Stefan

Great Place to surf, to kite and to meet interesting and friendly people from around the world!
This has been one of the best holidays I ever booked with my wife and my 3 daughters.
The camp, the rooms and the recreation spots (pool, pool billiard, kicker) are fabulous – after 2 weeks we have been completely “Swellonized”!
Haudy and her team at Swell site as well as Clare (in the background) are always very helpful and sooo friendly.
The surf instructors did a great job – I got a big green wave at the end of our lessons – and it took me all down to the beach:)
The food (breakfast and dinner) are exceptionell – a big hug to Esmeralda and her colleague(s).
Cabarete and especially the Swell Surf Camp are a great place for relaxing vacation.
We will come back!

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Sarah

Everything I Needed and More Than I Expected!
I can’t identify many things wrong with Swell. All members of the staff are kind, enthusiastic, and genuinely want to take good care of you. The housekeepers/cooks are some of the hardest working women I’ve ever met, and the meals they cook will make you go weak in the knees.

I never once felt like I was in anything other than good hands while at Swell. Our room was clean and comfortable, the maintenance man keeps everything working, the instructors love their jobs and want nothing more than for you to find joy in surfing, and the establishment feels safe and secure. The surrounding neighborhood can be daunting at first (especially the insane roads!), but after spending an hour or two acclimating, you’ll learn to love the character and unique-ness of it all.

I would recommend Swell to anyone who is looking for the perfect mix of unscheduled freedom with open options and structured play time. Really, the only schedule you need to worry about is surf in the morning if you want…eat a delicious breakfast at 9:00AM…maybe take yoga in the afternoon…eat dinner provided by the kitchen every other day at 7:00PM. Everything else is unstructured and yours for the taking. I got everything I needed and more than I expected from Swell. Thank you!

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Erica K

All around wonderful…

Hands down, an incredible trip. I stayed at Swell for 7 days and couldn’t have designed a better experience. The instruction, food, fellow travelers, and options for other adventure were all fantastic.
– As a beginner surfer I wanted solid instruction in warm water with enough surt time opportunity to learn. The “on-water” instruction was thorough and I absolutely loved that they included an evening theory class that broke down the science behind why influcences/ creates waves. I was riding surf the first day and the second day was out on “real” waves. I felt supported, challenged and in good hands.
– The food… outstanding! In fact I ate at some of the higher end restaurants and preferred the food served at swell. It was healthy, delicious and well prepared. If it was a restaurant it would be the best in town.
– I loved the extra outings!- waterfall canyons, beaches, and lagoons. Stunning.
– The opportunity to meet interesting and lovely people- unexpectedly precious. I was surprised at how phenomenal the other guests were. Great way to make new friends and have a communal experience.
I also want to give a special shout out to Darby and Neno, whose surf instruction was phenomenal. And to Molly, whose sweet and gracious yoga instruction helped balance my body after long days in the water.
Overall I loved it. In fact, i wish i was still there. 🙂

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Paige

A Special Place…
This is a special place, unlike anywhere I have been before. It is not a hotel, and it is not a hostel. It is adventure camp for grownups. It’s not overly luxurious in the classic sense, but it is modern, clean, and beautiful, and the level of service and the communal arrangement gives you a sense that you are cared for in a way that classic luxury typically fails.

You come to Swell first and foremost to learn how to surf the great consistent break at Encuentro, but also to meet interesting people from all over the world and to explore Cabarete and surrounding areas while having a safe beautiful oasis to return to. You can feel confident coming alone. It is a communal gathering place so if you are looking for pure solitude or a “honeymoon” experience, it may not be the best fit. You can of course find a solo corner for relaxation, in a hammock, a lounge chair by the pool, or a bean bag under the fan, reading a book as you watch the pink frangipani flowers fall to the ground. But Swell really shines when you open yourself up to others and go with the flow of activity and energy that might “swell up” over a Presidente and a glorious Dominican group meal.

The people who work at Swell are the best part about it. Haudy is like a mama bear. She took care of so many small details. When I was there, one of the girls had a number of medical issues and she really stepped up to help her. On the last day I was so relaxed I forgot to arrange my taxi to the airport until the last minute. She had already arranged it on her own and reminded me when my flight was leaving and when the cab was arriving.

The ladies who cook and clean are amazing and kind and helpful. The whole common area and the rooms are kept spotless. And as so many other reviewers have said, the food is fabulous. You don’t have a lot of choices but that’s okay because what is done is done so well. If you are a picky eater or have to have things a certain way, again it might not be the best choice. But if you can go with the flow you will be very satisfied. Every morning after the first session, there is something hearty like burritos or omelets, with amazing fresh fruit and crepes and some delicious homemade juice and great bread for toast. They make homemade muesli with fresh shaved coconut that is to die for. I usually had a huge breakfast and could just go with an afternoon snack instead of lunch. Dinners vary every night (they don’t have them every night) but usually are Dominican in some way, fish, chicken, beef, with great salads and plenty of sides. The meals I had at camp were some of the best I had the whole trip.

I can’t say enough good things about our surf instructors, who also hung around and became our friends. Darby gave me so many great tips and inspired confidence. He really pushed me forward in my surfing without any judging. He is kind and grounded and has great taste in music! Neno was also a fabulous instructor and hang out buddy – and acro-yogi. He unknowingly inspired me to do the epic fail of a handstand on my board! Henrri did a fabulous job of taking care of us in the water and was also great company – he was always dancing! The instructors helped us plan some outside excursions and joined us on a few, and it made the trip so much better.

