Pros

  • Prime beachfront location on Tamarindo beach
  • A cool, laid-back surfer vibe that attracts a mix of guests, including many single women
  • Daily seminars with pro-surfer Robert August
  • Surf classes are small, allowing for personal attention
  • Unlimited use of surfboards
  • On-site surf shop that sells gear and clothing
  • Two lively, fun restaurants and a brewery on site
  • Custom surfboard business run by Robert August
  • Free breakfast included in the package rate
  • Penthouse rooms share a large terrace with views of the beach and ocean
  • Free shuttle service to Liberia Airport on Saturdays
  • Free Wi-Fi
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Cons

  • Rooms lack basic amenities such as shampoo, hairdryers, and TVs
  • Water pressure varies and sometimes there’s no hot water
  • Beds have thin sheets and spongy pillows
  • Located on a busy road and rooms receive street noise
  • Located some distance from the actual Witch's Rock surf break
  • Tiny pool is better for a quick dip than a swim
  • Rooms are dark, lacking adequate light
  • Can't connect to Wi-Fi in rooms
  • No shop on site to purchase snacks or necessities
  • No gym or spa (but massage is offered on the beach)
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Bottom Line

This 18-room, no-frills surfing mecca sits on a prime stretch of Tamarindo Beach perfect for learning to surf. The vibe is friendly, laid-back, and fun. Guests are encouraged to kick back in the two lively restaurants, the brewery, or the tiny pool. There's also a busy surf shop that outfits guests with surfing gear. Rooms are bare-bones basic, lacking clocks, TVs, and adequate lighting, but that’s part of the plan. Guests don’t come to Witch’s Rock to lounge on high-thread-count sheets (they're pretty thin) or linger in luxurious bathrooms (hot water is sporadic), they come to hone their surfing skills and embrace the camaraderie and campy lifestyle that goes along with the sport.

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Oyster Hotel Review

Witch’s Rock Surf Camp

Scene

A well-know surf camp on Tamarindo Beach that caters to surfers of all levels and encourages camaraderie among guests

Named after a legendary advanced wave located in the protected Santa Rosa National Park, North of Tamarindo, Witch's Rock Surf Camp is more than just a hotel on the beach -- it's a state of mind. Guests come to Witch’s Rock to surf and embrace the homey, camp-like camaraderie that a vacation here delivers. The resort is a surfing institution, known for attracting celebrities, MTV camera crews, and legendary surfers such as Robert August of Endless Summer fame, who runs a surfboard-shaping shop on the property. While single women are one of the hotel's biggest demographics, it's also a place for families, mother-daughter bonding trips, and surfer boys and girls rocking their board shorts and bikinis. Guests head out to group surfing classes and return back to gorge themselves on nachos, throw back a beer, or hit the nightlife of Tamarindo, a short walk down the beach.

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Location

The entrance fronts a busy road that leads to downtown Tamarindo, while the back of the hotel opens onto Tamarindo Beach

The hotel’s entrance is across the street from a car rental business and a few feet from the busy street that leads to the heart of bustling, touristy Tamarindo. The back of the hotel opens onto a grassy area with paths that lead directly onto the northern stretch of Tamarindo Beach.

  • 10-minute walk to downtown Tamarindo
  • 25-minute drive to Playa Avellena
  • 30-minute drive to Playa Grande
  • 65-minute drive to Liberia Airport
  • Two-hour drive and boat ride to Witch’s Rock surf break
  • Two-hour, 30-minute drive to Nosara
  • Three-hour, 30-minute drive to Arenal Volcano National Park
  • Three-hour, 45-minute drive to San Jose International Airport
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Rooms

