Safari Surf School offers authentic surf vacations, accommodations, surfing lessons, and local experiences in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
a traveler Canada
As this is a longer review, and if you are looking for a rating only for comparison to other schools, I would give this surf school a 5+.
Please read on if you would like more context. My comments are directed to the Safari Surf School in Nosara, Costa Rica. Nosara is located in the northwest part of Costa Rica (the Pacific side, if that matters to you). Flying into the Liberia Airport puts you closer to the ‘resort’ than the airport at San José.
The school gave us a wonderful introductory surf experience and an overall fantastic vacation. The service provided and the attention paid to my request for a customized package for my daughter and me were straightforward and thoughtful. I think this school would be fantastic for families with younger children as well.
Safari Surf School’s mission is to teach surfing to all kinds of students, young, less young, from beginner to more advanced levels. The instructors are dedicated, patient and true to the sport. They are surfers, some self-taught some perhaps not, but all seemingly well trained in terms of the school’s teaching methods; they paid attention to safety, ensuring that we all warmed up before the lesson.
While active, I have never surfed. Our instructor, Erick gave us the basics on how to get on the board, and we got on the board on the first try at our first lesson! That certainly says it all. Our second instructor, Kevin, was also excellent.
Credit of course must be given to the school and its management in addition to the instructors. Its willingness to hire and train mature, responsible and dedicated instructors tells me that the school cares about its staff/colleagues, and about providing a quality experience to its clients. Locally, Safari Surf is a school that serves the community, offering lessons as well as running camps for children apparently. The school seems passionate about what they do.
For travellers like us, Safari Surf offers all-inclusive packages that you can review on its website. I dealt with Tim Marsh, who co-owns the school with his wife. From the moment I first reached out asking for a suitable package for my daughter and me, he was a joy to correspond with. His responsiveness and flexibility in addressing our needs were impeccable - second to none.
All-inclusive of course, means providing accommodations, meals, transfers to and from the airports etc., in addition to the daily surf lessons. These packages could also include off-site excursions for zip lining, kayaking, visits to a wildlife reserve, dinners in town etc. While I call it a ‘resort’, the school is actually co-located with the hotel and the restaurant, all of which are managed separately. Safari Surf works collaboratively with the Hotel Olas Verde (accommodations are also available in town (Guiones) and elsewhere I think), and the restaurant EL Manglar (both of which have been separately reviewed), to offer these all-inclusive packages. The facilities are beautiful, the food fresh, the people lovely. The beautiful beach Playa Guiones is a few steps away (you won't see the beach from your hotel room), and as you can see from the pictures, the sunsets will take your breath away. The ‘resort’ is small, set amidst an untouched reserve with about 17 units, quiet and perfect in what it tries to exude. The hotel made sure our transfers to the airport were in order; the restaurant helped us pack food to go if we had an excursion and didn't make breakfast on time.
This kind of collaboration is heartening to see and experience (because I have experienced the ‘I’m sorry, ma’am, you are staying with the timeshare and we are the hotel. You should call this number.’). And to this point, Safari Surf’s commitment to and partnering with others, extend to the local community and to the nearby town of Guiones. If your package includes yoga or massages, you will know what I mean when you attend at these studios. There seems to be a certain respect towards Safari Surf (in their reference to the school and how they treated us)!
Integrity, caring about its clients, treating its employees and partners within the community with respect, are highly important to me; whether everything was perfect all the time – much less so, yet even on this point, Safari Surf was pretty well, perfect.
And one final note. I have seen people consider Costa Rica as an alternative to the Caribbean. Because of the ‘all-inclusive’ vacations put together by Safari Surf, I am compelled to mention that you would not be getting a typical all-inclusive experience as in the Caribbean. Safari Surf does not offer the loud, partying venue. You will not be walking through acres and acres of concrete jungle, passing by the disco first, then the casino, to get to the snack bar which opens from 2:30 to 5:30 pm. Rowdy, drinking, partying was not the vibe I experienced. Come if you want to learn to surf, relax and discover or re-find your inner self.
I have experienced vacations with my children in many parts of the world, all of which have been thoroughly enjoyable. Nevertheless, we make a point of not going back to the same places (after all, the world is a big place). For Nosara with the Safari Surf School, I will make an exception. Pura Vida.
Bill E. Pennsylvania, USA
An excellent week. All the instructors were very thorough, patient, and professional. This was kind of a weird vacation for me as I went with a goal in mind (learn to surf, and at least feel like I knew what I was doing and didn’t look too much like a dork doing it) instead of a vacation “just to get away” – but this one achieved both! I would definitely do it again. The staff was very helpful, helped me get my bearings, and it was great to spend time with them at dinner.
The accommodations and staff at Harbor Reef were great as well. They made the effort to get to recognize and know you a little bit and greeted you every day and make you feel welcome. The ONLY drawback with Harbor Reef was that the restaurant was a little limited on selection, but food at Olas Verdes (and the other places we went out to eat with the staff) backfilled nicely.
Rick W. North Carolina, USA
Safari Surf School (SSS) made me feel right at home. This was my second visit. All of the instructors and support staff are kind hearted folks who take an interest in everyone. I really amped up my surfing skills this time. The daily instruction was awesome, the video tape of my first days on the water were well edited and the one-on-one analysis was really helpful. I had "homework" to do. I did my homework and I really improved as a result of implementing the advice. Thanks SSS !!!
Amazing. The staff, the professionalism, attention to detail. Really great experience. In a week most in our group were out on the big waves.
a traveler Canada
Our family of four (9 year old daughter and 17 year old son) took 2 lessons each over the course of the week we spent in Nosara. It was super easy to book the lessons beforehand online. In fact Tim was actually sitting at his desk and I was able to chat with him remotely as we booked the lessons. They paid special attention to the basics to make sure that we were doing it correctly and maximizing the fun we had over the 1.5 hour lesson. My son who has only surfed once before Costa Rica took a 3rd lesson and they had him out on the bigger waves with some success. Definitely a well run operation with special attention to customer service, some of the friendliest people we met were at the school. I would recommend this surf school in a heartbeat.