We love to travel as a family but have varying views of vacation….I love to sit and relax. My husband and girls like to be on the go. Don’t get me wrong. I love to explore a new place but I like an equal mix of relaxing and if it can be at a beach, all the better!
Our trip to Costa Rica was just that. The perfect mix. Local and luxe. Adventurous and chill. Ziplining and shell collecting. Surfing for him and a hammock for me. Just kidding, I did surf and loved it as usual. All of this is the epitome of Pura Vida, the local catch phrase. Pura Vida translates “pure life” but means much more. It is used as hello, good-bye, and generally conveys hope, peace, simplicity and a good life.
We rented a beach house on Playa Grande, a small beach just across the Matapalo River from the bustling town of Tamarindo and located within Marino Las Baulas National Park. Grande Beach is the nesting site leatherback turtle from October until May. We wanted to be on a surf break so that when the tide was right we could run out and surf. It’s a lot more fun to do that than trying to time the waves and when the surf will be good. This is especially a good idea when you have different levels of surf ability as we do!
Playa Grande was perfect because it is a beach break with a sandy bottom. No urchins or coral to avoid which is key for a novice like me and great for kids. It actually has three breaks and provides “fun” waves for beginners and more challenging waves for experience surfers all in a almost 2 mile stretch.
We found the home on VRBO and would definitely return. It was a quaint cottage with a pool, security guard and cook for an amazing price.
Fly into Libera, Costa Rica. Playa Grande is about a 90 minute drive from the airport. If you aren’t adventurous, your host or hotel can arrange transportation. Roads are not always well lit or marked in all of Costa Rica.
Surfing: Playa Grande Surf School – The manager, Justin, brought boards to the house and provided knowledgable (and patient and kind!) surf guides for the girls and me
Tour the Estuary: The 1500 acre Tamarindo Estuary, filled with mangroves, is teeming with wildlife, including 180 different species of birds, and the American crocodile. We used Iguana Surf for this tour. It was amazing to see all the wildlife.
Dining: We ate most meals at the house while in Playa Grande but there are many restaurants in Tamarindo. Hotel Bula Bula is in Playa Grande and has a fun restaurant, The Great Waltini. They also offer home rentals if you’d rather be associated with a hotel and being on the beach isn’t important to you. It is a short walk to the beaches and a great option. The owner was very nice and helpful when I inquired about their homes. You can also catch a water taxi to Tamarindo from here. DO NOT cross the river at the mouth near the beach. It can be shallow enough to cross at low tide but is has many Amerian crocodiles here!
I hope you’ll experience Pura Vida for yourself soon!
Costa Rica Essentials