I'm in love with shoulder season travel. I'm talking heart going pitter-patter, light-headed, happy just at the thought of it, in love.
Before I get ahead of myself, you're saying just answer the question, woman, why don't you: What is shoulder season?
Shoulder season is not off season or low season. Shoulder season falls between high season (Christmas and New Year in most of the world) and low or off season.
What are the best parts of traveling shoulder season?
- it's cheaper than high season, and you have better luck negotiating prices
- crowds are thinner
- prices are lower than high season
- attractions and restaurants are still open
- weather is usually good (though you usually run a higher risk of bad weather than high season)
- lots of daylight hours
- locals can be more relaxed and friendly, as the influx of tourists has eased
Tamarindo is just one of those towns: You love it or hate it. Noone seems to be ambivalent about Tamarindo. Me? I loved and hated Tamarindo.
Tamarindo's amazing beach to seems to go on forever
Great waves, perfect for surfing, boogie boarding, or just chilling by the sand. At high tide, the waves are way too big and powerful for little kids and weak swimmers. At low tide, waves are smaller, and a bit more manageable for the little ones, if you keep an eye on them.
A foodie's dream beach town. Tamarindo has a great selection of fantastic restaurants (though a bit expensive), but there are a few budget options.
Friendly folks and a laid back vibe.
What's the best way to keep your credit cards, cash and passport safe when you travel? The default is usually a money belt or fanny pack that you wear around your waist, and can tuck away under your clothes. But there are much better options out there for keeping your stuff safe, like neck wallets. This review looks at money belts, neck wallets, leg and wrist wallets, belt wallets, bras and clothes with hidden pockets.
The Bohorok Orangutan Centre at Bukit Lawang in Indonesia is one of the only places in the world where you can see orangutans in the wild.
Half a dozen orangutans were swinging in the trees around us when we snapped this photo. The rangers were feeding some of the orangutans on a feeding platorm a few feet away.
Bukit Lawang is a small village deep in Sumatra's forest, packed with backpacker hostels and cafes. To get there, we took a ferry from Penang, Malaysia to Medan, Indonesia, and jumped on board a mini-bus to Bukittinggi. From Bukittinggi, we took a local bus on roads with potholes deep enough to lose a car.
We stayed at Mango Condos for a month during our stay in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Overall, Mango was one of the cheaper Tamarindo condos we looked at renting. We were quite happy with the value that we got for the price, despite a couple of minor problems.
Price. We negotiated with the ever-patient owner, Julius, and got our two bed, one bath unit at Mango condo for a month, starting in mid-January, for $1,200 USD. When we went, the Tamarindo economy was still in a bit of a funk, but prices were starting to pick up again, so you might pay more.
Security. The condos have a secure, locked front entrance, with separate keys for each condo. There are three levels, with condos facing either the dusty front street or the big leafy trees in back. A troupe of howler monkeys traveled through trees in the back a couple of times, making for some great wildlife watching out back. Because the condo is about a three minute walk from the beach, none of the condos have ocean views.
Pool. The pool is nice but small, with a small kiddie pool and an attractive fountain. It's great for a quick plunge, but not really big enough to hang out at all day. It's in the center of a small courtyard, and out of the sun most of the day. The cafe tables by the courtyard are a great place to read the local paper or enjoy a drink...
Tamarindo's expensive, and the grocery stores are no exception. Once we got used to the sticker shock after coming from San Jose, we managed to find almost everything we needed at the local Tamarindo supermarkets.
Super 2001 - Our condo was about half a block away, so this was our default place to stock up on groceries. This is a very small supermarket (only about five isles, so about the size of a convenience store in Canada or the US).
The good. Considering the store is so small, they have a respectable selection of North American staples. There are some decent bakery items (including pizza) in the cases next to the cashiers. The wine selection was good.
The bad. Not cheap, but nothing is in Tamarindo. This is the smallest of the three main grocery stores in Tamarindo...
Tamarindo has no shortage of great restaurants. It does, however, have a big shortage of cheap restaurants. With a month to spend in Tamarindo, and a family of four to feed, we didn't want to spend a fortune on eating out. These are the best cheap eats that we found in Tamarindo on a budget.
This place has me so Pavlovian-conditioned that just saying Pizzaria La Buala makes my mouth water. Pizzeria La Baula is a home run: Amazing pizzas with high quality ingredients and a comfortable, casual, attractive place to hang out.
If you're craving anything other than pizza or salads...