Costa Rica Culture

From the Sabanero (cowboy) culture of the Guanacaste Province to the indigenous tribes of the Caribbean lowlands, small pockets of sub-cultures exist throughout Costa Rica. The country's mix of Mestizos (Spanish/AmerIndian), Spanish descendants, indigenous Indians and Afro-Caribbeans with the more recent immigrations of Asians, Europeans and North Americans creates a unique blend of culture.

Costa Ricans, or Ticos as they call themselves, enjoy topes (horse parades) in nearly every town and city, a tradition that originated on the dry plains and cattle ranches of Guanacaste.

Ticos are renowned for their gregarious nature which is quite apparent during the numerous fiestas, street fairs and carnivals celebrated throughout the nation. These celebrations are an excellent insight to the culture and cuisine of the country, as visitors can sample �tipico� food, enjoy Latin music or watch a Costa Rican bull fight where the bull is never harmed.

Along the Atlantic coast, Afro-Caribbean cultures are apparent in the reggae beats, Calypso music and Patois spoken by the locals. While indigenous tribes now make up less than 2% of the country�s population, Indian arts and handicrafts are preserved in museums and are sold on reservation tours.

San Jos�, located in the Central Valley, became the cultural hub of the country with the construction of the National Theater in 1897. Within the past century, theater has become a favorite cultural activity among Ticos. The National Theater hosts a variety of operas, plays, ballet performances and orchestral symphonies.

Costa Rica is widely recognized for its wildlife and beautiful landscapes. However, if travelers look beyond ecotourism, cultural treasures can be found, whether in a reggae music festival, a horse parade, or an opera. back to top

Tamarindo Information

General Information

Location: 69 km. (43 miles) southwest of Liberia, on the North Pacific Coast
Weather: Hot and dry during the day, cooler in the evenings. Rainy season is from May through November.
Temperature: 75-92° F year round
Altitude: Sea level
Learn more about the North Pacific Tourism Region

Read our Tamarindo and Gold Coast Beaches Travel Blogs (December 2007)


Located on Guanacaste's Gold Coast, 69 kilometers southwest of Liberia, Tamarindo is a popular North Pacific beach town. Great surf, beautiful beaches and a vibrant nightlife are some of the attractions of this growing resort town. With international flights now available into the nearby Liberia airport, increased tourism and development are apparent as are the myriad of activities now available to Tamarindo visitors.

Local tour companies offer sailing trips, ATV tours, sport fishing and horseback riding for those seeking adventure. Surf academies are abundant, and warm water surfing is enjoyed year-round. Boat excursions to nearby islands are easily arranged for snorkeling and dive trips as well. For land-lovers, world-class golfing is available at the nearby Hacienda Pinilla, and a multitude of shops exist in Tamarindo for browsing and souvenir shopping.

Tamarindo beach is part of a bay and is flanked by Playas Grande and Langosta, both protected nesting sites for the giant leatherback turtle. From October through March, official turtle tours are available to observe the sea turtles nesting. A salt water estuary, Estero Tamarindo, flows between the two beaches and is a terrific spot for bird and wildlife viewing. A wide range of hotels and restaurants are on offer for all budgets and tastes.


Tamarindo and Langosta
Tamarindo’s steady waves and warm waters attract both novice and seasoned surfers. The broad beach curves gently around Tamarindo Bay and is bordered by Langosta beach and the Tamarindo Estuary. Visitors will find its wide shores nearly deserted in the early morning, an ideal time for a leisurely stroll. Swimmers should use caution, as strong riptides are common along certain parts of the beach. Tamarindo is brimming with surf schools, and its popular beach breaks are often crowded with beginners. Experienced locals often go for the bigger and usually less crowded waves in neighboring Playa Langosta.

Playas Negra and Avellanas
Located 15 kilometers south of Tamarindo, these laid-back beaches are favored by surfers for their consistent waves. Avellanas’ prevailing reef break, dubbed “Little Hawaii”, can even be a challenge for seasoned surfers. South of Avellenas’ white sand beach is Playa Negra, a darker beach dominated by a rocky coastline. Negra is famous for its reef point breaks and excellent barrels. Visitors can anticipate steady breezes and ideal surfing conditions between the months of December and April. Both beaches are relatively undeveloped and are geared towards the surfing community.

Playa Grande
Just a few miles north of Tamarindo lies Playa Grande, another Gold Coast favorite among surfers. Flanked by the Tamarindo Estuary, the beach is a 25-minute roundabout drive from Tamarindo. Playa Grande is renowned for its consistent breaks. Boarders can surf the beach break at high tide or try the Tamarindo rivermouth when it’s low. Playa Grande caters to the surfing crowd and has a few inexpensive and mid-range hotels. The town has a small supermarket and a few restaurants and hotels.

