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This laid back surfer town has nice beaches and a relaxed atmosphere.  Waves can get up to 12 feet during November and December, but in other places, beach breaks makes it an idle place for learning how to surf.  It is about 5 hours away from San Jose.
Travel Tips from people who've been to Tamarindo
The Tamarindo Diria Resort is not a resort by US standards.  It's a 3-story walk-up on the beach.  Unfriendly staff, with the exception of the bell hops.  Your rental vehicle will most likely be broken into so you might as well leave the doors unlocked and the windows down so the locks don't get busted (auto theft does not seem to be an issue).  Poor water quality with high levels of bacteria at the beach.  Make sure to get your hepatitis B shots and bring antibiotics and Imodium.  Very hot and very dusty.
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Just an hour esat of Tamarindo is the town of Playa Azul. Very quaint but home to one of the finest hotels, the Snactuary Resort and Spa. Reasonably priced and the service was incomparable. Don't miss the daily morning hikes with the tour guides thattake you off of the beaten path to a wonderful world full of nature!!
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Drink the best beer in the world, Imperial, hit up a new club/bar every night, see the local reggae bands play, randomly see a girl you slept with back home living in Costa Rica and make friends with the locals because of it.  Surfing town based on the industry, party spot, lots of surf camps for easy spot access
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