Wednesday, March 28, 2012

costa rica: part 3

after our wonderful time in monteverde, we were off to the beach! playa tamarindo was described as a laid back hippie surf town so it seemed like a good option to visit. we were given the heads up by locals that apparently the night life in tamarindo is big and we knew that since it was spring break, we may be in store for more than we had originally planned.

the drive wasn't as nice since it was so hot and dry (costa rica's dry season runs from around december - april); however, we stopped and had lunch at mi finca's (recommended by javier) which was really nice. outside the restaurant, there are these mango trees that are filled with macaws (they naturally come to these trees). we had the typical vegetarian casado lunch with rice, beans, eggs, avocado, and plantains!
then we were off to the beach! we got into playa tamarindo around noon and went straight to our hotel. we had booked a bungalow at hotel arco iris, but they moved us into the "deluxe" room. although the room was apparently an upgraded room, we were super bummed because the bungalows had more of the costa rican feel and hammocks outside. this hotel was a hard transition from our other hotels, but they at least moved us to a room overlooking the pool (and not the laundry area like our first room).
our first night was spent walking down the [very] crowded beach and then eating falafel wraps. we knew we needed to spend time at a different, more isolated beach so we asked for some suggestions at our hotel and planned for our next day.

after our breakfast of granola, fruit, coffee, and toast (so good) the next morning, we headed to playa penca. we were told it was a very beautiful and quiet beach only about 20 minutes up the road. this was another reason that having a rental car made our trip so fun - we had complete flexibility! playa penca was so beautiful and we basically had the beach to ourselves!
after a few relaxing hours, we decided to grab lunch at lola's, a restaurant suggested to us by some other travelers that we had met. lola's was about 5 km away on playa danta. we enjoyed nachos, cerveza, and some mango smoothies. then we walked along playa danta which was nice because it was a black sand beach!
we came back to tamarindo and walked the beach at sunset. it was so magical because we started to film the sunset and within 2 minutes of filming, we saw the sun completely disappear over the horizon! we ended the night with pizza at la baula. the vegetarian pizza was really good and the restaurant's atmosphere was great.
our second day in tamarindo started off with an estuary tour at las baulas national park. it was only a 5 minute drive to the park and saved us over $20 since we could drive ourselves instead of relying on a driver. our boat guide was named george and he was awesome. we got to see tons of birds, mangroves, and howler monkeys!

after the tour, we ate burritos at FT's and then we swam at the beach and tried relaxing on the sand; however, the winds were kicking tons of sand onto us. so we decided, despite my previous hesitancy, to try surf lessons and we had a blast! we went to the banana surf club and met up with our instructor, maurice. i assumed i would be horrible at surfing, but i was actually pretty good! i got up a lot and kept trying my hardest to the very end! it takes a lot of muscle to surf so now i understand why surfers have such great bodies! i can't wait to try my hand at surfing again sometime soon! we ended our night with a mediterranean dinner on the beach at copacabana's.
we were exhausted after surfing so we packed up and planned to head out early to our last stop before coming home. we woke up early on monday to head to alajuela to relax before our flight home on tuesday afternoon. despite our initial disappointment with playa tamarindo, we actually left loving it. the freedom of having the car really helped though. since tamarindo is a very popular tourist spot with lots of americans, there wasn't anywhere to get costa rican food. i was surprised to miss it after eating it all week, but i did!

next stop, alajuela!
(to see parts 1 and 2, go here)

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