Tamarindo, Costa Rica – An Adventure

23 December 2013 / By travel4foodfun@gmail.com
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Costa Rica Rain Forest

Costa Rica Rain Forest

Your email inbox, your Facebook news feeds, your (gasp!) snail mail box, get flooded with requests for you to enter the next drawing.  Does anyone actually win?!  Well, Tom actually did!  He won a contest that he entered through Facebook and was sponsored by JetBlue.  What did Tom win?  Two roundtrip tickets to anywhere JetBlue flies.  We decided to travel to Costa Rica.  Tom had been to the Arenal volcano area previously; Lora hadn’t been to Costa Rica.  We researched different locations via the internet trying to decide where to go in Costa Rica.  TripAdvisor had amazing reviews of a Pacific beach town, Tamarindo.  All of the restaurants, activities, and hotels were highly rated.  We mean EVERYTHING was reviewed as being AMAZING!  So we decided to fly into Liberia, Costa Rica to check out Tamarindo.

Tamarindo dirt road

Tamarindo dirt road

We decided to try something different and booked a room through airbnb.com.  We chose the highly rated 15 Love B&B.  The boutique hotel consists of 4 guest rooms and has a tennis court.  The B&B is situated just off the main street of Tamarindo, lending itself to a more tranquil setting.  However, if you wish to sleep past 8AM, it can be difficult as people are playing tennis right outside of your room.  Also, although the rooms are well maintained and clean, there are BUGS EVERYWHERE.  Not just a few bugs, but an army of ants and insects crawling everywhere.

Tamarindo Beach

Tamarindo Beach

The beach in Tamarindo extends the entire length of town.  It is a very pretty and clean beach.  You can walk along the beach from shop to restaurant or stroll the street to approach the businesses from the roadside.  Surfing is very big here!  Lora really wanted to take a lesson, but due to a ziplining injury on the second day of our 5 day visit, she couldn’t tolerate the sting of the salt water.  More on ziplining to come under our “adventure” category post!

Tamarindo's Wild Panda Restaurant Red Snapper

Tamarindo’s Wild Panda Restaurant Red Snapper

The reviews of nearly every restaurant and bar were high, so we were super excited for the food and drinks.  Unfortunately, we discovered nearly every restaurant has practically the same menu and prices.  Every place offered “fresh fish of the day”.  This happens to be red snapper.   The price? About $20 everywhere.   Another offering at every restaurant: seafood ceviche.  Since Tamarindo is on the ocean, one would expect amazing ceviche.  Nope.  Don’t bother.  The one place that truly stood out was Wild Panda (https://www.facebook.com/Wild.Panda.Tamarindo).  It is located on a side street approximately 1 block from the beach.  They served red snapper (of course), but the flavors were spectacular.  Everything is made fresh to order.  Their cocktails are also delicious, especially the watermelon cocktail which is from fresh watermelon.

Another disappointment about Costa Rica: the prices!  Lora had just returned from trips to Paris and Istanbul only months prior to visiting Tamarindo.  She had meals in Paris that were half the price of those in Tamarindo.  Also, if you’re into souvenirs, be warned: they are EXPENSIVE and of poor quality!

JW Marriott Guanacaste pool

JW Marriott Guanacaste pool

On the fourth day, Tom surprised Lora by checking us into the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort.  We were both tired of the bugs in our hotel room at 15 Love.  We were bored with the strip in Tamarindo that had restaurants serving the same pricy food and drinks.  We were tired of stores that sold the same expensive souvenirs.

JW Marriott Guanacaste bartenders

JW Marriott Guanacaste bartenders

The JW Marriott, however, is an experience.  Off the main dirt road (of course), you enter the JW Marriott property.  It feels like you drive at least a mile (at least it’s a paved road amongst beautiful landscaping) to reach the resort.  The anticipation is immense because the deeper you drive into the property, the more spectacular the scenery.  Once you reach the resort you truly feel like you are at a luxurious oasis.  The welcome and service was intimate and immediate.  The room was spacious and had a balcony overlooking the pool and Pacific Ocean.  And guess what?  No bugs in the room!  We can flush toilet paper!  We spent the day lounging by the pool and wandering the immense resort.  At night, we dined at the bar at the steakhouse.  The two bartenders were amazingly attentive, informative, and entertaining.  The JW Marriott was the perfect way to end our trip to Costa Rica.

…Until we actually ended our trip at the Liberia, Costa Rica airport.  Once again we were faced with the ridiculously high prices.  Do you want to eat something before your flight?  Be prepared to pay a lot!  A slice of pizza at the airport is $12.  A sandwich is $18.  Come on!  Once again, PARIS IS LESS EXPENSIVE!  We actually did some liquor tasting at the duty free shop and ran into another tourist.  We joked that it was the best deal to be had in Costa Rica.

Although Tamarindo was a disappointment, we are happy that we got to spend quality time together in a warm and sunny place in December.    The flight was amazing.  Thank you JetBlue!  The JW Marriott Guanacaste resort was incredible.  Thank you Marriott!

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