In October of 2012 I packed up my NYC apartment and moved to Costa Rica. In the time that I have lived here, I have had a crash course on the best places to surf, eat, and play. This page is a mini-guide to help get you started to answer your initial question, “What should I do while I am visiting Costa Rica?” Take note that I am located in the Northwest part of the country in a region called Guanacaste and this guide is useful for the town of Tamarindo, the second largest beach town in Costa Rica, and surrounding areas.
Why does everyone keep saying Pura Vida?
If you are lucky enough to plan your trip during a fiesta, make sure you pack your cowboy hat and boots.
Located in Villa Real, Las Palmas is a super-local soda (restaurant)—you can’t beat the homemade arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) and the $5 price. For breakfast, lunch, dinner or sunset drinks on the beach, you can’t go wrong with Nogui’s. Try the shrimp tacos, patacones (plantains with black beans), mint-ginger smoothie and the rotunda tica breakfast. This restaurant makes some of the best pies I have ever tasted in my life (the pineapple pie is a must-try). Early morning surf sessions call for fast food French Bakery style.
Located just as you are headed out of Tamarindo, I typically pick up a sweet croissant or leek quiche before an early trip to Avellanas (if only they opened before 6am!). When this former city girls needs her NYC pizza fix, I head to La Baula in Tamarindo for one of their thin crust pies—my favorite comes with arugula, prosciutto, Parmesan and a drizzle (or dump) or spicy olive oil. Localed in Playa Avellanas, Lola’s is a beach-front restaurant that’s a little slice of paradise. The owners Don and Christi are super nice, the wait staff amazing (and cute!), and the food is super fresh. The part is Lolita, the restaurant’s pet pig, who strolls out of her pen to take a dip in the Pacific Ocean!
Local Nook and Cranny
On the main road in Tamarindo, just as the paved road ends, is a little nook with a fantastic coffee shop, bookstore, and around the corner is the Saturday farmers’ market.
Café Tico– One of the best places in Tamarindo to get a cup of coffee and morning local hangout. Eloisa, the Italian owner, always greets you with a smile. My favorite is the iced latte…the ice cubes are mad from coffee!
Jaime Peligro– The one-and-only bookstore in the region of Guanacaste. For $20/year you can be a book club member and take out books as fast as you can read them. Added bonus is the owner Jim is super nice and even sells stamps for those cool Samba to the Sea postcards and notecards he carries in the store.
Saturday Farmer’s Market- This may be a smaller farmers’ market, but there is no shortage of variety. Locally grown fruits and vegetables, artisan cheese, homemade nut butters, fresh cut flowers, artisan soap, local art, tacos and popsicles; what else could you ask for?! Every Saturday from 8-12PM.
Coffee Heaven: Costa Rica grows some pretty amazing coffee. A great activity to do while visiting is visit a coffee plantation. Check out my trip to a finca in Monteverde.