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!
Clean Up Your Trash
We know, we know – this one’s a gimme. Of course we should all clean up our trash. Sometimes, it’s not quite that easy, though. You’re at the beach. You’re having a ball, splashing in the Pacific and building sand castles with your kids. You’re sticky from sunblock and tired from the sun.
Maybe the wind blows your snack wrapper away. Maybe you get some sand in your eye. Maybe the sun is blinding you. It doesn’t matter how it happens, but that it does: Sometimes, a bit of trash gets away from you. The point is to chase it down. Even when you’re tired and sticky. Because, every piece counts. Every, single one.
Take a Trash Bag
Here’s one of our favorite feel-good beach activities: Take an empty grocery bag – or, a full-on trash bag, if you’re feeling long on time and goodwill – and some gloves or a sharpened stick, and start strolling the beach. Pick up all the trash you see. Claim a section of sand for your personal beach-cleaning project. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can fill your bag.
Now, do that every time you visit the beach. You can make a big difference. You can even influence others to make a difference. In fact, why not make a game of it? See who can fill their bag the fullest or the quickest? Challenge your family, friends and kids to a beach cleaning? Find joy in keeping our oceans clean. (We sure do!)
Upgrade Your Packaging
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, they say. Likewise, the easiest way to keep the beach clean is to prevent it from getting dirty. And, for most of us, that means upgrading our personal choices.
At the very least, choose easily recyclable packaging. Choose glass and/or aluminum over plastic. But, whenever possible, choose a more eco-friendly option: Carry your own straws. Use biodegradable options, like paper plates or plantain leaves. If you must use disposable, then pick up wooden forks and spoons at the grocery store. Generate less plastic and, whenever you generate something, make it something compostable and/or biodegradable. Our ocean life thanks you!
Don’t Feed the Animals
We know, we know – the monkeys and coatis are adorable. But, they’re also wild. Key word: Wild. As in, not domesticated.
Feeding the wildlife is not only prohibited in Costa Rica, but dangerous. Not only to you, but to the animals themselves. Did you know that most Costa Rican monkeys don’t eat bananas (or, not many bananas) in the wild? And, they definitely don’t eat potato chips or sandwiches.
Ditto our marine life. We know how amazing it would be, to see dolphins beside your boat or a croc up close and personal. But, the reality is that the behaviors that in turn encourage those behaviors – in other words, feeding and incentivizing animals – are dangerous to our precious wildlife. They alter their natural diets and teach them to trust humans. So, if you love animals – and hey, if you’re in Costa Rica, you’re probably here for the animals – then do them a solid. Don’t feed the wildlife.
One of the easiest ways to help the beach, is to swap out packaged drinks for reusable water bottles. Luckily, the water throughout Costa Rica is drinkable, so you are free to fill your water bottle wherever you go. Bonus: All that water will keep you hydrated, after a day under the Costa Rican sun.
And, did we mention the pipas? Oh, the pipas– one of our favorite things about the beach! One of our favorite things about life, if we get down to it. Sit yourself anywhere and, chances are, within an hour a pipavendor will walk down the beach, peddling fresh coconut water. (Cost of pure bliss: About $1) Say yes. Every time!
Talk about zero waste: Pipas require only a green coconut and a [vendor-supplied] machete, to lop it open. Just say no to the straw; either provide your own or drink straight from the coconut.
Skip the Smoke
Did you know that cigarette butts are a leading beach pollutant? In fact, trillions of cigarette butts are thrown out every year, making their way to the world’s beaches and oceans. So, do your best to skip that smoke on the beach. Of, if you do smoke, dispose of your butts properly: in the trash can.
(Of course, this goes for all trash. Happily, there are plenty of public trash cans in our beach areas. Wherever you are, you won’t have to look far. But hey, if you can’t find one, just stuff it in your bag and dispose of it properly when you get back to your vacation rental.)
Wear Ocean-Friendly Sunscreen
Did you know that most of the world’s most popular sun blocks can leach dangerous pollutants, toxins, and harmful substances into the ocean, affecting marine life and killing our coral reefs?
