Costa Rica – The Barefoot Nomad https://www.thebarefootnomad.com Travel. Tech. Family. Fun. Fri, 15 Jun 2018 22:40:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 8 Fun Things To Do With Kids In Costa Rica https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/8-fun-things-to-do-with-kids-in-costa-rica/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/8-fun-things-to-do-with-kids-in-costa-rica/#comments Thu, 21 Jun 2012 19:48:32 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=2305 Check out La Paz Waterfall Gardens The La Paz Waterfall Gardens are a fantastic way to see Costa Rica's wildlife and lush rainforest up close. There are over ten animal exhibits, where you can see monkeys, snakes, frogs, birds of every color and size imaginable and jungle cats. Don't miss the ...]]> Costa Rica is the land of waterfalls, volcanoes, abundant wildlife and beautiful landscapes, making it the perfect place to immerse your kids in nature and outdoor fun. We spent spent two months exploring Costa Rica with two kids under six, and found some of the best things to do with kids in Costa Rica.

Check out La Paz Waterfall Gardens

La Paz Waterfall Gardens Costa Rica

La Paz Waterfall Gardens Costa Rica

The La Paz Waterfall Gardens are a fantastic way to see Costa Rica’s wildlife and lush rainforest up close. There are over ten animal exhibits, where you can see monkeys, snakes, frogs, birds of every color and size imaginable and jungle cats. Don’t miss the lovely butterfly and hummingbird gardens, where you can have hummingbirds eating out of your hand.

The waterfall walkway leads through lush dense rainforest, and delivers amazing views of waterfalls. You can even stand underneath one of the waterfalls, close enough to get soaked from the spray landing on your face. Make sure you bring a rain jacket.

Soak up the sun on the beaches of Guanacaste Province

Tamarindo Beach Costa Rica

Tamarindo Beach Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s amazing Pacific coast offers some of the longest stretches of beach imaginable. While best known for surfing, many of the beaches are great for little ones during low tide or days when the swells are mild. Playa Longasta, just south of the famous Playa Tamarindo, is a great family alternative, as is Playa Samara.

Visit the rainforest canopy

Monteverde Cloud Forest Aerial Tram by toomim on Flickr

Photo by toomin

Costa Rica is one of the few places in the world that makes it easy to get a unique view of the rainforest canopy. If you have older kids, or your risk tolerance is high, many zip lining companies in Costa Rica are kid friendly. If zip-lining’s not your thing,  the treetop canopy sky walk through the Monteverde Cloud Forest lets you walk on bridges suspended in the treetops. For those with little kids, the rainforest aerial tram lets you have the same great views from the relative safety of an enclosed gondola.

Peer into a volcano

Poas Volcano in Costa Rica

Poas Volcano in Costa Rica

Kids love volcanos. We checked out the Poás volcano (an easy afternoon trip from San Jose) and the famous Arenal volcano. While we were there, Arenal was quiet, but visitors often hear deep rumbles and the lucky ones see trickles of lava coming from the cone at night.

Cloudy Day at the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

Cloudy Day at the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

Soak in the hot springs

 

Tabacon Hot Springs Resort Waterfall Costa Rica

Waterfall at Tabacon Hot Springs Flickr Creative Commons (c) jurvetson

The Tabacon Hot Springs Resort has over nine pools and three cascading thermal waterfalls. Daily admission for adults is fairly steep at $60, but admission is included with a night’s stay at the luxurious Tabacon Grand Spa, where we splurged for a three night stay. It was expensive, but well worth it. For the budget minded, check out the private Eco Termales Hot Springs or the more developed Baldi Hot Springs.

Spend a weekend in the city square

Catching the kids train in Parque Central Heredia Costa Rica

Catching the kids train in Parque Central Heredia Costa Rica

Almost every city and small town in Costa Rica has a parque central, or city square, flanked by a prominent Catholic church. You’ll see some great architecture, and on weekends most city squares are transformed into a family friendly playground. Our little ones alternated between playing on the bouncy castle, watching the clowns, and chasing pigeons around the square in Parque Central in Heredia.

Watch an endangered leatherback turtle lay her eggs

Leatherback Turtle Costa Rica

Leatherback Turtle Flickr Creative Commons (c) USFWS/Southeast

From Junuary to April, endanged leatherback turtles come back to Costa Rica to lay their eggs on the beach where they were hatched. The Las Baulos National Park (Parque Marino las Baulas) offers an opportunity to tag along with their wildlife officers to watch the leatherbacks. The Las Baulos National Park is located in Playa Grande, on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. The cost is $25 per person, and kids are free.

Check out the wildlife

Howler Monkey in Costa Rica

Howler Monkey Flickr Creative Commons (c) puroticorico

Costa Rica’s abundance of wildlife is well known. A troupe of howler monkeys visited the trees just outside our balcony in Tamarindo every morning. Every day, we found fabulous (well, the kids thought they were fabulous, anyway) insects in the walkway by our condo. We were even lucky enough to see a sloth hanging from a tree on the road to La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Just don’t lick the blue frogs.

Blue Poison Dart Frogs Costa Rica

Poison Dart Frogs Flickr Creative Commons (c) cliff1066

Do you have something to add to our list? Another great tip for kids in Costa Rica? Please add your tips in the comments below , we’d love to hear from you!

 

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Montezuma – Artisan Paradise or Failed Hippie Rejuvenation Project? https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/montezuma-artisan-paradise-or-failed-hippie-rejuvenation-project/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/montezuma-artisan-paradise-or-failed-hippie-rejuvenation-project/#comments Thu, 07 Jun 2012 20:37:45 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=2107 Of all the places on the southern tip of the Nicoyan Peninsula, we had heard the most about Montezuma. Of all the people we had talked to, there was never a negative word said about it. We really hadn't done a lot of homework on the place but we knew it had a few hotels and restaurants and had pre-decided that if we spent the night, it would probably be in Montezuma. Neither one of us knew what to expect as we drove down the steep road leading into town and to be honest, we still have mixed feelings about the place. It is at once greater and lesser than we expected.

