Perennially popular Tamarindo stretches for a couple of kilometres over a series of rocky headlands, and attracts surfers and holiday spring-breakers. Sprawling and occasionally snobby, TAMARINDO village boasts a decent selection of restaurants, a lively beach culture (think beautiful young things parading up and down the sand) and a healthy nightlife, at least during high season. Many come here to learn to surf – indeed, the gentle breakers are an ideal training ground – or simply to laze on the beach, which is undeniably gorgeous. Tamarindo is the least Costa Rican of places, with locals completely outnumbered by tourists and expats. Even by its own trendy terms, the village is booming, with small complexes of shops springing up in the concrete mini-mall-style favoured hereabouts, while internet cafés, flashy restaurants and estate agents colonize the centre of the village, as foreigners rush in to snap up their plots in paradise.
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The Tamarindo area has always been a surfing paradise, and its credibility was upped several notches when Bruce Brown’s seminal surfing docudrama Endless Summer II was partly filmed here. Most surfers ride the waves at Tamarindo, Playa Grande and adjacent Playa Langosta, an excellent surf beach a couple of kilometres south. The friendly and professional Iguana Surf (t2653-0148, wwww.iguanasurf.net), 500m southwest along the road to Playa Langosta, will almost certainly have you standing on a board by the end of your first class, while other popular schools include Tamarindo Adventures (t2653-0108, wwww.tamarindoaventuras.com) and Witch’s Rock Surf Camp (t2653-1705, wwww.witchsrocksurfcamp.com), named after one of the best breaks in the area.