10 Things You Must Do In Tamarindo Costa Rica

10 things you must do in Tamarindo

For #ThrowbackThursday, I wanted to present you with the 10 things you simply must do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica! As most of you know, we spent almost 8 months in the area (and also vacationed there before). We left in April, but loved our time and always recommend it as a wonderful vacation spot.

I’m assuming you already know surfing will probably be your #1 activity, so I won’t bother mentioning it. But know there is actually so much more to do in Tamarindo. In fact, I’m not a surfer at all and kept myself busy the entire time.

Without further ado… Here are the 10 things you must do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

1. Take a Sunset Cruise on a Catamaran

things to do in tamarindo

Some of the best experiences we had in Tamarindo were undoubtedly on the Sunset Cruises (affectionately titled “The Booze Cruise”). For less than $90, you will get unlimited alcohol, a lunch, time to swim/snorkel in the Pacific (and often see beautiful sea life), plenty of boat lounging time, and the most gorgeous view of sunset.

Simply because this is a Booze Cruise does not mean older travelers should stay away. I went on a sunset cruise 3 times and never experienced out-of-control guests. I took my very own parents on the catamaran, and they loved it.

I recommend Marlin Del Rey.

2. Sip Mojitos at the El Be

things to do in tamarindo

Without any doubt, El Be is the coolest beachside spot in Tamarindo. With lounge chairs and beds, tree swings, bean bags, hammocks, and regular tables and chairs – you have plenty of options for relaxation right on the sand.

El Be has a happy hour each day and the mojitos and beer (Imperial and Pilsen are the local beers) are half off. El Be makes the best mojitos around! So either bring your swimsuit and chill here for your day of beaching, or come in the late afternoon to watch the sunset as you drink away your cares!

3. Go on a Beach Crawl

things to do in tamarindo

Tamarindo’s Beach and Pool Crawl is one of the best experiences around. You gather on a bus that takes you to other beaches or resort pools in nearby towns. At each stop, you get a free shot and then can order whatever other drinks you’d like.

This is a great way to see some places other than Tamarindo while having a fun group experience.

4. Stay at Casa Monacita

casa monacita

We have stayed at Casa Monacita twice and loved it each time. It’s located up a hill, so you can have a view of the Pacific Ocean from their private pool. There is also a top patio deck that is perfect for lounging, eating, and soaking up the Pura Vida vibes.

Keep in mind, to get the benefits of the view from a hill, you do have to climb up that hill to get there. It is totally worth it as long as you are physically capable of waking up an incline. Bonus: you burn off all those alcohol calories!

** For everyone else, here is an Airbnb travel credit so you can save on your Tamarindo stay (or any other trip you might be taking!) **

5. Eat Plantains Just About Anywhere

things to do in tamarindoGallo Pinto: the typical breakfast

You cannot go to Costa Rica and not eat plantains. It may be a crime. Nearly every restaurant will prepare them. You can often have them with breakfast if you order Gallo Pinto. They also come with Casado plates. You can order the fried and smashed (patacones) as an appetizer too.

You should also try the plantain chips at one of the small grocery markets. I like the kind with lime salt!

6. Walk Over To Langosta Beach

things to do in tamarindo

During low tide, you can actually walk to Langosta Beach on the ocean side. Check with a local or your hotel manager to double check that it’s a good time to get around. Once you know the water will be down for a bit, it is a gorgeous walk from Tamarindo Beach to Langosta Beach. You will see volcanic rock, little pools, and plenty of crashing waves.

Langosta is a far less tourist-populated beach, so even if you don’t walk around on the beach side, you should visit anyway. It’s about a 20 minute walk if you take the main road. Eat a nice dinner at Cala Luna while you are there.

7. Zip Through Black Stallion & BBQ

things to do in tamarindoMy goofy lil bro enjoying his zip

It could be argued that my favorite experience overall was the time we spent at Black Stallion. Technically situated in the next town over (Villa Real), Black Stallion is 33 acres of Costa Rican wonderland. You can get a package that lets you zip line (the best zips I’ve been on for sure), horseback ride, and finish up with a delicious BBQ.

We did the entire package once, but also did just the BBQ portion twice. It always makes for a memorable and enchanting evening.

8. Explore On a Day Trip

flamingo costa ricaFlamingo Beach during wet season (nice and greeeeen!)

