We arrive Costa Rica in late November, towards the end of the rainy season, and spend 5 days nestled in Tamarindo; a quiet beach town on Costa Rica’s pacific coast.
Here there are no glinting skyscrapers branded with names of banks, and no luxury hotel strip along the beach. In the town’s center, untarred sandy paths are lined with boutique stores, street-food carts, fruit stands, and open-air restaurants. People walk leisurely to and from the nearby beachfront, where jungly trees provide shade from the afternoon sun.
For the entire week, our routine mirrors the city’s ethos: relaxed and easy-going.
True to its name, Playa Grande is a sprawling paradise. Miles of golden sand stretch into the distance alongside a continuous blue ocean.
We arrive on the beach to warm sunshine, but it’s quickly followed by a heavy downpour that leaves us soaking wet before we can find shelter.
A nearby food truck park is our relief from the rain, so we dry off here and order cold bottles of Pilsner beer and small appetizer plates to share. I shake off errant grains of sand from my Kindle and continue reading Bolu Babalola’s Honey & Spice to pass the time.
I don’t mind the intermission, but I’m eager to get back to the beach.
As if granting my wishes, dark gray clouds quickly fade to reveal clear blue skies, and we stroll back to the shore alongside others who were patient enough to wait out the rain.
We pass a now lukewarm bottle of Rosé back and forth, enjoying sips of the lightly sweet wine. My boyfriend starts playing Afrobeats songs on his phone, and we dance together, mouthing familiar lyrics, care-free in our small section of the beach.
Costa Rica have equalized with Germany in the World Cup’s group stage, and the atmosphere is electric with excitement. The normally quiet city erupts in loud noises as we walk from our hotel to Playa Tamarindo. Cars honk loudly on the road, football fans cheer in celebration, clad in Costa Rica’s red, white, and blue colors.
From a comfortable couch at Langosta Beach Club, I watch the game with second-hand enthusiasm, understanding little about the nuances of football, but everything about rooting for the underdog.
This is the most lively the sleepy city has been since we arrived.
After the game, we walk the short distance to the beachfront & settle under a shady tree to enjoy the last few hours of sunlight.
When our driver, Jordi, drops us off at the closest car accessible entrance, we have to walk across a gray sand beach and through a hidden pathway to reach Playa Conchal.
Sunlight glints off of the shore, making it appear almost white from a distance. Here, the beach is made entirely from seashells that are washed onto the shore. I expect the shells to feel uncomfortable under my feet but they’re smooth enough that I take off my slippers to walk barefoot.
We lay a blanket down and resume our relaxed routine of lying down by the ocean. A group of boys throw a ball back and forth in the water as gentle waves break on the beach. We alternate between minutes of talking & shared silences until the sun disappears behind the horizon, leaving a warm golden sky in its place.
We spend more languid days like this, in appreciation of simple moments: shared silences, resting on pristine beaches, the warm feeling of sun on skin, and watching sunset paint the sky.
I like to think our time in Costa Rica captured the essence of “pura vida” —a Costa Rican salutation that I first heard a decade ago, meaning “pure life” or “simple life”. I’d love to go back and visit other parts of the country, but for now, I’m content to relive memories of our time in Tamarindo.
Good to Know
Getting Around: Within Tamarindo, you can get around by walking. We only used taxis to get to and from the airport and to the further beaches like Playa Conchal and Playa Grande.
Flights: There are non-stop flights from San Francisco to Liberia (the nearest airport to Tamarindo). I use Google Flights to book and track flights.
Weather: December to April is the dry season in Costa Rica, while May to November is the rainy season. It’s also greenest in the rainy season. We went towards the end of November & had some rains that were short-lived.
Where we stayed: Tamarindo Bay Boutique & La Ramona.
Some of my favorite restaurants: Waffle Monkey, Dragonfly Bar & Grill, Patagonia Argentine Grill.
Tamarindo is perfect for a relaxing beach vacation. As far as activities go, there’s not a whole lot to do if you’re not on or near water. So you can choose to visit Tamarindo alone or add on a trip to another city or two in Costa Rica.
Thinking about a trip to Tamarindo? Plan your stay with the Same Footprints Guide here: https://bit.ly/3J2FJHe
Thank you for reading!
Same Footprints, Different Sands