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“Who says you can't buy happiness?”
Review of Surf Simply

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Surf Simply
Certificate of Excellence
Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Who says you can't buy happiness?”
Reviewed 1 March 2014

At Surf Simply, there is an old surfboard, covered in blackboard paint, that they write the day's schedule on. On a typical day, the board looks something like this: breakfast - surf - yoga - lunch - surf theory/video analysis - surf - dinner. If that sounds remotely good to you in the abstract, you should go, because the reality is even better. The way the Surf Simply team puts it all together will exceed all your expectations.

Surf instruction: This is really the reason to come here rather than any of a thousand other great beaches in the world. Ru has devised a great system for explaining the hows and whys of surfing, and gathered a great team of coaches to help you apply it to your own surfing. If you have a little bit of surfing experience, you will be amazed how much you didn't know. They will rebuild you from the ground up, Six-Million-Dollar-Man style. They will explain what proper stance is and how position is critical to making a surfboard do what you want it to do in the water. I had surfed green waves before, and I'll confess to initially being bummed out at the idea of spending the first day in the whitewater learning these principles. But it was by far the best way to learn how to make the board stall and accelerate, and how to properly make trimming and carving turns. When we went out the back the next day, where there was a lot more to think about, we could do it with confidence that we had the basics under our belts.

My coach was Oli. The instruction he gave me was incredibly helpful both in the water and on video analysis. His advice was always specific and practical. Why did I lose my speed and stall out? You didn't get your weight on your front foot fast enough. Why couldn't I trim right on that wave? Your front foot was off center, which kept your weight to the left. Oli also taught us how to read waves, including figuring out if they were steep enough/too steep to catch, whether they were going to break left or right, and whether they were going to peel or close out. I didn't come close to mastering all this in a week, but I made a ton of progress and know what to look for in the future. That's the best kind of training you could ask for.

I went with my wife, and her coach was Prado. She is, by her own admission, not particularly athletic. She had never been on a surfboard, and in fact usually doesn't like getting her face wet in the ocean. Prado was perfect for her -- extremely patient and encouraging. He had her standing up and riding whitewater waves in no time. When I thought she didn't have enough gas in the tank at the start of another session, she always came back smiling and happy, amazed at her progress. Thanks to Prado's guidance, she learned she was capable of way more than she ever thought.

Surf conditions: Playa Guiones is a great place to learn. It is really safe: the lineup is not crowded and the bottom is sandy. The offshore winds in the morning make for beautifully shaped and groomed waves. Things got a little choppy sometimes with onshore winds in the afternoon, but it was still better conditions than I'd had elsewhere. I was a little freaked out before I came to see that magicseaweed was forecasting only 1-2 foot waves for the whole week. But the way it played out in reality was great: knee-to-waist high earlier in the week, with waist-to-chest-high sets later in the week, when we were better prepared for it. Every session was great and presented its own challenges, which is great for learning.

Food: My wife and I are a little snobby about food, so this was another aspect of the trip that exceeded all my expectations. Sarah, the resort chef, made meals that were light, delicious, and perfectly fit the coastal setting. But they also provided plenty of fuel for surfing. Seared tuna, mahi, red snapper, shrimp and avocado salad, all in bright, flavorful sauces... One of the guests, Mark, caught a tuna while deep-sea fishing on the day off. They butchered it up and we ate the freshest sushi you could ask for. Lulu, who is a character herself, also came in to make muffins and chocolate bars. I hear the muffins were great, but Rob (another guest) was obsessed and ate all of them... There is also a fridge, accessible 24/7, stocked with beer, sodas, and seltzer, and fruit is always available for snacking. The dinners out in Nosara were also pretty good, although generally not up to Sarah's cooking, and the drinks always seemed a little light on the booze.

Rooms: Because there weren't many pictures of the rooms on the web site or trip advisor, I wasn't expecting much. But the chalets/casitas/bungalows/whatever-you-want-to-call-them were nice and clean, with a spare, modern-ish aesthetic. It is not Four Seasons-style luxury, but it's tasteful. No tacky beach-condo, seashells-and-seagulls cliches here. The private patios are also really nice to have.