There are plenty of beaches nearby that you could visit on a day trip. Grab a taxi (never spend more than a dollar a minute for a taxi!) I recommend each of these spots that are about 30 minutes away:

– Playa Flamingo (eat at Coco Loco)

– Playa Conchal (the sand is actually small seashells)

– Playa Avellanas (surf here and drink a frozen mojito at Lola’s)

9. Take a Yoga Class

things to do in tamarindo

Yoga is a big deal in Costa Rica. In fact, you won’t find a gas station in Tamarindo, but you can be sure that there are plenty of yoga studios. Even though I have practiced yoga for many years, I have never had a better or more fulfilling experience than taking yoga in Tamarindo.

I highly recommend visiting the Ser Om Shanti yoga studio. These are bilingual classes (English and Spanish), and I guarantee you won’t be sorry.

10. Beach It

You cannot go to Tamarindo and not just chill on the beach. The whole point of Pura Vida is to enjoy the pure life. Take it easy, buy a dollar coconut, and soak up the sun.

things to do in tamarindo

Enjoy your Pura Vida vacation! For more info on Costa Rica and to read about our adventures, check out the Costa Rica travel section.

Don’t forget to take advantage of my Airbnb travel credit HERE!

Saying Goodbye To Costa Rica with a Beach Bonfire

Well, we have left Costa Rica. Our time there flew by. It seems like just yesterday we were planning our crazy idea of living in another country for some time. Now we are taking a pit stop in my home city of Las Vegas before moving on to other places (Europe starting May 14th!).

Three of the things we loved most about Tamarindo were: sunsets, the beach, our friends. To say goodbye to all three, I planned a little beachside goodbye party/Kyle’s belated surprise birthday party. It was one of our favorite nights!

A sweet and generous friend of ours agreed to bring his food truck right up to a bonfire area on the beach. We lit the fire and watched our last Tamarindo sunset. Our friends started gathering around. We all enjoyed beer, wine, burgers from the food truck, a warm fire, more stars than you could imagine, and the sound of crashing waves.

It was just as beautiful as it sounds.

Yes, we cannot wait for all our other adventures coming up, but we will always hold our time in Costa Rica near and dear to our hearts. Here are some pictures from that lovely final night:

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tamarindo beach

11 Things That Drove Me Crazy While Living In Costa Rica

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A couple weeks ago I listed out a few things that I fell in love with during our eight month stay in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. All those things are true and lovely, but as with all things life offers, a little bad always comes with the good.

While the things I fell in love with far outweighed the things that drove me crazy, this is real life here. It’s not always roses, rainbows, and mojitos on the beach. I will always love this country; it was my “first.” The first place I lived outside of the US. And like another type of “first,” it came with a little awkwardness, a little pain, but a whole lot of “I can’t believe I’ve waited my whole life for this!” 😉

Here is my list of 11 things that drove me absolutely crazy while living in Costa Rica:

1. Tranquilo

living in costa rica

Tranquilo was #1 on my love list too. It was one of the most beautiful lessons I learned. Be calm, be chilled, just rest in the now, don’t let life send you into a frenzy, be patient, etc.

But HOLY FRIGGIN TRANQUILO, BATMAN!

I never knew chilling out could make me so anxious! Sometimes everything in Costa Rica felt way too tranquilo. Everything would be ready “mañana” which really meant maybe it will be ready tomorrow, maybe 3.5 weeks from now. Waiting in line or waiting at the bank took about half your damn life.

If they just replaced 1/8 of their tranquilo with 1/8 of the U.S. frenzy – I would have been a happy lady.

2. Mosquitos

Big swelling orbs of itchy pain in 20 spots all over your legs, feet, and arms. Need I say more?

3. Groceries

living in costa rica

Groceries were very expensive, much more pricey than we anticipated. Plus it was hard to find some quality items. We struggled to find berries of any kind, most avocados were as hard as rocks, and cheese was more often “cheese product.”

No bueno.

4. Dealers

“Weed? Blow?” = The anthem of our neighborhood walks. Every. Single. Day.

“No, mi amigo – no weed hoy, no weed ayer, no weed mañana. No weed,” I’d reply.

Keep in mind, we settled in a touristy town. The locals knew that the tourists wanted to have the full experience, so they were probably just being hospitable in their constant offering of weed. And if nobody would take the weed, they would offer cocaine: hospitality at its finest.

5. Molasses

In the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, rainy season stops about mid-November.  Once the rain stops pouring, the dirt roads get quite dusty. To combat the billowing dust, Costa Ricans lay a thin coating of molasses over the entire road. Eventually it hardens into an asphalt-like substance. Until that time your shoes, feet, bike tires, and dogs if you have them are covered in the gooey sweetness.

