You Can Learn to Surf in Just One Week at This Boutique Hotel in Costa Rica

From personalized surf lessons to community building, Surf Synergy gives guests a unique experience.

<p>Courtesy of Surf Synergy</p>

Courtesy of Surf Synergy

From the second I landed at the airport in San Jose, I was part of the Surf Synergy family.

A family on my shuttle was also heading to the resort, and while the immigration line was painfully long, we immediately shared snacks and got to know one another. This was their third — maybe fourth — time coming to the resort, and it showed. They knew the driver by name, the owners, and even the animals that hung around the resort. This signified what was to come for me: becoming part of the family.

While surf lessons in Costa Rica are a dime a dozen, Surf Synergy offers an exceptional experience. I was immersed in the Surf Synergy lifestyle for a week, which embodied wellness, family, connection, and mindfulness. At Surf Synergy, I was encouraged to unplug, join in, get to know my neighbor, and leave my comfort zone.

I had never surfed before, but it was always on my list of things to try. I was eager to give it a go but apprehensive, too — would I be any good at it?

When I met my coach for the week, Miguel, I attempted to set his expectations low, but he met me with enthusiasm and encouragement, and it was hard to be negative. If I was overthinking the wave, he could tell. If I was in my head about the last fall, he knew and reminded me, “One good wave makes the whole day.” When I finally caught that wave, he was the first to celebrate with me. By the week's end, I was standing up and riding waves and celebrating with the entire group of coaches and other guests.

This sense of community among staff and other guests makes Surf Synergy such a special place. With group activities and communal meals, everyone felt like long-time friends. I joined extra hikes and stayed longer after meals just to “hang out” with my peers, and the daily review of our surf lessons celebrated how much we all improved.  By the end of the week, I, too, knew the owners, the dogs, and even the chef’s name.

There is much to say about my time there, so my full, detailed review of Surf Synergy is below.

Surf Synergy

  • The new villa is luxurious and offers several different housing combinations for hosting groups of different sizes.

  • The surf camp is incredible and offers attention you won’t get in lessons elsewhere.

  • The food is delicious, and all ingredients are local, if not grown out of their garden.

  • The surf package enables guests to become friends and fosters a sense of community.

The Rooms

<p>Courtesy of Surf Synergy</p>

Courtesy of Surf Synergy

The primary offering at Surf Synergy is the Surf Bungalows, where I stayed. These rooms can come with one king bed or three twin beds. The bungalows offer a simple yet comfortable space to return to between all your activities. The beds were firm and great for my tired body after a long day of surfing. Rooms are also filled with natural light and have a semi-outdoor shower with local and organic toiletries that smell amazing — my favorite was the banana conditioner that saved my hair after many hours in salt water.

While coffee and tea are always available in the main building, each room includes a chorreador, a traditional Costa Rican coffee maker with locally-ground beans. Each bungalow has a hammock and a porch that's shared with the neighboring room. All the bungalows have Wi-Fi, but there's no TV, as Surf Synergy wants to encourage guests to log off, embrace mindfulness, and enjoy the surrounding nature.

However, for true luxury, guests can stay in the newly opened Casa del Cielo, an 11,000-square-foot villa that can be rented in many different configurations. The house can sleep up to 24 guests, with a penthouse corner king room, a penthouse suite, and a bunk room featuring queen beds. The villa also includes a private infinity pool, a living room with retractable glass doors so you never have to miss any action outside, an outdoor kitchen and grill, and a fireplace and game room. It also includes a 75-inch TV, allowing for large groups to entertain.

Surf Synergy isn't done growing yet. Expansion continues as they build more hotel-style guest rooms that offer that signature Surf Synergy mix of bohemian and luxury.

Food and Drink

<p>Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure</p>

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

All meals are included in the surf packages — but this isn’t your standard all-inclusive food.

