Ned: "BEST Surf Camp in Costa Rica"
New! "7x Kalon Surf - here is why"
Several years ago, I decided I wanted a surf vacation, so I looked at some websites and wrote a few emails. The first (and fastest) reply came from Marcela at Kalon Surf. That level of service and professionalism is one of many reasons I've visited Kalon six times now (red: as of November 2014: 7 times).Ned
Each time I come back, I can count on two things. The first is that the waves will be good, the sunsets awesome, the people friendly and welcoming, and the food will be five-star quality. I value this consistency when vacations are rare and you want and need the time to really count. But I also know something will be different and better than the last visit, and this is the second reason I keeping coming back.
The highlights this time were the new accommodations. The mansion blends into the local scenery, perched amid the jungle and nearby rain forest and offering stunning vistas of verdant countryside and winding coastline. It has resort quality amenities but also a local flavor and aesthetic that keeps a person comfortable but also provides a window into the culture. The rooms all have terrific views - it's such a treat to start the day with a cup of coffee on the deck and see local birds or maybe a monkey and to then end the day with a communal meal as the sun sets.
When you add such a great place to a great experience, it makes for a memorable vacation. I've met such interesting people, from around the world and a variety of backgrounds and professions, from families to couples to solo travelers, and it's common to keep in touch even after the vacation ends. And it's an equal treat to returning to see the people who run Kalon - Kjeld and Silene are engaged owners, Marcela makes everyone feel at home, Roberto and his crew are committed to providing a fun, safe surfing experience, and Esme and Christopher's food will have you asking for more (and for recipes).
In this respect, Kalon has become a home away from home, a place where I escape from a busy life and unwind and relax while chasing the perfect wave and hanging out with an interesting, friendly people. Not everyone is going to come to a place six times, but this wouldn't happen if the first time hadn't left such an impression. I wish people the same experience if they visit Kalon.
"3rd Time at Kalon Surf - Gets Better Each Time"
It's a fair question - the world's a large place, with many places to see and many breaks to surf, so why would a person return to the same place three times (with plans to do so again)?Ned
My answer is simple: each visit to Kalon Surf has been great, so I know what I'm getting in terms of a total experience. But Kalon also deserves credit for never resting on its laurels. Each return visit introduces something new, something that makes each trip equally unique and memorable. This is why I almost always book my next trip while I'm still there.
To provide a few examples of what I mean, on my most recent trip Marcela happily arranged for someone to come and give me Spanish lessons so that I could at least express my thanks in the local language. One area where thanks is definitely due is the wonderful food - it is healthy and high quality, with many meals focusing on local specialities and using local ingredients. I took several recipes home with me and failed miserably in recreating the tastiness of the food I had at Kalon. A person works up a healthy appetite surfing for several hours a day, and to be rewarded with such interesting, delicious food is one of many perks of visiting Kalon.
Another great aspect of the experience is the people. The staff has the closeness of a family, and when you're there, you become a member of this family. They take great pride in sharing their local community with the guests. Everyone is super friendly and helpful. The guests are also very interesting - from people surfing for the first time to savvy veterans, from business persons to artists and artisans to doctors and lawyers, it is a diverse mix of people from a variety of backgrounds. Imagine the following: you've spent several hours surfing in warm waters and then had a video review of what you've learned, and as your hunger builds you then end the day over a great meal with lively conversation on a balcony that overlooks the Pacific as the sun sets (or perhaps during a spectacular lightning show). And you get to repeat it for several days running. This is why I return so often: the certainty of a high quality experience mixed in with daily, unexpected surprises among warm, friendly people.
"Such a great experience...I came back for seconds"
I first visited Kalon in November 2011 and had such a fun time that I returned in July 2012.Ned
Since my initial visit, Kalon Surf has relocated to a new house - the former one was great, but the new place is spectacular: situated up the mountain, nestled among the jungle and kept cool by nice breezes, it has an amazing panoramic view of the Pacific. Each evening, on an open air porch, we ate dinner either watching the sunset or taking in the pyrotechnics of lightning storms over the ocean. The layout of the new place is great, too - individual rooms are far enough apart to allow privacy when you need it, but there are plenty of spaces of socializing and hanging out, including an infinity pool.
The service is top notch - a treat for me was the fresh, healthy food (especially local fare using fish, chicken, beef), awesome desserts (the coconut ice cream is great) and the juices and smoothies made from local fruits. The people are super nice and friendly and interesting, and a cool part of the overall experience is talking to them and sharing stories about life. The same can be said of the guests, who were all nice, had interesting backgrounds and were a blast to hang out with over the week.
The surfing is great, too - Roberto and Mike are great instructors, as is the owner, Kjeld. I can't emphasize how valuable the video analysis is - whether you're hardcore about getting better or just want to make progress during the week, seeing yourself on the video really, really helps and is a great complement to the in-water experience. The local beaches are close by and really fun to surf. And every now and again, you see something completely unexpected, like two dolphins passing within five feet of my board.
I've already made plans to return again in November.
Many thanks to Kjeld, Silene, Marcela, Roberto, Mike, Esmerelda, Maria, Esteban and everyone else for another great experience - can't wait to pick up where I left off in November.
Kalon Surf Camp - Awesome Surf Experience
I just returned from a fantastic week at Kalon Surf - in many ways, it was like two vacations in one: the surfing component was a great workout but it was also a very relaxing time in a house with a great view of the ocean and friendly, interesting and welcoming people who quickly become your friends. This was easily one of the best vacations I've ever taken.Ned
From a surfing perspective, the instruction was great, both on the beach and in the water. Jossue and Roberto are passionate and enthusiastic instructors, striking the perfect balance between being encouraging and also pushing me to get better. A really key element of the experience (and one I didn't full appreciate until I benefited from it firsthand) was the daily video analysis. It really helped to see what I was doing (even the embarrassing bits!) so that I could visualize what I needed to work at the next surf session. As a bonus, they also make a great video at the end of the week that shows highlights and charts the progress you've made.
The surfing component alone would have made this a great trip, but the time at the house was equally wonderful. Kjeld, Marcela and Sabriina were accommodating and attentive hosts. The house was great, with spectacular views of the Pacific and an awesome house dog, Kala. The food was great and plentiful, and the Wednesday massage was just what the doctor ordered. The overall atmosphere was relaxing and friendly, and I hated to leave at the end of the week.
It's also worth noting the lengths to which Kalon Surf goes to take care of everything - I was picked up and dropped off at the airport and really had nothing to worry about in between save for making progress on my surfing and enjoying myself and relaxing. You will definitely leave with an appreciation for Pura Vida and desire to return.
Many, many thanks to Kalon Surf for a great week!