Costa Rica – Day 1: Travel to Tamarindo

It started several months ago with a casual comment to my husband, “Did you see the airfare deal to Costa Rica that Clark posted today?” The “Clark” I’m referring to is Clark Howard, a radio celebrity and consumer expert who lives in Atlanta. I admire him a lot – so much so that I had volunteered for his Consumer Action Center many years ago. Anyway, he posts some great travel deals and since David and I toyed with the idea of going to Costa Rica, I mentioned it to him. Soon after, the planets quickly aligned and we found ourselves with plane tickets and lodging reservations. This trip was happening! We were going to celebrate our 11-year wedding anniversary at a place we’ve never been. Tamarindo — a surfing mecca in the western part of the country on the Pacific.

Mind you, I was worried. Travel deals abound in Costa Rica from May through November due to it being the “rainy season” — a season in which it can rain every single day… sometimes ALL day. The tourist industry likes to call it the “green season” instead. It sounds a bit less bleak and portrays the place as more “alive” since everything is so green from all that rain. Nonetheless, we were going to take a our chances.

Our great plane deal went out the window when David (very kindly) upgraded us to first class. It made the 4-ish hour trip from Atlanta, GA to Liberia, Costa Rica very comfy, and therefore, quick. SO nice!

As we made our decent into Liberia, I was surprised to see more countryside than town. The airport was small but new, super-clean and easy to navigate. Impressive. We found our Hertz representative and he whisked us away to where we would pick up our car.

This was an interesting sign in the Hertz building.

Hertz Tamarindo sign

OoooK! David had reserved a 4-wheel drive Hyundai Santa Fe. We heard the roads in Costa Rica weren’t great so we wanted to have a vehicle we could trust to get us from A to B (minus the river crossings, of course!)  We got our navigation system from Hertz as well, which I highly recommend since maps are not very detailed. Soon we were on our way to Tamarindo, a little over an hour’s drive away. The weather was surprisingly clear, warm and dry which made the drive easier than expected. The road was paved almost the entire way as well.

As we pulled into Tamarindo, it was obvious that this was the biggest town yet. It wasn’t crazy-busy but there were lot of shops and restaurants and people. Apparently this place gets insane during the busy season. We were very happy to enjoy it during a quieter time.

Nav took us right to our lodging, Casa Cook, just as the paved road turned to dirt outside the main part of town. We were greeted warmly by Ruthann, the owner who showed us our cabina. It was essentially right on the beach! Casa Cook pool

Casa Cook - Playa LongostaThe cabina was awesome and had everything we could possibly need… kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, dining area and living area too! We were delighted with our new home away from home. Here’s a pano shot of the inside. Casa Cook interior

We got ourselves settled and then went down the road to the nearby Mercado to pick up some groceries. It was a tiny store but it had everything you could possibly need.

After putting our groceries away, we headed for the beach to go for a walk. The weather was still clear! We went towards town for quite some time, then turned and began our trek back.  We stopped at La Palapa Hotel‘s restaurant to eat dinner. They had a nice, couchy set-up right on the beach where we could relax and watch the sunset. We loved watching people and their doggies and even a horse and rider walk by.

Tamarindo Beach by La Palapa restaurant

Our food was really yummy and we delighted in a banana tempura for dessert.

By the time we were done, we walked back to our cabina via the dark beach using our cell phone flashlights. There was heat lightning in the distance, which was neat to see while walked next to the ocean.

The 2-hour time difference (and my glass of cabernet) had us quite sleepy early in the evening, so we headed to bed. The AC and fans kept us cool and comfy through the night. Ahhh.

Tomorrow morning, I act like a total 5-year old. You’ll soon learn why….

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