Costa Rica’s New VAT Tax & Travel: What You Need (and Want) to Know

Tamarindo ocean view

The price of paradise? What you need to know about the IVA, or VAT tax.

Traveling to Costa Rica soon? You may have already heard about something called the IVA (pronounced ee-vah). If you have, you almost certainly have questions. Maybe a few concerns, even. What is Costa Rica’s new IVA tax and how will it affect your trip?

First, let’s start with the super basics: IVA is short for el Impuesto sobre el Valor Agregado, or value-added tax. If you live in or have traveled through Europe, you’re already familiar with this type of tax: in English, we often refer to it as a VAT tax, a goods and services tax, or a national sales tax. But, it’s new to Costa Rica: the IVA tax just went into effect on July 1, 2019.

Essentially, Costa Rica’s IVA adds a 13% tax to all goods and service that don’t already pay a 13% sales tax (aka the IVI – el impuesto de ventas incluido, or the included sales tax).

To put that into layman’s terms, things like your vacation rental or restaurant meal have long included a 13% IVI sales tax and will not incur an additional 13% IVA tax. But, travel goods and services – well, they are affected. Here’s how it works.

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Costa Rica Travel with Kids: The Best Family Experiences

Family trip to Costa Rica

Costa Rica travel with kids? You’re going to need these [awe-inspiring, kid-thrilling] family tours.

Today, Costa Rica celebrates Mother’s Day. It’s one of the Big Holidays here in Costa Rica – a paid day off work, universally celebrated, and much beloved – and so we thought we’d celebrate in the best way we know how: by sharing our favorite family tours, travels and family experiences, to enhance your own Costa Rica travel with kids.

Because, we’re realists. We know that traveling with kids isn’t the same as traveling solo or with adults. There are special considerations and accommodations to be made. Because, even the littlest of kids have big personalities.

We want to keep them happy. Nay, thrilled! We want all travelers, both big and small, to have the time of their lives. To finish every tour entertained. To say, “this was the best trip EVER!” Because it was.

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Tamarindo Restaurants Guide, 2019 Version

Pangas Tamarindo by night-min

Pangas is forever one of our top choices in Tamarindo restaurants, not just for the food but for the beachfront ambiance.

Tamarindo is a veritable foodie haven: Dozens, if not hundreds of worth-your-time restaurants and joints, beachfront spreads and tiny holes-in-the-wall. If you don’t know where to go, it can all be a little overwhelming: everything just smells so good! Seafood and melting cheese, brick ovens and wood-fired grills… But, we’re getting distracted. (It’s easy to do, around all this excellent food.) And so, it’s for just this reason that we’ve updated our Tamarindo restaurants guide for 2019: to help you draft your list of must-eats and must-views.

Note that this latest interation of our restaurant guide doesn’t overwrite or cancel out any of our previous suggestions; they’re still delicious and highly recommended. We just wanted to give you a few more options. A little more room to experiment with your taste buds and hone your Tamarindo palate. A few more inspirations to try new things and taste new tastes. Or, to revisit old favorites. Because, you’ll want to. You really will. Tamarindo’s restaurants have a certain temptation.

So, as we say in Costa Rica, ¡provecho! Enjoy!

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Property of the Month: Casa Bonita Beach

Casa Bonita Beach Hacienda Pinilla vacation rental waterslide-min

A brilliant sunset, a shimmering pool and, oh yessss!, your own private waterslide – the many delights of Casa Bonita Beach

Set within the pristine and luxurious surrounds of Hacienda Pinilla, Casa Bonita Beach represents the apex of indoor and outdoor living: spacious, light-filled interiors replete with natural stone, high ceilings, and oversized windows that open onto the lavish outdoors, including a gourmet alfresco kitchen, shady terrace, and a shimmering pool and waterslide.

Welcome to the perfect balance: Light and shade. Elegance and entertainment. Space and privacy. Welcome to that just-right blend of everything you’ve ever wanted in your vacation home.

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How to Plan a Carefree Tamarindo Vacation (with very little effort)

Pacific Soul catamaran rental Costa Rica

Planning a Tamarindo vacation? Hoping for a carefree planning experience? That’s our wish for you, too. Here’s how to get from Point A (planning stress) to Point B (totally chill, toes in the sand, not a care in the world).

There is just something about vacation: No matter how relaxing, how soothing, how perfect it promises to be, the planning stages are anything but relaxing, soothing, or perfect. More like demanding, time-intensive, and detail-rich. Unfortunately, your Tamarindo vacation planning will probably be no different from the standard. Oh, except that it’s in Spanish. Goody.

Costa Rica is a small country but a big place: Smaller than the state of West Virginia but home to more than 5% of the world total biodiversity, Costa Rica is the kind of vacation that can be overwhelming to plan. How can you see it all, when you have only 5, 7, 10 or even 14 days in country?

Well, Cliff’s Notes on that one: you can’t. Costa Rica is definitely the kind of place that demands a repeat visit. Two, three, ten times… You’re going to want to come back. But, in the meantime, while you’re planning this visit – be it your first or your fifth – you want to keep your stress low and your anticipation high.

