An adventurer’s playland, Costa Rica is full of rainforests, mountains, and beaches. For this quick trip, we decided to focus on learning how to surf.
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars
Travel Date(s): March 22–23, 2014
Time on the Ground: 36 hours
Pizza Rating: Unfortunately, this trip was before we began the pizza tradition
Car Requirement – Medium: Tamarindo itself is extremely walkable; however, getting to the town without a car can be difficult
Lay of the Land
Tamarindo, a coastal town on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, is a tourist hot spot known for its pristine beaches and superb surfing. On our quick trip, we flew directly into Liberia International Airport and rented a car. Our drive to the coast was very similar to driving on rural highways in the States. We passed through several towns—we knew they were towns because each school zone prompted our Costa Rican GPS to emit a constant, blaring beep. I’m ashamed to admit that it took us until the fourth such occurrence to realize what the GPS was yelling about.
Costa Rica is known as an adventurer’s playland—full of rainforests, mountains, and beaches. For this quick trip, we decided to focus on the beach by learning how to surf. Tamarindo is considered one of the best surfing destinations because they have a high number of quality surfing spots to match the skills of a variety of surfers, all very close by the seaside town.
We chose to stay in The Chocolate Hotel and 5 Star Hostel on this trip. It was well worth the money. We rented a private room for the night within walking distance to the center of town and the beaches for a very reasonable price. There was some early morning entertainment from the local iguanas included at no charge! More on that later...
Arrival In Town & Check-in
After a few delays getting the rental car at the airport and navigating what seemed to be two dozen well-alarmed school zones, we finally made it to our hostel by early afternoon on Saturday. After a quick check-in, we changed for the beach and made our way to town to find our surf lessons.
Surfing (Tamarindo Surf School)
Although we made our reservations ahead of time, we had a difficult time finding the actual surf shop (of which there were many). After asking for directions in broken Spanish several times, we finally made it to the right storefront only a few minutes after our appointment. In classic laid-back surfer fashion, the guys manning the shop seemed to be unconcerned about our tardiness and muttered between themselves before one of them volunteered to take us on our lesson. In hindsight, there were so many surf shops open and available for lessons, we probably didn’t need to book ahead of time.
Surf lessons were a great way to enjoy all that Costa Rica has to offer in terms of outdoor activities (minus the rainforest) while also taking advantage of one of the best locations to learn to surf. With previous experience wakeboarding and snowboarding, both of us were able to get up after a few tries!
Any time you visit a beach, it is hard to pass on the opportunity to enjoy the fresh seafood and beautiful scenery. Costa Rica was no different. After cleaning up from our surfing adventure, we found a quiet spot to enjoy the sunset while dining on a delicious dinner.
Iguanas are one of the many species that calls Costa Rica home, and they are everywhere! We woke up Sunday morning to what sounded like hail on the metal roof of the hostel. Confused, but unfazed by the fact that it was instead sunny and in the mid-70’s, we moved down into the courtyard to grab some breakfast. Soon, it became evident that the hail we were imagining was actually dozens of iguanas scurrying up and down the building roofs. They were certainly not shy of humans either—one was even brazen enough to sneak up behind Ashley during breakfast and steal her banana from the table! Although it was a very different breakfast experience than back in the States, the iguanas certainly provided some early morning entertainment.
We enjoyed the last few hours in Tamarindo relaxing on the beach before hopping in the car and rushing to the airport to catch our flight back to the States.
Although our time on the ground was short, it was clear early on that Costa Rica has a lot to offer any traveler looking for an outdoor adventure. The economy of the Pacific Coast of the country is reliant on tourism, which creates a pleasant, although sometimes slightly over-touristy, experience once you reach the coast. We had a great time in Costa Rica soaking up the surf and sand and meeting the locals. We’ll definitely be planning a return trip soon!