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All reviews surf camp other guests solo trip new friends learn how common areas no idea what to expect every morning a fantastic vacation breakfast and dinner dominican republic cleaned daily gorditas main beach week stay clare neno
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Reviewed 5 June 2017

Really awesome holiday, the camp is great with homely rooms and really comfortable beds and very clean (rooms cleaned everyday just like a hotel). As you will read on other reviews the food really is amazing and you eat a lot of it but you will come home in better shape than when you went away! I wasn't sure if i would get a bit bored staying in one place on my own for two weeks but there was no chance of that, after two morning surf sessions chilling in the Swell garden by the pool or down by the beach is a pretty welcome activity. I did do a couple of really good excursions though and there is plenty on offer. The staff at Swell are amazing and really make you feel at home and the instructors build a really good sociable environment. If you like animals then they even have a cat and the best behaved dog i have ever encountered. Cabarete is a cool place, plenty to offer and some really good places to eat and drink on the beach and the Surf Instructors make a big effort to organize evening meals with the group on nights that food isn't provided at camp which is a nice touch. Highly recommended!

  • Stayed: May 2017, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Stu2302
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 May 2017

It is rare that I return to place I visited even if I loved it, but after first visiting Swell in October 2016 there was no question as to whether I would return. I didn't just have a great vacation and improved on my surfing, but I also found a second home in the DR- so I returned at the end of April 2017 and after being home one week I am already planning my next trip back. The staff is amazing, friendly and helpful. When you arrive at Swell, plan on feeling welcomed from the start with Houdy, the manager showing you around the camp and introducing you to the surf instructions, staff, and other guests and from there you are part of this wonderful family. Since, the place is so engaging the guests cannot help but also engage with each other and the "Swell Surf Family" is born.

After the 7am daily surf lesson, the best part, after catching some waves, is you come back "home" to enjoy a beautifully prepared breakfast from the chefs. The large communal table fosters an engaging meal with your instructions and other guests, Also, there is a family dinners 4x's a week and more friendships are made. With your new friends and family you also can enjoy the beautiful grounds and pool, yoga, day-trips, some crazy nights out...and most importantly some unforgettable memories.

Swell is perfectly situated in Cabarete and a stone's throw to Gordito's - my personal favorite restaurant. The food will get you there but the Sangria and smiles is what keeps me going back. It's my own personal mission to bring every new guest there for a Sangria or Margarita. Swell is also located within a short walking distance to beautiful beaches, shopping, and great nightlife.

So as you can see this place really does has everything. It can accommodate all different age ranges and social-economic stages. As a 43 year old and financially secure person, I have left my back-packing/hostel days behind me as a fond memory, which was my initial reason for choosing Swell, as they have brilliantly planned the property to accommodate all budgets and life stages.

See you there soon!!!

  • Stayed: April 2017, travelled solo
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank Tricia C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 May 2017

I visited back in March 2017. I wanted to take my time to properly consider my experience to provide well rounded feedback.

Swell had been on my list of surf camps to visit based on the extraordinary reviews across multiple publications. The booking process is seamless and communication via email is extremely professional and timely. The camp is located in Cabarete, a world renowned kite surfing location. While not located on the beach, the camp is a short walk to beach and just down the street from Gorditios – you will know this place very well.

I booked a private room with yoga – this included airport transportation, daily surf, daily breakfast and some dinners.

Transportation: efficient; local taxi driver picks-up / drops-off.

Room: private rooms include private baths, which are cleaned daily. The room is clean and generous in size. One downside, there is a charge for AC, which I thought was quite high, so opted to not have during my stay.

Surf: limited; you are only taken to one break every single day. Other surf camps, will take you to different breaks based on conditions and skill level of group. First session always starts at 7am and the second session around 10:30am or 11am (can’t remember) because prevailing winds are too strong by mid-day, so regardless of tide, the times are set for the day. The team is good at providing a warm-up and instructions (e.g., practicing your pop-up). During the first session, the coaches are in the water with you but the second session, you are simply driven to the beach and are on your own in the water, which is fine but different to what I have experienced with other surf camps.

Food: the website is very explicit about what is included, bananas / coffee pre surf, full breakfast post surf, lunch on your own, and dinners on select nights. Except during my stay 3 out of 5 mornings there were no bananas available – really??? It’s the Dominican Republic, how hard is it to get bananas? Some people weren’t able to put anything into their stomach before their surf sessions, which is dangerous from an energy perspective. I luckily had my own stash of protein bars that I was more than willing to share with other guests. The meals provided by the camp were truly delicious, you will not go hungry post surf and at dinner, quality and portions are epic.

Staff: without Haudie the manager, the lovely ladies who make your meals, the incredibly personable grounds keeper who's name I forgot, this place would simply not run.

Yoga: not worth it…there is no private area / studio to practice so you are doing it right in front of the pool other guests, which doesn’t get you into the right frame of mind. Also, the instructor while a lovely person giggles and tries too hard to be personable. She should focus on the class practice and poses that are safe for all.

