Live the Pura Vida: Costa Rica, Local Edition

Live the Pura Vida: Costa Rica, Local Edition

Enticing, addictive, and immensely enjoyable, the Costa Rican lifestyle is undoubtedly one of the main reasons travelers worldwide flock to our idyllic shores every year. Visit us here in Tamarindo, and you’ll discover more than a tropical paradise – our glorious seaside town is a living testament to the vibrant and laid-back way of life known as “Pura Vida.” 

In this guide, we invite you to step off the beaten path and explore Tamarindo through the lens of a local – several of them, in fact! Beyond the well-trodden tourist spots, you’ll discover an outstanding array of insider secrets. From lesser-known surf spots to the mouthwatering flavors of traditional cuisine tucked away in unassuming corners, Tamarindo has a rich tapestry of experiences just itching to be explored.

Indulge in the local cuisine

Dining out in Tamarindo is one of the most enjoyable parts of any visit. This trendy little beach town boasts an impressive array of eateries, cafes, bars, and upscale restaurants, all showcasing fresh local produce and plenty of culinary flair.

Now, ask 10 staff members at Iguana Surf what their favorite foodie haunt is, and you’ll likely get 10 different answers – that’s how good the food is here.

Your mission, if you wish to accept it? Try all the crowd favorites!

For a breakfast that’ll fuel your whole day out surfing and exploring, head to El Mercadito – a food and drinks market that hits the spot at any time of day and night. There are enough bars and food outlets here to suit every taste, so it’s a fantastic spot to head to if you’re traveling in a large group. Everyone finds their groove here – Christan, Iguana Surf instructor & consummate foodie

Costa Rican Lifestyle

For a seafood feast galore, head to Pangas Beach Club, probably the best setting of any restaurant or bar in Tamarindo. The house specialty is steak cooked on steaming hot volcanic rocks, and their surf and turf platter is insanely good. Overall, though, the seafood dishes here stand out above anything else.

Speaking of steak…if you fancy a carnivorous treat, make a beeline for La Patagonia, Tamarindo’s own Argentinian steak house. Their steaks are always on point, and their homemade empanadas boast a cult following in town, so don’t miss out!

For a memorable lunch or dinner, the Bamboo Sushi Club will definitely tickle your fancy. The kitchen has perfected a Peruvian-Japanese fusion cuisine that’s distinctive and incredibly delicious – all fresh and sourced locally. 

Playa langosta surf

Fun after dark

Live music, flowing drinks, great food, and fab company are the hallmarks of the Costa Rican lifestyle after dark. 

In Tamarindo, your options for great nights out are plentiful! From nightly sunset fire shows at El Be! to Reggae nights and happy hour cocktails at Pacifico Bar, DJ nights at the Crazy Monkey, and sensational dinners and drinks at Rumours, you’ll never be short of a place to meet locals.

Traveling alone might seem scary, but when you visit a place like Tamarindo and Costa Rica in general, you need not worry. You can make new friends here in an instant. We often hang out on the main street near Rumors (especially when there’s a party) or at the food court for a pre-party. The entrance on Dengue Street is like a meeting point where people are always outside the bars. You need not go far to meet locals and tag along on a great night out – Jimena, a social butterfly

Costa Rican Lifestyle

Outdoor fun, everywhere you look

Costa Rica may be famous for outdoor activities, and that’s because we are outdoor adventure seekers at heart. You can find loads of super fun stuff to do if you love being active, no matter here you go.

Tamarindo has a wicked outdoor sports center with a skate park, volleyball court, and even a gym made entirely of wood. It’s always such a busy and sociable place to be – for visitors, it’s an excellent way to make local connections and stay active – Ricky, a sporting enthusiast

Some of the world’s best beaches

Costa Rica is a little greedy when it comes to gorgeous beaches – it is home to some of the best in the world. The good news? The best of the best are in and around Tamarindo.

The main beach in Tamarindo is a long, sandy stretch known for its excellent surfing conditions – this is where we operate our surf camp: Iguana Surf. It’s a popular spot for both beginners and experienced surfers alike, making it arguably the best surfing beach in the country. The town that has grown alongside it is delightful, with shops, restaurants, and bars, creating a lively social hub.

Costa Rican Lifestyle

Just north of Tamarindo, Playa Grande is renowned for being one of the most important nesting sites for leatherback turtles. It is part of Las Baulas National Marine Park. The beach is protected and is less developed, making it an excellent choice for nature lovers.

Learn more about our Turtle Watching Tours

About a 30-minute drive south of Tamarindo, Playa Avellanas is known for its consistent surf breaks and beautiful surroundings. The beach is surrounded by mangroves and has a more tranquil ambiance, making it a great place to unwind – head here with a good book and a picnic hamper and you’re set for the day.

Playa Conchal is a bit farther away (an hour’s drive south), but it is definitely worth the trip. The beach is famous for its unique crushed shell sand, and the clear turquoise waters are ideal for snorkeling. It’s a stunning and less crowded option for a day trip from Tamarindo – the town’s shuttle bus will get you there and back.

Learn more about our Snorkeling Tours

Closer to home, just a 10-minute walk south of Tamarindo, you’ll find Playa Langosta, a quieter and more secluded beach with stunning rock formations and lovely tidal pools. The Playa Langosta surf is fantastic if you are more experienced. Once you’ve mastered the basics with Iguana Surf Lessons, head here to perfect your skills in solitude. Remember: Playa Langosta surf.

Working as a surfing instructor in Tamarindo is like winning the Costa Rican lifestyle lottery. Not many people can say they are genuinely ‘living their dream,’ but I truly am, and we all are. It feels like such a privilege – Mocha, Iguana Surf instructor

Playa langosta surf

For every famous place listed in all the travel guide books, there are dozens more yet to be discovered. Insider secrets you’ll only learn once you are here, toes in the sand, surfboard in hand.

Join us at Iguana Surf for an immersive experience of the Costa Rican lifestyle and discover the more authentic side of local life.

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