Our visit to Swell Surf Camp was everything we hoped it would be for a pair of beginner surfers. Having never been to the DR before it was nice to book ground transportation, lodging, instruction, and a majority of dining all at once. But don’t think of Swell as an “all inclusive.” It’s much more than just a gated compound that you have to feel unsafe venturing away from as the town is safe to explore. It’s a unique mix of adventure, a relaxing getaway, fantastic dining, and meeting new people. The mix however is really up to you.
The accommodations are clean and meticulously cared for. We loved having the privacy of our room and the open air social setting of the kitchen, “living room” area, and pool. This is not a place to go if you’re not looking to socialize. The breakfast and dinners are better than we expected. Fresh ingredients freshly prepared by excellent cooks are enough to bring us back again. The best mango I’ve ever had.
Haudy takes excellent care of you and is more than just a concierge and manager. She’s engages you daily to make sure things are going well and organizes details (details, timing, etc) for any other excursions beyond surfing. Honestly we just had fun hanging out with her.
Surfing for beginners? I’m sure there are other competent instruction programs but Swell stood out among the others I saw while I was there. Neno, Ed, and Paloma were a lot of fun to learn from with great attitudes and patience with students. Their philosophy about learning to surf and positive coaching styles have a consistency that allows each of them to work with you at any given time without contradicting one another. They also seemed to genuinely get along which shouldn’t be underestimated as a factor in the experience.
We really liked the 2 session format for surfing and the flexibility to skip the 2nd session after breakfast if you chose to. It was nice to work on technique, stop and rejuvenate with breakfast, then go back out for round 2 if you’re up for it. After 4 hours of surfing you were all done by 12:30 which feels like you still have the whole day in front of you to go canyoning (Matt at Kayak River Adventures is a very enthusiastic and just plain fun guide) or a variety of other activities. Or you can just chill at Swell’s pool all day!
We did a few sessions of yoga with Molly who is pretty much the most joyous and energetic yoga instructor I’ve encountered. We really enjoyed yoga at Swell and consider it a must do when we return. I like yoga but typically don’t find myself having as much fun as I did with Molly’s style.
From Swell you can walk to town and you should. Many food options (we kept finding ourselves at Fresh Fresh and Gorditos) and be ready to be solicited for everything from rides to town, jewelry, food, hair braiding, and much more. Most are pretty friendly and aren’t too persistent if you’re polite to them. It’s a beautiful Caribbean town despite some areas where there’s trash laying around and we highly recommend the 2 for 1 mojitos at the mojito bar from 4p-8p.
We’re already starting to plan our return trip. Swell is worth the repeat!