Witches Rock Surf Camp
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
www.witchsrocksurfcamp.com - 1-800-318-SURF (7873), CR 011-506-2653-1262
Check Tamarindo Hotel Deals
Witches Rock Surf Camp Tamarindo Reviews
Mediocre value at best Jan 15, 2009
Witchs Rock Surf Camp - Witch's Rock Surf Camp (WRSC) delivers a mediocre value but not an unpleasant experience. Let me start by saying the waves were bad on my trip. We had some small ones the first day and the last day it was breaking at Playa Grande only (so I was told by the guide). I imagine if I was cracked everyday from massive surf I would have had less time to see the stuff on the trip that was over sold to me. That said I paid my money and they have to provide service whether there are waves or not and I was oversold.
I was sold a 2 tour a day trip. That is I was supposed to be taken to a surf spot in the AM and again somewhere in the PM. Upon arrival I was told by the guides that Tamarindo ONLY breaks at high tide and when I was there high tide was mid day and there would be no way to do two tours. I think that should have been explained before I was sold a 2 times a day tour. I never got 2 tours while there. Right off the bat I was going to get about half what I paid for. As far as I am concerned I was straight up robbed 6 x $49.00.
Each night you look up at a board that tells you where you are going, who else is coming, who the guide is and by boat or bus. In theory it is a pretty well designed program but you find out that the person doing the planing has no idea where the surf will be best, they tell you the trips will be planned for best waves. The women planning it did not even surf! Since the waves were poor the guides would change this in the morning but they never really gave us much to go on information wise. That is explain to us something like "The waves are garbage, if there is anything anywhere then it is Marbella." I speak Spanish fluently and it was not a question of that. The guides are just little surfer kids who have little or no desire to do anything past surf and flirt with the women on the trip. That would be fine if there is some manager or the owner around to offer answers to our questions but there is no management to speak of that I saw. The owner was on holiday and I am not sure he empowers anyone to deal in his absence. With our issues, and the other people on the tour had many also, we had no one to go to. I also sent my review to Joe, the owner, before I posted it and he did not even respond with a sorry for the trouble. I know they got my email because Larry responded and said he would pass it a long but past that I got nothing in the way of a customer service response.
One of the days, since the waves were horrible we asked to be taken to a different beach to hang out. Avellenas has a bar as well as people hanging on it. It is cool place to hang and far superior scenery wise and vibewise to the tamarindo beach in front of the hotel. Being that I had been sold a 2 times a day tour they could have droped me there, all the others on my tour wanted to go so this was not a specail for one request. The guide was not pleased at the request and said no. He could have said I cannot pick you up but let me tell you what I can do. Anyway nothing - no effort to help in anyway.
The day before we had already been at that beach but only surfed a short time, again the waves sucked, and we wanted to hang out. Again the guide said no if we were not surfing it was back to the hotel. I asked him to give me a little more info on the why of that and he gave me nothing in fact the little punk was a complete jerk about it. That day I looked for some one to make some changes. The people in the office said they would talk to our guides but in the end we saw minor improvement. Our impression was the guides are in a hurry to get back to the office if we were not surfing and even if we were.
The last night I was there the report said we would see some swell the next day. Hanging out in the bar I spoke with the office guy, Larry, and he said "tomorrow you are on the boat. You can go check out multiple places and find whats best." Sounded good to me. The board had said Playa Grande, which is right across from the hotel and Marbella which is 45 minutes in boat. Anyway when we got to the boat in the morning we asked where we were going and if it would be better at Marbella. The guide said "they only gave me enough gas to get to Playa Grande." I almost blew up. That was it, no more info no more discussion. I came to find out through gentle massaging all day long that the guide did not believe there would be waves anywhere but Grande that day or that is what he said. I am not sure what the truth is I only know they were not letting the guides take us anywhere but Grande that day. Let me tell you this, if you are going to CR to get some private waves. Skip this tour. Grande that day was on par crowd wise with Sunday at Black's. No joke the crowd was ridiculous.
I go on a couple of surf trips a year. I speak Spanish fluently. I know that the 3rd world is different and the Ticos in particular. I have been to CR 2 other times for a month. I know what to expect and generally I am a pretty chill personality. All my issues could have been dealt with in a communication manner. Instead I feel taken advantage of and somewhat bitter. As far as I am concerned they owe me 5 day trips.
One more thing - My tour was supposed to include a trip to Ollies or Witchs rock. Since the waves were poor I skipped it (although no one ever asked me about it either) and again I gave that money to their bottom line without recompense. I was scared to go anyway as some of the other people had tried to go the week before. Part way there the prop on the boat blew and (no spare) they had to come back at a snail pace. They basically spent 6-7 hrs getting no where. As far as I know the management did not even buy them a drink for the trouble. Is that right? A day blown in transit and not even an I'm sorry.
Some other points - I did not use their boards so I did not get that value. The quiver while large is not diverse. I also did not use their transport from the airport. So these are more things included that I did not use and they do not offer any discounts. Had there been no other issues I would not even mention it because I knew going in I was not getting all that I paid for on these points.