The first whiff or two is pleasant and reminded me of gingerbread cookies, but after a couple hours of baking in the sun, it simply smells sickly sweet. Like the dying gingerbread man.

6. Fake Deals

In our experience, there is no such thing as a true combo deal in Costa Rica. Sure, you could order a #2 at the burger shack: burger, fries, and a coke. But when you’d add them altogether, it was the exact same price as buying them al a carte. This seemed to be true in the grocery stores too.

7. Driving

The driving rules in Costa Rica are more like guidelines. Good Lord Above. I had to drive through the capital city, San Jose, one night by myself. I thought I was going to die and bring a few locals with me in a fiery accident. And I grew up blazing down the highways of Las Vegas, NV. I’m no wimpy driver.

You can stop whenever you feel like it. Park wherever you’d like. Walk down the road whenever feels right. Speed. Swerve. Pass. It’s a free-for-all!

8. Lack of Road Signs/Addresses

Costa Rica does not have traditional addresses. It’s hard to imagine how an entire country survives without an address system, but it does. It also does well without road signs, though Kyle and I didn’t fare too well without them on a particular road trip.

9. Trash

living in costa rica

Yes, many of you probably saw all my beautiful beach, sunset, and vegetation photos. But you missed this gorgeous sight. I think the trash people may be to busy tranquilo-ing.

10. Lack of Culture

I really missed culture. Theater, concerts, galleries, museums, readings, architecture, etc. To be fair, I never thought I could get these things when we moved, but I didn’t realize how much I miss cultural events once they were out of reach. At about 3 months in, I truly started craving a good rendition of Wicked.

11. Smells

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I’m just gonna put it out there: there are a lot of smells in Costa Rica. Aside from the trash issue, there is a little bit of a waste problem. This little area was particularly nasty at times. Yes, it was mostly water, but it simply smelled like shit. Literal shit. And after nearly 8 months of living there, you honestly start think: God, I hope that’s not mine. Glamorous? Hell no. But you’re only going to find brutal honesty here, my friends.

Whatever you do – do not allow these 11 less-than-pleasant things keep you away from one of the most beautiful countries with such lovely people and amazing sights!

14 Things I Fell In Love With While Living In Costa Rica

14 Things I Fell In Love With While Living In Costa Rica

living in costa rica

Somewhere around a year ago The Boyfriend came up with this weird and wild idea of living in Costa Rica for some time.  He asked me to join him – he didn’t need to.  I was coming whether he wanted me to or not. 😉  Who would miss an adventure like living the Pura Vida life in Central America?!  We moved to Tamarindo, in the Guanacaste region (though we got to enjoy many other great areas including Arenal/La Fortuna and San Jose).

We will be leaving Costa Rica on the 12th of April – a little over seven months after we arrived.  We exit as different people – better undoubtedly – full of lovely memories and fabulous experiences.  Through rainy season and dry season, through unplanned medical mishaps and lots of mojitos at sunset, we have had a spectacular time.

As we head on to our next adventure in country #2 (Italy!!) – I want to commemorate both the fabulous things and the absolutely-not-fabulous things we have encountered while living in Costa Rica.

FIRST THE GOOD!  In a few days I’ll post the “challenging.”  Here we go….

** P.S. If you would like to stay in Costa Rica, here is an Airbnb travel credit (works for any other fun vacation plan too!) **

1. Tranquilo

living in costa rica

(Side note:  “Tranquilo” will appear as #1 on my “Things that drove me crazy list” too.  It was the strength and the weakness of this country in my humble opinion – the best and the worst part of our stay.)

Tranquilo literally means ‘quiet’ or ‘tranquil’ in English.  Here it is more similar to “chill out,”  “all is well,” “there’s no problem,” or as Bob Marley would suggest: every little thing is gonna be alright.  This is a backbone of the Pura Vida lifestyle.  It is the #1 life lesson for a tightly wound, Type A, perfectionist like myself.  I’m proud to say that Tranquilo has created, even in the smallest degree, a real life change for me over the past few months.

Car doesn’t work?  Tranquilo.  Mad at your boyfriend?  Tranquilo.  Life falling apart?  Tranquilo.

2. Sunsets

No words needed.

living in costa rica

3. Plantains

What the frick is wrong with the U.S.?  I’ll tell you. They don’t use plantains.

I love plantains.  I eat them almost everyday.  Grilled for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner.  I especially love the “Platanos Caribeños” plantain chips with lemon and salt.  Dear Lord above, I have no idea how I haven’t turned into a plantain yet. I may not be much of a cook, but I will be making plantains a part of my regular diet outside of Costa Rica.

