Humpback Whale Watching near Tamarindo, Costa Rica

whale watching in Costa Rica-min

Hey there! Love nature? Then, you’re going to love humpback whale watching near Tamarindo.

When you think of Costa Rica and wildlife watching, you most likely think of monkeys and sloths, toucans and jaguars. It’s easy to forget that Costa Rica is also home to two oceans – okay, technically one ocean and one sea – teeming with wildlife. And you don’t need to be a snorkeler or scuba diver to enjoy it, either.

Did you know that Costa Rica is home to the longest humpback whale-watching season in the world? ‘Tis true: Over two appearances and eight awe-inspiring months, these gentle giants make their home in Costa Rica waters. In Guanacaste waters. Which brings us to the subject of whale watching near Tamarindo: where, when and how?

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How to Keep the Beach Clean on Your Tamarindo Vacation

help keep Costa Rica beaches clean

Want to help keep Tamarindo’s beaches clean? Here are 14 easy ways to do your part.

Ahhh, the beach. The glorious beach.

Can’t you just hear the sound of lapping waves, each tiny crash on wet sand? Can you see the pelicans diving, in search of their next meal? Can you feel the warm sun on your face, your neck, your back? Can you imagine your feet or hands, finally (and perfectly) connecting with a soccer ball or volleyball?

A day at the beach is a day like no other. It’s joy. It’s a rush. It’s total freedom. It’s probably why you chose Tamarindo, a beach town located on Costa Rica’s famed Gold Coast.

The beach has a special appeal. It makes us feel things. It makes us want to linger a little longer, enjoy a little more. The beach is everything.

And that’s why it’s our job to help keep it clean. To not only keep our sands free of garbage, but to help make our oceans that way, too. From small lifestyle changes – changes you can make before your trip, and continue long after – to the everyday habits you can adopt while you’re here, we’re sharing a few of our favorite ways to help keep our beaches clean.

We hope you’ll join us in our efforts!

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Dance, Music & the Pura Vida: The BPM Festival Comes to Tamarindo, Costa Rica

BPM Festival Tamarindo Costa Rica

The best month of the year just got better: This coming January, Tamarindo will welcome the legendary BPM Festival, an underground electronic music festival that offers a perfect complement to our powder-soft beaches, sunset vistas, tropical dry forests, and Pacific Ocean escapades.

It’s a sweet new start for BPM, which has alternately hosted in Bali, Barcelona, Playa del Carmen, Portugal, and Toronto. This will mark the first time the festival heads south of Mexico.

From the press release, “Surrounded by national parks with an abundance of lush jungles and white sand beaches complemented by warm blue water and breathtaking sunsets… the surfing town and beyond offers the perfect opportunity to explore the natural beauty of Costa Rica.”

Aww, shucks. [Blushes.]

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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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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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Top Costa Rica Volcano Tours & Day Trips from Tamarindo

Rincon de la Vieja National Park trails

Rincón de la Vieja, our all-time favorite Costa Rica volcano, may be as close as you ever get to a real, live, honest-to-goodness active volcano. So close, you can smell the stank!

Did you know that Costa Rica lies at the crossroads of two tectonic plates? And, did you also know that the theory of plate tectonics states that volcanoes are birthed from shifting tectonic plates? It’s no wonder, then, that there are roughly 200+ Costa Rica volcano formations – some more than 65 million years old!

But, let’s back up for a hot second (get it?!). Specifically, let’s start with the basics: Costa Rica’s volcanoes are many, but they all belong to the nation’s three volcanic ranges: the Guanacaste Volcanic Range (home to the Rincón de la Vieja, Orosi, Miravalles, Tenorio, and Arenal Volcanoes, among others); the Central Volcanic Range (comprised of the Poás, Barva, Irazú, and Turrialba Volcanoes, among others); and the Talamanca Volcanic Range (home to El Viejo Volcano).