You want to plan a carefree, unicorns-and-rainbows, #BringOnTheBucketList kind of Tamarindo vacation. But, you don’t want to stress out while doing it. And, if that sounds like a catch-22, you’ll be happy to hear it’s not. You can have your Costa Rica cake and eat it, too. Here’s how:

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July 25: The Annexation of Guanacaste

Guanacaste Day typical dress

What is Guanacaste Day? Well, we’d call it a celebration of democracy, of peace, and of patriotism.

Ah yes, it’s that time of year again – one of the many times of year that we ask ourselves, “What’s that noise?” Well, folks, today is July 25 and in Costa Rica, that means today is “Guanacaste Day” or more formally, a celebration of “la Anexión del Partido de Nicoya,” aka the “Annexation of Guanacaste.”

In Guanacaste province, including Tamarindo and surrounds, today is what we consider a Major Holiday. We’re talking parades and bombetas (like sound-only fireworks – all the boom, none of the color), history and celebrationbombas (traditional rhymes) and food. Lots of food.

So, yes, that’s that noise. But, Guanacaste Day is so much more than what you see (and hear) today.

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Getting Around Tamarindo & Surrounding Areas

Tamarindo shuttle

Travel tip: Save the headache and grab a Tamarindo shuttle into/out of town

Have you ever found that there’s often a big difference between trip planning and tip execution? When you’re planning, everything seems important. OMG-this-is-serious-why-can’t-Google-find-the-answer?!?! serious. And then, you arrive and suddenly, you’re on vacation and nothing feels quite so important as it once seemed. Because, Costa Rica.

Getting around Tamarindo is one of those things: It feels really, really important – and, to some extent, it is important! – when you’re planning from back home, but then you arrive and you see our 1-mile long stretch of town for the first time, and all your transportation stress melts away. You could walk it, if you wanted to.

Key word: Wanted. Because, walking is a valid option. You’ll see that many tourists and residents do just that. But, if walking beneath a tropical sun isn’t quite your speed – and if you don’t want to rent a car (or, at least, not for the whole trip – then, you’ll be happy to know that we have a ton of other transportation options.

Starting with the most important and the one you should absolutely, positively plan in advance: how to get to Tamarindo. And then, beyond that, how are you going to get around town? Without a car. We have the answer. Six of them*, to be precise.

*All costs are sample prices and current as of mid-2019.

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What to Do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica: 23 of the Best Activities

manta ray underwater

Costa Rica’s Catalinas Islands are one of the world’s top sights to spot giant manta rays. No wonder it makes our short list of what to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica!

So, you’re wondering what to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica? You’ve picked a good place to ask yourself that question: Tamarindo is one of Costa Rica’s beach hubs, offering a blend of urban convenience – and by urban, we mean a single mile(ish) of sandy road that borders the Pacific and dozens of excellent restaurants, bars, and activities – and Costa Rican charm.

This is the best of all worlds. So, it’s no wonder that we have 23 answers to what to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica .

  1. Go Surfing

Witchs rock surfing

Wondering what to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica? Surfing certainly tops the list of options.

Tamarindo may be known for many things, but we’d argue that spectacular surf is probably our greatest claim to fame. It’s also a point of pride, as our massive waves , huge breaks , and pounding surf  have tested, bested, and inspired surfers for decades. Surfers make pilgrimages to Tamarindo and our surrounds. Yeah, we’re that  good. So, that’s #1 on our list of what to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

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Property of the Month: Casa Shambala

Casa Shambala Avellanas Costa Rica vacation rental infinity pool

At Casa Shambala, a distinguished Playa Avellanas vacation rental, expect the extraordinary.

Casa Shambala is the kind of place where you have to blink. A few times. Maybe, pinch yourself?

Nope, you’re definitely not dreaming.

This is real life at Casa Shambala: 180-degree ocean views, custom furnishings, polished concrete and soaring glass, an infinity pool, intricately carved wooden doors, howler monkeys in the trees – the kind of place you read about and figure it has to be a fantasy. A hyperbole of vacation imagination.

Only here, it’s real.

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Our Favorite Tamarindo Tours on Land

Half Day ATV Tour

And now, you are here: On secluded Playa Fill-in-your-Favorite, inaccessible by road but accessible to your ATV. Thankfully! This is the perfect welcome to our favorite Tamarindo tours on land…

When you come to Costa Rica (and especially Tamarindo), you’re probably thinking about the beach, the ocean, and the sun. You’re probably not thinking about all the Tamarindo tours and things to do on land – away from the sand, the sea, and the sun.

But, here’s the thing: You should be. You should absolutely, positively be thinking about all the things that Costa Rica’s dry forests, savannah lands, mountains, and volcanoes have on offer. Because, we’re talking high-octane adventure and sunset horseback rides,wildlife explorations and breathtaking mountain biking. We’re talking Tamarindo tours that will stamp indelible memories onto your time in Costa Rica.

While we’re on the topic (and if you’re still in sand-sea-sun mode), check out our favorite Tamarindo water tours, volcano tours, and all our favorite things to do.

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