It is greater in that it is quite a cute little offbeat town tucked on the sides of a mountain with gorgeous beaches running along both sides of it. There are a dozen little restaurants and shops hidden along its curving streets and lanes. There is a nice park and play center right smack in the middle of it all. The people in town seem friendly enough and the prices, though not amazing, seem on par for that area of the world. There is a definite "earthy" feel to the town with yoga classes, all natural foods and organic fare available at a bunch of places. We even had decent healthy food at The Bakery Cafe while watching a pair of monkeys descend from the treetops to entertain us while we ate a late lunch.

That all being said, there seems to be an hidden undercurrent to the town. Both ends of the beach have...

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In my previous post I was continuing our little trip down the Nicoyan Peninsula in Costa Rica. We had already gone over the roughest road known to man and driven through the quiet towns of Santa Lucia and Tambor. Our next stop along the way was going to be Montezuma.

Of all the places on the southern tip of the Nicoyan Peninsula, we had heard the most about Montezuma. Of all the people we had talked to, there was never a negative word said about it. We hadn’t done a lot of homework, but we knew it had a few hotels and restaurants and had decided that if we spent the night, it would probably be in Montezuma. Neither one of us knew what to expect as we drove down the steep road leading into town and to be honest, we still have mixed feelings about the place. It is at once greater and lesser than we expected.

It is greater in that it is quite a cute little offbeat town tucked on the sides of a mountain with gorgeous beaches running along both sides of it. There are a dozen little restaurants and shops hidden along its curving streets and lanes. There is a nice park and play center right smack in the middle of it all. The people in town seem friendly enough and the prices, though not amazing, seem on par for that area of the world. There is a definite “earthy” feel to the town with yoga classes, all natural foods and organic fare available at a bunch of places. It’s a far cry from the adventure travel that Costa Rica’s known for. We even had decent healthy food at The Bakery Cafe while watching a pair of monkeys descend from the treetops to entertain us while we ate a late lunch.

Bakery Cafe - Montezuma, Costa Rica

That all being said, there seems to be an hidden undercurrent to the town. Both ends of the beach have a very large tent population with many tenters there for the long term. The majority of the locals seem be remnants of a 60’s hippie rejuvenation project that fell on hard times. I haven’t checked the stats but I would hazard to guess that the place has a higher amount of assault and petty theft incidences than neighboring towns. I will say that besides for walking on the beach after sunset we never really had a strong feeling of danger in the place though. Of course, with the kids we weren’t out too late and the town looked like it had a few parties that might go all night so who knows how the place changes as the night progresses.

In the daytime, Montezuma is colorful and loaded with craftsman and artisans. Even at night the streets come alive with tables and booths set up along the two main roads with people selling their crafts while cooking their supper on their little portable bbqs. Maybe it’s the hunger of the sellers eyes that gave us mixed feelings about the place. A lot of the artisans are gringos from the tent cities and need the few dollars your willing to spend on their clamshell necklaces, beaded bracelets and coconut pendants to prolong their extended stays in this little corner of paradise.

Even now Micki and I can’t really define what it was about Montezuma that left a bad taste in our mouths. In truth the kids had a great time and we enjoyed our stay.

I ask any of you who read this who have been or are planning to go what your thoughts on Montezuma are. I would love to know if you picked up that subtle thread of uneasiness that we felt or if the town is exactly what it pretends to be, a hippie inspired craftsman’s paradise of colorful people and nice beaches.

To complete this tale, after a day on the beach and after playing in the pool that night the kids were quite tuckered out.  We had supper in a gorgeous little Italian restaurant surrounded by the more affluent in the area. In the morning we got up and had a nice breakfast and let the kids run off whatever steam they had at the playground before deciding to continue our trek south.

In my next post in this series, I’ll tell you all about our crazy 4×4 off road drive over a mountain track to Malpais and our take on the much larger than expected surf town of Santa Teresa.

Safe travels Barefoot Nomads!

Have you been to Montezuma, Costa Rica? Do you agree with our take?  Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.

 

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The Quiet Life in Playa Tambor and Santa Lucia https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/quiet-life-santa-lucia-and-tambor/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/quiet-life-santa-lucia-and-tambor/#respond Tue, 05 Jun 2012 20:46:18 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=287 In my last post about our travels in Costa Rica we were bouncing our way South down the Nicoya Peninsula. I say bouncing simply because the only road from Naranjo to Paquera is about as rough a road as you'll ever drive. After such a tough stretch driving down, we were greatly relieved to finally make it to our planned destination.

We were hopeful that Santa Lucia, Tambor and Montezuma would ease our frazzled nerves and give credence to their well deserved reviews. Well, that isn't totally true. After that rough road we were anxious to just sit back and rest. We weren't sure Santa Lucia and Tambor would offer much respite, but we looked forward to seeing them regardless.

We had met another couple that had stayed in Santa Lucia while we were day tripping out of San Jose a few weeks before. Long story short, they loved the area, but said there really wasn't a whole lot to do in Santa Lucia proper. Oh sure, they went ziplining, did a little snorkeling, walked the beaches and went kayaking but there wasn't a lot to do in the town itself. Following their advice, we simply cruised through town and did a quick stop at the local beach to check out the views. After a bit of walking around, we jumped back into the jeep and headed to Tambor.

The area around Santa Lucia was gorgeous (as expected) however they were right on the money in terms of things to do. If you're hoping for a string of restaurants and a wild nightlife just keep on trucking. Santa Lucia is perfect for...

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In my last post about our travels in Costa Rica we were bouncing our way South down the Nicoya Peninsula. I say bouncing simply because the only road from Naranjo to Paquera is about as rough a road as you’ll ever drive. After such a tough stretch driving down, we were greatly relieved to finally make it to our planned destinations.

We were hopeful that Santa Lucia, Tambor and Montezuma would ease our frazzled nerves and give credence to their well deserved reviews. Well, that isn’t totally true. After that rough road we were anxious to just sit back and rest. We weren’t sure Santa Lucia and Tambor would offer much respite, but we looked forward to seeing them regardless.

