Over the past few years, this little fishing village on the Pacific coast has become a trendy seaside resort which is still developing to cater for the influx of tourists. A fine white sandy beach stretches the length of Tamarindo, shaded by tamarind trees, whilst surfers and windsurfers can have a field day out on the waves before attempting even more wind-blown spots in the surrounding area. During the day, you'll probably find your time is divided between lazing about on the beach, choosing which of the host of restaurants, serving all types of cuisine, you're going to try next, and trawling the multitude of luxury boutiques and souvenir shops. As night falls, Tamarindo is just as busy as it is during the day thanks to its selection of cafes and bars. All along the Pacific coast, beaches give way to beautiful little coves and quiet spots where the unspoilt landscapes meet the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Relax and top up your tan! If you do feel like doing something more energetic, though, head for one of the water sports clubs in the area, offering a wide variety of activities including surfing, windsurfing, kayaking, recreational fishing, jet-skiing, diving, etc.
The fiery red glow of the sunsets seen from the beach is stunning. Leatherback turtles come to lay eggs between October and March on the beaches of the Pacific coast, including Playa Grande (north of Tamarindo beach) and Playa Langosta (south of Tamarindo beach).
Surface area : 19,653 sq mi km2
Population : 4,253,897 inhabitants
Driving around, you will soon notice that signposting here is virtually non-existent. As a result, tourists tend to get lost very quickly.
Avoid driving at night if you can, as the roads are unlit, signposting is virtually non-existent, the Costa Ricans are fast drivers, and animals seem to appear on the road from out of nowhere!
Take care not to tread on any turtles' nests when you're on the beach!
Costa Rican cuisine is rather mediocre and does not really have any distinct national dishes. Most of the dishes are based on beef, pork or chicken, which are inevitably served with rice and black beans (sauces and various vegetables can add a bit of variety). Having said that, the grilled fish is excellent, and sweetcorn is used to make many types of pancake. The authentic Costa Rican breakfast is generous and usually consists of 'gallo pinto', a plate of rice and fried beans eaten with cream and 'natillas', corn pancakes. Dishes from the Atlantic side of the country are strongly influenced by Caribbean cuisine, though this is less true of those from the Pacific coast. One thing you will find everywhere, though, is plenty of fruit, particularly watermelon, pineapple, passion fruit, banana, mango, melon, starfruit and guava, among others. The country's internationally renowned coffee is also consumed in large quantities here, and the rum is also excellent. You can also eat here without breaking the bank in the 'sodas', traditional little diners serving a set menu. For a bit of refreshment, order a 'Caïpitica', a light cocktail made using lime and sugar cane liqueur (Guaro).
Virtually all the shops in Tamarindo sell Costa Rican souvenirs at every opportunity, and these are not always cheap! Don't be afraid to shop around, particularly in less touristy areas, to make sure you get the best price! A wide variety of Costa Rican handicrafts is sold (if you look hard enough!), including gold and silver replicas of pre-Colombian objects, small wooden decorative items, wicker baskets from Guanacaste and leather goods, not to mention the traditional small wooden painted carts or 'carretas', typical of Sarchi, where these traditional souvenirs are primarily produced. The country is also internationally renowned for its rum and coffee, so stock up whilst you're here!
The only hotel located directly on the beach at the heart of ...
Owned by a French couple, Jardin del Eden is a small haven of ...
Located right on the seafront, the small and charming Capitan ...