Before our recent trip to Tamarindo, I had been to Costa Rica twice…both times to Manuel Antonio. The first trip to MA was for a PaleOMG retreat and since I loved that trip so much, I took Brian back the next year for our 1st year wedding anniversary. Still to date, that trip is one of our favorites of all time. Costa Rica is simply awesome. Well, back in March 2020 we were supposed to travel to Spain with our friends Vanessa and Dale, but obviously that trip was cancelled. But since we booked through a travel agent, we had credits to be used due to the Spain cancellation and we wanted to use those credits as soon as possible. So we decided to go somewhere that was a little closer and to a spot none of us had been – enter Tamarindo, Costa Rica.
Tamarindo is about 1-1.5 hour drive from Liberia Airport and United has a direct flight to Liberia, so it’s pretty easy to get to and from Denver! We had a shuttle set up at the airport so as soon as we landed, we went straight to our Hotel – Capitán Suizo. Capitán Suizo is a 4-star boutique hotel in Tamarindo that I can’t recommend enough. This hotel is located directly off the beach so you can easily walk out to the ocean anytime of the day. It’s also environmentally conscious which means it’s set beneath the lush trees and gardens, which are all filled with wildlife. You’ll see monkeys every single morning when you wake up and throughout the day (the don’t pay any attention to you, they just poop and eat…just watch out for the falling poop). And you’ll also constantly see iguanas, lizards, dogs, cats, birds, and all kinds of critters. The only thing you may need to worry about is being pissed on by an iguana. I was relaxing by the pool and I felt it randomly rain on me like someone had just thrown a drink on me. Oh no, no no no, it wasn’t a drink, it was iguana piss. Luckily I was able to step out of the way before I was hit with a poop missile. You’re definitely one with the wildlife when you’re there and the staff treats the wildlife just like it’s one of their guests…they clean up the iguana and monkey poo as soon as it hits the ground. Champs.
While staying at Capitán Suizo, we stayed in one of the Bungalows which was set back amongst all the trees. Every morning I would walk out onto our patio and watch the monkeys swing from tree to tree, chase each other, and have their breakfast. The rooms are air conditioned, the beds are super comfortable, and each bungalow has an outdoor shower, which is pretty fun when you can see the monkeys playing around while you shower. It was so rad. Then we would eat breakfast at the resort out in the sand, watching the waves crash in the ocean. I mean…what more do you need from a vacation?? Capitán Suizo has one restaurant and bar, and the food is really delicious and fresh! Every morning we would enjoy plantains, rice and beans, you could order a fresh omelette with bacon and avocado on the side, and then they had a ton of fresh fruit and pastries to choose from! They also had this banana smoothie that was so damn good. I wanted to drink it every single morning. And they had delicious cocktails like their Iguana drink which was blended pineapple, mint, lime, sugar, vodka, and ice. If I didn’t get such bad heartburn from fruit, I would have drank those virgin-style nonstop while we were there. It was so good! Totally remaking that for the blog come summer!
Tamarindo is very much a sleepy surfer town. What I loved so much about it is that we could walk the beach from our resort, down into town super quick. Every night for dinner, we would watch the sunset from the rocks near our hotel, then once the sun was down, we would walk the beach into town and either have dinner on the beach at a local restaurant or we would walk a few more steps into the downtown area for our meal. Everything is super easy to get to around town and there is a huge variety of different restaurants to choose from. You can also easily rent golf carts and drive those around during your vacation!
Here’s a breakdown of the places we ate at while we were in Tamarindo!
El Be! is beachside so you can eat your meal with your feet in the sand, with live music in the background. We listened to live music while we were there and I ordered the sea bass. It was perfectly cooked and absolutely delightful!
My absolute favorite place we ate at while in Tamarindo was Green Papaya. This was recommended by a few people on instagram so I thought it had to be good, and boy was I glad we went there. If you like Asian-inspired dishes, you’ll love this spot. It had the ABSOLUTE BEST papaya salad I’ve ever had. I could have eaten that salad every single day, but they only take cash and we didn’t always have that on hand. Can’t recommend this spot enough.
Since it was 91 degrees every single day in Tamarindo, I was craving smoothies and smoothie bowls. I’m honestly surprised that it’s not a bigger thing there. If I lived there, I think I would create an epic smoothie bowl spot that matched some of the options we have here in Denver. Major missed opportunity. But we were able to find Nordico Coffee and grab some smoothie bowls before we headed out on a catamaran tour. This spot looked like it had some pretty bomb coffee and would be a great place to work, if you were working while traveling.