Additional Items (e.g., beer, wine, pop, etc.): all available onsite but for a serious premium – so bring lots of US dollars or simply walk to the market and pay local prices. Only buy as much as you need as you will not be able to store beer in the fridge there.

Overall, I loved my stay at Swell, the guests are amazing! However, I would likely not return do to the limited availability of surf breaks. Maybe additional ones are available at a cost, but for me simply surfing one break regardless of conditions isn’t the best use of my surf vacation.

  • Stayed: March 2017, travelled solo
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Fernando7676
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GoGapSport, Owner at Swell Surf Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 8 May 2017

Indeed it is the case that there are several days or weeks in the year where good quality organic bananas are not available (we choose not to offer anything but really fresh ones so we turn them away when on occasion, they are past their best). However, I'm baffled by your claim that you had nothing to eat before surfing, as when there are no bananas, we provide our own home made organic granola instead (Haudy's own recipe): Our comprehensive arrival details do tell you this and they also advise you to bring your own snacks, as you did). The 'one' surf break you mention is actually 4 different surf breaks spread out over 1 kilometer, providing very good conditions for surfers of all levels. I am told by our staff that you wanted to go surf La Preciosa. Unfortunately, this break is just not suitable for someone of your beginner surfing level; it's a fast reef break with a very long paddle out against a strong current. If we had taken you, you probably wouldn't have made it back to Swell; we haven't lost a guest yet and intend to keep it that way. We do try to keep our Yoga friendly and available to all abilities; so Molly is too friendly in your view: We won't be asking her to change her style. With regards your comments about charges for drinks; the reality is that we don't make a single dollar profit on our drinks sales. We choose to have a self service bar for our guests to mark their own tabs, so by the time we have bought them from the supermarket (our volume is not sufficient to buy wholesale), kept them well refrigerated and lose some to forgetfulness of tab marking, we just about break even over the year. A/C is the same; the Dominican Republic must still import most of its power capability and that is a very expensive process; you'd probably choke if you saw our electricity bills. Overall, we are glad that you enjoyed so many of the wonderful things at Swell. Clare

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 April 2017

These people are not exaggerating on how fun this place is in the other reviews. I was here for about 3 weeks. I was not sure what to expect out of Cabarete or the DR really. I could not have imagined that it would be so great. The people I met there, both the staff and the other guests were wonderful. There was always some surf for any level of surfer. So that is no problem. Socially, although as guests were from incredibly disparate backgrounds, we really got along well. I have not been to a "surf camp" before but I am absolutely looking forward to booking my trip again. It was so fun to be around others who loved the water as much as me. I just haven't had that experience as an adult. The food was awesome. Breakfast everyday and four nights a week a dinner was included. The surf instructors were fun and patient; big props to Scott, Dan and Neno! Howdie was the on site manager and she did everything she could to keep us happy and comfortable. It was pretty awesome. If you've even thought about a surf trip once, then you should book this. Water is warm, people are cool. If you don't want to surf on a particular day, you can just chill at the camp. Easy.

Room Tip: Dorms are super nice. Sometimes you have the whole dorm to yourself.
  • Stayed: March 2017, travelled solo
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank cwtsurf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 April 2017

I was really looking forward to my trip to Swell with some girlfriends. Unfortunately the trip did not go as planned - one of our group members had to cancel due to work and a week later I also had to cancel due to my doctor's advisement. Clare, the owner, was fine with my friend switching her dates for a future trip to Swell but would not extend the same courtesy to me. I'm not sure why a business owner would treat 2 clients from the same group differently, but the manner in which she responded via email was truly appalling. Clare could not have been more unkind, rude and unsympathetic. I understand that there is a no refund policy, but I assumed that if she would let one of our group members move her dates she would allow the same for me. Instead she is just keeping my 80% deposit and told me not to contact her again. I am incredibly disappointed with the overall "feel" that she left me with. This is not the way anyone should treat another person, but I am especially shocked that a business owner would treat a client this way. This business does not deserve your hard earned cash. I would definitely suggest avoiding Clare and finding another surf camp to spend your vacation time at.

  • Stayed: March 2017, travelled with friends
    • Service
3  Thank NYC725
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GoGapSport, Owner at Swell Surf Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 5 April 2017

This guest booked in a group of 5. Our shared rooms normally only sleep 4. An extra bed was added, on the group's request, so they could share one room.

When one of the group asked very politely to change her dates, 3 weeks before her visit to Swell, because this bed was an 'extra' added to a room that we could not use for any other booking, we agreed to a credit for a future stay. The girl who changed her dates is now coming for a longer stay with her husband in July this year.

Despite knowing our cancellation policy (mentioning it again herself in her demand to cancel her stay only 4 days before her arrival date), this reviewer wanted a complete refund of her deposit.

I explained very politely why she could not have her deposit refunded. All guests who book with Swell, including this reviewer, are made well aware of our cancellation policy before they pay their deposit. That this has resulted in such a venomous review of Swell and myself, I make no apologies whatsoever. I think it is a grave shame that Trip Advisor allows a review like this from someone who never actually made it to Swell.

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