We met a nice couple while on a day tour out of San Jose when we checked out some active volcanoes, a coffee plantation and a whole bunch of waterfalls, who passed on some great advice. They had just spent a week renting a large house in Santa Lucia with a dozen extended family members. They had all converged on Santa Lucia for a week from all over North America and in their last few days in the country (when me met them) they all went their own ways to do their own things. We thought it was a nice way to have a joint vacation and are hoping to do something similar with our extended family in the coming years.

Anyway, they loved the area, but said there really wasn’t a whole lot to do in Santa Lucia proper. Oh sure, they went ziplining, did a little snorkeling, walked the beaches and went kayaking but there wasn’t a lot to do in the town itself. Following their advice, we simply cruised through town and did a quick stop at the local beach to check out the views.

Beach Near Tambor Costa Rica

Sea Birds Off the Coast Near Tambor Costa Rica

The area around Santa Lucia was gorgeous (as expected) however they were right on the money in terms of things to do. If you’re hoping for a string of restaurants and a wild nightlife just keep on trucking. Santa Lucia is perfect for those looking to get away from it all and have a nice quiet stay. Some of the houses right off the water would be a great place to relax for a few days with the kids, however the lack of close amenities could be a massive turnoff for some.

In a similar vein, if it wasn’t for its tiny airfield, the large all-inclusive Barcelo Tambor Beach Hotel and the Los Delfines Golf and Country Club, we’re not sure Tambor would exist on a map. Since we weren’t flying out from there (they offer 20 minutes flights to and from San Jose and several other Costa Rica destinations for a surprisingly reasonable amount) and weren’t planning on staying at the very large and seemingly very nice Barcelo Tambor Beach Hotel (though we were awfully tempted to check in for a few days of all-inclusive decadence) there wasn’t a lot to do in town.

There’s a supermarket, a few car rental places (due of the airport) and the usual collection of souvenir shops and tour operators. We did a drive by to check out the beach and though the surf seemed calm (Ballena Bay is supposedly one of the safest bays to anchor in on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica) and the volcanic grayish sand looked fairly fine we decided to keep on driving to Montezuma.

Of all the places on the southern tip of the Nicoyan Peninsula, we had heard the most about Montezuma. It was both greater and less than we expected.

On that note I’ll leave you wondering. You can expect the Montezuma post up in a day or two.

Safe travels Barefoot Nomads!

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Should I Visit Tamarindo Costa Rica? https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/should-i-visit-tamarindo-costa-rica/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/should-i-visit-tamarindo-costa-rica/#respond Thu, 19 Apr 2012 22:05:42 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=920 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.

The Good

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.

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Tamarindo’s a bustling beach town on the Pacific side of Costa Rica.

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.

The Good

  • 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 restaurant options.
  • Friendly folks and a laid back vibe.
  • You won’t be bored. There are a ton of activities in town, and some of them are surprisingly affordable.

The Bad

  • Holy, f***ing hotness. And we were there in the January, in the cool season. I’m not talking a bit hot, I’m talking an hour in the direct sun will fry you into a nice replica of those instant bacon strips. We hid inside from 1-3 in the afternoon because we were afraid our kids would spontaneously combust on the three minute walk to the beach.
  • It’s called Tamagringo for a reason. A fun beach town, but definitely not for anyone looking for an authentic Costa Rican cultural experience.
  • Infrastructure. Or the lack of it. While the main road into town is (mostly) paved, most of the road in town is a rutted, dusty dirt track with constant traffic spewing dust, noise and exhaust. Definitely not pedestrian friendly.
  • Growing rumors of a drug and crime problem. Locals warned us repeatedly to stay away from the beach area near the traffic circle after dark. Waitresses ran to rescue the belongings we left on the table when we went to pay at the cash register, telling us that our stuff would be swiped immediately if we didn’t keep an eye on it. In the month we were there, we never had a problem, but the constant reminders told us that there’s a problem brewing.

The Take Home

You should visit Tamarindo if you’re in the mood for an alternative to a standard, packaged beach vacation.  Tamarindo is small enough to make you feel like part of the local vibe right away.

Check out these posts:

 

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The Elusive Tamarindo Car Rental https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/the-elusive-tamarindo-car-rental/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/the-elusive-tamarindo-car-rental/#comments Sun, 25 Mar 2012 07:01:41 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=860 You’d think renting a car in Tamarindo would be easy. There are at least a dozen car rental places in Tamarindo. Hertz. Dollar. Budget. Mapache. National. Alamo. Economy. Vamos. Toyota Car Rental. Poas Car Rental. PuraVida Car Rental (websites and phone numbers for car rental companies in Tamarindo). All this in a town in Costa Rica with fewer than 5,000 people during tourist season.

It’s just that all the cars are all rented to someone else. All the time.

We were in Tamarindo for over a month. After checking out some of the awesome things to do in Tamarindo, we called to pick up a 4×4 for an off-road roadtrip. Unforturnately, when we called to make a reservation for our Tamarindo car rental, not one of the car rental agencies had a little 4×4 for rent. Or even a car of any kind for rent. They told us to check back the next day. This went on for four days, until voila, Hertz had a little Diahatsu 4×4 for us.

The moral of the story? When in Tamarindo, reserve your car well in advance. This wasn’t a big deal for us, as we had plenty of time and a flexible schedule, but it may be a problem if you’re only in town for a week.

Where to Rent a Car in Tamarindo

Though Hertz wasn’t the cheapest, they were close to us and always seemed to have a car available when others didn’t. We rented a great little Diahatsu Bego 4×4 from them. Hertz was quick and professional, and the cars all seemed to be in good condition. One downside is that Hertz’ office is a hot, dusty, 10 minute walk from the center of town.

Based on chats with some other travellers, they seemed to have good luck with Hertz, Budget and Alamo. Economy seems to be the cheapest place in town, but we heard mixed reviews about the quality of cars. If you’re in the center of Tamarindo, Economy is probably the best location. Economy is just off the roundabout by the beach.