Basic rooms with surf-shack style but few amenities

The hotel’s 18 rooms reflect a surf-shack-chic aesthetic, with light pine ceilings, gray tile floors, solid wooden dressers and desks, and headboards carved with breaking waves. Walls are decorated with colorful surfboards and surf-inspired artwork. The effect is just shy of kitsch. Tiki Rooms, the smallest on site, have either one queen or two twin beds and little room for anything else, while Courtyard and Sunset Rooms feature two queen beds. Solo travelers can save money by opting for a Shared Room, which holds three beds and pairs guests with other travelers of the same sex. Two Penthouse Rooms are ideal for families, offering two queen beds and a twin bed in a loft, plus a kitchenette with a hot plate, microwave, and mini-fridge. These two rooms share a huge roof deck crisscrossed with strands of lights and outfitted with a smattering of plastic chairs. It's ideal for sitting back and taking in the views of the sunset over the Pacific. 

Cute decor aside, the rooms purposely lack the amenities found in most standard hotel rooms such as clocks, TVs, adequate lighting, toiletries, closets with doors, and hairdryers. Connecting to Wi-Fi is also challenging in the rooms, and inadequate lighting makes it difficult to read in bed. But guests are encouraged to spend their time surfing and mingling with other guests in the restaurant and bar, so they primarily come to their rooms to sleep. On that front, there are some challenges: The sheets are thin, the pillows are spongy, and some rooms receive noise from the street and the restaurant, which can be bothersome for light sleepers. 

Bathrooms are outfitted with a few tiny bars of soap, woven bath mats, and water-conserving showerheads (though they seem to spray the water in several directions). Drains are missing covers and water pressure is variable, sometimes  just a trickle, but bathrooms are cheerful, with cobalt-blue tile and striped shower curtains.

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Features

Excellent surf classes, two casual restaurants, an on-site brewery, a surf shop, and a surfboard shaping studio

Based on ability, guests sign up for seven-day camp packages that pair small groups of same-ability surfers with enthusiastic instructors. Beginners start on the beach in front of the resort while more experienced surfers embark on daily van excursions to nearby breaks such as Playa Avellanas, Playa Grande, Ollie's Point, and Witch's Rock (reached by a van-and-boat journey). Along with the daily instruction, seminars, video analysis, and unlimited surfing is part of the plan. Surfers can try different boards from the hotel's boardcage or hit the surf shop. It's here guests can get equipped with all the necessary gear from T-shirts to rash guards to trendy watches, but the shop does lack snacks and toiletries. The Endless Summer movie star Robert August runs a small on-site business shaping surfboards for guests. And after a day riding waves, guests return to linger at the camp's restaurants.

“Nachos as Big as Your Ass” is the prominent sign at the entrance of Eat at Joe’s, one of two restaurants at Witch’s Rock. The heaping pile of cheese and chips lives up to its reputation. (They also serve a half-ass portion.) They're popular on a menu that also serves fish tacos, sushi from the sushi bar, and other crowd-pleasers, along with casado, the Costa Rican staple of rice and beans, meat or fish, fried plantains, paired with a carrot, tomato, and cabbage salad. El Vaquero, the newest addition to the hotel, is a beachfront barbecue brewpub with tiki-umbrella covered tables on a terrace and brightly painted picnic tables set in the sand beneath stringed lights. It's a popular spot for happy hour, casual dinners, and live music on the weekends. Both restaurants serve brews from the Volcano brewery, located on site.

The resort also offers massage on the beach or in a semi-sheltered nook close to the restaurant. The pool, a deep cobalt-blue swimming hole, offers views of the beach, but it's closer to hot-tub size. 

Witch's Rock is involved with Pack for a Cause, a non-profit organization that connects travelers to local charitable foundations. Before arrival, guests check the website to browse a list of items requested by organizations and fills extra space in their luggage with whatever is requested. The surf camp then takes the items from guests and delivers them to those in need. 

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Best Rates

Amenities

  • Airport Transportation

  • Balcony / Terrace / Patio

  • Beach

  • Cable

  • Cribs

  • Full Kitchen

  • Internet

  • Kids Allowed

  • Pool

Disclaimer: This content was accurate at the time the hotel was reviewed. Please check our partner sites when booking to verify that details are still correct.