My experience was not all bad. I thought the hotel was fairly nice. I figure I must have been paying around $70-$90 a night and I thought my room was comfy. Yes there were giant cockroaches but hell it is the tropics. My AC worked fine and the water pressure was killer. I imagine that there are way better values but not right on the beach with a killer bar. I see other posts on WRSC and Tamarindo suggest I am wrong about that and there may be better values on the beach. I know that for $80 in Carlsbad Ca I can get a really nice place on the beach. Should CR be cheaper?
The tours put me together with a group of really killer people. I made some great friends and despite the issues and lack of swell I had a great time. Would I go back to Witchs? Probably not but I might because if you are traveling alone it is a good way to meet people. Also it looks like the competition is not that stiff. I tried to go with CR surf adventures but the sales guy had such an attitude and was so unresponsive I waited to the last minute and they got filled. I would love to talk to someone who was with them at this same time. If there had been waves I might not have noticed all the BS and I imagine that is why Witchs gets off so easy on these ratings. I would know I am paying a super primo price for not such a primo product. If I had a couple of mates to go with I would rent a car and work it out with out the overhead cost.
The restaurant - This place is cool, the food really good and fun to hang out in but expensive. Try to get happy hr. As with most places in the 3rd world forget being in a hurry. These guys move at one speed slooooow. Trying to get coffee in the morning before getting on the tour was painful. The people on tour finally started just helping ourselves. No one seemed to have a problem with that so consider it a positive. I mentioned to the little snob running the restaurant that jamming coffee out first thing at 7:15 would probably make all the guests super happy. She was pretty unreceptive. I still had fun hanging in that place and found the staff pretty cool although I highly suggest bringing a calculator and finding out in advance what they are going to exchange US dollars at. They put prices in US but somehow your change is in Collones and never, it seemed, right. I think it is another way they squeeze dollars out of you. The nachos are awesome but cost more than I pay at Karl Strauss right here in San Diego so again a questionable value. The ones here at Strauss are as good. BTW-even though the happy hr price is suppose to be the same plate my nachos were noticeably smaller on happy hr than off it.
I thought Tamarindo was OK. CR is growing fast and it is the 3rd world. The attention to the environment is far from top notch but again what do you expect? I thought the water was pretty clean. I thought town was ok on food and bar options. I do not do any of the touristy stuff so I cannot talk about that. Shop around and watch yourself. I felt safe the whole time too.
So if you want to go on surfing holiday and you want to meet some people this is probably a decent option still. It is not a good value but it looks like those days may be gone in CR anyway at least on package tours. In the 4 years I have been going it has been a steady decline. I imagine Witchs has a disclaimer that reads something like this. If the waves are good you will love us. If they are not you're hosed because we take you to waves only. No waves no nothing. Caveat Emptor.
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Witches Rock Surf Camp & Hotel (WRSC) Jun 11, 2007
If and when traveling to Costa Rica and you a re looking for a bit of fun and adventure. Look no further then Witches Rock Surf Camp and Hotel to satiate your inner child.
I was up in Chicago to hang-out with my sister and her husband for a bit, and was begging them for some ideas for something to do for my upcoming vacation. Jake, my Bro-In-Law, told me that I should go to this small town in Costa Rica named Tamarindo, and to stay at WRSC. AT first I didn’t know… I was going to be traveling alone and didn’t know anyone there. Could this really be a good idea. Jake explained me that this is a great place for single travelers, because many flock here and they are all around the same age bracket (mid twenties – mid thirties). I though it through and realized that I didn’t have any thing better to do and the idea warmed up on me quickly. I looked online at the hotel, which by the way has a great website, and decided that my decision was going to start with a “Y” and end with an “S.”
I booked my reservations a week later. Now when you look at the prices on the website they might seem a bit high, but you must remember that this includes your accommodations, boards, and surf instruction and surf tours. Not to mention it also includes any breakfast from the menu while you are there, and they have great breakfast. I know from doing research that you will not find a better deal anywhere else in Tamarindo that has so many things included in the price. The hotel can also put together canopy tours of the rainforest, snorkeling/diving, deep sea fishing, and many other activities at discounted prices to those staying with them.
When I got to the hotel I found one of the great things about the hotel is their customer service. I have never seen it this good. When I told them where I would be flying into, they sent a van to pick me up.
Sidenote: If you decide to go to Tamarindo then fly into Liberia, CR not San Jose. From Liberia it is only an hour drive. Whereas from San Jose there is a not so fun puddle jumper flight you will have to take.
The surf instructors are great teachers and it is usually 1 on 1 with them in the water, which makes it easier to pick-up. You surf during high tide with them and then you party with them at night, they are great fun and love what they do. After surfing and partying the night a way I found myself running out of clothes, but that is a small issue because the cleaning staff will do your laundry folds it and will put it away for you while you are gone. It is unbelievable!!!
Now the issue of me being a single traveler here was definitely not one. Between the surf instructors and the almost completely single group of people staying at the hotel it turned out to be a great time all the time. If you wanted your alone time you could have it, if you wanted to hang out in a group there was one. I remember that one time when a group of us went out together they had to rearrange a whole restaurant to fit us in due to the fact that it was small and there were 14 of us.
The bottom-line is that if you are looking for an economical, eco-friendly, party/adventure then WRSC is the place to be.
Pura Vida & Peace
Part of the The Free Spirit Guide to Travel travel blog