You can book a Tamarindo car rental directly from any travel site, or directly from the car rental sites. I like to use Car Rentals.com to compare the costs of different car companies. They seem to have the biggest selection of vendors for Tamarindo (including Thrifty, Avis, Budget and Hertz) and they let you compare their prices against Expedia and Hotwire at the same time.

$16.95 A Day Rental Cars from CarRentals.com

Because cars in Tamarindo seem to be in such high demand, we heard a few stories of reserved cars not being available when people went to pick them up, so you might want to bookmark this list just in case your car isn’t there.

Car Rental Agencies in Tamarindo

Adobe. Phone (Liberia): 2667-0608
Alamo. Phone: 2653-0727
Budget. Phone: 2653-0756
Dollar. Phone (San Jose): 2443-9250
Economy. Phone: 2653-0728
Hertz. Phone: 2653-1358
Hola. Phone (Liberia): 2667-4040
Mapache. Phone: 2653-1717
National. Phone (San Jose): 2242-7878
Payless Car Rental. Phone: (Liberia): 2667-0511
Thrifty. Phone: 2653-0829
Toyota Car Rental. Phone: 2668-1212

Tips!

  • Some of the out of town car rental agencies, like Dollar, will even drive a car down from Liberia if you’re desperate. We tried to have Dollar drive a car to Tamarindo from Liberia, but the drop off fee ended up being too expensive.
  • If you want to rent a car in nearby beaches like Playa Langosta, Playa Grande or Playa Flamingo, you may find that you need to rent in Tamarindo. Playa Flamingo does have an Economy rent a car office, but there’s a fairly high demand, so book in advance.
  • If you’re flying in to Tamarindo, you may need to take a cab to the car rental agency. The airport is about 3 minutes away from most of the car rental agencies, but probably too far to walk in the heat with luggage. Check with the car rental agency, as they may be able to arrange a shuttle to pick you up at the airport.
  • We heard a few stories about people being charged for damages that were on the car when they picked it up. Always fill out the company’s damage form, and mark down scratches, dents and cracks in the windshield.  You may want to look under the car, and also check the tires to see if there’s any damage, given that some of the roads around Tamarindo are very rough. If the car rental agency doesn’t have a damage form, take pictures and videos of the car before you drive it off the lot.
Daihatsu Bego Costa Rica

Daihatsu Bego Costa Rica

Do I need a 4×4?

If you’re just driving to Liberia or San Jose, the roads are generally pretty good and you shouldn’t need a 4×4. However, if you’re going to visit the smaller beaches or towns a 4×4 is a good option.  We drove from Tamarindo to Montezuma, and ended up on a track no car could ever negotiate.

The roads in Guranacaste are mostly rocky and rutted, and can change from decent condition to barely driveable in a few short miles. If you’re adventurous and want to go a bit further afield, you’ll definitely want to rent a 4×4. Cars in Costa Rica tend to be smaller, so you’ll pay a premium if you want a larger 4×4 like a Jeep Cherokee, but you can pick up a completely servicable little 4×4 like a Diahatsu Bego for just a little more than a regular car.

Tamarindo Car Rental Insurance

In Costa Rica, your car rental includes mandatory liability insurance. Always ask if the rental price you’re quoted includes the liability insurance. Some companies like to tack it on as a little surprise when you pick up the car.  If you have collision damage waiver insurance on your credit card, you may be able to waive the rental agencies CDW insurance, but check with your credit card company first.

This post is part of our Barefoot Guide to Tamarindo, which dishes on where to eat on a budget, gives you the self-catering supermarket options in town, and outlines some of the great things we found to occupy ourselves in Tamarindo.

 

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Pura Vida at Mango Condos Tamarindo https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/pura-vida-at-mango-condos-tamarindo/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/pura-vida-at-mango-condos-tamarindo/#comments Thu, 22 Mar 2012 17:10:46 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=858 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...

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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.

Mango Condo Tamarindo

Mango Condo Tamarindo

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 Mango condos are 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.

Laundry. There was a washer and dryer on site that we used for $4 USD a load on an honor system. The laundry facilities were in the dusty, cinder block shell of an uncompleted condo. The dryer was broken when we were there, so we hung our laundry on the clothesline strung around in the laundry area. Since there were no windows in there, our laundry dried overnight in the heat.

Internet. The only Internet connection in our condo was hardwired, which was fine. We just set up the laptop on the desk by the kitchen table and worked from there.

Mango condos is owned by a friendly Canadian expat named Julius. He was extremely helpful and patient with all of our questions and emails.

We rented a two bedroom, one bath, condo on the third floor at Mango condos. Inside, the condo was gorgeous, and very similar to the photos on HomeAway or VRBO, though our condo didn’t have a vaulted ceiling. The condo we rented was modern, with granite counter tops and a nice fridge and stove. The air conditioning worked perfectly.

Potential Problems

While we were happy with Mango condominiums, there are a few things to be aware of:

  • Our condo wasn’t equipped with any basic cooking supplies like dish soap, paper towels, or spices except for a small container of salt and pepper. The cooking utensils, pots and pans, and coffee maker were nice, although a blender would have been great. Gotta love those fresh margaritas!
  • We chatted with another couple who’d made a last minute reservation, and they were quite upset at being given a smaller condo than they said they were promised. Apparently, their condo was one of the first built, and lacked a few key features, like windows that opened fully.
  • Because the road in front is gravel, it constantly throws up dust. The plants in front and the entrance are coated in dust if they’re left for a couple of days without washing. Because we were in the back of the condo, dust wasn’t a big problem for us, but I’d imagine the condos in front get a bit of dust. That said, a lot of the roads in Tamarindo aren’t paved, so that may be a problem in other condos in town.
  • We had understood that a maid would come in once a week, but after about 10 days we had to ask Julius to get them in. It took a little negotiation with Julius to make the maids appear a couple of days later, and they did a pretty perfunctory job. Not a big deal; I imagine it was just a simple mix-up and was resolved fairly quickly.
  • The condos are still under construction, so there’s a chance you may get some construction noise or disruption, though there wasn’t any while we were there.

