One Thursday morning over coffee, Ron and I looked at each other, tired and worn down from a hard week of work and life. We needed some time to ourselves and booked one way tickets out of town, leaving less than 24 hours later. Here’s my travel list for TAMARINDO, COSTA RICA.
Ron has been going to Tamarindo since he was a teenager, but I had never been. He wanted to show me his hideaway for the past fifteen years, and I couldn’t wait for some sunshine.
It’s a quick flight down, with a connection in Houston. We flew into Liberia, hopped in our $25 rental car and drove to Tamarindo – a surfer’s haven on the Pacific Coast of the country. Upon arrival, the only planning we had done was the rental car. They gave us a wifi hotspot for $10 per day which was clutch (they probably regret giving me unlimited data), and as soon as we hopped in the car, I started looking for a hotel. We decided to bounce around each night until we found a favorite. After all, we didn’t have a return flight, and had no idea how long we were staying (which according to a local was not allowed, we weren’t supposed to be let into the country without a return flight. Whoops.)
The first night we stayed at Tamarindo Diria in the middle of town. This hotel definitely had the best advertising, I couldn’t Google ‘Tamarindo’ without it coming up, and they had a few roadside signs on the way from the airport. The hotel is split between rooms that are on the water, and rooms that are across the street by another pool. There was one room left, and we stayed across the street. We weren’t huge fans of the hotel, so we only stayed one night.
Right near Diria was The Ocean restaurant, where we grabbed drinks a few times. It’s on the beach and the staff was very accommodating. We loved sitting on their couches and watching the surfers.
Ron went surfing as often as he could, renting boards from the Banana Surf Club. We went to Lola’s to surf – amazing food, surf lessons, hammocks on the beach, and one very large and in charge pot-belly pig. This was one of my favorite spots, we stayed all day.
Then we found our favorite hotel – Cala Luna Boutique Hotel. The staff was absolutely the best I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Upon arrival, they made us a welcome drink and handed us a cool cucumber towel (bonus points). Between the food and the monkey that hangs out by the pool, I was in love. They have a small beach as well, but surfing is a bit further down the road. We booked it for one night, then decided to take a drive.
We drove up the coast towards Playa Conchal (white beaches), and stopped at the Westin for lunch, which you’re not supposed to do. We wanted to see the hotel, but it’s an all-inclusive and you have to be a guest to get on the property. We asked if we could see a room, and the managers let us stay for lunch once we were already there. This place was a lot like Disney World – buses of people getting off and checking in. Not our style. However, the hotel is connected to the Reserva Conchal – a private beach club that allows hotel guests to eat at the restaurant and lay at the pool. This part of the property is modern and beautiful. We ate lunch at their restaurant, and then kept driving north.
We ended up at a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel – El Mangroove. We loved this hotel, it was brand new and ultra chic. The rooms had a ‘porch’ section with a hammock before you walked into the actual room. The pool was lined with private cabanas and the restaurant had a menu that I couldn’t choose from it was so wonderful. They were very accommodating with my allergies. The only downside is that there isn’t much around the hotel, and no surfing. After one night we went back down towards Tamarindo.
We loved Cala Luna so much, that we ended up back at the hotel that night. It turned out that the third party site that booked our hotel put us in a room that was not available. The staff had it covered, walking us down to a three bedroom villa with a private pool for our troubles. They were so appreciative that we came back, they also sent a bottle of champagne and a fruit platter to our room. I cannot say enough about this staff and how well they treat their guests. On our last night we had a private sunset dinner on the beach. It wasn’t much more than eating off of the restaurant menu, and we were the only ones allowed on the beach. Every guest should take advantage of it!
A few other places that we loved – Green Papaya has a bar with SWINGS! The food was great, but with bar swings, who really cares how the food is? We also did an ATV tour that took us to the very top of Tamarindo with a great view and a canopy zip-line. At the start of town is Witch’s Rock Surf Camp, Robert August’s restaurant (Endless Summer). He was hanging out and we got to chat with him during the Super Bowl.
After a week, we made the hard decision to come home. This place will always have a piece of me and be a part of the world where I can slow down, and only bring a backpack. I wore a bathing suit, jean shorts and a coverup the entire time. Real clothes didn’t leave my bag, and for once, that was exactly what I needed. Pura Vida.