The waves, ideal. The beach, stunning. The town, an eclectic melee of Costa Rican and international cultures.
Besides having multiple surf spots on a single beach, the waves here run the gamut of sizes and power.
For novice surfers, the whitewater rolling up to shore has exactly the power you need to propel forward and learn to stand on your first wave.
by Noah Toney
Sitting on the beach of the pacific coastline, Tamarindo is the go to place in Costa Rica for tourists and surfers alike. I’ve compiled this list to help people travelling to Tamarindo so that they can plan the best possible trip.
There are two international airports in Costa Rica. One is in San José, the capital, the other is in Liberia, Guanacaste, meaning that it’s in the same province as Tamarindo. Right now there are a bunch of low cost flights coming into the Liberia airport, for example; Spirit Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Aeroméxico, besides the normal big companies. Thankfully there’s a main state highway connecting Tamarindo to the provincial capital, which means you’ll have smooth sailing all the way to your destination. While there are many different ways to get where you’re going, I advise renting a car. Especially if you plan on driving a lot to different parts of the country, renting is a cost effective way of getting around the country.
If the plan is to stay local and not get too far away from town, than a Taxi is better suited for the task, although you should plan for around a hundred bucks for the trip one way. There is a viable bus system that is very cheap, but if you’ve got luggage or don’t speak the language, then it isn’t worth the trouble.
Here you can take a sigh of relief. Tamarindo is very safe, and beyond the normal safety precautions, you needn’t worry. In fact, Costa Rica is the safest country in Central America. While much of Central and South America are plagued by gangs and over population, Costa Rica boasts a gang free society. The country is so peace loving, that they don’t even have a standing army. Relying instead on a competent police force and diplomatic relations. This isn’t to say it’s a perfect place, but for those coming to enjoy her abundant and abounding wells of natural beauty, Costa Rica is the place to be.
Thirty years ago Tamarindo was just another quaint little village, or so it seemed. What foreigners began to realize is that the beaches around Tamarindo were perfect surfing locales, something that the locals had known all along.
This brought in a lot of business and tourists who came to see the international surf competitions held here, actually, the General Manager of Cala Luna Boutique Hotel, Federico Pilurzu was the first Pro-Surfer in Latin America. Many small hotels began to locate here, like Cala Luna, founded by an Italian-Belgium family looking for a new challenge.
Today the waves are open to all, and the surf business is booming. Anyone who would like to learn to surf can find top notch lessons at a very reasonable price, whether they’re a complete beginner, or just looking for a few pointers to better their game.
No surfer? No worries, Tamarindo beach, and many others close by, including Playa Grande, Playa Conchal, Playa Avellanas, and Playa Flamingo, are great for swimming and snorkeling. All of the beaches are family friendly with gorgeous white sand waiting to be made into a grand castle.
When travelling to another country, especially one that speaks a different language, one should always be aware of how they are going to get around. Luckily, Tamarindo is a town that understand that not everyone speaks the local language, so many of the people you will come into contact with will have some knowledge of English. That being said, if you need to get from Point A to Point B, then a taxi is the easiest way to do it. The drivers will all understand the destination you’re trying to get to, and the fare is reasonable. If you are going to be moving around a lot outside of your hotel, then a rental car is a good route.
Often, hotels will offer some kind of transportation to activities booked through them, so if you want to avoid the hassle of renting a car, then make sure to check with the concierge to see what your hotel can offer.
As mentioned above, Tamarindo has grown a lot in the last couple of decades, and one of the advantages of travelling there now is that you won’t have to sacrifice comfort for adventure. It all depends on what you want from your vacation.
From the popular international chains like The JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa and The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal, to the more specialized retreats and resorts like Cala Luna Boutique Hotel, who have their own Surf school, the Tamarindo Surf Academy.
You can get amazingly low rates in luxurious settings if you travel in the low season, from May to mid-December.
Sometimes described as having a “party and play” vibe, Tamarindo knows how to have fun. From sports bars and local brewing companies to casinos and karaoke, there’s something to suit everyone. Looking for a romantic evening that you will absolutely never forget? Try the Sunset Tour with Tamarindo Fishing Tours, the official ocean adventures operator for Cala Luna Boutique Hotel, it gives you the opportunity to watch the sunset from a boat out in the ocean. With a bottle of wine, a fruit basket, and your own private sunset, you and your partner will share a moment that will last forever.
Whether you’re wanting to stay in town or venture out into the country, Tamarindo has a lot to offer. As mentioned above, surfing is a must when coming to this tropical town, and there are a lot of options to choose from. One of the advantages here is that wherever you want to go, there are lots of guides and teachers to help you make the most out of your experience.
Most Hotel Concierges will have a list of activities offered in the area, with some of the more popular being ziplining through the canopy of the tropical forest, horseback riding through gentle fields, snorkeling in crystal clear water, looking for vibrant blue fish and sea urchins, or even painting or cooking classes, like those offered at Cala Luna Boutique Hotel.
Costa Rica is a place where many live more harmoniously with nature, it’s an inherent part of life. Nowhere is this more true than in Guanacaste, the province wherein Tamarindo is found. At La Senda Organic Farm this almost spiritual energy comes to a head in the form of a labyrinth, the biggest in the world, and made completely of cacti. The Labyrinth was designed by a Costa Rican architect around two energy vortices, one male, and one female.
The point of this experience is not to confuse you while you try to find your way out, rather it is to help you unfold the problems that plague you. As you follow the path onward, ever moving towards the center of one of the vortices, you feel a sense of unwinding and peace. In this peaceful place you can sit and rest, or take the time to paint what you feel about the place around you, or about anything. This is a place to find yourself.
There are a lot of things in Tamarindo to enjoy, and that means that there’s something for everyone. La Senda features all kinds of activities, from horseback riding and cooking classes to gourmet dinners cooked by a five star hotel chef, with the ingredients sourced almost entirely from the garden that covers the property.
Because of the ideal circumstances regarding the waters on Costa Rica’s pacific Coast, whales can be found year round, although they frequent different parts of the country in different times of the year. Humpback and Pilot whales are the most common in Costa Rica, and can be seen closer to shore July through November. Dolphins of many kinds, including the bottlenose and common dolphin can easily be found close to shore. The easiest way is to book a Sunset Tour or some other water excursion with a captain who has local knowledge of the area and season, although dolphins are easy to find practically year round.