I had surfed quite a few times before coming to Swell, but never felt like I conquered it. Swell was perfect for me. If you are already an expert surfer, you could still have a lot of fun at Swell, but I think it really caters to people who are beginners or intermediate. A few of us ended up going out to the back and catching the bigger waves and I couldn’t be happier to be in that group, as it was the primary goal of my trip. Darby made it seem like no big deal, which really helped. A number of people had never surfed before and I think every one of them got up on the board on the inside break.

I saw that some reviewers thought it was expensive. I can’t speak to the private rooms, but I stayed in the dorm with a friend and found it very affordable, especially considering the value of the meals and the instruction and transportation to the beach, use of the boards and booties, etc. The dorm worked out perfectly. We had one other girl in there with us and it was fun to make friends. I’ve traveled all over the world and stayed in hostels so I am already prepared for the flexibility required. They have safes for each resident in the dorms and I felt very safe and comfortable there.

The yoga is sort of an add on – it is not the primary focus. But I have a fairly active practice and was really glad there were some classes. Molly is really sweet and does a really solid class.

Swell is not right on the beach, but it worked out great and I wouldn’t let that give you pause. You are close to everything in town and 5-10 minute drive to the main surf spot. I was always so happy to get back to our quiet little camp and fall into the pool after being at the beach. We easily walked down to the main beach in Cabarete where all the crazy action is.

The schedule they create for the surfing is perfect. 7:00 is early (especially after some late fun nights) but honestly I could even get up earlier to surf because the waves and the beach are so great in the early morning. You get plenty of surf time and I was always really exhausted after both sessions. Two of the days a group of us chose to skip the second session and go on excursions, but I could always get that first session in and feel like I still had a good day of surfing.

Wifi only works in the common areas, but worked well for me.

I’m sure that anyone staying here could come up with some little things they think should be done differently, but I won’t bother giving you my extremely short list. No place is perfect, but this comes damn close. Come with a flexible mind about food, culture and your schedule, a desire to learn how to surf, and an open heart to meeting diverse people, and you will have a blast!

I never do repeat vacations – and I mean never. But I WILL come back to Swell.

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Shannon

Incredible place, even better people.. can’t wait to go back
This is one of the only vacations I’ve been on where I was looking for dates for my next trip before I even left the airport. It was my first solo-trip and I had no idea what to expect. I read reviews (just like you’re probably doing right now) and while reassuring, words can’t explain how much fun you’ll have and how at home you’ll feel.

There’s something here for everyone, whether it’s hanging by the pool, surfing/ kitesurfing, or going on a canyoning adventure (fun fact – if you’re deathly afraid of heights like I am, maybe skip that one). Rooms and common areas were all cleaned every day and the food was incredible. I can’t say enough about the staff there who really create the environment that everyone raves about. Cabarete was also a really cool area – lots of shops, restaurants, bars.. and a trapeze school right next door to Swell (thought that was as awesome as it was bizarre!).

Oh, last thing! I have one of those jobs that allows me to work from anywhere as long as there’s an internet connect. While yes, this was supposed to be a vacation, a couple “emergencies” did occur that I couldn’t avoid. If that’s of any importance to you, internet in the common area was really reliable and I was able to do everything I needed to.

Ok, back to planning my next visit. Hope to see ya there 🙂

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Stu

Amazing two weeks, love Swell and the people i met!
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!

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Tricia

Unforgettable Vacation and one of my top destinations
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!!!

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Pete

No Exaggeration: this place is awesome!
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.

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Kayla R

Incredible Vacation!
Amazing experience! This was my first solo vacation, and I was a little hesitant booking the trip when I had never surfed, didn’t know any one else, and was staying in the dorm room.

My initial concerns vanished upon arriving at Swell, and I’m so glad I just booked it. I met a variety of fantastic people and miss them already! The camp is set up in a way that is naturally very social and relaxing, with great communal areas. The dorms are clean and comfortable and the food is delicious. I felt safe the entire time and it was nice having transportation taken care of.

The surfing instructors were fantastic, knowledgeable and provided 1:1 coaching. I was standing on the board within the first few days and loved watching the sun rise in the early sessions. As others mentioned, the schedule is fantastic with two surf sessions and a home cooked breakfast in the morning, followed by optional activities and time to relax by the pool in the afternoon. The yoga was a perfect post-surf activity. We went out for several meals in Cabarete and I enjoyed the company and beach-side dining.

I hope to return one day and highly recommend Swell!

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Eric

AWESOME Experience
I just got back from Swell last night and I wish I didn’t have to leave. It was an amazing trip. Haudy, who runs the place day to day is amazing. Everything is so organized and you are treated so well. She has Swell running like clockwork. It’s like being part of a small family when you are there. The instructors, Dan, Scott and Nano were great and definitely knew what they were doing. They were great guys. The meals that were made for us 4 nights a week at the hotel were phenomenal. I had a private room which was very nice and comfortable. There was no TV which was great. If you wanted access to wifi it was available in the common area, which is where you really gathered most of the time when you weren’t surfing or out at the beach, eating, getting a message or shopping. The area is safe and the property is extremely safe. I can’t recommend Swell enough!!!! My only regret was not being able to stay longer.

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