Costa Rica, North America, Travel

Relaxing and Surfing in Tamarindo, Costa Rica


Don’t get me wrong, I love exploring cities, going to museums, fine dining, great architecture and wild nightlife. But quite honestly, not too much can beat a week full of sunshine, warm weather and light beer on the beach. Even more so when you’re from Northern Michigan where the snowfall comes in feet, not inches. Tamarindo, Costa Rica delivered perfectly on the aforementioned leisure activities.

Getting To Tamarindo

Getting to Tamarindo proved to be pretty simple and straight forward. You will need to fly into Liberia Airport (LIR) which is in Northern Costa Rica. I recommend flying Delta as they have non-stop flights from Atlanta where most other carriers have multi-stop options. The flight takes you directly south and will take 4 hours (non-stop).

Once you arrive in Liberia there will be many taxi’s willing to take you just about anywhere. The taxi will take about an hour and a half and is perfect if you are traveling with two or more people. I believe there is a bus option as well. This is obviously cheaper but will take much longer and make more stops. Many hotels also arrange airport pick-ups for their guests.

The ride over to Tamarindo is enjoyable. It will take you through the Costa Rican countryside and over some small mountains. We had our driver stop at the nearest town and we picked up a six pack of the local brew, Imperial. It’s really just another light beer but I must say it is the best light beer there is. I’m sure my bias is the equivalent of drinking Corona in Mexico or Red Stripe in Jamaica. Just take my word that Imperial is what you’ll want to drink throughout your stay in Costa Rica.

On your ride you’ll hear a lot of screeching from the trees. Our driver informed us that those were the monkeys of course. And sure enough, if you look closely, you’ll be able to see them in the picture below.


Relaxing And Surfing In Tamarindo

Tamarindo is a small town on the Pacific Ocean in Northwest Costa Rica. With a town population of about 500 it is still a relatively unknown tourist destination but I do not think that will last for long. The locals are extremely friendly and the local food is great (already touched on the beer, nothing left to say). I recommend the fish tacos.

With white sandy beaches and temperatures in the mid 80’s, you’ll spend all day doing whatever you’d like really. For us, that meant a couple bottles of Imperial and chaise lounge chair. If you’d like to try your hand at surfing, simply walk the beach to your left or right and you’ll have your pick from the locals that are willing to rent you surf boards and provide lessons.costa-rica-beach

Before surfing in Tamarindo, I had never surfed before. Always something that I’ve wanted to try, I’d never been in a location that provided it. Tamarindo, Costa Rica proved to be the perfect spot for beginners. With wave sizes of varying heights and many beach breaks (as opposed to reef breaks), all skill levels will be able to enjoy the local surfing.

We decided to go with the recommendations from our resorts concierge (JW Marriott Guanacaste) and set off in the morning to try our hand at surfing. It ended up being a perfect day for beginners with 3-5 foot breaking waves on a sandy beach break. Big enough to have a blast and small enough not to get hurt, the wave height was ideal and having a sandy bottom to bail out on was definitely better than a reef break. Our instructor was great and we surfed into the early afternoon.

*Beginner’s Tip – when they offer you the skin rash protector, take them up on it. I decided to forgo their advice because I wanted to multitask and get a tan at the same time. Needless to say, this was a poor decision. The sand gets stuck to the top of the board and you’ll go most of the day without realizing that your chest is continually rubbing on that sand. I ended the day surfing with some pretty beat up skin.

Zip-lining Through The Jungle

The next day we decided to go on another adventure. This time we left the beach and went inland to the mountainous jungle region for some canopy zip-lining. This was about an hour ride from our resort and was a welcome retreat from the sun and beach after a long day surfing the day before.

The zip-lining was fun and a great way to see the jungle. It offered some great views of the landscape below and we were treated to a couple more monkey sightings. If you’re afraid of heights you might want to stay away from this one as some of the zip-lines were pretty high up and you gathered quite a bit of speed.


Costa Rican Sunsets

Situated on Costa Rica’s west coast on the Pacific Ocean, there will be no shortage of spectacular sunsets. With a skyline and beach that extend for miles in either direction, you’ll be hard pressed to not find a place to sit and enjoy as the day fades away.

A newlywed couple took advantage of the scenery and got married just before the picture below was taken. I can imagine their wedding photos turned out alright.


In Conclusion

With so many other places to check off my list, I try not to go back to places I’ve already been. But Tamarindo, Costa Rica is one of those places you could make an annual retreat to. It’s still fairly unknown and the tourist crowds are still small but I don’t expect that to last long (as I mentioned before). If you’re looking for a beach vacation for yourself or your family then Tamarindo should definitely be on your radar.

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