as for activities in Tamarindo, we did a kayak tour of the estuary. Kayaked out to a little island just off shore another day. Did an ATV tour that took us through the woods to Negra, Avallanes etc..
We did the canopy thing on another trip where we stayed in teh cloud forest. Guesssing you could catch a tour to do one from Tamarindo, but might have to drive a bit.
You can do chartered boat trips etc etc... We did some stuff through the hotel, but most through Tamarindo Adventures. We ended up with teh same guide each time. We tipped him well the first time, and it made teh tours better. The ATV trip was much longer than it was supposed to be etc.. Was a blast.
Would have done more, but my wife just wanted to keep trying to surf...so we did that nearly every day. She rented a teal and pink Roxy soft top mini-longboard. We went to Grande for dinner, and had the board in the car. Waves were perfect...a few feet overhead on set. That was the only board we had with us, and there was no way I was going to pass up those waves. I had what was perhaps my most unstylish session ever. Got some strange looks and smiles, but no comments surprisingly. Board actually didn't ride too bad for what it was.
pkovo if tamarindo is small how far is the short drive to other breaks? and what about the day trips, how far each way? heard great things about "little hawaii".
should i look into a different location to utilize the best of both worlds...surf and activities?
definitely flying into liberia if tamarindo or anywhere in the guanacaste area is the choice.
wouldnt mind short drives to check out cool stuff but dont want to spend the vaca in car. is it cheaper to use bus/cabbies or rent?
sounds like an amazing trip and dont blame you one bit for rocking the flaming soft top; i'd do the same thing grinning ear to ear the whole time
many thanks to you and all that have been providing fedback
Tamarindo is the Myrtle Beach of Costa Rica- very touristy. That said though it is right next to Grande which is a great wave for you (although crowded) while Tamarindo would be more ideal for her to learn. If the budget allows a rental car then you can go all sorts of places. Guiones is much classier but smaller- good restaraunts, minimal nightlife but many surf schools in the shorebreak for her while you're out the back on a bomb- tide sensitive Pelada around the corner is fun little wave when your arms are dead form the main breaks long paddle unless there's more than tow or three people on it. Again if you stayed there and had a rental you could get to a great many places on the penninsula.
I mean nightlife regarding Guiones. I don't do much during the day just surf and hang out on the beach with the fam, maybe go explore some of the other towns/beaches close by.
Definitely rent a car, a lot of the beaches (all) outside Tamarindo will not have taxis and you will be stranded once they drop you off. Buses don't run often around there and are mainly used by locals to go to the bigger cities for the day. Look at the Daria if you stay in Tamarindo, beautiful place and right on the beach, but pricey. Tamarindo is nto a bad place for home base if the person you are travelling with doesn't surf, and Tamarindo can be fun on an incoming tide, but just smaller than surrounding beaches and is super crowded with people learning.
I would stay away from Jaco, very seedy and best for travelling surfers and fisherman who want an "exciting" night life after a day in/on the water. I used to like Hermosa a lot, which is right down the road, but so many places that are much better.
Edit: check out the video on here "life of a surfboard" that is Guiones...
how far is guinos from tamarindo. i feel like google maps might not give the best time estimate? how much should one expect spend to have a good time in costa rica? flights fromjersey loook to be $500 rd trip w/taxes.
sounds like a 4x4 is a must how much should it be to rent?
appreciate the heads up on jaco/hermosa.
looking to get this booked later tonight or latest tomorrow. sounds like tamarindo is the spot, will check out vrbo.com for places close by.
how much hassel is that neither of us can speak spanish?
whats the deal with expenses while we're out there? food beers activities board rentals paying off polizia for speeding tickets? any other expenses ya'll can think of? trying to determine how nice of a place we can get while staying in a general budget?
I was going to recommend Tamarindo, check out Witches Rock Surf Camp, nice room, you can set up surf tours while you stay there while your lady friend does other activities or takes surf lessons. From there you can easily get to Avellanes, a nice beach break and your lady friend and relax at Lola's on the beach. Tamarindo, speaing no spanish will be fine, but learn a few key words. I like witches rock, because if you sign up for their surf programs, it's all one fee and no hidden costs. Plus they take you all over Guancaste. Activities such as canopy tours could cost about $40-50, White Water Rafting, $125 or more. Dining in Tamarindo, can be cheap to exepensive depending on your tastes.
My wife and I have a place at the north end of Jaco. We've been surfing and traveling the country for the last eight years. Jaco isn't as shady as everyone makes it out to be. They have everything you need in Jaco...food, bars, surf shops, tours. Jaco is an Ok beach break but we head five minutes around the mountain to Hermosa...love that wave. It's a strong beachbreak with great shape and peaks breaking up down the seven mile stretch of black sand. When its too big, we head 45 minutes north to Boca Barranca for some 400 yard leg burning lefts. Its not the cleanest water but, the wave is fantastic. Dominical is another great beach break 2 hours south with many more palces in between and Manuel Antonio national park is just 45 minutes south of Jaco. Esterellios is only 15 minutes south of Jaco and this wave is more gentle than Hermosa. There's a rock reef (look for the statue of the mermaid in the ocean) that breaks WAY out. I've been to Playa Grande and Tamarindo too. It's all about personal choice, the whole country is awesome, people are friendly, food is FANTASTIC, and the vibe is great. I'm just a fan of the central pacific cause the landscape is so diverse. Added Pavones to the list this past July...everyone should make it there before they die. It's an easy drive from Jaco if you have a few days...takes about 5 1/2 hours to get there but the drive is amazing. IF you need a car rental in Jaco, contact Warren at Zuma car rental: http://www.zumarentacar.com/
For any tours contact Eric Holzgang at Jaco 360: http://www.jacobeach360.com/
He takes care of our guests when they stay in Jaco. His company is the one stop shop for anything. If you need anything or have any questions, let me know.
