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.

Read more

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:

Read more

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.

Read more

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!

Read more

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.

Read more

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!

Read more

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:

Read more

Costa Rica Family Vacation: Your [Almost] Complete Guide to Tamarindo with Kids

surfing in Tamarindo with kids

Tamarindo is an excellent choice for your Costa Rica family vacation

You’re enjoying a wonderful holiday season – by the way, happy holidays from the Stay in Tamarindo family! – and you’re loving your time together with your loved ones, whether you’re gathered with just your nearest and dearest or gathered with extended family and friends. And now, you’re thinking (and even talking) about that Costa Rican family vacation you have all always wanted to take.

Congratulations! Costa Rica is an excellent choice for your family vacation, and Tamarindo is the best choice of all. (Yes, we admit we’re a little biased.) But, consider this: spectacular beaches and even more beautiful sunsets, dense mangroves and sick surf, thrilling adventures and tranquil slices of beach – the perfect recipe to create one of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations.

You’ve already heard a lot about Costa Rica. You’ve definitely dreamed of your someday visit. And now, you’re really starting to plan. Go ahead – you can do a little dance! A family vacation in Costa Rica is something to get excited about.

With visions of mangoes dancing in your head, your initial excitement and anticipation passed, inevitably your thoughts will begin to wander to some of the more practical matters: When should you plan your visit?What will the weather be like? Where should you visit and where will you stay? And then, importantly, how much should you budget?

Read more

Tamarindo Overnight Trip: Explosive Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano is Costa Rica’s most famous volcano – and one of our favorite day trips (even better: overnight trips!) from Tamarindo.

On slopes where once flowed destructive red-hot lava, now grows an explosion of rainforest riches: soaring palms, dense foliage, and jewel-toned tropical blooms. And, lest you forget its origins, the occasional (yet tamer) belch from a mostly-sleeping-sometimes-rumbling active volcano.

Indeed, while a nightly lava show used to draw visitors to the region, today Arenal Volcano relies on much more than Mother Nature’s red-hot fireworks. This is a town dedicated to diversion, relaxation, and a full suite of adventure: soaring canopy ziplines, exhilarating waterfall rappelling, frothing white-water rafting, volcanic hot springs, shadowy cave spelunking, and so much more.

Oh, so very much more.

Because, this is Arenal Volcano. And this is one of our most popular overnight tours from Tamarindo. Trust us, it’s worth the drive.

Read more

How to Find (and Choose) the Perfect Costa Rica Wedding Planner

how to find a Costa Rica wedding planner

We highly recommend hiring a Costa Rica wedding planner. But, how to find the right one for you?

If you’re planning a wedding in Tamarindo, one of the most important first steps take? Finding, interviewing, and ultimately hiring a local, on-the-ground, right-here Costa Rica wedding planner.

For all those questions you have about your venue, for all the Costa Rica-specific details you don’t know, for all the Spanish-to-English communications you may require, for all the big picture and tiny detail items – a local wedding planner and/or wedding coordinator will make it easier (and actually doable) to plan, organize, and ultimately execute your absolute perfect day.

Because you should have a perfect, exactly-what-you’ve-always-dreamed kind of destination wedding. You’re in Costa Rica. This is paradise. And you’re finally, finally saying your I-dos.

Read more