4. Bob Marley

I never appreciated Bob Marley until our time in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.  I’m so glad I had the chance to really soak up all his goodness.  My current favorite lyrics:

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them can stop the time. – Redemption Song

Timely, yes?

5. Greetings

living in costa rica

Costa Ricans say hello to everyone.  “Buenas!”  “Buenos Dias!”  Friendliness is no problem in this country.

6. Boxed Wine

Ticos have this boxed wine called “Clos.”  It’s everything in this country.  Don’t question it; just drink it.

7. Beauty

Again.  No words needed.

living in costa rica

8. People

Ticos and Ticas (locals) are really awesome humans.  We have experienced so much genuine welcoming by the locals, and I will always think very fondly of Costa Ricans. We also had the pleasure of meeting super rad Americans, Europeans, and Canadians during our stay.  These have been some of the most interesting and lovely people I have ever met.

9. Walking

I wrote a little about the newfound joys of walking when we first got here.  We never ended up getting a car, and other than a few moments where we desperately wanted one, I’m extremely glad we didn’t.  It is liberating and freeing to not have a vehicle.

I’ve learned so much about myself on my long walks.  Sometimes I would walk by myself from Playa Tamarindo to the next beach over, Playa Langosta.  It would take maybe 15 or 20 minutes depending on my speed.  I could think, observe, and not be attached my phone.  Loved it.

10. Pharmacies

Pharmacies are the shit here in Costa Rica.  The U.S. could learn a massive lesson.  They are extremely easy, and pharmacists help treat minor injuries and sicknesses.  It saves a big headache of having to see a doctor for little things.

11. Color

When I think of Central America, I think COLOR!

living in costa rica

12.  Yoga

living in costa rica

Without a doubt, when I look back on my time in Tamarindo I will think of one thing in particular:  spiritual growth.  These seven months have been a time of deep reflection and growing up in my personal life.  I have begun dealing with real issues in my past and speaking up for the first time in my life.

Yoga here helped me.  I’ve been practicing yoga for about 10 years and have never experienced classes half as good as the ones here in Tamarindo.  They have been the biggest blessing and my #1 favorite activity. I learned the beauty of “shanti” and “om” and for the first time understood “namaste.”  My body became more my own, and I understood it more.  I dug down deep in my spirit.  Truly beautiful stuff.

13. Casado Plates

The typical food of Costa Rica: rice, beans, grilled meat, salad, vegetable, and plantains.  The easiest quick meal for a Gluten-Free girl ever.

14. Monkeys

living in costa rica

If you want to get really scared do this: walk around in Costa Rica at night by yourself and hear the terrifying air-raid-siren growl of a howler monkey.  You will think it is about to devour you.  Then do it all over again in the morning, and in the light you will see they are as big as your pet cat.  Howler monkeys are the Costa Rica equivalent to a morning rooster call.

I have seen many monkeys since we got here – they are starting to feel like no big deal.  Just a little walk to the store… I pass a mom and her stroller, some flowers, a trash can, a family of howler monkeys, delivery people, and an empty soda bottle.  Normal life.  Yet, I’ll never forget it.

___

Thank you Tamarindo for being home for seven months.  We will always love our time of living in Costa Rica!

For my list of things that DROVE ME CRAZY while living in Costa Rica, check back in a few days!!!

living in costa rica

Fabulous photography by mi padre!!

Um – When I Said I Wanted An Interesting Year… That’s Not What I Had In Mind

Um – When I Said I Wanted An Interesting Year… That’s Not What I Had In Mind

Being the woman of my word that I am, if I challenge you to make 2016 a year of “pursuing interesting,” I give myself the same challenge. With arms out wide, mind open, and spirit excitedly expectant – I was ready for all the interesting things 2016 would bring.

Now.  It’s possible I may have had very particular interesting things in mind at the time. New countries, work opportunities, friendships, nice things and experiences.

Hahahahahahahaha <<< (That’s what the universe said when it realized before I did that “interesting” arrives in all sorts of packages.)

Interesting was supposed to look more like this:

T&K1

And less like this:

T&K2

But this picture ^^^^ happens to be accurate.

It all started with the flu.

As some of you know, I suffer from a smidgen of anxiety. One way my anxiety unfolds is an irrationally strong fear of getting sick before a big event. All of December (and I mean ALL) I was panicked that I would get Dengue Fever before my family came to visit us in Costa Rica early January.

If you don’t know what Dengue Fever is, don’t be like me and look it up on WebMD.   (But in case you are like me = Click Here to see the horror!)

