp feeling to it because of that. The staff is actually quite nice and if someone of the management would take the time and teach them in a constructive way how to improve the service I am sure they would do great. But the team of course feels the atmosphere of not investing into the customer experience and I am sure they get to feel it quite a bit.

    >>Suggestions on where to stay in Tamarindo
    There are many smaller and one bigger hotel in Tamarindo. Look on AirBNB or Tripadvisor for better places. Do your research. It will pay off. Tamarindo is a great place to start learning how to surf and there is a lot do and see around the area. My favorites where La Baula for pizza (only open for dinner), Bonapetito for Sandwiches-Salads & Pizza, Bamboo Sushi Club, Seasons and Copacabana.

  • Great place to stay if you are new to Tamarindo


    I went to Tamarindo for a week of surfing and stayed at witch's rock and their partner hotels. I liked Witch's Rock the best and Cocodrillo was a second. Since I was surfing with Witch's Rock it was more convenient to stay there. the rooms were very nice and air conditioning worked great. enjoyed the pool and hanging out at the restaurant. I especially appreciated breakfast was included and the hours for that are very flexible. THE MOST IMPORTANT thing about this place is that they go to great lengths to protect their guests as there are MANY scammers operating in this area. As a first timer to Tamarindo, I really appreciated that. Their surf instructors were good but I also really liked Raphael from Kellys and would recommend lessons with him also. He is my favorite but I also like the WRSC instructors and found it more comfortable by far to stay at WRSC to surf.
    Be aware, you need to bring your own hair dryer and stuff if that is important to you. and soaps.
    Its a camp, not a luxury stay per se, although I though it was quite comfortable for the area, especially given the view and the direct beach access...more would be kinda silly and out of keeping with the rest of the town.

    Unique Quality: They protect their guests from low quality operators.
    Because of this its also a great place to go if you are travelling alone and because lesson groups usually run saturday to saturday, you make friends with your surfing group to hang out with and everyone gets to know each other which is fun for singles.

    Directions: Right on the main drag of Tamarindo and directly on the beach in front of the best place to surf.

  • virgil_likes_rum's Profile Photo

    Best surf instruction in town


    Awesome accomadations and excellent surf instruction. The place has about 10 rooms, all a/c (a must) and is right on the beach. They have their own bar/restuarant and breakfast is included with your stay. Super friendly staff and instructors, they have plenty of boards to use and are really cool about helping you find something specific or just letting you try whatever board you want. I met some really cool people staying there and the instructors let you know what bar is happening that night and may even hang with you. A little spendy for Tamarindo, but well worth it if you want COMFORT. A lot of Americans (duh) but depending on your personality you will probably meet up with cool kids from around the world while in the lineup.

    Directions: Ask around, you cant miss it.

More about Witch's Rock Surf Camp

Love this place!!

by TripAdvisor Member kristena983

This was our second stay at Witch´s Rock Surf Camp and it was just as awesome as the first. The rooms are really nice and have a lot of character. The camp is kept very clean and the staff is super helpful. The restaurant bar is the perfect happy hour spot to meet up with friends and fellow guests. I recommend the "nachos as big as your ass" they´re perfect after a day of surfing. The camp is centrally located near a handful of great surfing beaches. The instructors and surf guides know their stuff and are happy to share their passion for surfing with visitors. If you are looking for a surf adventure WRSC is the way to go. They´ll take care of all the planning to ensure you have safe and memorable experience in Costa Rica.

Don't go!

by TripAdvisor Member ColoradoSnowrider

Went to Witch's Rock Surf Camp for a week and will never go back. I've traveled a bit, been to many beaches, and grew up sailing on the ocean. For the past 20 years I've lived high up in the Colorado mountains working as an outfitter and snowboard instructor. I prefer laid back, bare bones vacation experiences, which is how Witch's Rock bills itself. Well, here's what we experienced. The door to our room didn't close or lock, there were holes in the walls, the air conditioner didn't work, and our room was filled with ants. For a majority of our 2-hour surf lessons we saw our instructors for only the first half hour - then they would stay on the beach chatting up girls or be out surfing themselves. One of the other guests got sick from the sushi at the restaurant. Tamarindo is noisy, crowded, smelly, and generally not a very nice place to visit. Raw sewage is running down the streets and pouring into the ocean. The town is also growing so fast with so much new money coming in that the tensions between locals and the tourism industry are reaching boiling point. For the past few months, Witches Rock has had a mostly absentee owner and the locals who are running the place are not to be trusted. Tamarindo is full of tourists, crime, and scams and unfortunately Witch's Rock has not escaped the ugliness. Based on other reviews I've read, Witch's Rock may have been a great place in the past, but I wouldn't recommend going there now.