The menu changes daily and is listed on the chalkboard in the main lodge. Meals ranged from breakfast tacos to pork loin and ceviche to Mexican buffets, all with dietary restrictions accommodated as needed. Meals are served family-style so everyone joins the table to eat at the same time. Surf Synergy grows most of its fruits, vegetables, and herbs on-site and uses eggs from its personal chicken coop. Any ingredients that are not grown on the property are sourced from local vendors that are listed on the menu board.

The lobby also includes a 24-hour self-serve coffee and tea bar, and alcohol is available for purchase. Beer and wine are available, as is a full bar — including the best mojito I've ever had, which happened to be sugar-free.

Activities and Amenities

<p>Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure</p>

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

The main activity is in the name: surfing. The week-long package includes five in-depth surf lessons. Each guest has their own personal coach, and lessons are filmed for an end-of-day video review. It may sound daunting to watch in public, but I loved the group video replay. Everyone was incredibly supportive and cheered each other on all week. It was also highly motivating to see how much every person in the group improved in just a few days.

How quickly my group improved was also a testament to the coaches and how much they cared. The head surf coach, Marcel Oliveira, chooses the other coaches based on skill and personality. “Sometimes we give therapy out in the water," he told me, recounting an experience with a guest who was terrified of the ocean and spent most of his first lesson digging his nails into Oliveira’s arm. By the end of the week, the man was standing up on the board all on his own.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never made it to the deep end of the pool or if you’re a seasoned surfer who wants to step it up to the next level — there's a coach and a beach to fit your needs. There are six different beaches within reach of Surf Synergy, all with varying levels of waves. Novices might start on Jacó Beach, where the water is 82 degrees year-round, with no rip tides, rocks, or sea life. More intermediate and experienced surfers can try the bigger waves at nearby Hermosa Beach.

Also included in the package are daily yoga lessons in an open-air yoga studio with a lovely view of the surrounding mountains, an initial on-land surf lesson, a breathwork lesson, and an ice bath. During downtime, guests can use the saltwater pool and the open-air gym. Guests can also borrow one of the bikes, free of charge, to enjoy the beaches, go into town, or explore the area.

Other amenities include daily videos and photos of all your activities and a weekly sum-up video. Surf Synergy also offers complimentary private airport transfers and can help to set up several excursions, including crocodile tours, horseback riding, Manuel Antonio tours, and more.

The Spa

<p>Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure</p>

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

While there is no official spa, the yoga deck turns into an outdoor massage studio. One massage or bodywork session is included in the surf package, but more are available for purchase.

Family-friendly Offerings

The surf package can be adapted for all ages; whether your family member is 8 years old or 80, the coaches can adjust lessons, boards, and beaches accordingly. There are also bunk rooms available in the Casa de Cielo.

Accessibility and Sustainability

<p>Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure</p>

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Surf Synergy not only takes sustainability very seriously, but the resort also makes it a point to invest in the surrounding community. No single-use plastic is used at the resort, and guests are given a refillable water bottle during their stay. As mentioned before, most food is grown on the premises, and anything not grown there is sourced from local vendors. Surf Synergy also has a community program that encourages guests to donate clothes, school supplies, and other items to the resort, and they then give those items to community-based programs. Surf Synergy also hosts local events, like artisan markets, that unite the community and guests.


<p>Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure</p>

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Surf Synergy is located in Jacó, Costa Rica, which is about 90 minutes away from the San Jose airport. They offer a free airport shuttle to and from the resort. Bikes are also available to borrow for free to explore nearby attractions. The staff is also incredibly helpful in giving rides to nearby areas if given enough notice.

How to Get the Most Value Out of Your Stay

While this boutique resort isn’t connected to any major loyalty program, many events or themed weeks can add even more to the experience. Surf Synergy will often host pro surfers who give specialized lessons or specialized weeks like Longevity Week, which focuses on health and wellness training, and Gay Surf Week, which welcomes and highlights LGBTQIA surfers.

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