Costa Rica 2017 – Tamarindo

Hey everyone!
As you may have noticed, we like to jet out of Boston during the Winter.  It can be a cruel place here to us beach lovers, and the best way to get through the cold is.. to leave it!  
This Winter vacation we decided to finally explore the beautiful country of Costa Rica.  We debated again on hitting up either Hawaii or California for a big driving adventure.. but for some reason, sitting on a beach felt more like what we wanted to do..all of us!  We ended up planning this whole trip ourselves..ok, my husband planned this whole trip with my little suggestions here and there. He really is quite a great considerate vacation planner! This trip we initially decided that we wanted a big relaxing beach vacation, just land and veg out for 7 days. But, as we started researching more and more, we decided to add in some nature and a little rainforest/volcano adventure, too.  So.  We fixed ourselves on staying 7 days,  3 nights at the beach and 4 nights in the rainforest. This time of year is the dry season, which is my favorite season of all!  🙂  This means that the rainfall is at a minimum, if it falls at all, and that it is their Summer.  The beach area, on the Pacific Ocean side, got up to a dry 97F, but had the best breezes, so it never felt hot hot.  The rainforest was about 80F most days, though it did rain once or twice a day in twenty min bursts, that was it.  I wished we had more time to spend at both, because there was so much to see and do that 7 days just felt too quick.
We left at 8AM on Saturday, February 4 right out of Logan Airport.  The flight to Liberia (the Pacific side of the country) was not terribly long, about 5h15m. The flight was smooth, and all went to plan..I took a quick nap, my kids were awesome and my husband talked to his seat neighbor and drew.  🙂  
The one great thing that we did was hire a guide for our trips to each point. This way it wasn’t a taxi, it was spacious vehicles, and we could learn a few fun things about the country along the way.  It was the best thing!  We hired Maleku tours; found them through Trip Advisor. Top notch!  The tour guide, the company owner, picked us up in Liberia then drove us 1h30m to the town of Tamarindo.  He was a sweet man, very well spoken and full information!
Costa Rica translated from Spanish means the Rich Coast, and I now understand why. This country is rich with people, history, beaches, ocean, rainforest, volcanoes, mountains, animals, thermal pools, plants, trees, food, green energy, and whatever else I left out!  It is sandwiched between Nicaragua and Panama, and is also known as “Hawaii of South America” to surfers.  Costa Rica might be one of my top country picks for a family vacation spot.  I have been to some amazing countries.. Japan, England, New Zealand, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Canada, Italy, France, and Mexico, but Costa Rica was a combination of so many things wonderful that I love about traveling abroad.
Firstly, friendly people, that is a major bonus! Compared to cities like Paris, London or Los Angeles, there is no comparison.  Wherever we went we were greeted, or whenever we had a question, we got friendly smiles and answers, like we were really guests there and not violating some code or something.  Gosh, Paris has to be the worst city if you are looking for friendly help.  The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish, but we found 80% of the people we spoke with (from the resort staffers to the locals, aka Tico) spoke English as a second language. We later found out that they start learning English in elementary school, but, if they go to a private school they have immersion courses in English mandatory.
Secondly, the changes in regions. What I mean is that, for example, the rainforest area compared to the beach area.  Though there was only 3 hours between them,  the changes along the drive across was so impressive and awesome (liTerally awesome).  The way life went from dry, brown and arid to this expansive farm land of lush, green and vivid life, it was undoubtedly the most beautiful part of the adventure.  What we were seeing was so inspiring that it just filled me full of joy.
Thirdly, the authenticity of the spaces around you. There are no skyscrapers, no bustling highway, no chaos.  The roads were so natural, rarely any obstructions, and though the roads were sick windy, I enjoyed it to the tops.  The views of Lake Arenal and the waterfall along the way, were beyond expectations.  It was literally pura vida.
Pura Vida..the pure life. This was their motto, and salutation everywhere you go. It is something they say that means so much more than pure life..at least that is the feel I got.   The lifestyle, simplicity, of places like Costa Rica is what makes traveling a beautiful experience. You have so much happening outside your windows and at your feet that you don’t really need much more to make an impact on you. The natural stimuli.
God, I miss it so much already. 😦
Tamarindo was our first stop out of the two. It is a sleepy beach town, where all the surfers hang out because the wave activity is off the charts. We saw waves as high as fifteen feet at times, which is huge for us because in Massachusetts that is not even a thought, especially on the Cape where we Summer vacation. Tamarindo is named after Tamarind. Namely because the sunsets that occur glow the same color as the pods. Costa Rica is only ten degrees north of the equator, so the sunrise and sunset is different from at home.  Every day, no matter what time of year, the sun rises at 5:45AM and the sun sets by 6:30PM.
Tamarindo is quaint and did not feel dangerous at all. Lots of people, locals and tourists.  We walked all over exploring the downtown.  The downtown boulevard is a long dead-end where all the shops and restaurants are flanked on each side. Our resort was on the beach side of the street, Hotel Tamarindo Diria. We were in room 227 of the Oceanview section. This resort was absolutely beautiful.  The grounds themselves were perfectly manicured, from the beach front grassy area to the pools on our side of the resort to the tennis courts and the pools across the way. They set up the resort in two sections, beach side and then across the boulevard for condos, adult only and family friendly pools. Both properties were magnificent, beautiful and private. 
The beach side was very private along their grounds, but the beach itself was public. Which sounds like it might be an issue, but the locals and the few vendors were absolutely non confrontational or an issue at all.  The resort was guarded, but it didn’t seem it really needed it because the people around were so chill.  The resort had every amenity that you could need, and was easy to access from either side of the street. We spent a majority of our time at the main beach side but spent a whole afternoon across the street for the hot tub, swim up bar, and family pool. It was just beautiful!  The large family pool was set up like an oasis, with private nooks and grass thatched umbrellas, if you wanted.  The views were great. Very relaxing!  (And that swim up bar’s bartender was super awesome! Best margaritas on the rocks!)
They had not spared a detail, even on Super Bowl Sunday!  They set up their main dining room as their game room that night.  They had a special menu with drinks, a projector screen and a large screen TV up. There were a lot of us there that night, and though we took off before the fourth for the kids. We watched the game from our room, where we cheered our asses off, celebrating with everyone else that left early!  What a comeback!!
Tamarindo is definitely a fun destination that I hope we can go back to again. The beach life there was right up my alley! But the adventure in Costa Rica when we left Tamarindo was just beginning!
Stayed tuned for our time spent in the rainforest area of Arenal Volcano/the town of La Fortuna.
Here are pictures from that first leg of our stay in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

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