My friend and I were going to meet here. But be careful because I guess there are two places with the same name. He finally found me after a long journey. We swam in the fas-fluorescents and slept in hammocks it was awesome!
There is a great little island just a kayak ride away from Playa Tamarindo. You can easily see it from the beach and it is a great little workout and you get some sun. Once you get to the island you can snorkel or explore...or even lay out. There are loads of conch shells and what looked like volcanic rock. It is typically vacant and we had the island all to ourselves once morning.
We took an estuary tour on a small private boat. We found the guy ourselves at the river mouth. His name is Nelson and he charged us $30/person. He took us all the way up the river where we saw a few small crocodiles, howler monkeys, and tons of beautiful birds. He was very knowledgeable and polite.
We surfed with Viktor who is the in house instructor at the Hotel Tamarindo Diria. He was great! Perfect English, patient, funny, and a very good teacher. We both got up on the boards quickly and the best part was when I got tired I walked up to our room in 3 mins flat (from out surf spot!) and grabbed a snack. Doesn't get better than that!
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.
"There it is, underneath us!" I look down into the clear blue water and see the white underside of giant tail fin, almost half the size of our boat, slowly rotating. The whale surfaces right in front of us and blows water into the air. Everyone on board cheers.
Minutes later, a pod of dolphins join our catamaran, swimming and keeping pace just off the port side. This is truly an unbelievable experience.
The captain of the Blue Dolphin Catamaran looks like a proper pirate; exactly the sort of person you want in charge of a boat. He's shaggy, dishevelled, with long hair, a sun-weathered face, with lots of tattoos on his arms. My friend Kelly is taking a turn at the wheel as she bops up and down to a Bob Marley song playing through the ship's speakers. Our grizzled captain is watching her very carefully, with genuine concern, hoping she hasn't had too much beer and is about to run us aground. Eventually, I can tell his nerves get the best of him and he politely dismisses her. She grabs another beer from the complimentary cooler and joins me on deck. "That was fun!," she says and I can tell she's having the time of her life.
We just finished a snorkel swim from the boat to a secluded beach of fine, black sand. I wish I had've been able to bring my camera to photograph all the colourful fish and the pristine cove, but sadly it's not waterproof. After the swim back to the catamaran, the crew fed us a lunch of sandwiches, pickles, cheese, nachos, salsa, crackers, veggies, and fruit. As many college-aged kids as there are on this boat, the cooler always stays full of a nice selection of sodas and beer kept on ice.
The sun begins to set and the captain stops the boat so we can watch and take photos. The Costa Rican sky slowly turns shocking orange and couples set about taking pictures together with the aid of others. Kelly and I have made the acquaintance of a couple from Chile and the guy offers to take our photo. Little did I know he was a photographic expert! He zooms through the menus on my inexpensive point-and-shoot camera, adjusting dozens of settings to get the perfect shot. He takes three or four photos of us and returns the camera to me. "Oh, my God," Kelly and I gasp, "These are beautiful! Thank you!" And they really are amazing, professional-looking, romantic pics--like engagement photos or something. I'll definitely have to hide these from any potential future girlfriend.
The captain starts the boat and soon we're back in Tamarindo being scooted from the catamaran to shore in an inflatable motorboat. The "Sunset and Snorkel Sail" only totalled under 5 hours in length, but it was a completely perfect 5 hours!
The only caution I would give on this tour is that it took some strength to snorkel from the boat to the cove and then swim back. So you should be in shape if you want to try that portion of the tour (it's optional). Also, seeing as how you can drink as much beer as you want from their cooler, there is a danger that a rowdy or loud bunch could develop. However, we had all age groups on board and everyone was well behaved. ...Oh, and they gave me a T-shirt!
See my "Blue Dolphin Catamarans" video.
My point is not just the exelent service in here this guys went far from that, it makes me feel like a friend, tons of tips about whatever you can imagine, this guys love what they are doing.
My kids and wife went on a surf lesson i personally rent a board (high quality brands in exelent conditions) for more than a fair price.
The instructor was Allen, a tico guy with a big knowledge on surfing and tides, my kids love him, it was a good surf lesson (teaching & fun convined) they had a blast and seeing my famile enjoy that way makes me write this tip.
Diego back in the surf shop will help you with whatever they can, with the bar almost open will be the best place to land once in Costa Rica.
check their website for all Costa Rica info (most surf related) www.costaricasurfclub.com
The thing is when you are traveling you dont know anybody and nobody knows you, and to arrive by yourself to a place, then meet people than actually you can trust or feel like truly they are telling you friendly advices is great.
That happened to me when i walk into Costa Rica Surf Club, asking for surfboard rent, they not only offer me a good service also information all Costa Rica related,tips, i really feel like home taking with friends, well even if you dont surf and need some advice or a classic where to go for..i highly recomend this place. If you surf ...you are in heaven.
Surf lessons & surfboard rents are they best, also they can set up a tour or send you to the righ place.
I rented a surfboard (high quality brands) and my kids went on a surf lesson with Allen, excelent guy hi is from Costa Rica, my kids love him and they had a blast, even my wife give surf a try!!
surf lessons at Costa Rica Surf Club was really fun and see my kids smile makes my vacations amazing.
The truth is, that despite all of the clever marketing and pretty pictures, we do not reccommend travelingto Tamarindo, Playa Coco, or Guanacaste for that matter. What the travel reps and sales people for these regions won't tell you is that there is a severe problem there with raw sewage running down the beaches and into the ocean.
The government has shut down many hotels and restaurants for having inadequate sewage disposal hook ups, and much of it runs directly to the beaches.
