Traveling Costa Rica on a Budget: 6 Tips for Savvy Travelers

surfing in Tamarindo Costa Rica
Tip: Swap the surf lesson for a surfboard rental, and traveling Costa Rica on a budget just got a little easier.

Have you ever heard that Costa Rica is not a “budget destination”? You’ve heard right. But what that usually means is that Costa Rica is a challenge to shoestring budgets because traveling Costa Rica on a budget is possible. And not just possible, but very doable.

Certainly, you’ll have to get a little creative. And you may have to make a few swaps of this for that. And you’ll more frequently choose a free beach day or a $10 pp national park hike over a $150 pp tour day. But you can and will travel, explore, and enjoy the wilds and wiles of Costa Rica on a budget.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Tip #1: Always Read the [Menu] Fine Print

restaurant service in Tamarindo

In Costa Rica, all restaurant service taxes (13%) and a basic tip (10%) are supposed to be included in the prices listed on the menu. In other words, if a dish is listed at ¢5,000 (about $7.50), then the final price should be ¢5,000 – not ¢5,000 + 13% service + 10% tip.

That said, some restaurants list their prices without the service and tip. So, do your budget a favor and always check the menu (usually at the bottom/footer) for text along the lines of “Los precios incluyen I.V.I.” (Prices include I.V.I., or the service + tip tax) If you see something along the lines of “Los precios no incluyen I.V.I.”, then the 23% additional is not included. Some restaurants will include the 13% service fee but not the 10% tip; in this case, the 10% tip is not optional and will always be added onto your final bill.

Continue reading “Traveling Costa Rica on a Budget: 6 Tips for Savvy Travelers”

Top 10 Destinations to Visit in Guanacaste

aerial view of Playa Avellanas
Playa Avellanas (at Hacienda Pinilla) is home to some of our favorite Guanacaste, Costa Rica rentals and picture-perfect photo-ops

Sometimes, the hardest part of your vacation is simply choosing where to vacation. So, while you’ve likely narrowed down your country of destination (Costa Rica, hurray!), you haven’t yet gotten so far as to whittle down the regions, towns, or places you’d like to stay. Let us offer some inspiration (and a few Guanacaste, Costa Rica rentals to consider).

We’re here to help. Because, while Costa Rica appears small by map standards, the country is vast: From high-montane cloud forests and river headwaters to coastal beaches and tropical dry forests, you could spend a lifetime exploring Costa Rica’s diverse sights, enormous biodiversity, and varying terrain.

You have to start somewhere, though. And, as residents of the great province of Guanacaste, we’d like to recommend right here: on Costa Rica’s famed Gold Coast, home to pink shell-strewn beaches and howler monkey-filled forests, world-class surf and some of the world’s best sunsets.

So, let’s get right down to it: 10 beachy destinations to submit for consideration. From north to south:

Continue reading “Top 10 Destinations to Visit in Guanacaste”

2022 Featured Family Activities & Vacation Rentals in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

16 family activities & vacation rentals in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Make your 2022 family vacation dreams into reality. And enjoy a few of these activities and family-friendly vacation rentals in Tamarindo, Costa Rica along the way!

Tamarindo is the kind of place that families love. In addition to great dining, incredible scenery, and plenty of family-friendly vacation rentals in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, our corner of paradise offers much for families to see, do, and experience together.

Because, whether you’re the kind to tackle adventures – everything from zip lines and volcano-climbing to surfing and ocean kayaking – or more the type to relax at the pool together, Tamarindo is just the kind of place for your family.

And with that in mind, here are a few of our favorite things. Which will become a few of yours?

  1. Go Surfing

There’s nothing as quintessential to Tamarindo as surfing. And, while Tamarindo is one of the world’s favorite surfer spots, it’s also surprisingly welcoming to beginners and kids, too. Because yes, there are great challenges to be found but there are also gentle waves and sandy ocean bottoms perfect for your first ride or your hundredth practice. And there’s nothing like seeing the expression on your kid’s face when she catches her very first wave!