You'd be a fool not to go

by TripAdvisor Member ambertines

I just got back from the best vacation of my life.

My dad, younger sister and I spent a week at Witch's Rock Surf Camp and leaving felt like leaving family.

I knew the accommodations were not going to be like the Four Seasons, but I was impressed with our large, clean room that always stayed air conditioned. Pay extra for the ocean-front view!

The 3 of us shared one instructor each day and despite being in completely different physical shape, our instructor's always challenged us, helped us learn and progress and Still managed to make us fell safe.

On day one I had an accident in the water and had to get 7 stitches on my face (me being clumsy). I was so impressed how the staff of the hotel jumped to my aid and within minutes of the accident I was in a clean doctor's office. Getting hurt did not damper the vacation one bit.

Eat at Joe's, the hotel restaurant, had great food that I never tired of - even when given the choice to dine out we usually stuck to Joe's. The mini fish tacos and creative sushi rolls were among out favorites.

I don't think I can write enough good things about this place.

Great Experience for all the Family

by TripAdvisor Member LebboHaro

I took a weekend away from San Jose with my son and father, I already surf but my son and father wanted to learn. We spent 4 days at Witch's Rock Surf Camp and it was great fun for all of us. The managed to get my father standing up on waves and my son really took to it, he wants to move from the city and live at the beach. They sent me on surf tours everyday and I caught some of the best waves of my life, all of the surf guides and instructors went out of their way to make me feel like one of the guys. The hotel room was large and the staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome. The food in the restaurant was really good and the plates were really big, you should definatley try their Nachos as they are huge!

Had a great time and met great people

by TripAdvisor Member asheppard11

I loved witch's rock surf camp. I thought it was really organized, and accomdating. The food was great, especially the included breakfast every morning including cafe con leche and orange juice. The instructors were super nice, and I met a ton of people during my stay and we had a blast. The rooms are simple and nice. Not luxury, but clean and with character. The resort has a great location, just slightly outside of town, and with a close walk to an amazing french bakery in the Hotel Cocodrillo. The staff was super nice and helpful, and we could grab a board anytime we wanted to go surfing. I had surfed a bit before, and I got worlds better this time, learning really how to surf. I had so much fun, and I easily found myself getting up at 5am to go surf. I got the bug. I would totally recommend this place, and it was completely booked when I was there. It has a great break for beginners and intermediates, and if you know how to surf, the camp also runs surf tours to local beaches with good breaks. The person who wrote the bad review has no idea what they are talking about. Tamarindo is great, the locals are great, and there is still a ton of soul in the place, even though it is growing quickly.

Best vacation ever - I'll return again this year

by TripAdvisor Member ambolina

My favorite thing about Witch's Rock was the staff - they were awesome! They were all super friendly and I loved how helpful the front desk was and they surprised me by how quickly they learned my name even though they had full house while I was there.

I signed up for the Intermediate surf camp and it was very organized; every night I could check the board to see who my instructor would be, what time we would be surfing, when high tide was, what other guests would be in my lesson with me (never more than 3 or us in a group which is great), when and what the next day's surf seminar would be (wave dynamics, paddling, board shapes, etc) and what other optional activities were going on the next day (spanish lessons, salsa, volleyball). They have about 6 surf instructors and you'll have lessons with several of them over the week and if find you are partial to any one instructor's style, you're welcome to request to have them for your lessons. At the end of the week is Graduation Day and they take everyone on a field trip to surf a new spot and it's a blast. I was really impressed that even though these guys do this EVERY week, no one ever seemed like they were going through the motions and they were very genuine about the graduation experience and just in general your experience throughout the week.

I went on this vacation purely to surf and relax. I didn't do any of the organized tours that were available, I sat on the back patio or in the (amazing) pool every day enjoying the view of the Tamarindo beach, reading, or chatting with other guests or the owner's dad.

The pictures on the web site accurately portray the rooms - they're not luxury rooms, but they're nice, affordable, clean, have wi-fi (you can get it in the bar/patio as well) and are comfortable and well air conditioned. My only advice is if you are a light sleeper, request a Courtyard room or if you're in a Tiki room, bring ear plugs because those face the street and the street traffic in the morning is a bit loud (there's not a lot of traffic, but the large service vehicles and the rough road make for a loud combination). But it didn't really bother me after the first night. The penthouses (rooms 9 and 10) have great rooftop balcony's and whoever has the penthouse usually has a rooftop party at some time during the week which is fun. And let's face it, if you're looking at Witch's Rock, it's because you want to surf; in all likelihood you'll mostly only be in your room to sleep and shower.

