An Ape's Guide to Costa Rica, Tamarindo

You know how most trips that people take are planned almost a year in advance? Yeah...this wasn't one of those trips. My cousin messaged a few of us in a group chat with a link to cheap tickets to Costa Rica, and a day later, the tickets were bought. In the week that we were there, we did it all, people: partying, relaxing (maxing shooting some b-ball?), repelling, ATVing, you name it.

We landed in San Jose on a Tuesday morning. Google said the weather was supposed to be stormy, but mother nature was grateful enough not to ruin an Ape's vacation.

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Getting around Costa Rica...

From the get-go, you learn that it's a mission to get around the country (especially if you land in SJO and have to get to Tamarindo...heh). San Jose is 160 miles from Tamarindo, but don't let the distance fool you, the you-shitting-me(?) speed limits and windy roads make for some long treks.  As we saw it, there were 3 ways to get around. In order of price:

  • Rent a car
    • If you go this route, we recommend a 4x4 if you plan on going inland. The roads get rough. Also, don't even bother paying for insurance online. Those sons of bitches add some kind of tax and an extra "off road vehicle insurance." Just live with it.
    • Private shuttle
      • These will basically take you (up to 6 humans) wherever you need to go for around $200.
      • Public shuttle
        • We took one on the last day. It's pretty convenient and cheap, but limited by 3 pick up times– 1 in morning and 2 in the afternoon.

*check out Interbus for these shuttles* 

We rented a car because we had enough people to fill one up. If you rent a car, there's the whole thing about Costa Rica roads being dangerous and hard to navigate. Their traffic signs aren't like the ones stateside. Our signs announce cities hundreds of miles away (i.e. San Francisco 340 miles away, when you're in LA). Costa Rica signs, on the other hand, basically only announce the next city over and randomly, in between, you'll find ONE freaking sign that announces ALL the cities coming up...this kinda assures you that you're heading the right direction. Don't trip, though. With Waze (this will be your best friend), a map, and asking for directions, you'll get by.

If you happen to drive from San Jose to Tamarindo like we did, it's an easy 4-hour drive (make sure you get enough sleep, though >_<). We arrived in Tamarindo midday and did not waste any time.

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Tamarindo

This town is all sorts of touristy. The first thing we did after checking into our place was eat (of course)– Our mistake was going to an American as fuck restaurant just because it had good reviews.

Side note–Staying in Costa Rica: We stayed in ainbnbs  the whole week. They are definitely an economic choice in Costa Rica. It's worth mentioning that every place we stayed at was pretty dope, too. 

Tamarindo is really small, you can walk from one end to the other within 30 minutes, assuming you don't stop to shop. There's plenty of activities to do ranging from partying to adventure, but getting turnt and relaxing is definitely Tamarindo's thing. For that, we'd say that 3 days at most is enough time to spend here. Party, relax, repeat, and maybe take an ATV tour. Here's a few tips that might be helpful:

1. Check out the beachside bars. There's one with a 2-for-1 all day "happy hour" called La Palapa...their food is okay, but 2-for-1!

2. A lot of bars might seem dead, but apparently the party goes from bar to bar depending on the night. Ask around for where to go each day, or just explore.

3. Please go outside the city for more authentic food. I think the one we went to is called Soda Marcela's.

•FYI cafes in Costa Rica are called "Sodas" – you'll find the most authentic foods here

•Try a "casado"

•Do NOT go to some placed called Longboards

 4. Groovy Box is an okay spot to go for snacks and smoothies.

5.Coffee isn't this town's strong suit. There's one shop in the middle of town called Cafe Santa Rita that has delicious coffee and food, though.

6. Party it up, talk to strangers, and make friends.

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To make the most of your time abroad, check out our post on Gent's Lounge on 8 Things You Should Do While Traveling.

That’s all for now! Thank you for reading…if you made it down here. 

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