Places to stay in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

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Answered by: Jack, An Expert in the Traveling in Costa Rica Category
Having just returned from a 3 month backpacking trip, I am about to share with you my absolute favourite spot.

Tamarindo, Costa Rica. A gem for travellers and surfers.

First of all, it is absolutely breathtaking. It was my first time travelling alone and was the perfect introduction. Here’s the top 3 places I recommend.

Recommended hostel: Dreamsea surf camp

It was my first destination I had scribbled down in my journal. Located on the western coast, it is a 6-7 hour bus ride from San Jose international airport. Or, if you’d prefer a more comfortable commute, there is a small 2 hour direct flight. Costing around 100 dollars (50,000 CRC) compared to the 10 dollar (5,000 CRC) Alfaro public bus.

I stayed in a beautiful hostel / surf camp as a volunteer. Located in the jungle just a 30 minute walk from the town of Tamarindo. The town is quiet touristy but it’s a nice balance as there’s always something going on.

The camp was 100 US dollars a week and you were required to do about 1-2 hours work a day. Such as raking leaves, cleaning the bar, brushing tents for the guests. You can also stay here as a guest. But I recommend against it. The real experience here is connecting with the other volunteers. Whereas I felt the guests came and left without making much of a relationship with any of us. Plus it’s cheaper!

If you’re just backpacking around Costa Rica, volunteering here is a perfect start.

A typical day as a Dreamsea volunteer:

– If you’re a light sleeper, you wake up about 6am to the sound of howler monkeys in the trees around you.

– As you sit up from your slumber you’ll hear the morning kitchen workers (Which could be you) call everyone for breakfast. If you don’t wake up, you don’t eat.

– Head over to grab breakfast and sit with the rest of the volunteers / guests.

– Wash your dish, then get started on whatever camp job you’re assigned with.

The work is light and you won’t do more than an hour or so a day. My job for the 2 weeks was raking leaves.

– Free time. Chill around the campground, under the mango tree or take a hammock for the day. Or you can head into town with everyone. Go surfing, sleep on the beach, get some lunch. It’s up to you. Surf boards will cost you about 5 dollars for day. There’s shuttles that will bring you in and out of town everyday at specific times. Squeeze into the back of the truck with the rest of the travellers and make your way along the bumpy road into the town of Tamarindo. Or else you can walk, it takes about 20 minutes. The camp also has paid excursions every week to different places. Waterfalls, mud pools, different beaches, etc.

– Dinner at about 8pm.

– There’s usually some sort of event most nights. Any excuse for a few beers ?? Ladies night at salinas hostel, with a pool! Flamenco night at Pura Vida hostel. Jungle party at the campground. Or there’s usually a big group which will head to a bar/club in town for the night. If you’re not interested in the nightlife, there will be people staying at the camp for the night you can share a card game or nice conversation with.

You’ll most likely be staying the dorms with everyone else. People also stay in dreamsea tents or glamping tents. Some people set up there own tents. I stayed on the floor of an old bus with 2 Australians and a girl from Germany for my first few days.

I even slept under the mango tree with people after a few too many beers.

The camp has a table tennis table, a bar and a safe box to put any valuables.

I was at dreamsea for 2 weeks. I arrived alone, but I left with 15 others and we all went to Nicaragua together. I made friends for life there. That surf camp in the jungle of Tamarindo connects people like no other. If there's anywhere in the world I will ever revisit, it's going to be that surf camp in little Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

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