The holiday months are a time of love, spending time with the people you care about, and focusing on what is really important in life. Somewhere along the line, it became a tradition to exchange gifts as another way to show the important people in your life just how much you care for them. While this is a fun thing to do and it is always nice to get presents, sometimes gift-giving can feel stressful and expensive. That is why we recommend giving the gift of experiences, something that can be shared together and remembered forever, rather than some new item that might be used for a while but then just forgotten about or thrown out. While you and your family are enjoying the beauty of Christmas in Costa Rica, here are a few ideas for specific things you could all try together and give each other gifts that will just keep on giving.
FOR THE ADRENALINE JUNKIE:
ADVENTURE COMBO TOUR
One of the best one-stop-shop options for a day of exciting activities is the adventure combo tour that is offered through Iguana Surf. It is an incredible deal. Not only is it an awesome way to see a new part of Costa Rica, but you get to try five different activities all in one day. It is a fantastic option for the whole family! You will be driven to Rincon De La Vieja National Park, which is about two hours from Tamarindo. Once you arrive, you will have a full day of white
water rafting, zip-lining, horseback riding, rock climbing, and rappelling, and wrap up with a dip in the hot springs and a mud bath. There is also a delicious Costa Rican feast served for lunch! This tour will keep you on your toes and smiling all day long. And if anyone in your party would prefer not to participate in any of the activities that are totally fine, they can watch and play the role of the paparazzi to capture all the epic shots! After this jam-packed day, you are sure to return back to your hotel tired, but in the best way possible.
FOR THE OCEAN LOVER:
SNORKELING OR SCUBA DIVING
Costa Rica is the perfect place to try snorkeling or scuba diving. The warm water makes it very pleasant, and you will be sharing the surf with all sorts of fish, sharks, and maybe even manta rays if you’re lucky. Experienced guides will take you on a gorgeous boat ride out to the Catalina Islands, where the water is crystal clear, and the rock formations attract all kinds of sea life. You will be awestruck by the incredible world that is just below the surface, so unexplored by humans. Snorkeling is the perfect way to dip your toes into life under the sea, but if you want to get more extreme, a discover scuba dive is an awesome way to go. Or if you have a couple of free days, you can even get certified! Either way, getting in the water is truly an incredible experience and one you are sure to never forget.
FOR THE ATHLETE:
Of course, surfing is the first must-try when visiting Costa Rica. Tamarindo, where Iguana Surf is located, is an especially well-known surf destination because of the perfect beach break that is right in town as well as the many great nearby surf spots. Surfing can be mellow for beginners, but it can also be one of the most exhilarating sports out there. If you have never surfed before, Costa Rica is the perfect place to learn. Set up a lesson at Iguana with any of the awesome instructors and you will be riding waves in no time! If you have some experience surfing, check out some of the more advanced breaks close to town. Although it might not seem like it, surfing is a full body work out. Paddling outworks your arms, shoulders, and back, and riding in works your legs. Your heart rate is sure to be pumping the whole time! Surfing in Costa Rica will be the most fun workout you have ever had.
FOR THE FOODIE:
EXPLORE THE TAMA FOOD SCENE
Tamarindo is a mecca of amazing cuisine from all over the world, so no matter where you are from or what your favorites are, you are sure to find something you will love. You definitely have to try a typical casado and gallo pinto to experience what the locals eat. Take a walk along the beach and you will find a huge array of beachfront restaurants, where you can enjoy happy hour and incredible seafood. Head to El Mercadito, a food court with little stands all selling something different and delicious. From Hawaiian poke to Venezuelan arepas, to Argentinian sandwiches, to a fully vegan place, to pizza, there is something for everyone. There are also two markets that are a must-see while visiting Tamarindo. The Saturday morning farmers market located behind the skate park happens from 8 am-1 pm every week and hosts an amazing array of food, coffee, handmade goods, and more. Cuisine and traditions from all over the world are represented! The Tamarindo Night Market happens every Thursday from 6-9 pm by the Tamarindo Gym. It is a similar mix to the Saturday market, with a few different additions of vendors with alcoholic beverages, different handmade trinkets, and there is also usually live music or performers. It is always a fun and energetic atmosphere! Give the gift of delicious food and culture by indulging in these restaurants and markets while in Tamarindo.
FOR THE RELAXER:
For the person on your list who is the happiest lounging with a view and a cold drink in hand, take them up to Mar Vista for the afternoon and enjoy their infinity pool with a view of the ocean, full-service restaurant, and secluded atmosphere. The pool is free to use, they usually just ask that you spend a certain amount of food and drinks while you are there. It is very reasonable for the incredible location and experience you will have! Mar Vista is great for the whole family if you have little ones that will want to play, or also for a group of friends to hang out together and enjoy a few drinks. For a slightly more upscale vibe, go in the evening for a romantic dinner and to watch the sun go down from one of the best viewpoints around Tamarindo. You won’t want to leave!
FOR THE COFFEE ADDICT:
COSTA RICAN COFFEE
Costa Rica is well known for its incredible coffee, thanks to being located at the perfect altitude and with the perfect temperatures to grow healthy, delicious coffee beans. There are a number of awesome coffee shops around town, and then you can buy some bags to take home as well to share with your friends and family. One of our favorite spots to drink a cup of joe is Pico Bistro, right across the street from Iguana Surf on the beach. It is the perfect place to relax and watch the waves! Santa Rita, Noi, and Nordico are a couple of other coffee shops and cafes with high-quality brews and yummy food too. You are sure to taste the difference in the quality of the coffee… the only downside is you might be a little disappointed with your brews at home once you leave!
FOR THE NATURE LOVER:
Take a day trip from Tamarindo to Rio Celeste, one of the most beautiful and underrated places to visit in Costa Rica. Just about a 3-hour drive from Tamarindo, the trip is well worth it. The large waterfall crashes into some of the most brilliantly turquoise water you will likely ever get the chance to lay eyes on. Named Rio Celeste for its similarity in color to the sky (el cielo), it gets its hue from a high concentration of volcanic minerals that are suspended in the water refracting light. Located in Tenorio Volcano National Park, a $12 entrance fee means that you can check out the famous waterfall and blue lagoon, boiling mud pots fueled by volcanic gasses, the teñidero or stained river (a specific spot where the river runs blue), natural hot springs, and hiking. What more could you ask for? This place will take your breath away and just might be the prettiest spot you visit around Tamarindo.
Clearly, giving a gift that is truly meaningful is a breeze here in Costa Rica. There is something perfect for absolutely everyone on your list! And no matter what, they are sure to be happy to share an experience, a delicious meal, or see a new sight with the people they care about rather than just getting (yet another) pair of socks in their stocking. So, what are you waiting for? Get that Christmas shopping out of the way! To book the surf lessons or tours mentioned, head to www.iguanasurf.net.