Last month I sent you a long, detailed postcard about why I was moving to Las Vegas, Nevada to wait-out the winter/spring of Covid.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
Instead, I chose to relocate down to Tamarindo, Costa Rica. It’s actually a familiar locale, as I lived here from 2011 to 2012 in the land of surf, sun, and pura vida.
And when Costa Rica opened up to all U.S. tourists on November 1st, I thought it was the healthiest and best place for me, mind, body, and soul.
I’m sure I’ll write about my new/old home, Tamarindo, a lot in the next few months, but here are 20 quick observations to get us started. After all, things move slowly in Tamarindo, and there's no need to rush or stress.
2. Tamarindo sits on the pacific northwestern coast of Costa Rica, in the province of Guanacaste and the Santa Cruz canton (the closest small city.) But I prefer to pinpoint Tamarindo just by its map coordinates of latitude: N 10° 18' 0.43" and longitude: E 85° 50' 24.47".
Come to think of it, that would make a cool tattoo!
4. There are a good number of high-end condos and modern developments but they've also carefully curbed zoning, so it doesn't get too commercialized or the ocean view blocked out (with the exception of one monstrosity of a condo complex in the center of town that I have no idea how it was approved).
5. In Tamarindo, there are only two main roads through town and about half of them are unpaved. You won’t even find street names or street signs, but people give directions like, “200 meters north from the hotel Botella de Leche” or something like that.
7. The big draw to Tamarindo is the beach, of course, a 1.5 mile stretch of clean, near-white sand that’s level and sufficiently wide. Life in Tama revolves around the scenic beach, as just about everyone comes out in the early morning to walk their dogs, surf, exercise, or sit and enjoy coffee and brekkie. Surfers and sunbathers do their thing all day, and the beach becomes a social gathering point once again at sunset.
8. Thanks to its close proximity to the equator, every day has about 12 hours of sunlight, with little seasonal changes (except for rain, of course). Likewise, the water temperature in the Pacific Ocean at Playa Tamarindo ranges between 77-86°F all year, which is never too chilly that you need a wet suit, even if you're in the water for hours.
10. Costa Rica is known for its natural beauty, flora, and fauna. In fact, the Central American Nation contains only 0.4% of the world's landmass but holds 5% of its total biodiversity. And Tamarindo is no exception, with plenty of monkeys, sloths, lizards, Leatherback turtles, and a stunning array of bird and fish species.
11. You might even be able to catch sight of a whale off the coast of Tamarindo, and there are a few sharks from time to time. (But you’re more scared of them than they are of you.) If that makes you a little hesitant to swim or surf, rest assured that the plentiful crocodiles will probably getcha long before a shark will!
13. While Guanacaste (where Tamarindo is located) is less humid than other jungle or coastal areas, the rainy season is NO JOKE! I write a lot about it in South of Normal, but life is completely different for the residents, Ticos (the name for Costa Ricans), and crazy people who stay during the wet months.
14. The other thing you’ll find in Tamarindo is that prices spike during the high season from December through April (Easter). You might be able to rent an apartment for $1,000 per month during the slow season, but then they want $1,000 PER WEEK during the high season! It’s bonkers and leads to a lot of scrambling to keep rent reasonable for long-term residents.
16. There are only a few small restaurants in Langosta and one small grocery store. My condo complex, Peninsula, is way too nice by my humble traveler standards haha, and I'm thoroughly enjoying the two swimming pools and view of the jungle from my balcony.
17. And there's even good Wi-Fi, something that's the bane of my existence because it's hard to find in tropical beach towns around the world.
19. Oh, and if you’re a coffee fanatic, Costa Rican java is some of the best in the world!
20. Costa Rica has plenty of unique customs, like their national saying, pura vida (pure life). Well, Tamarindo has its own micro-culture as well, a blend of surfer, Rasta, skateboarder, hippie, yoga-d out, chillaxed beach vibe. In Tamarindo, shoes are never required, wearing a t-shirt with sleeves is dressing formally, and “manana” means why do it today when it can be put off until tomorrow!?
I'll share a lot more about Tamarindo in coming months, but I'll leave you with this: after an incredibley stressful eight months in the U.S., it feels like I can finally breathe again down here by the beach in Tamarindo!