Photos/videos: You've probably seen that Surf Simply documents your week through photos and videos they post on facebook, flickr, and youtube. You couldn't ask for better mementos of your trip. Laura is great at her job. If you happen to have a moment looking cool on a wave, she'll capture it. If you happen to have a ridiculous-looking wipeout, she'll capture that too. You can see the quality of her work yourself by going to the sites above, so I'll just add that having these pictures will mean a lot to you once you return to the working world after your trip.

People (Surf Simply staff): The Surf Simply coaches and staff are all great, friendly, positive people. They not only take care of your every need, they make you feel like you are part of a special experience. In addition to the people mentioned above, Dani and Alice do a great job taking care of all your trip logistics for you so you don't have to worry about them. When I made a couple remarks along the lines of "Wouldn't it be nice if..." boom, Alice made it happen.

People (other guests): Another revelation of the trip was how great it was to meet and hang out with the other guests. I was a little wary about how much communal time there would be, as you eat almost all your meals with and spend a lot time in the common-area lounge and pool with 12 strangers. But that turned out to be one of the best parts of the experience. Every single person had a sense of humor and interesting things to say--it was like having a great dinner party every night of the week. I really enjoyed getting to know these people, and they really made the experience complete. Hopefully you will be as lucky when you go.

Tips: If you don't have much experience, you should know that surfing twice a day for a week is incredibly physically demanding. You have to book your trip way in advance, so after you make your reservation, use that as motivation to train. If you're not a swimmer, start swimming laps. Work on your flexibility. I thought I did a lot of training before I came, but even so, I was not fully prepared. There is nothing worse than paddling out and having to watch a great set roll past you because you're too tired to turn around and go for it. My surf buddy, Xiheng, was about the same level as me skill-wise. But he was also a paddling machine, and as a result he probably caught twice as many waves as me. As I sat in my office in front of a computer last week, all those missed opportunities were haunting me.

Also, I'd recommend that even if you're really into photography, you should leave your gear at home. I thought hey, it's Costa Rica, I'll take this opportunity to get all kinds of beautiful pictures. Well, I lugged a heavy bag full of gear -- big DSLR, lenses, tripod -- thousands of miles and hardly had a chance to use any of it. You probably won't either, so just bring a point-and-shoot for a few shots around the resort and count on Laura to do the rest.

So just go.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
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2 Thank Michael P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Level Contributor
94 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 February 2014

The reviews of Surf Simply sealed the deal for my booking there, and now it's only fair for me to add to the series of accolades so that others can enjoy this incredible experience (although please leave enough space so that I can go back next year).
My wife and I just returned from an amazing week there. I went to surf, she to relax, and we both had our expectations exceeded.
SURFING: this is a SURF RESORT after all, and if you are going to learn (or get better) there simply cannot be a better place to do so. The beach and waves are perfect. Every day. How do they do that? I'd never been on a surfboard before the week started, and by the end, I was catching large waves laterally from "out back". You will surf, and you will surf as hard as you want to. Surfing is HIGH priority. If the best time is 6:30 in the morning that day, then by God, that's when the group hits the surf! In between double sessions / day in the surf (all the time under expert guidance from your coaches) you will have surfing classes, pool work, theory on weather or waves, and the brains of incredibly knowledgeable and friendly instructors to pick on ANY questions you may have about surfing. Or you can just sit in the incredibly comfy common area, grab food / drinks from the full-sized fridge stocked with goodies with 24 hour access, and just watch the constant line-up of surf videos on the HD large-screen or read from the many surfing mags and books scattered around. If the roughly 3-4 hours of scheduled surf time / day isn't enough for you, you're welcome to take any board you want and head to the beach for more wave time. And the instructors - WOW! They are top notch! Other reviewers brag about their favorites, but I (and my trainee partner) had Francela, who had to be the best, because I can't imagine anyone better. These instructors see a new crowd of people every week, but while you're there, they make it seem like really they have been preparing all this time for YOU and you alone! Francela was genuinely THRILLED when I'd catch a good wave, never stopped cheering me on, offering expert tips in the water, and basically made me feel like I and my partner were the most important students she'd ever had.
NOT SURFING: My wife didn't surf, and had just as good a time. Even though it's all about surfing, there is plenty of other stuff to fill the time and enjoy at Surf Simply. She loved the yoga, the massages (Crystal, the masseuse, is a GENIUS!), the food (Sarah the main chef not only went above and beyond to cater to some fairly specific food requirements, but was incredibly supportive and helpful through the whole process) and just relaxing in the rooms (which were wonderful). The day off (perfectly placed, by the way, as after 3 days of intense surfing most of us needed a little break for our body's sake) we went zip-lining, which was FABULOUS (we'd done other zip-lining in New Zealand, but this topped it). One of the most unexpected enjoyments of the trip was the other clients. I'm not really much of an extrovert, but Surf Simply seems to attract such a great group of clients that the interactions with them (during meals and lessons, and just hanging around for a week) was another real highlight of the trip!!
If you're still reading, I'll throw in a few more specific points:
- Ru, the owner / founder is GREAT. This place is his passion, his touch is everywhere, and it shows. He is passionate about surfing, and genuinely wants everyone visiting his "home" to have the best experience possible. We had the privilege of meeting his mother the week I was there. She was a wonderful, delightful proper British lady, maybe mid 70s in age, and she was out in the waves learning to surf with her son (and did an AMAZING job of it, too).
- Media: they do media SO WELL at Surf Simply. We all want to see how we're doing, and have great images to share, and most mornings (and some afternoons) there are a team of people photographing and videotaping clients on the waves. These serve both as GREAT instructional aids, but also provide clients with literally hundreds of photos (expertly taken) to take with them of their experiences in the waves and at the compound!
- Newby tips: Surf Simply provided a rash guard, a sun hat compatible with surfing, and Ibuprofen! Next time I'll bring some of my own surfwear, now that I know what to wear. As much as I trained (Crossfit and swimming), I still felt beat up by the end of the week. But it was a good exhausted, because I knew I'd worked hard.
OK, I should probably stop at 4500 words here. To sum up: yes, it IS as good as it sounds!

