Many of the tips I read on Tamarindo included the sunsets. I made sure that I watched a sunset to see what it was like in person. I was not disappointed in the least!!! You must take the time to watch a sunset on the Playa Tamarindo. Whether you do at one of the many restaurants or bars or just sitting on the beach, you will not forget the dazzling colors strewn about the ocean, beach, & sky.
Scuba Diving is great in the North West portion of Costa Rica. I highly recommend using Playa Tamarindo as your base camp for scuba diving. I did a lot of research while I was there and the best dive shop I found was in Playa Flamingo which is only 15 minutes away by car or they will pick you up.
The place is called Aqua Center Diving and is a Padi certified shop with several instructors employeed. They actually had the best boat in the whole Marina and price were average if not cheaper then most other small places. They take you to the Catalina islands which has most dive sites then anyone could do in one week. Great place to see rays, eels, and sharks in the deeper waters. They have full rental equipment there which is good because the small local airlines charge for anything over 30 pounds of luggage. Their dive boats can hold up to 15 people with 2 tanks each. Most other dive boats in Costa Rica can only hold 1/2 that at best.
A taste of home
The secret spot restaurant had very good hamburgers and other american staples for very reasonable prices. We ate here twice when we we're ready to have a simpler home style fair. The monkey bar, attached to the restaurant has a live band on Mondays and the place goes wild that night. A pool bar is right there. It's up a small hill that affords a partial view of the beach.
Iguana Surf: Shop and School
After only a 15-minute lesson on the beach, the instructor from Iguana Surf has me up on the board in the water and riding my first ever wave all the way to shore. "Wow," I think to myself, "surfing is so easy!" That was the first wave. ...By the third, my arms feel like spaghetti noodles and I can hardly even use them to stand up on the surfboard anymore. After 45 minutes, I'm sitting on the beach panting and watching the others from our group learn.
Here's how to beginner surf: 1) Fight your board through the waves until you're deep enough to get on; 2) Lay flat on your stomach, with your toes pointing straight out behind you at the tail end of the board and paddle with your arms directly down beside it making large scooping motions; 3) Turn and face shore when you're out deep enough, still laying down with your toes out and keep watch behind you; 4) About 20 seconds before a good wave gets to you, start paddling in the direction the wave is going; 5) When the wave picks you up (and it will), grab the sides of the board beside your shoulders and push up; 6) Drag your weaker leg up toward your chest and come to stand sideways on the centre line of the board, feet parallel, knees slightly bent, arms out (like you see them do on TV); 7) When you fall off, cover your head with your arms immediately so that the board doesn't hit you in the noggin. ...And that's really all there is to it. ...Except that it's exhausting! Surfing uses some muscle in the arm that really isn't covered in a regular workout routine, so after a few waves, as you try to stand up, your arms will burn like they never have before.
"Why do surfers always wear shirts? Is the water cold?," was something I'd always wondered. No, it's because the rough surface on the top of the board will scratch up your arms, chest, and knees, so skin protection is good.
Iguana Surf was a great 2-hour excursion for the price. Believe me, if this is your first time surfing, you won't want more than two hours anyway. For only $45, I learned to surf, got a full-body workout, a few nicks and scuffs on my elbows, spent some time on a beautiful beach, helped some pretty girls from an American university in our group carry their boards, and got am "Iguana Surf" T-shirt out of the deal. ...Not bad for an afternoon outing!
See my "Iguana Surf" video.
Ready to ride into the sunset
There are plenty of opportunities for horseback riding through out the countryside. Our package at Buena Vista Lodge included a horseback ride to natural springs and mud baths near the base of a volcano.