Well, I didn’t get Dengue. But I did get quite sick a few days before they arrived, and it lasted, of course, until their final day here. Truly, I didn’t know that much snot could drain from one person’s nostrils .

(Main takeaway: I obviously I should spend all of February worried that I’m going to get too rich in March.)

But that’s nothing, dear ones.

The day after my family left, The Boyfriend needed to rush to CIMA Hospital in San Jose for emergency surgery.   And by rush, I mean get stuck in stop and go traffic for 6 hours.

Because I believe in being brave enough to share the gory details of my life on this blog, but kind enough to leave out other people’s gory details, we won’t get into the reason why The Boyfriend had emergency surgery. But you will get these hints: Gross and Painful and Scary. (Don’t deny it.  I know your minds are currently running through all the embarrassing possibilities.)

After hours in the car, we made it to the outskirts of San Jose.

Let’s pause here.

In Costa Rica, my iPhone and his Android do not have any cell service. We use them only through Wi-Fi. We purchased a super cheap local phone that’s totally circa 2000 and put minutes on it to make local calls.

So on this little medical emergency voyage, we had no Wi-Fi – thus no GPS – and a circa 2000 local cell phone.

Yes, of course, we did get lost in a city of hundreds of thousands of people who speak Spanish.  At night. And street signs in San Jose are as rare as people who speak fluent English.

Lost.  9PM.

Since the Boyfriend and I are really evolved and mature in our relationship, we handled this little hiccup the best way possible: screaming at each other in loud tones of love.

With our brick of a Costa Rican cell phone circa 2000, I ended up calling the doctor since she was the only English speaker I could think of. She gave me instructions, but we only managed to make it to a gas station before getting lost yet again.

**Enter more screaming in loud tones of love**

I called the exceedingly patient and gracious doctor again. (Could you imagine ANY doctor in the U.S. caring about whether or not we could find a hospital?) She agreed to come get us and show us the way. Bless her rich doctor heart.

This lovely woman gave me one instruction on the phone. Just one. She said, “STAY BY YOUR PHONE BECAUSE I’M NOT 100% SURE WHICH GAS STATION YOU ARE AT. DON’T LEAVE YOUR PHONE.”

Ever obedient, I didn’t leave my phone. Really, I didn’t. Promise.

But I did manage to drop it in a large puddle of Sprite that had seeped through a McDonald’s cup and filled up the cup holder.  See, I told you I didn’t leave the phone.  I just let it swim.  Could we have cleaned up this pool of Sprite during the 6-hour-long drive?  Sure. Did we? Of course not.

Apparently, Sprite can both give you diabetes and completely ruin cheap brick-like cell phones circa 2000. Let me reiterate that this was our only way of calling any phone number in Costa Rica.

Cue: Tears. Lots of tears.

Cue: Dramatic, “We are done for.”

Cue: Even more screaming in loud tones of love.

Then, my friends, I have no idea how, but she found us. She found us!!!! And showed us the way to the hospital and performed a flawless surgery. She then showed me how to drive to the nearest hotel to take my anesthesia-stoned boyfriend to bed. She said goodnight and told me I could call her if I needed anything else. I smiled and expressed my sincere gratitude.

All while knowing I could never actually take her up on her last gift of kindness.

After all, I had dropped our only method of Costa Rica phone calls in a pool of Sprite.

I walked back to the hospital to pay the bill. The Anesthesia-Stoned Boyfriend sat next to me in his wheelchair as I stood waiting to pay. Out of nowhere, he yelled (REALLY YELLED): “Taylor! In the OR, they pinned me down like the cross!” and dramatically puts his arms out as if he were being crucified.

In an exceedingly Catholic country, that’s how he chose to have the anesthesia crazies affect him. He imitated our dying Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in an attempt to recreate his surgery.

This is my life.

I looked around slowly and nonchalantly (only with my eyes, like a spy) to see if anybody was offended.

Bless their hearts. None of them spoke enough English to know how offensive The Anesthesia-Stoned Boyfriend really was.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Sometimes “Interesting” looks less like travelling to an exotic land and more like getting lost in a foreign country.
  2. Clean up Sprite when you spill it.
  3. Don’t spend entire months worrying about Dengue, or you will get another type of flu for two weeks.
  4. Park your anesthesia-stoned loved one’s wheelchair OUTSIDE and FAR AWAY from other people while paying their bill.

Surprisingly, I actually have a workbook that I sell here on this website that guides you through 11 steps toward living an interesting life you love.  For a small fee of $10, you could have an interesting life just as glamorous as the one I’ve described.

You’re welcome.