Room Tip: Rooms are, from what I can tell assigned. However, I did not speak with anyone who had anything but...
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Holden236
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Canaan, New Hampshire
2 reviews
Reviewed 23 February 2014

There is a reason Surf Simply has a 5 star rating. It is amazing. The coaches are professional, students of their craft and gracious wonderful hosts. The instant surf tribe they create with the other guests gives you friends for years to come. Ru, Harry, Sarah, Laura, Jesse and Kerianne were all beyond knowledgeable and encouraging. The food is delicious, ambiance wonderful (you will hear monkeys!) and location perfect. The waves matched the level of instruction, amazing! We will come back! And, for those of you trying to decide, do it! You will become a better surfer. We were there in March 2012

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Andrew J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles
Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 February 2014

Just back from an incredible week with the gang at Surf Simply. Hopefully this review is not ordinary but gives you an insight into the way that the resort is built and catered to learning how to surf.

First off, the grounds are beautiful, and Ru is a pretty serious dude when it comes to attention to detail. For example, he was discussing how the shelf that held the water cooler is at a different level than the shelf that holds the cups. This may seem like a small deal but it shows the dedication he has to how his business runs. I like that.

The entire staff at Surf Simply is absolutely positive 100% of the time and they have a similar language (vocal and body) when discussing the mechanics of surfing. This makes it easy to get advice from different coaches as the advice will be consistent and targeted instruction. They don't mess around!

The video coaching is once again, consistent and targeted to your goals and the overall goal of making you a better surfer. I sat in on a few other coaching sessions and the messages were the same and the delivery was parallel which is excellent. This kind of thing just shows great training for the staff.

The massage is a requirement as you will be sore. Krystal knows you've been killing yourself surfing and targets those muscle groups specifically.

The daily yoga is excellent and once again, caters to stretching your body so it stays liber for...more surfing.

You will work yourself hard this week. Very hard. I thought I was ready. I was not. I was sore around Thursday morning but they have some ibuprofen on hand which easily took care of that problem. They also have plenty of sun screen and insect repellant.

Basically, once you hit the ground in Costa Rica you have to do nothing but enjoy yourself. This will be incredibly easy as everyone at the resort is 100% dedicated to making your stay an excellent one.

A word of warning : the muffins that LuLu makes are addictive. I advise you eat a minimum of 1-2 before your session as there is oatmeal and bananas in them, which will give you the energy you need for the paddling that lies ahead. To any of my weekmates, I think I hit around 4 muffins a day towards the end there. Sorry about stealing them!!
If you have to fight your fellow surfers for the muffins...do it. They are killer !!