Mango Center Condos is located at the beginning of the dusty, bumpy road to Playa Longasta, and about a three minute walk to gorgeous Playa Tamarindo.  It’s a five minute walk to Playa Langosta for a great afternoon checking out the waves, or lounging by the pool at the Langosta Beach Club.

This post is part of our Barefoot Guide to Tamarindo, which dishes on where to eat on a budget, gives you the self-catering supermarket options in town, tells about some of the great things we found to occupy ourselves, and gives some hints on how to actually find a car to rent in Tamarindo.

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Supermarkets in Tamarindo https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/supermarkets-in-tamarindo/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/supermarkets-in-tamarindo/#comments Mon, 19 Mar 2012 23:23:04 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=856 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...

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Tamarindo’s expensive, and the grocery stores are no exception. We spent a month in town, so we had plenty of time to check out all the local places for self catering.

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.


View Barefoot Guide to Tamarindo, Costa Rica in a larger map

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, so you’re better off doing your major shopping somewhere else. The produce selection is pretty lean, and what’s in store is generally wilted and looking a bit worse for wear.

The indifferent. We’d been told Super 2001 was the most expensive place in Tamarindo, but after comparing the supermarkes, their prices seem pretty much the same as anywhere else.

Super 2001 is located just after the turnoff to Calle Tamarindo. Matt at 10feettravelling has some good pictures of Super2001.

Super Compro

I wanted to like this, I really did. It’s the most typical Costa Rican store of the three supermarkets in town and caters more to locals than tourists.

Unfortunately, Super Compro isn’t air conditioned, and there’s no air flowthrough the store. There were some pretty nasty smells oozing though the store on a couple of our visits. That said, it’s well stocked, though you won’t find more than standard North American items here (parmesan reggiano is out of the question, though you will find some standard American cheeses). We did pick up a cheap $10 boogie board.

Super Compro is located just across from the local park in the center of town.

Super Las Palmeras

Super Las Palmeras is a one minute walk from the Hotel Diria, on the main paved road into Tamarindo. It’s reasonably well stocked with the basics, and is conveniently across from the beach for a quick stock up on sunscreen.

Auto Mercado Supermarket

Automercado Supermarket Tamarindo Costa Rica

Automercado Supermarket Tamarindo Costa Rica

Auto Mercado is about two miles outside of central Tamarindo. It’s only a $5 cab ride, or (as we learned the hard way) a hot, sweaty, dusty 30 minutes walk down a busy road with no sidewalks. Spring for the cab.

Auto Mercado is the nicest, newest, most Western of all the supermarkets in town. It’s part of a chain of San Jose grocery stores. Once you step foot in here, it’s easy to forget you’re in Costa Rica. You easily could be inside any generic supermarket, in any generic North American town.

The store is well stocked, so you should be able to find almost anything your little North American heart desires, from American coffee to gnocci and Ritz crackers. They carry a good selection of housewares, and probably have the best wine, beer and liqour selection in Tamarindo.

Their bakery is well stocked and darn delicous, too. The produce section is the biggest in Tamarindo and the produce looks fresh.

The good. Amazing selection. Clean and air conditioned. Great bakery and produce, and a well stocked fresh fish and butcher shop.

The bad. If you’re looking for an authentic Costa Rican shopping experience, this is not where you’ll find it.

Auto Mercado Supermarket is located in the Garden Plaza Shopping Center, just off the highway on the way into town.

If you get a chance to stock up at a grocery store in San Jose or Liberia, you’ll save a bundle. Grocery stores in Costa Rica are generally cheaper than in the US, Canada, or Europe, but you’ll pay about the same price for packaged foods (like Oreos) as you do at home.

We stopped at the Mega Super supermarket in Santa Cruz (the closest large town), and (surprisingly!) found the prices no cheaper than in Tamarindo. The trip to Santa Cruz was worth it, just to see a glimpse of more typical Tico life than you see in Tamarindo.

This post is part of our Barefoot Guide to Tamarindo, which dishes on the cheap restaurants in Tamarindo, fills you in on some of the great activities we found to occupy ourselves, and gives some hints on how to actually find a car to rent in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

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Searching For Cheap Restaurants In Tamarindo https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/searching-for-cheap-restaurants-in-tamarindo/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/searching-for-cheap-restaurants-in-tamarindo/#comments Sun, 18 Mar 2012 01:15:40 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=853 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.

Pizzeria La Baula

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...

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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.


View Barefoot Guide to Tamarindo, Costa Rica in a larger map

Pizzeria La Baula

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, you’re out of luck here. They do make some awesome fruit smoothies that are a pretty good deal. The pizzas range from standards like Hawaiian and four cheese, to prosciutto, arugula, and parmesan, and other wonderful toppings. The crust is thin and crispy.

Every time we ate at La Baula (which means leatherback turtle in Spanish), the owners were right there, asking if our meals were good, and chatting with everyone in the restaurant. It made for a nice vibe.

This place is located down a little dirt side road off Calle Real (good luck finding a street sign in Tamarindo). The road looks a little dodgy on first inspection if you’re making our first foray after dark. We braved it, and found the welcoming smells and lights of Pizzeria La Baula about a three minute walk down the road. The entire restaurant is open air, and furnished in tables and chairs made of local wood. There’s a cute little playground (swings and a slide) on site to amuse the kids (though the slide’s a bit high for the smaller tykes).

Cost. Pizzas run around $10 USD, and smoothies run around $3. One pizza’s probably too small for a couple, but two pizzas fed Chuck, me, and our two little ones with no problems (though we’re not big eaters). La Buala is a great choice for someone eating out on a budget in Tamarindo.

Le Petit Cafe

The owner of Le Petit Cafe, Allison, is a friendly and laid back Canadian. I’d give two thumbs up simply based on her attitude and how welcome she made us feel. We must have eaten here a dozen times over the course of a month, often just to grab a bubble tea and a sweet to escape the heat of the afternoon.

The good. Cute, clean as a whistle, and (thank God!) fully air conditioned. They do have a nice outside patio for evenings or those tough enough to brave the heat.