Read more about Guanacaste’s Gold Coast Beaches

National Parks

Las Baulas Marine Park
Located on Guanacaste's Gold Coast, Las Baulas Marine Park encompasses the beaches of Playa Grande, Carbon, Ventanas and Langosta, and includes the Tamarindo Estuary. Playa Grande is known as one of the largest leatherback turtle nesting sites in the world. Every year between October and March, hundreds of leatherback sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. These Jurassic reptiles, the largest of all sea turtles, can weigh upwards of 1500 pounds and measure six feet in length. Although the beaches encompassed by Las Baulas Marine Park support over 800 nesting sea turtles annually, the leatherback remains highly endangered and at risk of extinction in the Pacific…Read more about Las Baulas Marine Park

Wildlife Refugees

Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge
The saltwater jungle of the Estero Tamarindo is the heart of the Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge. Spanning 1200 acres, the mangrove estuary serves as the natural border between Tamarindo and Playa Grande. Its winding canals are home to ospreys, herons and kingfishers in addition to howler monkeys and coatimundis. The refuge lures visitors with beautiful beaches and a variety of water activities. Guided boat tours and kayak trips are an excellent way to spot local wildlife…Read more about the Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge


Dining out in Tamarindo is an adventure with endless possibilities. Choices range from fresh seafood and sushi to avant-garde cuisine. From Middle Eastern specialties to Italian fare, cafes and restaurants serve up a variety of tasty dishes in the area. For those on a shoestring budget, Tamarindo can be a bit of a challenge as very few sodas (small restaurants serving inexpensive local food) can be found in town. A couple of upscale hotels have international restaurants with incredible sunset views.

Listed below are some recommended Tamarindo restaurants:

Kahiki Popular with the local ex-pat crowd, features a Pacific Rim-inspired menu with great seafood, savory appetizers and daily specials.

Nogui�s This popular beachside restaurant is favored by both locals and tourists and features grilled seafood and meats and some of the town�s finest pies.

Witch�s Rock Surf Camp Cafe Fresh sushi, cheap beer and a good selection of burgers, chicken fingers and other fast foods.

Mama�s Deli Excellent Italian food-great pastas and pizzas, all made from scratch.

Olga�s Coffee Shop Serves fresh salads and make-your-own wraps with ingredients like feta cheese, arugula, chick peas and smoked trout. Also serves delicious coffee.

Wok n� Roll Super fresh sushi, spring rolls and stir fries are offered in this cozy restaurant.

Laguna del Cocodrilo Bistro Elegant bistro with main courses like beef tenderloin and duck breast. Also has a selection of fine wines. Open for dinner only.


On any given night, there is something going on in Tamarindo � ladies� night, reggae dance halls, live bands and poker games at the casino. Most places start hopping around 10 p.m. or later on weekends, and carry on through the wee hours of the night. Bar Rey Sol is the major after hours spot, when everything else is closed.

Jazz Casino - Texas Hold'em is the main draw and poker tournaments are frequently held. Pasatiempo- Local musicians play on Tuesday nights at Hotel Pasatiempo�s bar, a longtime favorite with Tamarindo residents.

La Barra - Latin dance night is Wednesdays at La Barra.

Bar Babylon -Thursday night is reggae night at Babylon.

Monkey Bar - Located in the Best Western, the Monkey Bar is the place to be on Friday nights when two dance floors open- one with Latin music and another with DJ-driven dance beats.

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Tamarindo Map

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Important Information

The Basics

Restaurants - Costa Rica is a little bit easier as the number one tipping spots are restaurants, and generally (and there ARE exceptions), restaurants add ten percent (10%) to the bill before you get it. It is almost always right there below the food/drink and just above or below the Tax (impuesto).

Bell Boy - Baggage handling is already included in the wedding package but if you ask the Bell boy to perform additional services then usually 1 to 2 dollars is sufficient.

Maid Service - Room cleaning services are already included in the wedding package.

Room Service - A 10% tip for food is already in the bill and he is only bringing it to your room so you make the call.

Travel Related

Departure Tax - there is a $26.00 departure per person that must be paid at the airport prior to you leaving the country.

Passport - We recommend that you check your passport and be sure that it will not be expiring within 6 months of your entry date into the country.

Visas - It does not matter that you live in the United States; it only matters where you were born. Depending on where you were born a Visa maybe required for you to enter the country. We recommend that you check with your closest Costa Rica Consulate. This website may be helpful;

Consulate Information:

Visa Information:

Helpful Information

Crime - Never leave anything of value lying around anywhere without very close watch on it. This includes even in a locked car. Petty theft is Costa Rica’s # 1 crime. We suggest that you use the security safe in your hotel room for all valuables.

Taxi's - Only use official Taxi's that are red in color and have a taxi emblem on the top of the car. Private Taxis often take advantage of tourist and they do not have insurance.

Drinking Water - Although Costa Rica does have a water company that produces safe drinking water across the country we still recommend you drink bottled water.

Exchange Rate The current exchange rate is $1.00 U.S is equal to 499.39 Colones

Driving - We do not discourage renting a car and driving but use common sense. You are not at home in the United States and you are subject to Costa Rican law. Never pay or offer bribes to policemen under any circumstances. Respect all traffic signs and remember that Costa Rica roads are almost never marked with names. Do not stop for strangers or give hitch hikers a ride.

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