Today’s Tamarindo Beach is brimming with a diverse selection of businesses, hostels, boutique hotels, multiple banks, supermarkets, doctor’s offices, and over fifty restaurants and bars. Although not perfect, major infrastructure improvements are always being made to the roads and drainage systems. There are few other places in the world where the jungle meets an internationally diverse community along white sand beaches. Offering world-class surfing, fishing, modern services, and acclaimed international schools, this popular vacation spot is becoming home to more and more people from around the world. Do you know the history of this popular destination?
Here’s a brief history of the town that many of us, and maybe you too, call home.
Flashback to the 1970s when the Nicoya Peninsula (where Tamarindo Beach is located) was mostly ignored by the Costa Rican government and left to fend for itself. The uninhabited coastline and the beachfront properties were generally used for grazing livestock. Then in 1973, Costa Rica passed legislation that regulated the ownership, sale, and purchase of properties located on the shoreline (first 200 meters from the high tide mark). Investors soon discovered the spectacular coastline of Guanacaste at unbelievable prices.
Many locals of this time remember when giant blocks of ice would be delivered to the few restaurants in Tamarindo on Thursdays. The beer stayed cold until Saturday, and then served at room temperature. The Guanacaste province is the driest in Costa Rica — sometimes experiencing a full six months without a drop of water. Before the Tamarindo aqueduct was connected in 1977, water availability was an issue each dry season as man-made wells evaporated one-by-one. By April, wells went dry and became salty before the new rainy season. Tamarindo finally received electricity in 1974 and phone lines didn’t arrive until many years later in 1996. Back then Playa Langosta was a cattle ranch and the Banco Nacional van came once a week so that locals could get some money.
There are few other places in the world where the jungle meets an internationally diverse community along white sand beaches.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica Beach made its motion picture debut in 1994 with the surf film,The Endless Summer II. This film featured professional surfers Pat O’Connell, Robert “Wingnut” Weaver, and surf legend Robert August who still lives in Tamarindo today. The crew crashed a plane in the Tamarindo river mouth, surfed perfect uncrowded waves like Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point, and participated in the “Fiestas Tipicas” which include bull riding, local cuisine, and plenty of Guaro (Costa Rican sugar cane alcohol).
In 2002 Tamarindo, Costa Rica Beach’s infamous six kilometer dirt road from Villareal was paved and the international airport in Liberia began offering direct flights from North America landing just one hour away. With this new and improved exposure to the outside world, Tamarindo has been flourishing ever since with businesses, accommodations, housing, and restaurants to serve those who visit and call this beautiful area home. Because of its central location and readily available transportation, Tamarindo is the perfect base camp to explore Guanacaste.
Tamarindo is the perfect base camp to explore Guanacaste.
Even though Guanacaste is part of Costa Rica, many say it feels like another world when compared to the capital city of San José. With its unique spirit, the sound of the marimba, the cowboy yells, postcard beaches, and tropical climate, Tamarindo and its surrounding area is among the most unique and culturally flavorful in the world.