Those who can't surf......sunbathe
Costa Rica is a well know surfers mecca. We were fortunate that our house managers son was an instructor. He spent the a morning showing us the ropes at Playa Avellana. He charged us $23 pp for transport to the beach, surfboard rental, surf lesson and a cooler of Imperials ~ the official beer of Costa Rica.
There are two surf shops in town which rent boards for as little as $10 a day.
Do all your souvenor shopping in Tamarindo. The main street has plenty of shops for all your needs. The prices are very reasonable here, and so is the quality.
You can find anything related to surfing, t-shirt, tanks, masks, framed butterflies, etc.
Must see beach - Playa Conchal
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.
Seems like every region of Costa Rica offers canopy tours in some form or another. We took the tour at the Buena Vista Lodge , about an hours drive from Liberia. Sailing above the forest with howler monkey screaming at me was an exhilirating experience to say the least. The tour started with a hike to a mountain top. A group of guides gave us instructions and strapped us into a gear. From there we slid down 10 cables strewn across the forest(some as high as 300 feet from the ground) until we reached the base of the mountain. If you are afraid of heights, this is not the activity for you. My palms were a bit sweaty on the first line or two but after that I just enjoyed the ride!
- Adventure Travel
Snorkeling is a very popular activity at Tamarindo (aside from surfing) because it can be done by many people from the complete novice to seasoned veteran. There are quite a few services and prices in Tamarindo. My hotel offered information on a 6-hour tour complete with a luxury yacht, lunch, and cocktails for about $85/person. I chose to go with a less extravagant tour.
I stopped off at the Agua Rica shop in the shopping center in the center of the main road late in the afternoon and arranged for a tour the following morning at 8AM. The tour cost $45 for everything on a 3hour tour, including light refreshments. This company does scuba arrangements and classes as well. The snorkel crew was actually a sub-contractor from Mandingo Tours who offers sunset tours.
On the morning of the tour, I had to meet on the beach to wait for our guides. There is a point on the beach where all the boat tours meet because all the boats are anchored offshore since there are no docks. On my particular tour, there was one couple and myself, along with the driver and two guides (quite a good ratio!) We went out on a small boat (about 2-3times the size of a dingey). After about 30mins we stopped out the first location where we dove for about an hour. It was quite a sight with many beautiful fish, urchin, corral, turtles, and other smaller marine life. After we reboarded the boat, we went off to another location that had a larger selection of corral. Our guides definitely took time to show us unique creatures if they showed up, but left us to explore on our own. One of the guides brought up sea stars from the bottom and even found a porcupine fish (puffer fish or blow fish) to show us...the cute little thing even puffed up for us. The guides and driver quite friendly and knowledge about the area and the creatures living there.
I would definitely recommend taking the time to go out and snorkel for a few hours.
- Diving and Snorkeling
Viewing the Leatherback Turtle Nesting
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.
- Whale Watching
- National/State Park
Horseback riding on the beach.
There are so many places that will set up a horse back riding tour for you. It cost about $40 per person for a 2 hour tour along the beach. You also have the option to ride through the forrest for a little bit trying to spot all the Howler Monkeys in the trees.
The best part about renting horses in a more underdevloped country is that they basiclly have no rules for you. The guide let us go where ever we wanted and he showed us how to run the horses at full speed along the water. Now that was an awesome experience but dang did it hurt the family jewels!
- Horse Riding
Hanging out at the beach
Tamarindo doesn't have the best looking beach in the whole area but its definately the most developed with all the ammenities you'll need on a vacation. Its a great place to hang out for the day with plenty of places to eat, drink, and sun bath.
There are so many other beaches withing a 15-30 minute drive away and some of them are the best looking in the entire country. I highly recommend renting a car for a couple days and visiting all the little beach towns across the province.
Scuba Dive the Catalina Islands
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.
Blue Dolphin Catamarans: Sunset and Snorkel Sail
"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.
- Sailing and Boating
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Whale Watching
Surf at Sunset
If you're going to try surfing in Tamarindo I highly suggest heading out in the late afternoon (depending on the tide). The sun begins to set around 5:30 and it sets right on the horizon of the sea. I can't think of anything better to look out at while you're waiting for the perfect wave.
Of course, even if you're not surfing, sitting on the beach watching the sunset is a great passtime you'll want to experience every night in Tamarindo.
and on this lovely beach, which is also a natural reserve, turtles nest and the little ones say hallo to the world but when I tried to book a tour, which unfortunately can only be guides, at the centre of turtles, all was booked also for the following six days... :-(...
for some more infos... anyway any tour operator on site offer you this too.
In the pic, Irena, a tourist met on the playa and me... thanks a lot to her for having sent me this pic and to her husband for having taken it!.
Watch the Sunset
It is always a popular activity at any west-facing beach to watch the sunset. The sunsets at Tamarindo are gorgeous. It is nice to sit on the beach and just enjoy the view. There are several restaurants & bars that have a great view.
- Budget Travel
When the sign read "canopy tour", I envisioned a guided walk in which the guide would point out birds, monkeys, and foliage. Instead, I was quickly harnessed and strapped on a zip line to swing through the trees from one platform to another. It was a blast and even more so because it came as an unexpected surprise. Very safe and enjoyable!
- Adventure Travel
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Surf Lessons & Surfboard Rentals
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
- Women's Travel
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