Continue reading “2022 Featured Family Activities & Vacation Rentals in Tamarindo, Costa Rica”

Our Favorite Places to Stay & Things To Do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

beaches are the centerpiece to things to do in Costa Rica
The focal point for many things to do in Tamarindo, the area’s beaches offer sun and scenery, beauty and adventure

Tamarindo is as close as Costa Rica’s Gold Coast comes to a beach metropolis and yet, it’s the furthest thing from a city: A mile long from stem to stern, this golden-sand and cerulean-sea travel hotspot packs restaurants and shops, activities and attractions into one sand-dusted town.

For this little town lives by the motto of “surf, eat, and have fun” – and all three, we readily accept as a contractual obligation! It’s the life you lead, when you live or vacation in Guanacaste’s chilliest city by the sea.

While you may have heard about the first (surf) and be tempted by the second (eat), today we’re here to discover the third: Have fun! There are tens, if not hundreds of ways to have fun in Tamarindo. And now, we’re going to discover some of the must-dos, the must-sees, and the you-wouldn’t-want-to-miss-‘ems.

Continue reading “Our Favorite Places to Stay & Things To Do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica”

Tamarindo Nightlife: Where to Go, What to See & What to Do

Casa Cielo Tamarindo rentals for Christmas 2021

Tamarindo is the kind of place where you don’t have to look for something to: Tamarindo nightlife finds you. Everywhere you go, almost anywhere you look – there’s a bar, a restaurant, or a hangout where you can spend your evening hours.

That said, everyone has their favorites. Here are a few of ours.

Must See: Tamarindo Night Market & Feria


Ferias, or farmer’s markets, are a Costa Rican staple. And nowhere are they more enjoyable than right here in Tamarindo, where the feria becomes a night market complete with live music, international food, and artisan vendors selling jewelry, clothes, art, and so much more.

Open every Thursday from 6-9 p.m., this is our version of the feria gone wild. Only, instead of carrots and mangos, you’ll snack on arepas and empanadas, pizza and pulled pork, lasagna and cocktails. And then, there are the fire dancers and the traditional dancers, the DJs and the clowns – the absolutely everything you need to enjoy an open-air night out on the town!

And hey, if you’re also looking for the more traditional feria, we have that, too. (It’s on Saturday mornings!)

Continue reading “Tamarindo Nightlife: Where to Go, What to See & What to Do”

Top Tamarindo Rentals for Christmas 2021 & New Year’s 2022

Tamarindo sunset
Does this look like your typical holiday view? Do you wish it did? If so, it’s time to peruse these Tamarindo rentals, all with last-minute holiday availability!

When you’re in the mood for a holiday escape – and by that, we mean anything from a tinsel-draped escape in paradise to an escape-the-holidays in paradise – then Costa Rica (and our available Tamarindo rentals, below) graciously delivers.

The consummate host and a happy celebrant, this tropical nation invites you to celebrate the season with walks on the beach and long afternoons on the terrace, soul-shaking sunsets and leisurely swims in the pool. Because what better way to celebrate Christmas or toast to the New Year, than with your toes buried in sand and your hair slicked back from a recent swim?

That said, the holidays here book up fast. Not only is the sun shining and the weather perfect, but we’re heading into our busiest season of the year. So, to make your last-minute holiday planning a little easier, we’ve pulled together our rentals with last-minute availability. (Check the bottom of each description for Christmas/New Year’s week availability.)

Continue reading “Top Tamarindo Rentals for Christmas 2021 & New Year’s 2022”

Now Planning: 2021 and 2022 Vacations (Featuring Our New Tamarindo, Costa Rica Vacation Rentals)

surfing in Tamarindo Costa Rica

Whether you’re packing your bags for a last-minute trip or taking the long view to 2022, a world of adventure, fun, and relaxation awaits! We’re talking long walks on the beach and ocean-view infinity pools, epic surf and a handful of luxurious new Tamarindo, Costa Rica vacation rentals. In other words, the perfect recipe for a perfectly memorable vacation.

Continue reading “Now Planning: 2021 and 2022 Vacations (Featuring Our New Tamarindo, Costa Rica Vacation Rentals)”

Costa Rica Wet Season & Tamarindo Beach 2021 Update

Ibis Condos at Langosta Beach Club rentals in Tamarindo Costa Rica
The Costa Rica wet season is synonymous with lush landscapes and bright, tropical blooms. Enjoy!

