Marc, a HomeAway staffer, travels to the bucolic coastal down of Tamarindo
Located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, in the Guanacaste region, Tamarindo was originally a small village of fisherman and over the past decade has become a haven for surfers. Tamarindo’s breaks are legendary and provide some of the most consistent surfing conditions to be found anywhere.
The best way to get to Tamarindo is by flying into Liberia which is serviced by many US and international carriers. The alternative option is to fly into San Jose, the capital which is roughly 4 hours by car, or you can take any number of the local airlines which fly into the Tamarindo area.
Over the past few years the town has surged in popularity due to its natural beauty, accessibility, and its focus on keeping Costa Rica’s legendary “pura vida” (pure life) vibrant. The town itself has a number of people who’ve relocated to Tamarindo from all over the globe, including the US, Europe, and South America. They visited, and “never left”. The town is navigable on foot and small enough that you won’t have difficulties finding your way around and you don’t need to be fluent in Spanish to manage the language barrier.
This is a town for active people. The sun rises very early in the morning and the days begin early. Prepare to take naps in the afternoon.
Activities are varied, but surfing is the most popular. There are a number of surfing schools and camps where you can learn the sport, pick up new skills, or just take some guided tours. The most famous surfing break near Tamarindo is called Witch’s Rock. I personally surfed Playa Tamarindo and Playa Avellanas. Avellanas is accessible by 4x4, and when you go it feels like you are completely isolated, just you and the sea. At certain times of the year, you can also go and see large sea turtles as they begin to lay eggs on one of the many local beaches.
Other activities include ziplining, hiking in the jungle, fishing, yoga, or just hanging out on one of the many non-surfing beaches.
One of the things that you’ll always remember is watching the sun setting over the Pacific ocean. Its truly a “Kodak Moment” you can’t miss. If you are watching from a surf board, its pretty awe-inspiring.
You are at the beach, and seafood is an excellent option. I personally had fish tacos made with fish that had been caught just hours before. This is not a place for fancy restaurants. Tamarindo is better suited for people who don’t mind going out in flip flops and sitting at a picnic table eating tacos and drinking Imperial, which is Costa Rica’s most famous cerveza, or juices made from some of the local fruits. That said, one of the better restaurants in town is called the Lazy Wave, which is outdoors and part of the surrounding jungle. You may want to wear something more than a tshirt, but the vibe is totally laid back. The food is terrific as is the ambiance with local dishes and many seafood based options.
The town of Tamarindo is no longer a sleepy surf town and now has a number of options for visitors at night. Its been a few years since I visited, but just ask some locals where they like to go.
Summing it Up
Going to Tamarindo is an experience that will change you. As I said, many people who’ve visited do not leave. With beautiful beaches, warm and welcoming locals, and some killer surfing, Tamarindo is definitely a place to get “off the grid.”