I admit the guy who wrote the negative review in March had me worried a little; it sounded like Joe, the owner wasn't around much and the place was a wild mess. However when I got there, my room and the grounds were in excellent condition and my instructors were attentive (and like I said, if you find you don't connect with an instructor, you're welcome to request not to be paired with them again). I also read Joe's blog on the web site before I left and whatever may have been keeping him away at the beginning of the year, he's been around Witch's Rock pretty regularly since then with just a week here or there to return to CA to see his family. And it sounds like he's really active in the Tamarindo community. His father is also at the camp a lot and they're both actively thinking of ways to offer even more services to their guests.

This was the best vacation I've ever had. I surfed every day for 9 days, met some really great people - both other guests and employees- and plan on going back again at the end of the year. Hopefully by then I'll be able to do the surf tours (the advanced surfers who were signed up for the daily tours had nothing but complements for the locations they were taken to and the guides that took them out).

Amazing vacay

by TripAdvisor Member allie812

I found Witch's Rock's website looking for a place to learn how to surf and get away for a bit. I was nervous as I had never been to Costa Rica and I was a solo female traveler. Turns out I had no reason to be nervous. The other guests and the staff at WRSC were all so friendly and helpful- I had friends by the time the bus got to the camp from the airport! We had some rain due to tropical depression Alma north of us but it made for good, uncrowded surfing. The rooms are nice- spartan, but even in the rain I barely spent any time in mine. The food at Eat @Joe's was good, especially the sushi.
The surfing instruction is definately second to none- at the most I had three students to one instructor, and sometimes it was one on one. They had me standing on my first day, and by the end of the week I was catching green waves on my own on an 8'6" board.
If you are looking for a friendly, clean place to learn how to surf and meet some amazing people, I highly recommend WRSC. Definately also check out the canopy tour and as much of Costa Rica as you can. Pura Vida!

WRSC.... the very best

by TripAdvisor Member LosAngelesJakeB

WRSC, is a pure surfing vacation. Go ready, and go with the intent of spending hours and hours in the water each day surfing. I spent the week on a tour and my sister spent the week taking lessons. I was in bed at 8-9Pm each day exhausted and was leaving for the next trip at about 6Am each morning.
Joe has set this place up perfectly, he keeps his little compound well secured and clean which seems to be a neccessity in the area. All of the instructors/guides are locals who are amazingly energetic and stoked. You can spend your entire stay on the hotel grounds, and in the restaurant./bar. Which is useful when you're tired from a day in the water. The menu is excellent, they have a full surf shop. I got to see some world class breaks.
I could go on forever about how great it was but the end story is you have to go see it for yourself, if you're a traveler you won't regret it. It's a great experience and I can't wait to get back myself.

Best Surf Experience!

by TripAdvisor Member Nivtease

Witchs Roack Surf camp was all, and more, than we had expected. We stayed for 2 weeks on the surf camp package, and initially thought we wouldn't surf everyday, but we were so hooked we made sure the surfing fitted around everything else.
The staff were excellent and made every effort to ensure we were enjoying all aspects of our holiday, not just the areas they were responsible for.
The surf instructors were the best we have experienced with loads of enthusiasm and passion, and keen to impart as much knowledge to you as possible.
We stayed in a Tiki room which was basic, but clean and had everything you needed. It's true it can be a bit noisy above the bar, or if there are really early trips heading out, but you're usually so tired from the surfing it doesn't bother you. The location of the camp to the beach and waves was perfect - you could literally come out the surf, hand your board in, and get a cocktail from the bar! The food at Eat @ Joe's was excellent - I don't think a day passed without one of us eating the legendary nachos!
If you are a beginner surfer, I couldn't think of a better place to learn - there are no rocks, the sea is about 29 degrees celcius, and the waves are consistent. There is a lot more to the local area than just surfing, so you will never be bored!
We can't wait to return, and will hopefully have many holidays there in the future!


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 Witch's Rock Surf Camp

We've found that other people looking for this hotel also know it by these names:

Witchs Rock Surf Camp Tamarindo
Witchs Rock Surf Camp Hotel
Witch`s Rock Surf Camp Hotel Tamarindo

Address: Enfrente de Economy Rental Car, Playa Tamarindo, Tamarindo, Costa Rica