Favorites. You’ll score a win with pretty much any of the sweets. The brownies are especially yummy. Sandwiches are small, but good. Charles loved the avacado melt, stuffed with avocado, bacon, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and pesto.

Their coffee is top-notch; you can get a pretty mean espresso or latte here. Strangely enough, good coffee can be hard to come by in Costa Rica – most of the good stuff seems to be exported. Most local restaurants serve the ever-popular lower quality grounds pre-blended with sugar, but the coffee at Le Petit Cafe was top notch.

The bad. Portions (especially sandwiches) are quite small compared to typical Western portions. That said, they tasted pretty darn good, but someone especially hungry or a larger guy will need to order something extra.

Cost: If this is the first place you walk into in Tamarindo, you’ll think the prices are a bit expensive. That said, restaurants in Tamarindo are pretty expensive, and Le Petit Cafe is one of the most inexpensive in town. Sandwiches run around $6 USD, sweets range from $2 to $4 USD, and coffee’s around $2-5, depending on your poison. A huge breakfast burrito is $4.

Nogui’s Sunset Cafe

Location, location, location. Nogui’s Sunset Cafe is smack in the middle of gorgeous Playa Tamarindo, with a front row view of Playa Grande, surfers hitting the waves and the gorgeous waters of the Pacific.

We stopped at Nogui’s Sunset Cafe for mid-afternoon snacks, so I can’t say much about their suppers. Our fries and guacamole were fresh and tasty, and the portions were big. They’ve got an enormous menu, with some darn strange smoothie combinations for the adventurous. Our food did take a good while to come (about half an hour, which is an eternity when you have a two year old with you), but that’s pretty typical for a beach restaurant in Costa Rica.

Nogui’s is famous for their pies (especially cream pies). To my undying regret, we didn’t get to try one, but the folks at the next table were raving about their coconut cream pie.

Cost. A little cheaper than typical for Tamarindo. Our appitizers were about $7 USD a plate. Though we never made it, Nogui’s had a 2 for 1 happy hour from 5-7. If you choose carefully from the menu, you can get a meal on a budget here.

 Taco Stop

Taco Stop is a funky little hole in the wall, with cheap prices and tasty food. It’s right beside Mango condos, on the dusty road to Playa Langosta.

The owners are laid back surfers, and it shows. The vibe is uber, uber casual, somewhere between laid back and grubby (I mean this in a nice way, really). If you’re looking for white tablecloths, fine crystal and haute cuisine, this is soooo not the place for you. You’ll be sitting outside (but sheltered from the rain) with local pups running around your feet.

In fact, if you expect that the place will be regularly open during business hours, this may not be the place for you. We came by a couple of times at supper time (6:30ish) and it was closed, but had some luck a few days later.

Taco Stop is owned by two Argentinian brothers who made us feel right at home. The cook for the night (not sure which of the brothers that was) even went out of his way to make a cute little quesadilla plate (not on the menu) for our little two year old.

Our veggie and chicken burritos were both enormous, and packed with beans, veggies, and cheese in a melt in your mouth homemade tortilla. The salsa and guacamole were homemade and delicious.

Cost. Possibly the least expensive meal we had in Tamarindo. Our burritos were around $4 USD, and the excellent fruit smoothies were around $2. Taco Stop is a great choice for eating out on a budget in Tamarindo.

 Langosta Beach Club

These guys have cornered the market in casual elegance in Tamarindo. Langosta Beach Club is located right on Langosta beach, and you can choose a table right on the sand, or one under the leafy trees by the infinity pool.

The food’s pretty darn good too. We went for lunch, and loved the paninis on homemade bread, and delicious salads. Their fruit smoothies may be the best in Tamarindo (and that’s saying a lot – we never had a bad smoothie in town). My favorite was the strawberry. The crepes with fruit and honey or chocolate were absolutely amazing; some of the best I’ve had.

At night, the white tablecloths and good china come out, and the Langosta Beach club transforms into an elegant, romantic restaurant. With two Trits-covered little kids in tow, it’s hard to be elegant, and especially hard to be romantic, so we never tried their supper menu. Too bad – it looked delicious.

There was a $15/day fee per adult (our little ones were free) to use the infinity pool and facilities when we were there. We had some of our best days in Tamarindo lounging by the infinity pool, and grabbing a snack in the comfy, elegant palapas. It was awesome location to catch some great waves on our boogie boards and splash in the infinity pool.

We did hear a few complaints that the staff could be a bit … how do I say this? … rude. In response, all I have to say is that the owner/manager is, well, French. We treated the folks there with respect and tried to be reasonable, and they were absolutely wonderful to us. They even went so far as to loan us some beach towels for us the day we forgot ours (we didn’t even have to ask).

Langosta Beach Club is about a five minute walk down the dusty road to Playa Longasta.

Cost. Langosta Beach Club isn’t especially cheap, but it is good value if you’ll willing to pay a bit extra for the atmosphere. Crepes were about $7 USD, smoothies were around $3 USD, and paninis ranged from $9 to $12 USD. The dinner menu was much more expensive, but definitely looked tempting.

Photos of Mandarina Tropical Juice Bar, Tamarindo
This photo of Mandarina Tropical Juice Bar is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Mandarina Tropical Juice Bar

Mandarina is a great place to grab a quick afternoon snack or a drink. Three’s not much here other than fresh fruit smoothies made to order, ice cream, iced coffee, salads, and light sandwiches, so save Mandarina for a quick bite. They also make an awesome, filling, breakfast smoothie with oatmeal and fruit salads. The kids might love a granizado, a refreshing creation of ice cream, lemonade, and topped with fruit. Our main problem with Mandarina was that the Tamarindo heat turned our ice cream into puddles faster than we could eat it.

Mandarina has two locations in Tamarindo. Most people go to the one on Calle Principal, just off the beach, but the location near the entrance to town is larger, and has better selection.

Cost:  An ice cream and fruit smoothie is $3.50 USD, a granizado is $3 USD, and a smoothie/salad combo runs about $6 UDS.