Another favorite meal while in Tamarindo was Waffle Monkey. This tiny beach restaurant had BOMB ASS waffles. The waffles also have vegan and gluten free options to choose from and you can top it off with bacon, eggs, peanut butter, fruit, and whatever else your heart desires. I got the apple pie waffle with peanut butter, but the churro waffle was also calling my name. If I was back in Tamarindo, I would go here every morning, honestly. It’s that good.
Another fantastic spot was Walters Fish & Cheese. This restaurant is only a 5 minute walk from the hotel and it is authentic Italian food. Sadly, we went during the lunch hour and they don’t serve pizza until after 5pm so we really missed out. But their pasta was LEGIT and the prosciutto with burrata was so insanely fresh. This was such a fun change of pace after eating mostly seafood and plantains every day. Next time I’ll be heading in right at 5pm and trying one of their many pizzas.
On our last night in Tamarindo, we tried Dragonfly and we all absolutely loved it. This spot had really fun cocktails, a cool ambiance, and delicious Asian-inspired dishes to choose from. My fiery Thai beef with cool rice noodles was exactly what I wanted for a last meal in Costa Rica.
Oooooo and you can’t forget to stop in at Pangas. This beachside restaurant is at the opposite side of the beach from Capitán Suizo and has a huge, delicious menu to choose from. Everyone at the table ordered steak that you cook on a lava rock at your table! It was honestly one of the best steaks I’ve ever had!
Another random spot we happened upon while we were walking the streets near our hotel was Cala Luna. This is another boutique hotel in Tamarindo and it has a great little poolside restaurant with some really cool choices on the menu. I wasn’t feeling too hot that day so I just ordered a caprese salad, but the peanut pesto on top was unbelievable! I also ordered a piña colada and it was so damn good!! This hotel looked really rad!
And last but not least, we also ate at Bamboo Sushi. If you’re on the hunt for some sushi in Tamarindo, this is a great option! Since I ran into a stomach bug while I was there, I wasn’t craving raw fish so I got a teriyaki chicken bowl that was in a bowl made of fried yuca. LOVE how much yuca is on the menu in Costa Rica!
Most of our days in Tamarindo were spent at the pool or the ocean. Capitán Suizo has an awesome little pool surrounded by trees, flowers, and wildlife, so we mostly just hung out there, sipped on drinks, and played games in the pool. And if we weren’t at the pool, we were down at the ocean. It was so nice to have the ocean just steps away because we would just leave all of our belongings at the pool and head back and forth without having to pack up everything each time. You can also rent boogie boards and surf boards at the hotel to take with you to the ocean. Right outside the hotel, the waves are super small and it’s pretty shallow, so you won’t be catching up sweet surf waves there. But it was so much fun to just play in the ocean, no matter what the waves looked like!
There is obviously tons of different excursions to try while you’re in Tamarindo, but all of us wanted to get out on the water. We were able to rent a private sunset catamaran tour so we weren’t sharing the boat with anyone else during Covid and the boat took us our to a little private area to snorkel, they gave us lunch and drinks, and we were lucky enough to see whales, jumping stingrays, and a HUGE manta ray on our 5 hour tour. It was wild! And it was so nice to have the boat all to ourselves! We also went on a half day zipline/ATV tour at Black Stallion Ranch. This ranch was so freaking cool and the owner had insane stories for days, like hanging out with Prince and Diana Ross, along with how he was able to purchase the property and build it to what it is today.
Every day and night in Tamarindo, you can always find something to do. Whether it’s surfing, watching fire dancers on the beach, stopping in at all the surf shops around town, eating at one of the many restaurants, or simply sitting on the beach with your toes in the sand. Tamarindo is an extremely beautiful place with some of the nicest people ever. It’s so weird to come back to Colorado and to not say hi to every single person you pass on the street. I honestly could see myself living in a place like Tamarindo someday. Brian and I talked about how we would easily move down there for a few months if we didn’t have Jackson back at home. Simply put, it’s a laid back, happy town that I can’t wait to go back to.
Not only are the sunsets out of this world in Costa Rica, but if you can be there during an epic full moon, you can get a moon shadow photo. That was pretty rad!
Moral of the story – I loved Tamarindo and would definitely go back! But I can’t wait to explore more areas in Costa Rica to see if I fall in love with the country even more! Who knows if that may become a second home someday! And in case you are wondering, traveling to and from CR was really simple. We got covid tests before we left (just to be safe, it’s not required for getting into Costa Rica) then we had covid tests set up through our hotel. Right now you need a negative covid test to be able to board a flight back to the US. We had no issue with that at all and it was quite simple! Our flight to CR was about 1/3 full, but our flight back was completely full. We wore masks while traveling and masks were required almost everywhere in Tamarindo. We felt safe the entire time and it felt very similar to Colorado. So happy to be back to traveling!! Let me know if you have any questions about Tamarindo and hopefully I can answer them!!