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Tamarindo – A Gruelling Backpacking Adventure in Pursuit of Surfing

Tamarindo is a fantastic coastal destination in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province, within the area, there are loads of beaches and they aren’t completely mobbed. What is true however is that Tamarindo is home to a lot of expats from mostly the United States, meaning that you will get a lot of people speaking English all around. Because of this, Tamarindo had gained the nickname: ‘Tamagringo.’

How to get to Tamarindo?

As Tamarindo is quite far off from anywhere else, it’s unfortunately a nightmare to get to on public transport. If you have an international driver’s licence, I highly suggest just renting a car to get here. There are direct buses from San Jose to Tamarindo, however not from La Fortuna, despite it being closer.

I had to take a 2 and a half hour bus from La Fortuna to a small city near San Jose called San Ramon. Then I had to ask a police officer how to get the bus to Tamarindo and she took me to a taxi driver who took me to the bus stop. I ended up waiting almost two hours there and once I got on the bus, there was very little leg room. It took over 4 hours to get to Tamarindo and the bus driver took a 25 minute break to have his dinner and insisted on everyone getting out of the bus for this.

Staying in Pura Vida Mini Hostel

This hostel has well located, however I can’t say it was one of the good hostels that I’ve stayed in during my travels. The bathrooms were woeful, with dirt everywhere and the showers were cold. At least the beds were alright and there was an area for chilling which had a pool table and the staff where alright.

Where to eat in Tamarindo

I found two decent places for morning coffee and breakfast, one of them is called Breaking Bread and its logo looks like Heisenberg’s face. This place is a bakery which has decent coffee and makes its own challah which is quite unique. A decent place for both a good breakfast or lunch is Nordico Coffee which is a fantastic coffee shop with a good range of coffee, ice tea and sandwiches.

Breaking Bread
Nordico Coffee

A good place I recommend checking out is the Jardín Tamarindo Food Truck Park, this place has food trucks that serve tacos, ceviche and crepes. I was drawn towards coming here because I saw a place that made fish and chips, however it was not as good as how it was back home.

This is what fish and chips in Costa Rica looks like

What to do in Tamarindo – Surfing

Tamarindo is a perfect location for surfing, especially if you’re a beginner, however if you want to get the best waves, you have to show up very early in the morning. I was only able to get one hour of surfing in before stopping as I had sustained scrapes on my hands and knees which made any more of it painful. It was good to get up on a board after 3 years, however it was obvious I was well out of practice.

Walking Around the Beaches

Tamarindo Beach is actually quite a nice beach to walk around, it’s not overwhelmed with tourists. If you want to go somewhere that’s completely devoid of tourists, head to Langosta Beach, although during high tide it isn’t such a good experience as the waves leave barely any space to walk. Furthermore, most of this area is just a neighbourhood, so finding the entrance and exit can be difficult.

Tamarindo Beach

Head Over to Tamarindo Night Market

A very vibrant place in Tamarindo is the night market which you can try a range of street foods, I managed to find homemade Argentine empanadas and Venezuelan arepas. There are a few stalls which sell a range of things such as cool necklaces, different types of clothes and souvenirs. I can definitely recommend coming here as it’s very lively at night with some good food and you may even be tempted to buy something.

As you can see, Tamarindo is a simple beach town in Guanacaste which is quite far from San Jose. What can be said is that it is not the authentic Tico experience as there are so many Americans here.

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