This post is part of our Barefoot Guide to Tamarindo, which checks out the local supermarkets, talks about the condo we stayed at (Mango condos), dishes on some of our favorite cheap things to do in Tamarindo, and gives some hints on how to actually find a car to rent in Tamarindo.

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Amazing Cheap Things To Do In Tamarindo https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/amazing-cheap-things-to-do-in-tamarindo/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/amazing-cheap-things-to-do-in-tamarindo/#comments Fri, 16 Mar 2012 17:58:04 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=784 Tamarindo is famous for its surf breaks, and almost equally famous for being a bit expensive and full of tourists. We spent a month in town enjoying the waves, and got a chance to track down some of the best cheap things to do in Tamarindo.

Boogie boarding on Playa Langosta. While Playa Tamarindo is the most famous beach in Guanacaste, Playa Langosta is just a short walk away. The waves at Playa Langosta are generally smaller, and better for families and newbie surfers. That said, we caught the waves at Langosta at high tide on a big swell day, and managed to smash a boogie board in two. Cost: One replacement cheap boogie board from Super Compro grocery, $10.

Zip lining at New Monkey Jungle Canopy Tours. Great from begining to end. New Monkey Jungle has seven zip lines and an awesome...

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Playa Tamarindo Cheap Things to Do Sunset

Playa Tamarindo - Another Gorgeous Sunset

Tamarindo is famous for its surf breaks, and almost equally famous for being expensive and full of tourists. We spent a month in town enjoying the waves, and got a chance to track down some of the best cheap things to do in Tamarindo.

Boogie boarding on Playa Langosta. While Playa Tamarindo is the most famous beach in Guanacaste, Playa Langosta is just a short walk away. The waves at Playa Langosta are generally smaller, and better for families and newbie surfers. That said, we caught the waves at Langosta at high tide on a big swell day, and managed to smash a boogie board in twoCost: One replacement cheap boogie board from Super Compro grocery, $10.

Zip lining at New Monkey Jungle Canopy Tours. Great from begining to end. New Monkey Jungle has seven zip lines and an awesome Tarzan swing at the end. We ended our tour with some much-needed juicy watermelon. The owner even picked us up outside our condo, and drove us back home after. Charles gives a full rundown of our experience. Cost:  Around $37 per adult, and worth every penny.

Catching a movie at Cine-Mas. (get it? Mas is roughly translated to more in Spanish). There’s a great mix of indie films and blockbusters here, and the friendly owner even set up a private showing for us mid-afternoon. Movie showings change frequently, so walk by to check out the listings, or check out Cine-Mas’ Facebook page for listings and times in English. Cost:  $6 for adults in the evening, less for kids. Matinees are less.

Watching an endangered leatherback turtle lay her eggs on a moonlit beach. Imagine running full-tilt through the pitch black beside the pounding surf, and coming across an enormous, prehistoric leatherback laying her eggs on a secluded beach. One of the coolest things I’ve ever done is to visit Playa Grande to watch a leatherback turtle lay her eggs at Playa Grande’s Parque Nacional Marino las Baulas. Cost:  $25/adult. Children are free.

Surfing the famous break at Playa Tamarindo. Actually, this one should be titled, I didn’t surf the famous Playa Tamarindo, and my lame excuses why not. In fact, I have not surfed in some of the most amazing surf locations in the world, including Australia, Florida, British Columbia (Tofino), California, and Costa Rica. I can not surf anywhere. Cost:  Free for my lazy a**, but a week of surf lessons and lodging start at about $859/week at the famous Witches Rock Surf Camp, or around $40 for a two hour group lesson at any one of the dozen surf schools around town. Chat with some of the locals,  and you should easily be able to get the name of a local surfer who’ll teach you for less than the surf schools.

Checking out the Monkey Park Wildlife Sanctuary. Monkey Park is a refuge for injured or sick animals. They have a great collection of monkeys, including spider monkeys, as well as birds and other animals like marmosets. This is not a traditional zoo, and is run on a limited budget from the proceeds of admissions. Many of the animals are being rehabilitated for release to the wild, but some permanent residents are unable to survive on their own.

There’s an option to spend an extra couple of dollars for a guide, which I wish we’d done. I would have loved to have a guide walk us through and explain the Monkey Park’s history and goals. There aren’t any signs explaining the rehabilitation of the animals, or each animal’s story, although signs do tell you the species of each animal and some basic information.

Try to go in the morning or later in the afternoon to beat the heat. Monkey Park is about a 20 minute drive to the small town of Portegolpe. Cost:  $10/adult without a guide, less for kids. Admittedly a bit expensive for Costa Rica, but the money goes toward the care of the animals in the sanctuary.

Hangin’ at the Local Park and Playground. There’s a small playground in the centre of Tamarindo, just behind the mall that houses the Cine-Mas movie theatre and Le Petit Cafe. It’s too hot to visit in the middle of the afternoon, but Cole and Jordan loved playing on the swings and teeter totters  in the cool of the morning or early evening. This is a Tico playground, so if you’re used to the uber-safe playgrounds in Canada or the US, you may be in for a shock. Some of the equipment is broken and rusty, but it’s more than made up for by the awesome fabric swing someone’s set up in a tall tree in the middle of the playground. If you’ve ever seen circus performers on the aerial silks, then you’ll know what I mean. We tied two ends of the stretchy fabric together, and Cole swung like a wild monkey, springing the fabric up and down. Not that I didn’t try it, too. Cost:  My favorite. Free.

Day-tripping in a Tiny Tico 4×4. We rented a little Diahatsu Begu 4×4 and tooled along down the coast to check out Playa Brasilito, Playa Conchal and Playa Flamingo. Cost: $328 for the 4×4 rental for the week, plus $10 in gas. Book your 4×4 ahead of time; last minute car rentals are hard to come by in Tamarindo. 

Playa Brasilito. This is a town built for Ticos, not tourists. Brasilito is missing the veneer of coffeeshops and real estate offices you’ll see in Tamarindo and Flamingo. In their place are a lot of small mom and pop convenience stores and smaller eateries. The beach is a dark, muddy-looking sand that’s not especially appealing at first glance. Playa Brasilito is about 13 miles north of Playa Tamarindo.

