Our Top 10 Reasons to call Tamarindo home.
Note the fact “nightlife” is not the terminology to use here. The connotations of the word “nightlife” can’t begin to cover the after-hours scene in Tamarindo – at least not for everyone. Sure you have the techno-thumping nightclubs where 20-somethings dance into the morning hours, but “nightlife” gives off a distinct non-family friendly vibe and Tamarindo is far from exclusive to backpacking party animals. The best thing about living in Tamarindo is options – high or low season, there is always something going on to appeal to residents of all ages and tastes. From bingo nights that attract everyone from teens to senior citizens to open-mic nights each Wednesday at Hotel Pasatiempo (local bands draw a crowd of faithful followers) there is something for everyone in Tamarindo.
2. Outdoor Life
If you enjoy the great outdoors, Tamarindo is the place for you. Living among nature is a part of life here and the outdoorsy lifestyle is part of what makes Tamarindo great. Indoor dining is a rarity here and at some restaurants it’s not even an option. Shelter from the rain is always available, but even in the rainy months there isn’t much (short of a natural disaster) that would deter Tamarindo residents from getting outside and enjoying life. My morning routine includes sipping a steaming hot cup of Costa Rican coffee and inhaling a revitalizing breath of salty air. It’s those moments I feel connected to nature and so grateful to live in a place with an abundance of hiking trails, the saltwater estuary and some of the world’s best waves at your fingertips.
3. Surf culture.
So yes – I’m behind schedule with my Costa Rica life plan of becoming a Quicksilver-sponsored badass surfer chick. Although I still struggle to stand up and annoy locals with a lack of surf etiquette, it hasn’t stopped me from falling in love with the sport from a distance. There’s something inspiring about the hypnotic surf videos playing at the local sushi lounge and something inherently gratifying about décor made with worn broken surf boards: mounted on the wall of an outdoor bar or given a second life as a unique coffee table. Wherever you fall on the surfer’s spectrum – there’s openness in the culture, a welcoming passion – that lights up Tamarindo and can be appreciated by all.
Tamarindo would be the perfect setting for a TV show. People here come from all walks of life – a collective gathering place for extremely different, yet like-minded characters. There are plenty of locals in the area, but Tamarindo has morphed into a noticeable expat community. Ask the question, “what brought you to Costa Rica,” and the variety of stories scales from black to white. It’s a myriad of intriguing labyrinths of lives so different that led to a place so small and distinct. There’s no better material in travel writing, or in life, than people and their stories and Tamarindo is full of material. I love not being able to leave the house without passing friendly faces, chatting with the security guard down the road and all the while subconsciously learning more about myself through every interaction.
5. It’s the best of both worlds.
Tamarindo is a place of paradoxes. It’s tranquil, yet touristy; developed, yet authentic and close-knit, but transient. Living here offers the best of both worlds. You can practice your Spanish with anyone, but you know you can switch to English if you can’t find that perfect phrase. There is a certain comfort knowing you are surrounded by travelers. They might stay a week or never leave, but either way it’s nice to feel a connection to the people around you. The center of town always echoes the sounds of the city – people chatting, bands playing and taxis driving – a reminder that here, you’re never alone even if a two minutes walk down a side street brings you home to the jungle silence where the only sounds are cicadas whirring and the occasional bellow from a neighboring howler monkey.
6.) Exotic fruit.
This one might be more applicable to Costa Rica as a whole, but Tamarindo certainly stands out in the foodie world. In general, I’ve been introduced to more exotic fruits in my time here than ever before. Walking down the street, mango trees drop juicy fruits in your lap that would normally cost up to $4 each at the local co-op back home in the States. In my backyard, trees sprout delicious orange varieties, limons (the equivalent of a lemon-lime hybrid) and bananas. Every day I can purchase (or find) fresh pineapple, papaya, guava, maracuyá (passionfruit), pipas (coconuts), mamones (fruit you crack open with your teeth), guanábana (known for it’s thick banana-coconut flavored juice) or Tamarindo, which is not just the name of the town, but also a sweet and sour tasting fruit found inside brown seed-like pods. Que rico!
7. You don’t need a car.
Practically everything in Tamarindo is within walking distance. The supermarkets, restaurants and bars are literally located on a ½ mile strip and most accommodations are well under a mile from the center of town. It’s so concentrated that doing errands feels like a one-stop shopping experience as you can hit the supermarket, the bank, your favorite clothing shop and grab a smoothie all in one place.
Despite complaints about tourists not knowing how to drive in high season, the tour industry continues to benefit Tamarindo residents even more so than the visitors it’s designed for. Economically, tourism is the lifeline for keeping restaurants, bars and hotels in business. Although things slow down during the rainy months, a steady stream of travelers helps local businesses keep the town alive and exciting all year. When high season hits, Tamarindo more than triples in size to the delight business owners and locals alike. Personally, I like the chance to meet travelers. It’s a part of the eclectic community that makes Tamarindo, Tamarindo.
9. ) Business Potential.
The most successful people around here are those who noticed something missing and carved out their own niche in Tamarindo. There is endless potential to market yourself and your unique services and with the closest city about an hour away, there are always services and skills needed in town locally. Travelers with the right drive have given it a shot and generally, they succeed. Babysitting businesses, yoga studios, catering companies, freelancing and more are just some of the offbeat ways people make a living following their passion in Tamarindo.
At times, it can feel isolating being located so far from the capital city of San Jose (around 5 hours in a car). But, the options for transportation outside of Tamarindo are abundant and once again, it’s a best of both worlds situation – where you can enjoy the remote, small-town feel of this Guanacaste town one day and the next, you can be on a quick and painless $20 shuttle to the Liberia Airport that connects with hundreds of destinations across the globe. The option to fly back to New York City for under $500 (if well-planned) or to jump aboard a domestic Nature Air flight to San Jose ($50-$120) if I’m missing urban life is a nice bonus coming from someone who, like Tamarindo, is a bit of a city/country kind of paradox.