The Voyage: 48 Hours in Tamarindo, Costa RicaMay 1, 2018
Today, we’re celebrating pura vida.
Simply translated, the phrase means “pure life,” and you’ll hear it all over Costa Rica. But it’s more than just a catchy slogan – for Costa Ricans, it’s a lifestyle. Named the “Happiest Country in the World” by National Geographic in 2017, the small Central American nation embraces a laidback approach to daily life and simple pleasures.
Not that being happy in Costa Rica is all that difficult. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, more than 25% of the country is made up of protected national parks and lush rainforests, making it a true paradise. Try as we might, we couldn’t have picked a more beautiful backdrop for our May catalog.
Ready for a little pura vida of your own? Join us for a quick getaway in the Pacific coastal town of Tamarindo.
8 AM: Coffee at La Bodega
You can’t visit Costa Rica without sampling one of its most famous exports – coffee. At this open-air café, you’ll find a menu full of local, organic bites to go along with your roast. Fuel up with some hearty gallo pinto – a Costa Rican staple of rice and beans – or freshly baked banana bread.
10 AM: Horseback Riding
Get a feel for Costa Rica’s diverse landscape with a horseback tour of Tamarindo’s hills, pastures, and beaches. Gallop along the coast for breathtaking mountain views, or meet the local wildlife by trotting through the Guanacaste forest. Whichever trail you choose, be sure to tip your mode of transport with a sugary treat.
1 PM: Lunch at Nogui’s
This kitschy beachside spot has been a staple in Tamarindo since the ‘70s, when surfers and fisherman would gather for a sunset beer. Today, you can order fresh favorites including ceviche, shrimp tacos, and grilled tuna. Of course, drinking a cold beer on the beach still comes highly recommended.
4 PM: River Boat Cruise
Head to a dock, where plenty of river boat operators will invite you to tour Tamarindo’s mangroves. You’re sure to see exotic birds and howler monkeys that call the dense shrubbery home, but don’t get too distracted – crocodiles are camouflaged all around.
8 PM: Dinner at Pangas Beach Club
Enjoy dinner under a canopy of string lights with the ocean in full view. Here, you’ll find gourmet gazpachos and lobster-coconut salads infused with local flavors, plus plenty of fresh-catch specials. After dessert, grab a cocktail and relax on the beach.
9 AM: Surf Lessons
Tamarindo is one of the top spots for surfing in Costa Rica, so suit up and take lessons from a local expert. The waves here are consistent and not too large – ideal for beginners. In just a few hours, you’ll be on your feet.
12 AM: Cool Off with a Copo
Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch on the sand, then find your nearest street vendor and order a copo – a sweet, icy treat. This local delight is more than your average snow cone – it’s made with shaved ice, condensed milk, kola syrup, and milk powder. Too much? Beachside vendors squeezing up fresh fruit juice abound.
3 PM: Local Shopping
The shopping area in Tamarindo is one of the country’s best. Spend a few hours getting lost in the jewelry and souvenir boutiques, and be sure to save some space in your suitcase for your fashion finds – we’re sure you’ll score a locally-made bikini or two.
7 PM: Dinner at Dragonfly
The open-air ambiance is overshadowed only by the menu at this top-rated Tamarindo restaurant. The popular menu consists of Costa Rica-meets-Asia dishes such as chili-lime Thai beef served with pineapple and cilantro salad.
9 PM: Beachside Brews
At El Vaquero Brewpub, you’ll find an on-site micro-brewery producing Costa Rican craft beers right on the beach. After a weekend of sun-soaked exploring, enjoy live music as you sit back, relax, and embrace one last night of pura vida.
WHAT TO PACK
Bring along your favorite linen tunics and breezy maxis – with the right sandals and accessories, you can take them from day to night. For adventurous afternoons, pack plenty of activewear and a good swimsuit, plus take your favorite sneakers, a baseball cap, and sunglasses. Oh, and don’t forget your SPF.