Beach destination hotels with amenities such as surfboards and surf lessons are a dime a dozen -- and they can be great for those looking to get their feet wet with the sport. But for true surfers, who fully embrace the surfer culture and lifestyle, finding a hotel that fits the low-key, hang-ten, no-worries-bro vibe can be a more difficult feat. So we did the grunt work for you tanned wave enthusiasts out there, and discovered some real hidden gems. Two in Costa Rica, one in Cabo, and one in Hawaii -- these four surf hotels are the perfect homes away from home for surfers.
-- Jane Reynolds, Oyster.com
This 18-room, no-frills surfing mecca sits on a prime stretch of Tamarindo Beach. The vibe is friendly, laid-back, and fun. Guests are encouraged to kick back in the two lively restaurants, the brewery, or the tiny pool. There's also a busy surf shop that outfits guests with surfing gear. Rooms are bare-bones basic, lacking clocks, TVs, and adequate lighting, but that's part of the plan. Guests don't come to Witch's Rock to lounge on high-thread-count sheets (they're pretty thin) or linger in luxurious bathrooms (hot water is sporadic), they come to hone their surfing skills and embrace the camaraderie and campy lifestyle that goes along with the sport.
The 10-room Kalani Hawaii is a hostel with a bed-and-breakfast vibe, thanks to owners Maria and Bernie, the latter of whom is a former Triple Crown of Surfing contest director. All of the rooms, both private or dorm-style, are uniquely decorated; some are more modern than others. The grounds are small but pretty and the beaches of North Shore, known for excellent surfing, are just across the street. It's a good spot for surfers who don't need many amenities and plan to head out to the beach each day, but it's a bit isolated for visitors who want to focus on Honolulu area attractions.
This family-owned, boutique hotel in San José del Cabo is a slightly more chic alternative to your average surf hotel. It enjoys gorgeous Pacific Ocean views from its two infinity pools, hot tub, and most of its 36 rooms. The somewhat hidden beach is a highlight here and continues to attract guests and locals for consistent waves; Mike Doyle Surf School (attached) offers quality instruction and rentals including paddleboards and beach chairs. Guests should expect (and will want) to spend money at the seafood restaurant and bar often, but there are more restaurants and a grocery store within a short drive.
The Harbor Reef Surf Resort is a busy, mid-range property with a variety of room types, two pools, and a lively restaurant and bar. The hotel caters to surfers, singles, and families, many who come to Nosara to experience the laid-back lifestyle that epitomizes Costa Rica's surf culture. While the resort is not located on the beach, the waves and restaurants of Playa Guiones are a 10-minute walk down the gravel road. The lobby area is stocked with coffee, and staff updates a board with tide and surf conditions, so early risers heading to the beach will be well-caffeinated and informed.