Tamarindo a popular spot with Canadians

Although it’s just a few miles from Playas del Coco on Costa Rica’s northwest coast, Tamarindo is a world apart. Unlike Coco, Tamarindo is highly developed, with a wide range of hotels and resorts and a good selection of gift shops. Tamarindo is also the Costa Rican destination that many Canadians know well, simply because it is a popular choice for many package tour companies. And for good reason.

The beach at Tamarindo is spectacular. A wide expanse of light sand running the length of the town, Playa Tamarindo illustrates what a resort beach can and should be. Whether you want to swim, surf or just watch the surfers, you can spend a day (or a week) at the beach undisturbed. During my stay at Tamarindo, the only vendors on the beach were a man and his young son selling old-fashioned snow cones. When we wanted a cone, we waved.

Tamarindo is a favorite with surfers, and served as a location for the famous (among surfers, at least) film “Endless Summer II”. It’s also a great place for the novice to catch a wave. If you want to try surfing, a visit to Charlie’s Ding Shop is a must. Charlie, better known as Carlito, definitely inhales and is a dead ringer for Cheech Marin f Cheech and Chong fame) in every way. He’ll rent you a board by the half day, day, or week at a reasonable price, and repair any “dings” you might inflict on his equipment.

Many Canadians visiting Tamarindo will stay at one of the larger resort hotels, as part of a package deal. One popular spot is Villa Vistas, which offers suite accommodations and the extra benefit of Surf Pati’s shop, located adjacent to the hotel. A veteran surfer who’s definitely been there and done that, Surf Pati can give you a good adventure story along with your new bathing suit or board shorts. Most of the popular resort hotels are located within a short walk of the beach, which is important if you want to avoid the traffic parade that slowly winds up and down Tamarindo’s main drag day and night.

If you visit Tamarindo on your own, I’d recommend the El Milagro hotel. Located near the shopping area and just 100 yards from the beach, the El Milagro offers pleasant, brightly decorated rooms with small, private patios for about $80, depending on the season. The outdoor restaurant and bar are a great place to relax after a day at the beach. Sit back with a cerveza and watch the some of the local horses pass by, as they wander the town much like neighbourhood dogs once did in Canada. The wandering horses always go home for dinner, and you may find yourself riding one of them down the beach the next morning.