I stayed at Swell Surf Camp from August 24 – 31, 2013. I signed up for the surf lesson and premium room with AC package. Email communications with Clare were informative and prompt. She was reassuring when I told her I was a female travelling solo. Turns out the week I was there all the other guests were solo travelers. Everyone was friendly, inclusive, polite and civil. If you wanted your own space that was fine too but it was hard as the week on went that you cannot help yourself but be sociable. There was always someone to hang out with at lunch and dinners on the nights they were not being served at the camp. You are guaranteed to connect with fellow guests that you can go shopping with or laze about at the beach and drink caipirinhas with.
The surf lessons were great and fun. James, Joel and Neno really know what they are doing. They noticed everything I did wrong or right whenever I got on and fell from the surfboard. They would tell me what to adjust and next thing you know on my 2nd day I was able to stand up. From that point on I was able to start riding the waves. As I progressed they added more to my knowledge on how to paddle in, how to conserve energy, different ways to pop up and how to turn. For those of you who want to learn this sport make sure you at least hit the gym and do plank exercises, push-ups, cardio and yoga. I did not do any of those except cardio and I was sore in my upper arms, chest and knees after the 2nd day. The only thing that kept me going were the massages from N Day spa with Kit. Haudie can hook you up. There are 2 surf sessions every day, one at 7 AM and then another after breakfast at around 11:30 AM. I was only able to make it to one 2nd session during the week as the first one was tiring enough. Most of us opted to nap on any surface (couch, bean bags, pool lounge chairs, wooden benches and hammocks) after breakfast. Even the resident cat knew when to keep quiet when guests were napping. Make sure you get the photo option. Joel took amazing pics that made me look like I was surfing for years and not just a few days. The pictures were sharp and professional.
The staff at Swell was amazing, wonderful and accommodating. Haudie the manager took care of us like family. She will guide you on how to get around Cabarete and not get ripped off. Esmeralda the chef will make your eggs and omelets any way you like them. The crepes were always perfect. There was always fresh fruit at breakfast, bananas on the stern all day long and fresh coconuts from the grounds cut by Orani or Victor. The dinners were filling and delicious. Cipriana and Anna kept my room pristine and Orani kept the grounds picture perfect. Haudie took me to a local place for lunch for fresh fried fish and grilled langoustines. Orani was nice enough to take me with his motorcycle after his shift to the Waterfront beach in Sosua. It still makes me wonder how they were able to go about their day with guests napping all over the place. I met these people with a handshake when I arrived and left them with a warm sincere hug goodbye and gratitude. If the rumor is true that Swell will open another camp in Costa Rica I will be there.
Getting around Cabarete is easy. You can walk to town but with the heat I opted to take the moto conchos. They’re about 50 pesos from the camp to town. It is nerve wracking to the uninitiated with the driver’s hand on one handle and one with a cell phone without a helmet. Make sure you have the exact change every time as they will claim never to have change when you hand them a bill more than a 50. I took the Wawa (mini buses) with Haudie and they pack you in like sardines. The camp’s location is close to everything specially dozens of restaurants. I ordered food from the German restaurant next door, walked to Gordito’s for fish tacos and nacho bowls.
The only hiccup on this trip was the pickup at the airport. I waited for my pickup for over 30 minutes. Some guy with a placard with my name on it stuck me at one corner outside the airport. There was no car from Swell anywhere to be seen. I started to have doubts whether I made the right decision to go to Swell. It was a little disconcerting for a woman travelling alone to a new place and there was no one there to pick me up after getting out of the airport. I did tell Haudie about the incident, she apologized and I believe she straightened out the driver who was supposed to be waiting for me. Franklin took me to the airport and that went well.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Swell is a brand new purpose built hotel for surfers in the center of Cabarete. All rooms have en-suites with AC optional. Swimming pool with LED and fibre optic lighting and a large communal area with pool table, fussball and ping ping table as well as a video library and other games.We cater for active people that want quality accommodation in a social setting. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Swell Surf Camp Hotel Cabarete