How to Enjoy the Costa Rica Surf & Spend Less
Since Tamarindo has become quite a sought-after surf destination and is visited frequently by people from all over the world, the prices at many of the bigger grocery stores, restaurants, and bars have grown to match the demand. The good news is, you get what you pay for. You can indulge in some incredible food and excursions and feel good about what you are paying because they will be truly some of the best. The bad news is, while you may think you will be saving tons of money because you are going to a Latin American country, you might not save as much as you think. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make your Tamarindo surf trip as economical as possible! Read on to find out.
Before You Go:
There are some things in Tamarindo that are absolute essentials, two of them being sunscreen and bug spray. Because of this, the prices are extremely high because the stores know that people will pay whatever is necessary to avoid bug bites and sunburns. To get around having to spend a lot more than you should on these essentials, there is a simple solution: bring them with you from home! Stock up on these items before you leave so that you don’t have to worry about buying them once you arrive. You can find good deals on other toiletry items like shampoo, toothpaste, and lotion, but even those (especially if you want brands you will recognize) can be overpriced. Make sure you have everything you need before you arrive in Tamarindo and then you can use the money you will save on some yummy treats or surfboard rental.
Transportation can often be the most expensive part of a trip. You think that once you have your plane ticket you are all good to go, but all of the rides you might need once you are reach your destination are often overlooked. The first and most important one being your transportation from the airport. Whether you are flying into San Jose or Liberia, there are lots of options for getting to Tamarindo. Shuttles are a popular option, but if you are looking for the cheapest, take the public bus. Although it might take a little longer, you
will save money and the rides are still pleasant!
Once in town, you will get asked if you need a taxi alllll the time while you are walking down the street. These are safe and fairly cheap, compared to taxi prices in the states for example. However, what is even cheaper is an option called a colectivo. Like taxis, these are safe options to get you from point A to point B. Unlike taxis, these are just people in their cars who might be going in the same direction as you who will pick you up and give you a ride with them. It is sort of like a mix between Uber and a taxi, but rides could be as cheap as $1 and the cars definitely would not meet Uber’s requirements for newness. But they are a great option, and likely if you stand on the street one will drive by and honk or flash its lights at you, and then you can just flag it down and let them know where you want to go.
Hitchhiking is also popular in this area. If you don’t want to pay anything for a ride, this is definitely an option. Of course, like anywhere in the world, use your best judgment. But you might just end up meeting an interesting new friend!
For cheap eats, trying the local cuisine is definitely your best bet. As you walk along the main street in Tamarindo, you will see people will little grills set up frying up kebabs of chicken, pork, and beef. They usually put some kind of sauce on and will ask you if you want it spicy or not, as well as give you a tortilla with it. One skewer is usually 1,000 or 2,000 colones, which is $1.75 or $3.50 dollars. A very cheap option that will give you a good dose of protein and fill you up! Continuing on your walk, you will also come across folks who sell food out of their cars, usually parked on the corner by the restaurant Patagonia. Although it might seem a little questionable, I promise that it is delicious and safe to eat. For about 2,500 colones or just over $4, you will get a big plate of rice, beans, salad, plantains, and your choice of meat. It is by far the best post-surf meal.
To stay hydrated, don’t forget to try a pipa (a nice, cold coconut) from someone selling them on the beach. If you sit on the beach for long enough, someone is sure to pass you with a cooler yelling “pipas!” and you can stop them and try one, usually for 1,000 colones. There are also fruit and vegetable stands or trucks that park various places around town, and sometimes you can get them there for just 500 colones. These are awesome places to stock up on produce too! Fruit is one of the healthiest and most refreshing snacks in Tamarindo’s hot weather.
Ladies, you are in luck because almost every night of the week, it is ladies’ night somewhere which means that the bar is giving out some kind of drink for free for ladies. Ideally, you will not have to spend any money on drinks if you go out. Monday and Saturday are ladies night at Sharky’s, Wednesday is ladies night at Pacifico, Tuesday and Thursday are ladies night at Lizard Lounge, and on Friday, Crazy Monkey has an open bar for everyone from 9-11pm. Woo hoo!
There are also plenty of awesome happy hour deals to take advantage of. Hit up Jolly Roger’s at 5:15 pm for 15 minutes of $1 beers. Then head down to the beach to El Be or El Chiringuito for some two for one drink deals and to watch the sun go down.
On Thursday nights, check out the Tamarindo night market, which is another awesome place to find deals and also incredible value. People from all over the world gather to sell their goods – food, drinks, and handmade trinkets are everywhere and usually, the prices are very reasonable. Get a few drinks here before heading out to the bars or stock up on your souvenirs to bring home to your friends and family!
Another shopping tip: There are souvenir stands all along the street selling everything from art to jewelry to cigars. If someone gives you a price, you can try bartering a little to see if they will take a little less. They may not budge, and that is ok. But next, offer to pay in cash instead of with card. There are often discounts for doing this because the money just goes straight to them, rather than getting fees deducted from using a credit card. Just something to keep in mind!
Luckily, trying out the Playa Tamarindo surf doesn’t have to put a big dent in your wallet. Surf lessons at Iguana Surf start at just $45 per person, which includes your 2-hour lesson, a board, rashguard, and access to our lockers and shower. If you want to go out on your own or if you already have some experience, board rentals are even more affordable. Take one out for just 10 bucks for two hours. Or if you do take a lesson with Iguana Surf, all of your board rentals for your whole stay will be 50% off. What a deal! There are also often other promotions or deals going on, so just check in with us when you come into the shop.
With so many ways to make experiencing some epic Tamarindo surf very affordable, what are you waiting for? Be sure to keep your eye on flight deals as there are more and more very reasonable routes being added all the time, especially if you are traveling outside of the major holidays. Pack up your sunscreen, grab your bikini, and we will see you out on the waves!