tamarindo, costa rica

Costa Rica | Hiking, Sand, Surfboards, and a Willow Tank

We hiked, we kayaked, we swam, we lounged, we drank tropical drinks, and we forded a creek in a Rav 4 (before the drinking, of course). We saw monkeys, iguanas, horses, a coati—essentially a Costa Rican raccoon, and SO MANY DOGS. And yes, I got hit in the face by a surfboard. (I’m fine.)

My boyfriend Marc and I spent a week on the west coast of Costa Rica with our friends Matt and Maddie. Before I barrage you with a bunch of gratuitous vacation photos, this is where we went:

  • Tamarindo. A pretty lively tourist town with a nice beach, though with a pretty constant flow of vendors hawking trinkets. There are certain sections of Tamarindo that almost feel like a sun-soaked version of Bourbon Street in New Orleans. The town is close enough to take a half-day trip to Rincón de la Vieja National Park, where we hiked and learned what a howler monkey sounds like up close (Hint: It’s terrifying).
  • Nosara. A small ex-pat town with an amazing surf break. It’s probably best if you’re an experienced surfer. (Ahem. This is where the infamous surfboard-in-the-face incident occurred.) It’s also where I’ve seen the most stars in my life. The beach is surreal and totally gorgeous at night.
  • Sámara. A chill beach town that fulfilled all of my greatest expectations of what a coastal city in Costa Rica would be. It’s full of tourists, yes, but it’s not in-your-face touristy. The vibe is much more laid back than in Tamarindo, save for the occasional group of wild horses fighting each other on the beach.

We stayed in Airbnbs throughout.

view from our Airbnb in Tamarindo
sunset in Tamarindo
sunset in Tamarindo
sunset in Tamarindo
There she gooooooes!
At the beach-side bar that served us coconut water + rum, my new favorite drink! (Note to self: Stop taking photos with an arrow pointing directly at my hoo-ha)
Grainline Studio Willow Tank
Willow Tank, special Costa Rica edition
Willow Tank
~love dis fabric~
hiking in Rincón de la Vieja
old witch tree
posing in front of the home of an old witch
rincon de la vieja
We chased a waterfall, and it was slightly lackluster. #DrySeason
last day in Tamarindo
Lola's Beach Bar
Stopped off at Lola’s Beach Bar on the way to Nosara.
lolita pig
Meet Lolita, the owner of Lola’s Beach Bar.
In Costa Rica, Imperial is what you drink if you drink beer.
Surfbort face, Day 1
Surfbort face, Day 2

Let me explain: Marc and I rented surfboards from our Airbnb host in Nosara. He said that the waves were “totally fine” for beginners. I’ve taken one surf lesson in my life, in Puerto Rico. I loved it and was totally into the idea of surfing in Costa Rica.

When Marc and I paddled out into the waves on Playa Guiones, we quickly realized that we were in way over our heads, literally and figuratively. We were both about ready to head back to shore after being unable to paddle past what I’m going to describe as very large waves. Then, one final wave knocked me off my board and shot Marc’s board out from under him—and directly into my right cheekbone.

Nothing better than a cold caipirinha to ice your injured face. (P.S. This is face is a total put-on; it’s clinically impossible to be sad while drinking cachaça on the beach.)

It was embarrassing and painful, but it gave me an excuse to lie down, ice my stupid swollen face, and watch what turned out to be the most batshit ending to any Oscars, ever. Silver lining, y’all! A week later, the scratches have healed nicely, the swelling’s totally gone, and my shiner is slowly but surely dissipating.

Costa Rica
Taking a moment to give thanks to the monkey gods after our SUV made it through this standing water. GPS, you crazy.


This man LOVES tropical drinks. #LocoForCocoLocos
Sámara Beach,
boat ride off Sámara Beach, right before we saw a bajillion dolphins
mandatory group shot 😀
pre-sunset on the boat
Sámara at sunset

I apologize for the lack of monkey photos. I was too busy screaming in delight whenever I saw monkeys jumping through the trees to even think about pictures.

Costa Rica was a total blast! But it’s nice to be home after a week of not sleeping in my own bed. And I hate to admit it but GOOD LORD do I love driving on 100% paved roads again. Chicago’s potholes got nothin’ on Costa Rican roads.

#PuraVida #LongLiveChicago

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