Geography lesson, complete. And now, a fun fact: Of the 200+ Costa Rican volcano formations, just seven volcanoes can be considered active: Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, Poás Volcano, Arenal Volcano, Irazú Volcano, Turrialba Volcano, and Tenorio Volcano, with an honorable mention for the not-so-active-but-don’t-count-it-out-yet Miravalles, which clawed its way onto the active volcano list when it emitted a single puff of steam… way back in 1946. Somebody was feeling a little neglected, clearly.

Okay, okay, by now you’re thinking, get on with it! You want to hear about our favorite Costa Rica volcano tours. We promise we’ll get there. But, before we do, we think you may want to know a bit more about Costa Rica’s volcanoes – and the ones you can easily visit from Tamarindo. No? No problem. You can skip straight to the tours!

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Costa Rica Travel Tips: Packing for Rainy Season

Costa Rica travel tips for rainy season-min

Rainy season travel is some of our favorite. The landscapes are green, the water is clear, flowers are in bloom, and the wildlife is happy. But, yeah, there’s likely to be rain. These Costa Rica travel tips for rainy season will see you through.

So, you’re visiting during the rainy season? Then hoo boy, do we have some Costa Rica travel tips up our sleeve.

Are you envisioning torrential downpours and epic thunderstorms, gray skies and a vacation spent huddling indoors, hiding from another miserable day?

Yeah, Costa Rica’s rainy season isn’t like that.

So, how much does it rain?  Are we talking a few sprinkles or more like apocalyptic, monsoon-level downpours? Does everything shut down? Here’s the short of it: Unless you’re really, really unlucky – as in, once-in-several-years unlucky – it’s not going to rain morning, noon, and night. It probably won’t even rain noon and night. It may not even rain every day.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Hold on to your umbrella, because we’re about to get real about Costa Rica’s rainy season.

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The Complete Guide to Semana Santa – Easter Week in Costa Rica

Tamarindo surfer during Easter Week in Costa Rica

Visiting for Easter Week in Costa Rica? Here’s what you need to know. And trust us – there’s a lot you should know. (For example, make your reservations NOW. Really.)

So, you’re in Tamarindo for Easter Week, known locally as Semana Santa, or Holy Week. Otherwise known as, one of the most popular times to travel. The weather is great, the sun is warm, the landscapes are greening up, and the beaches are packed. Welcome to Easter Week in Costa Rica.

You’ve heard a lot about Costa Rica. You’ve spent months (or even years) dreaming about your trip. And now, it’s on – you’re headed to Costa Rica for Holy Week! Maybe it’s because your kids are on Spring Break. Perhaps you’re interested in Latin American Easter traditions (more on that, later). Or, it could simply be that this is one of the most beautiful (and festive) times of year.

Whatever the reason, you’re going to have a great trip. And, this guide will help. Because, while Easter Week in Costa Rica is special, it’s also one of the busiest times of year. With a little bit of planning (and very advanced reservations – trust us!), you’ll enjoy a much better, more relaxing getaway. And with that, off we go!

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Destination Joy: 9 Tips to Identify Perfect (for you) Tamarindo Vacation Rentals

Casa Ventanas Tamarindo vacation rentals

When only an ocean-view pool will do, we call that a “must” in your search of Tamarindo vacation rentals. Pictured: The lovely Casa Ventana, a luxury vacation home set on a hillside in Tamarindo’s premier gated community.

Tamarindo vacation rentals are not created equal.

That’s not to say that some are better than others, but rather that some homes are suited to some guests and other homes are suited to other guests. Okay, and some are not suited to anyone. (We don’t list any of these, thankfully!)

This post is about all those lovely, sometime spectacular Tamarindo vacation rentals that might be suited to you: How can you pick from Luxury Home A and Luxury Home B, or Ocean-View Condo A and Ocean-View Condo B? How can you assess the possibilities and then identify the perfect vacation home for you?

Let’s start with what this: We’re going to leave out the super-obvious bits, like being sure to read every listing, in full, paying meticulous attention to the amenities list, and studying each photo in detail. Because we know you’ll naturally do those things.

What we will cover are some of the most important, yet not always considered details. They may look obvious – see Tip 1: Price Point – but we promise, there’s more to each than meets the eye. Here we go:

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