Also on your day off, try Rancho Tico and get the Filet Mignon for $15 :)
They cook it with bacon. You heard me. Bacon. It's absolutely delicious.

Well, that's lengthy but all true. You think you're ready but you're not. Train a bit harder before you get here. It will make your sessions even better.
Stretch your face muscles because they will get tired from smiling for a week straight.

Mucho love for everyone at the resort! You were all amazing! I hope to see you soon!

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Rnederhorst
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Saskatoon, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 18 February 2014

If you want to learn how to surf, having never done so, this is your place. If you like to bask in the sun in February (for Yankees) by a beautiful pool during the afternoon, this is your place. If you are tech savy and loathe being out of touch and need wifi, apple TV, advanced AV systems, and a large screen HDTV, this is your place. If you just want to relax, do yoga, and get a massage, this is your place. You see, this place has something for everyone. It is my second year in a row to Surf Simply and we are already trying to arrange dates for our 2015 trip. The staff is amazing, the food is incredible and all freshly prepared in front of you, the instruction is world class, and the attention to detail is beyond what you would get if you spent twice as much. Ru is the CEO of Surf Simply, but he's happier bobbing up and down in the water with a Go Pro trying to film you up close. My favorite instructor is Oli, who is a fake Welshman, but none the less Ross tolerates him with incredible patience. Oli is a pro and explains everything in a way that you can understand. As for the teaching instructors, you really can't go wrong. I caught my best wave when Jessie was coaching me for the day. I think she pushed me a little harder than Oli, but that's because Oli really knows how bad a surfer I am. All in all, you're a fool if you go anywhere else. My wife just took a surfing trip to Santa Cruz and was jealous I was going back to Surf Simply.

Room Tip: The villas are all the same and you can't go wrong. You do share a bathroom, but it is clean an...
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Caldy12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cleveland, Ohio
Level Contributor
18 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 February 2014

Just back from my second visit to SS and now I'm staring at the snow out my window figuring how to best get back to Nosara. I could gush about the place but everybody has already done that so I'll try to provide some useful info to those considering the trip.

This place is special because of the people and the people are passionate about surfing. If you want to learn/improve your surfing and you're willing to show up w some paddle fitness and work hard while you're there your surfing will improve.... a lot. Many camps have instructors that love surfing and are quite accomplished. But these guys are great at TEACHING surfing. Ru makes sure all of the coaches are great but Harry was my coach so I'm pretty sure he is the best :)

Your days will be pretty busy between lessons, video review, massage, yoga, theory, etc. but you will still find time to relax by the pool listening to the smooth sounds of Steel Panther and you will not want to miss a meal. The staff works hard to be great hosts and they put up w me for a week which is no small feat. One thing I did to get better prepared for this second visit to SS was to swim more in the two months leading up to the visit (5-7 days/week). Surfline has some good swim workouts.

Love this place

Room Tip: It's not about the rooms!
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Bill M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Columbus, Ohio
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 13 February 2014

I recently returned from my 2nd week at Surf Simply and all I can think about is going back again. I cannot say enough about the team of great people Ru has assembled from my awesome coach Harry, who expertly educated me, encouraged me, and pushed me all week, to the rest of the awesome coaching staff (all of whom are always attentive and there to help you also) to Sarah and Dani and Alice who fed us like kings and made sure we felt like we were truly on vacation all week. These folks truly love what they do and it shows through and through and the setting is beautiful and well executed. If you want an immersive, thrilling, and relaxing week of surfing and surf coaching, you will feel lucky to experience Surf Simply.

Room Tip: Rooms are spartan but clean and comfortable. Perfect for the setting.
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank jimmythetoocan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Surf Simply

Property: Surf Simply
Address: Playa Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Nosara
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 25 Speciality Lodging in Nosara
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Surf Simply has broken the surf camp mold by providing coaching of a standard one would usually expect to receive in more mainstream sports. The makes of the Surf Simply podcast (available on iTunes) offer all inclusive package from their beautiful boutique surf coaching resort in Nosara, Costa Rica. You stay incorporates not only - video analysis, theory sessions on everything from board design to surf forecasting, pool training and in water coaching during your two fun surf session each day; but also transfers, accommodation, yoga classes, massage, fresh home cooked food and a variety of destinations in the evening from beach BBQs to stunning cliff top restaurants. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Surf Simply Costa Rica/Nosara

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