Furthermore, as of the week of July 15, 2008, the government just shut down the most popular and only bars/restaurants that were illegally built and operating without permits for years, on the beach. While there is virtually no nightlife in this region to begin with, this latest fiasco eliminated the only real nightlife the area had. They have ordered that these establishments be leveled as the buidings vilolate code as to their proximity to the beach, and the government will not issue them permits or allow them to re-open.
Now add the fact that Guanacaste, and the whole Tamarindo area is extremely boring, and you will end up just as dissapointed and bored as a lot of unfortunate others have been, by choosing to spend your Costa Rica vacation there.
Head further South down the Pacific Coast and have a great time staying and visiting from Los Suenos and Jaco beach down to Manuel Antonio. These are the locations that will offer you the very best Costa Rica vacations. They offer the best choices of restaurants, accommodations, activities, beaches, tours, wildlife and the best fishing in the country. Be careful with your time and money and be smart in your choices.
While others may write that they actually enjoyed Tamarindo or Guanacaste, they have likely never expreinced a real Costa Rica vacation that can only be had further down the coast.
Surfing is hugely popular in Tamarindo and there are lots of companies to choose from to rent boards and for lessons. Lessons are incredibly cheap, at about 15$ for an hour which includes a board. I was very happy with Banana Surf Club. If you are a beginner they will take you to a beach with smaller waves and have boards better suited for beginners. The more experienced surfers have their spot to, but it is a bit more crowded. The water here is warm and the weather nice. Definately plan on a day of surfing in Tamarindo
Turtle tours. Watching the endangered leatherback turtle come onto the beach at night and lay eggs. Surfing. A world destination site with 4 breaks within 20 mins from Tamarindo. Diving. Sharks, rays, eels, turtles, and tropical fish. Tropical rainforest tours and the most varied flora and fauna experience in the entire world. Deep sea fishing. Sailfish, marlin, groupers, dorado, sharks. Enough things to do to satisfy every personality type and ability.
It's nice to just walk around town... you see so much... and see things to do later... if you like to drink its cool to just walk from bar to restaurant... and just see the atmosphere for later... it's so cool.
Nov through Feb, the largest species of leatherback turtle beaches in Costa Rica to lay it's eggs. Weighing in at an average of 772 pounds and measuring more than 5 feet long, Ticos would in the past wait for them to leave and then dig up the eggs for a feast. Now, the beach is open to the public for surfing and bathing, but police patrol the sand mound where the eggs are buried. At the ranger station, we sized up the odds of joining an observation--a complex system of limited viewings that occurs between 10pm and 2am, depending upon how many turtles arrive. Advanced registration requires a wait of weeks, but no shows are common. So, we returned at 9pm hoping to out-wait others. As an American family waited playing cards, a group of tipsy guests of the Minister of Education clowned around. The beach closed at dusk, and by radio rangers with the ranger station. By 1AM, zero turtles had arrived and the tide was going down. At 1:30AM, the family gave up the cards and left, but at 1:45, a radio call prompted assembly of two groups, and we were the last couple able to join one. Trained to march to the ranger's orders without light, still photograpy was impossible. However, the observation for the lone female turtle was very well organized, with group rotation and the rangers' red flashlight spotting all stages of the digging, laying, and burying of the eggs. Waiting Tamarindo Beach groups had zero turtles watched that night. After we had left, a biologists rushed to dig up half the eggs to incubate them at a nearby facility. The hatchlings are released at the same time and place as their brethren, to make sure the beach location imprints on their memory. However, whether incubated or naturally hatched, all hatchlings face the same risk of being eating by seagulls and predators waitingn for them in the ocean.
When you get to the Ranger Station, study carefully the season's chart of the numbers of turtles beached to help estimate the odds of success for the evening.
It is my dream to a build surfing resort. I have been gathering content for the website I am developing about Costa Rica Surfing, and meeting with surfing camps throughout the country to see who is doing it the best. Hands down, the best I was able to find is Witch's Rock Surf Camp.
The programs at Witch's Rock Surf Camp starts at the complete beginner level (some one who's never even seen an ocean). Then, they progress to the intermediate level.
The intermediate level is for those who have a bit of experience surfing, but are having trouble getting up all the time without falling.
The next level is the established surfer. The established surfer has learned how to paddle out in shoulder high waves, occasionally catches waves and can remain standing when dropping in on waves of this size, most of the time. The established surfer doesn't need lessons, as much as, a coach the help critique your performance and encourage you to surf better. This is why we created this program to help get you surfing more and better.
Advance tours is the next level at Witch's Rock Surf Camp. This is a guided surfing tour to all the best surfing spots in the area around Tamarindo made famous by Endless Summer II, including Witch's Rock (Roca Bruja) and Ollie's Point (named after Oliver North's secret military base in Costa Rica), where some of the most perfect waves in Costa Rica happen to break. These trips are conducted by shuttle and boat depending upon the best means of travel for that day and spot.
They also have a surf shop and conduct walk-up lessons, on a first come, first serve basis. So, if you are looking for a place in Tamarindo to stay and you want to surf go to Witch's Rock Surf Camp.
This is the only close white sand beach around. The white sand is thousands of tiny broken up sea shells which makes the water look so light blue! Its a very cool place to hang out but pretty hidden.
This is a short 10 minute drive from Tamarindo if you take this short cut. This is by far the best looking and least crowded beach around this area.
The Catalina and Bat islands are great spots for diving. The water is warm and visability is typically around 40-60 feet. I've never seen so many eels at one dive site before. They are an abundance of fish, rays, eels, and some sharks in the water. You can also see a lot of turtles and dolphins follow you as your boat goes to/from the dive sites.
One of the my favoriate things to do on vacation is eat the local pastries. Each country seems to have their own style and flavors. Tamarindo has several pastries shops in town where the good are baked each morning. Grab some sweet bread and some coffee and head to the beach.