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“Excellent surf camp!”
Review of Rio Mar Surf Camp

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Rio Mar Surf Camp
Reviewed 25 August 2013

Ideal if you are looking for an affordable place to stay during a surf trip in Panama. Very close to the beach and the staff are very friendly and helpful. It is a surf camp (as the name says), so if you are looking for something fancy this is not the place.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank GustavoMMarques
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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4 - 10 of 23 reviews

Reviewed 29 July 2013

It doesn't very often that I use caps, but in this case it is necessary. This place is terrible. We stayed here for two nights in July and it was our worst experience in Panama.

Room: dirty, worn out, overpriced. We stayed at a $35 room and got a room which wasn't cleaned properly and had a soggy, old mattress. There was still blood stained toilet paper lying next to the toilet, management wasn't impressed. The air-con worked, but it made a loud noise so we had to turn it off. The worst: cockroaches. A lot. We traveled a lot and have seen more cockroaches but they kept on coming. We complained and the reaction was lousy, more on that later.

Service: terrible, annoying, failure. The new owner, Luis, lays in a hammock all day and has his small kid running around the terrain, bothering people. The owner has an other guy helping him who tried to rip us off with the breakfast and was very rude to customers. Luis would sit outside until late at night (3:00 AM) with the music loud on, talking loudly while drinking beers. Just a note: the rooms are directly around the 'social area', so everyone could enjoy it. The last night we were so fed up with everything that we decided to leave at 2:30 AM. The owner was very apologetic but other than saying 'I'm so sorry guys, omg omg I am so ashamed' he didn't do anything. Just sat there and drunk beer.

Food: bad quality, overpriced, tasteless. The place is in the middle of nowhere with nothing around it to eat. There's no kitchen for guests to use so you must eat their stuff. Well: don't. Way overpriced, and it's just crappy fast-food. Better go to San Carlos where you have some good food. We had an American Breakfast for $6, which was stated as 'Eggs to your liking, with bread, butter and bacon or ham and coffee and orange juice. Well, the eggs was just a small portion. The bread was old and stale and tiny. The coffee didn't come and when we asked we were told that we should have said earlier that we wanted it, and the guy sighed. No ham or bacon, but a tiny piece of white cheese. When we asked for some extra bread they wanted to charge us. Who would do that? They also wanted to charge the coffee as an extra, whilst it was included. We also had a main course, skewers. We had 'mixed skewers' and got chicken mixed with cheap sausages. The salad was one leaf of green and one slice tomato. Yay.

Facilities: non-existent, dirty, sub-par. Board hire? No signs of it. Surfing lessons? Don't think so. The skateboard ramp was one of a kind you would spot in a sad city park in any western city. The pool was dirty, the chairs were broken at points. Check in was weird as it wasn't clear who we could spoke to. Everything had to be paid in cash. The social area isn't clean. The trash bins are right under one of the hammocks. There's a table full of trash. The tables itself are broken and dirty. Not where you would like to eat.

Overall it was just a really bad experience. We are both experienced travelers and have backpacked to many places around the world and we're not queens who are getting crazy about one hair on the toilet seat. But this place was just the worst of the worst. That in combination with the extremely lousy management made us want to write this review. We left the place in the middle of the night. The beach isn't worth it either: lots of rocks and not very nice for surfing.

Just don't go here.

Room Tip: They have economy rooms for $35 which are terrible and rooms for $50 which looked a little better, b...
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  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank cococol
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 July 2013 via mobile

We stayed for a couple days at Rio Mar and had a nice time. The place just got a new owner Louis and he is very kind and is giving good services.
At night we ate red snapper from the grill ( louis cooked for us) and he served a delicious and simple breakfast, omelet, fruits, yoghurt.
The cabins are clean and you can relaxe in a hammock.
For surfing it is only a few minutes walking and the beach is all for yourselves!

  • Stayed: July 2013
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1  Thank viertjes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 January 2013

We called ahead and got a $35 quote on one of the economy rooms. Room had bunk beds with a queen on the bottom, twin on the top. The place is hard to find in the dark, almost no signs from the road Rio Mar. I had to call and talk to Ortega to figure out how to get here. Basically, when driving down the careterra rio mar, take a right at the first non-driveway looking road, and when it curves around you will see the skate half pipe and a parking lot. Rental boards, both surf and SUP. $1 Panamanian beers. $4 simple breakfast if you want it. Surf wasn't great today but apparently it can get rideable. Surfs up dudes!!!

Room Tip: The cheap rooms can sleep three, the "large" rooms can sleep 4.
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  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with family
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3  Thank Colin P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 June 2012

I can hardly believe it's still here! First stayed in 1966 (when it seemed spanking new) when our car broke down on our way back to the States, 2 km away on the I-A Highway. Went back in 2001 with my family and it had hardly changed a bit. And from other reviews, it still seems the same! Okay, it's a bit retro-primitive, with its cold showers and spartan rooms with a Donald Judd-like minimalist decor. But I don't travel to sit playing gin in my room. Even in 2001 the restaurant was decent - especially if you like the local fish, corvina, which I do. And the grounds were actually very pleasant when you got outside of the rooms. In 1966 was there in March and saw an amazing iridescent series of breaking waves as the surf rolled in - fantastic! You can walk for miles on virtually deserted white and black sand beaches. And close to El Valle - don't miss it if you go to Panama -with Panama City, the Canal, former Canal Zone where I served for almost two years an hour away, and a hop to the Atlantic/Caribbean.
I guess I'm sentimental, so I might just try to stay here again when I revisit Panama next year.
If you are adventurous, give it a try.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
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3  Thank wwtraveller42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 January 2012

had a night with partner back in november - rang ahead and booked a couples room.
was given a price of $45 over the phone from american guy who runs bar / cafe.
rocked up just on dark and in a serious rain storm - price was now $65 from manager including air con and tv. should have bailed down the road when price went up - but was late and wet.

Power went out the minute we checked in and did not come on until early hours of morning - asked for discount for no power - not a chance

we were only guests and no surprised!!
had three weeks in another surf spots and found way better accom and service 300% better.

Room Tip: keep away - other surf camps close
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  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank snowrider003
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 September 2011

this place not only has great surf,beauty,and atmosphere..it has THE best food at its new cafe.the best part its right on the premises.it provides a great way to relax without even having to leave.

Room Tip: if you get one of the private rooms it has air but it really depends on what your looking for.they h...
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  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled with friends
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2  Thank panama j
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Rio Mar Surf Camp

Address: San Carlos, Panama City, Panama
Region: Panama > Panama Province > Panama City
Hotel Style:
Ranked #50 of 111 Speciality Lodging in Panama City
Price Range: £4 - £26 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 8
Also Known As:
Rio Mar Surf Camp Hotel Panama City
Rio Mar Surf Camp Panama/Panama City

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