The EWG publishes an annual sunscreen report, ranking all of your favorites based on their ocean-friendliness. Don’t want to do all the research? You can still make a great choice: The EWG also shares a quick guide to the best beach sunscreens. It’s never been easier to do the right thing for our reefs and oceans.
Costa Rica is a feast-or-famine kind of place: Half the year, we have abundant water. The other half, we’re conserving.
As a responsible tourist, we encourage you to conserve water. Turn off the tap while you brush. Run your dishwasher only when it’s full. Take a quick shower. Wash one big laundry load, instead of two or three small ones. (I’ll never forget the sign in Caribbean island bathrooms when I was small: In the land of sun and fun, we don’t flush for number one.)
Make all the small choices that boil down to a reduced need for water treatment. We appreciate it!
When you’re at the beach, you’re probably going to order some seafood. And when you do, be sure that you’re dining on sustainably caught seafood. Ask your restaurant server: If you get an easy and sensible answer, then you know that the restaurant practices awareness.
(Environmental side note: If it’s on your radar, know that it’s also easy to reduce your meat consumption in Costa Rica. There are so many amazing and abundant fruits and vegetables to try! In the morning, consider swapping out your eggs-and-sausage for a big bowl of fruit or local granola. Lunch on rice and beans. Load up on veggies. Costa Ricans typically eat lots of fruits, veggies and legumes, so try whatever’s new and sounds delicious, and you’ll naturally eat less meat while you’re here.)
Be Equally Careful When Boating
As with what you leave behind on the beach, we must be careful of what we leave behind in our oceans (and rivers).
When you take one of our tours on water, be aware. We’re talking about more than not throwing plastic bottles into the ocean or tossing your Styrofoam into the seas: even the tiniest fishing hook or bottle cap can make a difference in an animal’s life. (Or even, end its life.) Keep all your trash and detritus on the boat. And remember, if the 90s taught us anything, it was to cut our six-pack wrappers.
Work with Local Companies Who Care
At Stay in Tamarindo, we care about our beach. Deeply. Therefore, we do our part.
We eliminate our paper waste, for example; our guests are invited to swap paper print-outs for our guest app. We help keep our Blue Flag beaches – Costa Rica’s highest reward for environmental protection – blue. We choose responsible and sustainable tour operators: You won’t find our tour guides or preferred companies making questionable environmental decisions. We’ In fact, you’ll probably find that they make the good ones. We clean the beaches. We minimize our waste. We practice what we preach.
Okay, this is one that begins long before you visit Tamarindo: Demand that your preferred companies and brands demonstrate an environmental conscience.
Raise your voice. But the glass or aluminum versions of your favorite beverage. Choose a face wash that doesn’t use microbeads. Purchase an ocean-friendly sunblock. And, when you’re here, avoid takeout (it inevitably incurs waste). If you see a restaurant use excessive package, say something. Bring your own bags to the grocery store. Make sure that brands make it easy.
The best thing you can do to keep our oceans clean, is to stay current. Teach yourself. Stay informed. Know why and how our beaches and oceans get polluted, in the first place.
Tune into a new documentary. Take a book out of the library. Follow the environmental news. Follow the journey of plastic from your home to the sea. Learn about the realities of recycling. Clue yourself into climate change. Open your mind to all the myriad issues. (For example, did you know that underwater noise pollution can harm, and even kill marine life?
Better choice begin with you. We really believe that. Help keep our beaches clean!
Share What You Know
One of the best things we can do for our beaches, is merely share our own knowledge. Everything you’ve read here today – tell a fellow traveler!
You don’t have to strong-arm anyone. You don’t have to push. Remember – there’s a difference between being helpful and being smug. But, chances are, most travelers travel in order to see the world. They love the views you love. They appreciate the beach and marine life you appreciate. They splash in the same surf you splash.
Sharing a simple piece of knowledge – for example, the impact of most sunscreen on our coral reefs – can lead to one small change. And, one small change can add up to a big difference.
Again, we thank you, our travelers with heart and conscience!