I stayed at Kalon in March 2015 with my teenage daughter. I've been surfing for a few years, and my daughter had been surfing maybe once or twice.
I've been to several surf camps over the years, and this is by far the best one I've ever attended. If you've searched around, you already know it's on the expensive side, so it's not for everyone. But in my view, it's worth every penny. The lodge facility is outstanding, the location is breathtaking, the food is to die for, and the staff is wonderful.
Most surf lodges or surf camps are started by former surfers who just stayed in country and turned their passion into a business that could pay their bills and allow them to build a life around surfing. That's just fine, but many of these places are not run as full-on professional hospitality-oriented businesses. Instead, they are a bit laid back, a few things slip through the cracks, and you just deal with it. No biggie, but it's also not first class.
Kalon is different. It was started by business-oriented folks who wanted to create a world-class experience built around surfing and the beauty of Costa Rica. So they apply super high standards and operational rigor to everything. The lodge is gorgeous, with great craftsmanship, super clean, very well kept, etc. The food is all fresh and home made with interesting flavors, creativity, and flair. There is attention to detail everywhere you look. The surfing itself is distinguished by four things -- the wave, the staff, and the photo/video. For context on where I'm coming from, I started surfing about 5 or 6 years ago and honestly am pretty mediocre. I just sort of taught myself, with all the associated bad habits.
The wave. We surfed every day at Playa Linda, about a 20 minute drive from the lodge. The wave at Playa Linda is a beach break. When we were there it was 2-5 feet with some short stretches to ride down the line. I would say a good wave but not a great wave. The thing that really set it apart was that *no one* was on it. We literally had it all to ourselves, every single day for 3-4 hours at a time. Preferences vary, but I would take a good wave with no people on it over a great wave with 10-20+ people on it every day of the week. And my experience with most other surf camps is they take you to a great wave, and then you have the stress of dealing with a bunch of other people on it. Some people are cool, some are aggro, and it can spoil the whole vibe.
The staff. The student to staff ratio is crazy good - like a guide for every 2-3 people. Makes a huge difference. And here is the real kicker -- at most other surf camps, the guides go out in the water with the guests, and sort of surf next to them. With Kalon, the guides go in the water and basically spend all their time helping the guests catch and ride waves. They only go out and rip themselves when the guests are taking a break. It's a big difference. And the staff members who worked with us -- Roberto, Henri, and Andres were just fantastic - patient, supportive, good at explaining stuff, etc.
The photo/video... The staff films and photographs every session *extensively* and then reviews it afterward as a group. It's a fun bonding experience to review it together and laugh together, and it's also incredibly useful.
The results are pretty compelling. People advanced their skills dramatically. You could literally watch it happen from day to day. Very cool.
One last thing -- before I chose Kalon, I stressed out a bit about the Lodge being 1,200 feet up a mountain and a 20-25 minute drive from the beach. But don't worry, they made the right choice. It's a beautiful and remote location, so you feel like you're in middle of the rainforest (because you are). No pounding music from 10 other surf camps clustered together on the beach all playing a different Bob Marley song. You are all by yourself with the sounds of the jungle. And an amazing view. And fewer bugs, better breezes, cooler temperatures, etc. It was definitely the right choice.
If you're looking for a first-class experience, I highly recommend it. Enjoy!
Stayed March 2015, traveled with family
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We enjoy perfect year-round conditions, with outside temperatures averaging 82 - 88°F (28 - 33°C). Meanwhile, the ocean hovers around 78°F (27°C). And, of course, the waves are perfect.