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Just got back from Tamarindo

Los Angeles
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Just got back from Tamarindo

Here are some things I wanted to share from my recent early May trip to Tamarindo. I will preface this by saying that I am a youthful-looking, but experienced solo male traveler that does not get rattled easily.

THE GOOD

- As a vegetarian, this is an easy town to dine in. Falafel Bar and Pura Vegan were two of my favorites.

- The beach is great, especially for surfing and especially if you're a beginner surfer. It's cheap and easy to rent a surfboard. The sunsets, when not obstructed by clouds, are some of the best I've ever seen anywhere.

- I had some great experiences with locals, some who went out of their way to be friendly.

- The hotel where I stayed, In the Shade, just a block of the main drag, was modern, comfortable and had helpful owners (from Europe).

THE BAD

- The town (not the beach or the beach businesses), particularly along Avenue Central, but also Calle Central, can be quite sketchy at night. There are lots of pirate cab drivers (some who double as drug dealers) and lots of men standing around idly or selling drugs. I was offered cocaine on several occasions, to the point I didn't want to walk around there anymore.

- There were ATM issues aplenty in town. At one point, two ATMS on Avenue Central would dispense no more than $20USD in total and no less that $20,000 sized CRC bills, which can be a challenge to exchange for services at local businesses when you're buying low-price items. Also, the ATM issues seemed to cause somewhat of a panic, as people were lining up to pull money out and it could take up to a 30 minute wait.

Generally speaking, I would recommend Tamarindo during the day, strictly for beach activities, but there are so many better and safer-feeling places in Guanacaste to base yourself for a vacation.

8 replies to this topic
Costa Rica
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1. Re: Just got back from Tamarindo

Thanks for the informative post. Unfortunately this is the reality on most tourist places that I have been to. There is a demand for drugs from visitors and drug dealers know this perfectly. There is a portion of the people who visits to Costa Rica just to engage in these activities because of the little chances of getting in trouble with the police. It's sad but true and not the reputation we want for this country.

Edited: 12 May 2018, 05:08
Boston
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2. Re: Just got back from Tamarindo

That's disappointing. What did you think of the restaurant/bar scene? I know you recommended two places, but did you enjoy the vibe of the town's establishments?

Los Angeles
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3. Re: Just got back from Tamarindo

Thanks for your question, Yessah. There are undoubtedly nice bars and restaurants in town. I enjoyed good cocktails at Dragonfly (which is supposed to have good food as well) and the Diria Hotel has some bars and areas that are nice to sit. There are a variety of nice places to sit and have a drink on the beach. La Baula (off Avenue Central) is good for Italian food. As far as a "scene" goes, at the time I was there, there was little to speak of. It's the start of low season and things are going to be quiet. There are a few places like Sharky's on Avenue Central that get some action. If you're in your 20's, or have a 20's state-of-mind, you can find the spots for sure. But it's not abundant. Talking to locals might be the best way to find the best spot to be.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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4. Re: Just got back from Tamarindo

Thank good honest post...agree with you about the night time in town...sad but true.

roadadvsior

Texas
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for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
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5. Re: Just got back from Tamarindo

Interesting, thanks for posting.

Aspen, Colorado
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6. Re: Just got back from Tamarindo

Hello lemondog thanks for the review. This definitely caught my eye as I am heading down on a solo surf trip next week. Was figuring that the vibe in town would be chill and conducive to walking around at night, checking out bars and restaurants etc.

Can you give me a bit more info about what you mean by “sketchy“? Like did you feel at risk of violence/mugging or is it just kind of skeezy feeling?

Is this at all times after dark or more towards the later side of the evenings? It is hard for me to believe that I will feel unsafe if I watch sunset on the beach, go out to dinner and walk back to my hotel a couple of hours after dark, but if that’s the case, this trip is going to be a little different than I imagined. Guess I will just have to go and find out but curious on your thoughts.

Thanks!

Los Angeles
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7. Re: Just got back from Tamarindo

Hi Chris, thanks for your question. I genuinely don't think you need to worry about violence or muggings unless you are flashing wealth (cameras, phones, cash, etc.). That said, I was never out super late, always in the early evenings (before 10) when I noticed men standing idly, pirate cab drivers hanging out and also when I was offered drugs repeatedly. I prefaced my post by saying I am a solo male traveler and that may very well have made me a target. As opposed to if I was walking around with my wife and kids, or even with my girlfriend or buddies. Going solo makes a difference as you are going to get approached more. Go have a good time and just use your head. My post wasn't meant as a "danger" warning, but rather an observation that made my visit slightly less than ideal. And as I said, the beach and businesses on the beach were great and not at all sketchy, at least during the day.

Edited: 14 May 2018, 12:21
Boston
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8. Re: Just got back from Tamarindo

Thanks for the additional feedback. I'm heading to CR in August and ending the trip with a couple of days in Tamarindo. I'm older than my 20s (by more than a few) but still enjoy live music and some cold beverages. I'm glad to hear the options are decent and the vibe is okay. Thanks again.

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