Playa Conchal. If you’re looking to find Playa Concal off the highway, you’re out of luck. We found Conchal by pure luck while driving along the beach at Playa Negro, and following some other 4x4s over a steep, rocky, narrow incline. It was a Sunday, so Conchal was jammed elbow to elbow with happy Ticos in tents and beach chairs, all enjoying a family day on the beach.

Playa Flamingo. Playa Flamingo is a darn pretty stretch of beach, with the town itself spreading out along the steep hillsides leading away from the beach. Flamingo is a pretty little town that exudes a feeling of prosperity. Huge houses dot the high cliffsides away from the beach, each with a breathtaking view of the Pacific. Playa Flamingo is about 20 miles north of Playa Tamarindo.

Playa Avellanas. Avellanas could easily hold the title of the most laid back beach in Costa Rica. Like almost all the beaches in the Guanacaste province, Playa Avellanas is long, curving and with decent surf. Playa Avellanas is about 12 miles from Playa Tamarindo, though the road is rutted and dusty, and seems longer. Currents in Avellanas can be strong, so weaker swimmers and kids should be careful.

Lola’s Restaurant. Besides the great surfing, the big draw at Playa Avellanas is the famous Lola’s beach front restaurant. Lola’s is an iconic place to hang out, and named after a pig who used to hang out in the shallow surf. The original 400 lb Lola recently passed away, and has been replaced by Lotita, who we found lounging in the trees at the back of the restaurant property.

We stopped by Lola’s for a late afternoon lunch, and soon found ourselves sucked into the ultra-relaxed vibe of the place. Lola’s was absolutely buzzing with people, and yet managed to seem completely chilled at the same time. Soon, we were chowing down on the the largest plate of nachos I’ve seen in a long time, and some awesome fruit shakes. We were way too full to head back out on the bumpy road, so we took up residence in a couple of the hammocks and watched the surfers do their thing. Cost:  Around $30 for two appetizers and four smoothies. 

Checking out the Nightlife. OK, so with a six and three year old in tow, we didn’t actually make it to any of the local hangouts. But we heard great things about Monkey in the Best Western Hotel on Friday nights (ladies night) and great drink specials at Aqua bar mid-week. Both places are supposedly packed with locals and tourists alike. Cost:  Depends on how much your liver can tolerate.

Sunset Sailing. This doesn’t exactly qualify as cheap, but for an amazing view of the sunset, it may be worth it. There are a couple of catamarans that go out, and both will provide you with a bar and snacks. The Marlin Del Rey is the bigger boat, but the smaller Blue Dolphin gets great reviews as well. Cost:  $85.00/adult and $42.50 for the Blue Marlin sunset tour, $85 for adults on the Marlin del Ray. You may be able to get a cheaper rate by booking through a local tour operator, as they get bulk discounts.

Ripping around through the forest on an ATV. There are quite a few ATV tours in Playa Tamarindo, but the ones with the best buzz seem to be through Go Adventures. Cost: Too rich for our blood. The ATV tours aren’t cheap, at 80. 00 per person (based on 2 or more people), but get great reviews.

Checking out the Sunset on the Beach. Almost all of the beachfront restaurants in Tamarindo run happy hour specials from around 5-7, which coincides happily with sunset. Grab a chair, sip a cool mojito, and enjoy the gorgeous view. Cost:  About $7 USD for two for one specialty drinks during happy hour. Around $5 USD for two frosty Imperial beers.

There are definitely plenty of cheap things to do in Tamarindo. Because we travel for such long periods, we generally don’t check out the more expensive things to do, but Tamarindo has some well rated spas, and very nice, high end restaurants to check out.

Next post, I’ll talk about our search for cheap restaurants in Tamarindo. Our Barefoot Guide to Tamarindo also checks out Tamarindo’s self-catering grocery stores, dishes on car rentals and reviews Mango condos, one of the more affordable condos in Tamarindo.

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Trits, or Why I Will Always Love Costa Rica https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/trits-or-why-i-will-always-love-costa-rica/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/costa-rica/trits-or-why-i-will-always-love-costa-rica/#comments Wed, 14 Mar 2012 18:31:19 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=830 Costa Rica will always have a special place in our hearts.

Some of our experiences were both eye opening and surreal, like watching an endangered leatherback turtle lay her eggs on a moonlit beach at Playa Grande.  Some of our times there were more carefree, like the amazing afternoons spent lounging by the pool and boogie boarding at the Langosta Beach Club.

Some were simply exhilarating, like gliding down a zipline head first as your feet just barely clear the treetops. Some were also ominously relaxing, like swimming in a natural hot pool on the slopes of a still active volcano.

Even more profound and memorable, however, is that Costa Rica was the place where we first discovered Trits.

Trits - Ice cream of the gods. Photo by

Trits – Ice cream of the gods. Photo by dakine kane

Oh. My. God. Trits. Which should formally be known as the most delicious ice cream concoction in the world.

To belittle and simplify what it is you could call it an ice cream sandwich.

To my taste buds it’s what dreams are made of. For whatever reason it comes in a little plastic container which almost seems wasteful however if it came wrapped up in a gold leaf box I would still buy it.

It’s essentially a generous portion of melt in your mouth vanilla ice cream lovingly embraced between two cookie like amalgamations of graham crackers and sugar cookies with a small dollop of yummy chocolate sauce thrown in for good measure.

We bought one for each of us almost every time we walked into a convenience store and even had a small collection sitting in our freezer on those days we just didn’t feel like braving the afternoon heat. They were only a dollar and a bit each and if they made them in Canada I would probably be overweight within a few months because they are just that good.

They’re made by Dos Pinos and until very recently they were only available in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I read somewhere that they were slowly being introduced to the U.S. so I either have to wait patiently until they come out up here or just jump on a plane and head south. I wonder how fast I can buy a ticket…

Trits - The Best Ice Cream Sandwich Ever!

Trits – The Best Ice Cream Sandwich Ever!

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