~The Evolution of Witch’s Rock Surf Camp~
If you have been coming down to Witch’s Rock Surf Camp since the beginning, or just started over the last few years, you know that we are constantly evolving to keep our little piece of paradise known as the best surf camp on the planet!
It’s been a blast going through all the old photos since 2001. We wish we could share them all, but we had to pick the most significant ones that mark the incredible evolution of Witch’s Rock Surf Camp! For everyone who has been part of the journey, Gracias & Pura Vida!
Joe had a dream… After seeing the perfect, uncrowded waves of Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point in Endless Summer 2 in the early 90’s, Joe bought and drove this school bus from San Diego to Costa Rica with 10 others adventurers. His wife, Holly, being one of them.
Joe and Holly quickly found this little six-bedroom beach shack in Playas del Coco and rented out four of the rooms to guests. They purchased a panga boat to run daily trips to Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s point. As for the guests who wanted to learn to surf, Joe and Holly quickly learned about the perfect beginner waves in Tamarindo, and so the next chapter began..
In October 2001, Joe and Holly found the perfect beach house in Tamarindo where they opened a small restaurant and housed guests who wanted to surf. Rustic is not even the right description of how rustic your experience truly was. Without the Liberia Airport, our guests could only fly into San Jose and either drive here themselves, or catch a puddle-jumper flight into the tiny Tamarindo airport where we would pick you up. Stall-outs and brake failures were very common in the beginning. One time, former driver, Shawna (now the head of sales /reservations) broke through the bamboo wall and crashed right into the restaurant. Talk about door to door service..
Even back then, our vision was the same; to share the love of surfing! Seems the notion has really caught on. Here is Holly spreading the stoke to one of our beginner students in Tamarindo in the early 2000’s.
One thing that hasn’t changed in the 15 years of operation is our high-energy Friday night Graduation! After a week of surf lessons and tours, we always congratulate and commemorate the week with an official graduation ceremony. And here is Niki, our energetic Englishman (now camp manager and head-brewmaster) back in his younger days. His role has slightly changed now, but his overflowing positive energy has not 😉
In 2003 we finally made the leap to start constructing our own hotel rooms. The goal was to create comfortable beachfront rooms with access to the best waves in town! Here are Joe & Holly admiring their Sunset Downstairs Room. Anyone stayed in Room #1 or #2 before? Finishing off 12 rooms here and we still didn’t have enough space for all our guests! A few years later, we added on 6 more rooms for our current total of 18.
Our famous board cage has moved numerous times, always trying to find the most convenient spot for our clients to “grab and go.” What hasn’t changed is the man that runs it all, known universally as “Maxi Waxi.” Maxi has been with the camp since 2003 and is well-known fixture here. We just love him!
Maxi Waxi ~ King of the Board Cage ~
The front entrance has taken on many looks, but our guests always know where to find us. Just look for the “Nachos As Big As Your Ass” sign. Here is the front view of the camp and the entrance to Eat at Joe’s after the completion of our 18 rooms. The basic outside layout has not changed much since then.
Welcome to Witch’s Rock Surf Camp! Do you recognize our front desk and Surf Shop? This is where most of our guests start their vacation by checking in and taking their first seminar, the WRSC Orientation. The front desk is the true control center for the surf camp. With an unbeatable crew behind the desk, they are able to help you with just about anything. From lesson scheduling, to airport transportation, to booking adventure tours, the front desk is here to help!
And here he is, the Legend who put Tamarindo on the map, Robert August. Since Robert starred in The Endless Summer 2 in 1994, Tamarindo has been a surfer’s Mecca ever since. Robert joined the Witch’s Rock Surf Camp team in 2010 so he could continue spreading the love of Surfing and meet people from all over the world. To this day, you can find Robert August shaping boards, giving seminars, and cracking jokes with all the camp guests.
In honor of the original bus, we created this outside display that captured the old-school essence of our business. “Hotel, Restaurant, Surf Shop, Surf Camp, Lessons, Tours.. What else could you want? Maybe a Micro-brewery 🙂 Notice the “Nachos as Big as your Ass” still sends a bold message to the outside traffic.
Robert August and Joe Walsh doing the History of Surf seminar back when we had no seminar room. No power-point needed, Robert and Joe work as a great team when it comes to “off the cuff” presentation. This is the longest Joe’s hair has ever been for the record..
Volcano Brewing Company opens in Tamarindo in 2013! Joe’s dream of his very own micro-brewery on-site has come true. VBC is the only brewery in Tamarindo and serves up 3 delicious beers: Gato Malo Dark Ale, Witch’s Rock Pale Ale, and our newest IPA. So good that you’ll want to sample more than just one.. These beers are exclusively sold at Eat at Joe’s and El Vaquero.
Who loves El Vaquero!? This rancho-style bar was opened back in 2012 and is the BEST hangout in Tamarindo. Tasty food, Micro beers, and perfect waves right out front. Not to mention the live jams on the weekends! This is Witch’s Rock’s second official restaurant and offers a tasty menu and the friendliest staff in town. Straight in from the waves and right into a beer.
The Friday Graduation is still everyone’s favorite end-of-the-week celebration. We’ve now stepped things up a bit from Niki shouting from atop a plastic chair. All graduates from our camp now receive an one-of-a-kind WRSC diploma and are ordained “Surfers” from this moment on. The graduation ceremony is held in the seminar room where everyone is shown a nostalgic video recap of their unforgettable week.
The Surf Camp and Hotel have come a long way in the past 15 years. Here is a standard evening where guests and locals alike eat at Joe’s where they can enjoy a full ocean view and unbeatable service to wind down their “tough” day in paradise.
Witch’s Rock Surf Camp from a bird’s eye view. The bird is probably looking to make a swift landing on the Penthouse’s rooftop balcony. Or maybe he’s just waiting for the band at Vaquero. Either way, he picked the right place to hang out.
“Stay here, surf there” With the best location in town, why would you stay anywhere else? Joe and Holly’s Dream has come an incredible long way from their school bus days. Now with 18 rooms at Witch’s Rock and 30 rooms at our sister resort, Pueblo Dorado Surf Hotel, we can find space for you any time of the year.
Welcome to the family, Sis! After years of being sold out at the original site, we decided to add Pueblo Dorado Surf Hotel to our family. Only 3 min walking down the road, the Pueblo Dorado has 30 more rooms for our guests and host a very similar experience. Perfect for last minute surf trips..
And here are most the current WRSC employees with a smile from ear to ear. With over 100 employees from the area, Joe and Holly have offered us the priceless opportunity to work for the best company in the world. Truth be told, this photo doesn’t even capture a fraction of our true WRSC family. With over 25,000 guests, the Witch’s Rock family extends far across the globe. Thank you for helping us create the best surf camp on the planet!