7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Tamarindo & Costa Rica
Tamarindo is known for many things, as a top vacation destination and common spot to visit for a Costa Rica surf trip. We’ve heard it all before… the surfing is good, the people are friendly, and the beaches are gorgeous. Okay, sounds awesome. But there is definitely more than meets the eye! Tamarindo has an interesting history and rich culture that makes it very unique. Here is a list of a few of the less commonly known facts that make Tamarindo and Costa Rica as a whole such a true Central American gem.
1. Costa Rica prioritizes the environment!
It is no secret that Costa Rica is famous for its sweeping sandy beaches, lush, tropical rainforests, volcanoes, waterfalls, and everything in-between. With such a special ecosystem, there is a lot of work done to ensure that these places stay protected. Costa Rica is only 0.03% of the world’s landmass but accounts for 5% of the world’s animal species – more than half a million in total – making Costa Rica one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Both the government and individuals have shown a commitment to conservation and wildlife preservation, and currently, a quarter of the land in the country is set aside as national parks or private reserves. And, Costa Rica aims to be carbon neutral by 2021, making it the first country to do so. This means that hopefully there will be clean beaches and good waves for many years to come!
2. Robert August, the great surf legend, currently lives in Tamarindo.
If you are part of surfing culture anywhere in the world, chances are that you have probably watched the movies The Endless Summer and The Endless Summer II. The movies follow two top surfers, Robert August, and Michael Hynson, around the world as they search for the perfect wave. Tamarindo Beach is prominently featured in The Endless Summer II, and it was largely after the movie came out that Tamarindo started to really boom as a surfing destination. Robert August currently lives in Tamarindo, and he can often be seen riding his bike along the streets and going to his favorite spots. You might even get the chance to meet him!
3. Tamarindo is also the name of a tree and its delicious fruit.
Tamarindo is a big, leafy tree that is native to Africa but grows in tropical climates and can be found all around Tamarindo and the surrounding Guanacaste area. It produces a pod-like fruit that contains an edible pulp. In Costa Rica especially, this pulp is used to make a juice that is deliciously sweet and very thirst quenching after a long surf session. It is a very unique fruit, and a must try when in Tamarindo!
4. Tamarindo is #4 on TripAdvisor’s 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards list of the top 10 destinations in Central America.
It is no wonder that Tamarindo is so high on this list. The number one reason most people visit Tamarindo is for world-renowned surfing like Robert and Michael did all those years ago. However, if you come for the surfing, you will undoubtedly stay for the sunrises and sunsets, relaxed, slow lifestyle, scenery and wildlife, and friendly people. Not to mention the fresh coconuts and fruit and incredible restaurants from all over the world! (There are actually more restaurants than supermarkets in Tamarindo). Whether traveling solo, with friends, or with the whole family, there is something for everyone and you are almost guaranteed to come back for another visit again soon.
5. The water temperature at Playa Tamarindo stays between 25-30°C or 77-86°F year-round.
Which is what makes it so awesome for year-round surfing. It also makes it awesome for swimming, boogie boarding, stand up paddle boarding, snorkeling, and fishing. It is the perfect temperature to be refreshing from the heat, but still warm enough that you can stay in the water comfortably for a long time. The ocean in Tamarindo not only provides a ton of fun activities, but also the perfect living conditions for a number of incredible sea creatures. For example, Leatherback Turtles, the biggest reptiles in the world, can be found on Playa Grande next to Playa Tamarindo. There are also octopi, jellyfish, whales, sharks, a ton of different kinds of fish, and more. This means there is a lot to see when you go snorkeling of course, but it also means there is a ton of fresh seafood that really can’t be beat.
6. The Costa Rica Surf Team is world-class!
Turns out all of the amazing surf spots in Costa Rica really pay off! At the International Surfing Association (ISA) 2015 World Surfing Games held in Nicaragua, Costa Rica’s team made national history. They won the gold medal, among a couple silvers and bronzes as well. They were competing against 26 teams from all around the world, and the trophy designated them the world champions of surfing. They are called the “Costa Rican Dream Team” (clearly for good reason!) And since it was announced that surfing will be included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the athletes will be competing for a spot on the team that gets to travel to Asia for this historic event. We will be keeping our eyes out for another gold!
7. Tamarindo doesn’t have any street names or street signs for that matter.
At first, this might sound confusing. But once you visit Tamarindo, you will realize that it really isn’t a problem at all. In fact, it is downright charming. Tamarindo is about a mile long by a half mile deep, nestled up against the beach, and one of the best parts is that you can walk everywhere you might want to go in about 10 minutes or less. There are two main streets – one that runs parallel to the beach, filled with surf shops, restaurants, shops, and bars. The other is perpendicular to the first with more restaurants and shops. And that is pretty much all you need to know! Of course, there are a few smaller streets, but everything is easy to find and there are good landmarks for when you need to get directions. The town has some sort of magic where it has the same excitement, booming food scene, and a long list of things to do as a bigger town, but the same local businesses, slow way of life, and friendly faces of a small town. It is pretty much impossible to walk down the street without seeing someone you know.
If you were not already planning on making Tamarindo your next vacation destination, hopefully now you are! There isn’t a more special, beautiful, and welcoming place on the planet. We’ll see you soon!
This blog was written by Isabel Loos at Iguana Surf Shop located in Tamarindo. Iguana has been in Tamarindo since 1989 and offers surf lessons, tours, surf camp & more.