Guiones is about 3-4 hours from Tamarindo because you can't go down the coast (you can but you would have to drive on the beach) so you have to go inland through Santa Cruz. If you stay in Tamarindo you will be happy exploring between Negra and points North. A car will be about $500+ for a week, check tico travel, Greg Gordon has a lot of good info and connections with places to stay and tends to have the best prices on car rentals from what I have seen. You can't really pay off the cops these days and tickets are $$$$$. That whole area is kind of pricey so meals will be no less than $5 even for breakfast but expect to pay closer to $10 as a minimum (might be hard in Tamarindo), but you can probably get by on just two meals a day with snacks. Boards should only be about $15/day so much better than paying airline fees for just a week. I don't know much about prices for those activities, I usually just drive around and explore different beaches.
Check on flights to San Jose and then taking a local flight to Tamarindo might be cheaper than going to Liberia.
Take my time estimates with a grain of salt, because I don't wear a watch and don't pay close attention, but here goes :
Tamarindo to Grande, 20-30 minutes. It's real close as the crow flies (same cove) but you have to go inland, over, then back to the beach to get around an estuary. There used to be a cut through that shaved maybe 10 minutes (went between some fields) but I only went that route with the guys, not with my wife, cus if I got stuck that would have been bad.
Tamarindo to Negra and Avallanes 30-40 minutes. Again, as the crow flies would be quicker, but it's mostly dirt roads that weave around.
Tamarindo to Langosta No idea how long by car, but 10 minutes if you drive to the last hotel (some big spanish seeming place) and wade/swim across the little estuary there. Seems like a lot of people don't check or care to check Langosta. I had fun there with only a few others. Was peaky, not huge, but surprisingly punchy. Easiest place to hit while my wife was asleep.
Playa Guiones (Nosara) Probably 1-1.5 hours. This is more of a true day trip, the others are places we would go for a few hours.
If you're not going to rent a car, I would not go to Tamarindo. I would instead go to Guiones. The best I've seen Tamarindo break in the 3 times I've stayed there is waist to chest, with pretty lame form. Good for a beginner, bad for someone that knows how to surf. In front of the Estuary broke OK. There was also a little spit of rocks (lava rock?) that held a peak that broke OK, but overall, I have no real memory of surfing Tamarindo, except for the fact that it was a great place for my wife to learn.
I caught nice surf at Grande, Avellanes (little Hawaii and teh Estuary mouth), and Langosta. Caught OK surf at Negra, but didn't like the crowd or the vibe there.
Avellanes offers several distinct breaks in a long stretch of beach. There's a cool little place to eat right where you park. There also used to be a big Pig that was always there, wandering around.
I recomend renting a car...a little roller skate type 4x4 of some sort, but if you don't want to rent 1, then I would park yourself in Playa Guiones within easy walk to the main beach. There's not as much to do, but it has a nice vibe, and the surf there is very consistent. It's just a big old beach break. Even when it gets big, it's a very friendly wave. Paddle outs can be tough when it's big only because there's no channel, and the sets seem to contain more waves then anywhere, but even with size, it breaks soft and you can duck dive right under without getting worked.
As for the Jaco/Hermosa area, it may be the most consistent place in Costa for surfable waves every day. Hermosa is a heavy beach break (by my standards anyway), so if it's overhead, and you take one on the head, you'll feel it. Can get nice and hollow though. You just need to be a little careful around Jaco. Don't get me wrong, Jaco can be alot of fun, just need to use a healthy dose of common sense and judgement there. I only stayed one night in Jaco, but i stayed a week in Hermosa one trip.
I was lucky enough to catch Boca Barranca at dawn the first day a new swell filtered in. Went on the tip of a guy that ran the road side restaurant we had been earting at after I told him my rocket fish was getting squirrely in the overhead bombs that had started to filter into Hermosa. One of the most memorable sessions of my life. Me, my buddy, and 4 other guys we met shared ridiculously long chest high rides for hours. Tried to repeat the same the following day, and it was a mad house of people, but man that first day there is forever burned into my memory. Unfortunately Hermosa claimed the tail of that Rocket Fish a few days later.
As for car rentals, I liked Toyota rentals. Quick shuttle from the airport, and they had us on our way. A little more expensive than some, but the cars we rented from them had tread on the tires, which is more than I can say for some of the other companys we used.
***Also, I should probably note, I went every year for the better part of a decade, but it's been at least 4 years since I've been. So things may be a tad different. Things were changing quite a bit from yr to yr when I was going.