Sometimes, it feels like we hardly have our feet planted before the rug gets pulled out from under us again. (For the n-th time, it seems.) Over the last 18 months, everything has been so in flux that it’s been hard to keep our current events straight. (Did you even know that it’s the Costa Rica wet season? And that the deals are great?!)

So, we thought we’d give you a boots-on-the-ground kind of update: a quick overview of what’s happening in Tamarindo. Because there’s nothing like being here – like knowing what happened yesterday, what’s happening today, and what’s scheduled for tomorrow – to help you feel a little more secure in your travel decisions (for today or tomorrow).

Update #1: Yes, the Costa Rica Wet Season is Here!

It’s September, and that means that the Costa Rica wet season is in full swing! Here in Costa Rica’s driest region, that’s a great thing, because it means that our landscapes have greened up, our flowers are in full bloom, and everything looks just beautiful.

Continue reading “Costa Rica Wet Season & Tamarindo Beach 2021 Update”

What Does the Costa Rica Wet Season Really Mean for Your Travel Plans – and 4 Perks of a Last-Minute Vacation in Costa Rica

Green season sunsets are some of the most spectacular of the year – and the world!

So, you’re thinking about traveling during the Costa Rica wet season? So, you’re a little concerned about just how wet the wet season can really be? So, you’re wondering what the difference is between the wet season and the dry season?

We can help with that, with all that. From what the green season is really like – and, for the record, the wet season is the same as the green season, but keep in mind there are mini-seasons within the season – to the many perks of the wet season, we’re filling you in on what locals already know:

Costa Rica’s green season can be a perfect time to visit. Provided you love emerald-green landscapes and heart-stopping sunsets, beaches all to yourself and significant discounts

What’s the Costa Rica Wet Season Really Like?

In a word: Green!

We are so witty and creative, we know. But seriously, the green season was not so much bestowed a name, but rather earned its name, from the landscapes that grow greener and greener as the rains fall. Your very first experience with the season will likely be a colorful one: lush and ripe and green, everywhere, paired with the tropical fluorescence of orchids and heliconia, cloud-dappled skies and kaleidoscopic sunsets.

And, while we (the collective “we”) tend to talk about the Costa Rica green season as one lump season, the reality is that the rain and overall weather can be very different from month to month. So, we thought we’d give you a brief rundown of what you can expect from the Costa Rica wet season, specifically  here in Tamarindo and Guanacaste (Costa Rica’s driest region):

Continue reading “What Does the Costa Rica Wet Season Really Mean for Your Travel Plans – and 4 Perks of a Last-Minute Vacation in Costa Rica”

Costa Rica in September & October: Save Some Green on Green Season Travel

Tamarindo sunsets during Costa Rica in September
Costa Rica in September and October can get a little (or a lot) wet. It can also be a great deal. Just choose your destination wisely!

So, you’re thinking about visiting Costa Rica in September or October (also known as the green season)? And you’re also wondering just how much of a euphemism is “green season,” really? Are we talking sun-showers-and-rainbows season or daily-deluge season?

Costa Rica in September and October: How Rainy Are the “Rainiest Months”?

The answer is, it depends.

The very shortest answer we can give you is that Costa Rica’s green season (aka rainy season) runs from about mid-May through mid-November, and September and October are the rainiest months. (Don’t click away yet! There’s a but.)

BUT, “rainiest” depends on where you’re visiting – for example, Guanacaste province, home to Tamarindo and beyond, is the driest province in Costa Rica – and your rain tolerance. (More on that, in a moment.)

Before we can get into that, though, let’s talk about Costa Rican weather. When it comes to generalizing the country, we divide our weather into two basic seasons: the dry season (December-May) and the rainy/green season (June-November). Here’s how the 12 months break down, both weather and tourism-wise:

  • Dry Season (Dec through Easter): Sun, sun, sun! And, the highest prices of the year.
  • Shoulder or Mid-Season (Easter to mid-June): A great bang for your buck, with lower prices and a great chance of sun.
  • Summer Season (mid-June through mid-August): A mid-year peak, with prices just under the true high season.
  • Green Season (mid-August through mid-Dec): A daily chance of rain sends prices to their lowest points of the year.

Continue reading “Costa Rica in September & October: Save Some Green on Green Season Travel”