All you want to know about Tamarindo - 2011/07/31 08:56
Midnight at LAX trying to get 9 feet of surfboard checked in along with 300 Guatemalans with bulging suitcases tied up with rope. They packed us in the TACA Airbus 320 like sardines, eighteen inches between seats! Of course I have big fat old lady next to me playing footsies. Thank god they all got off in Guatemala City at 5 AM.
By the way they all make the sign of the cross before take-off!
Its NOT Beverley Hills, very sketchy. The main runway is on a hill with a ski jump in the middle ... don't call me Shirley! Anyway 25 year old Eva Peron got on board, complete with blonde hair and green eyes, sat in the aisle seat WOW¡ I asked where she was going and she said Panama, must have been someone's daughter or mistress. She was wearing monogrammed black leather flats with gold braid, expensive! They fed us Corn Nuts, dried Bananas and Tortillas stuffed with Guacamole and Chili, pretty good. Free drinks! I asked for a Screwdriver and got a full glass of vodka with a dash or orange mandarin.
Arrived San Jose 9 AM dead tired. Big sign at the airport says, Welcome to the "Happiest Country on Earth" it also says (legal age for sex is eighteen, you will be prosecuted). No problem with Customs or Immigration, got a cute girl wearing a uniform with a peaked hat and a model 25 Gluck 9! Went to the rental car agency where you pay $50 a day for a Hyundai Tucson 4X4 with all the bogus insurance!
Then its 3 hours to Puntarenas on the road to HANA. But wait, there's more, there is a stream of Hell Drivers in Semis, passing on inside shoulder, passing on the outside lane, down hill at 80. I sat behind the bravest of them all and went when he did. Slow drivers get pushed out of the way, pedestrians have no rights.
Come blow your horn!
Stayed the night at the Hotel Las Brisas (no its not Laguna Beach). Great food, had a whole Sea Bass with the eyes still in. Owned by an Israeli. Up at 6 AM next morning to surf Boca Barrancao.Should be called Mosquito Bay.
The mosquitoes are as big as grasshoppers and the sand fleas as big as mosquitoes. While the mossies bite your back, the sand fleas eat your feet ... ouch! It was high tide and surf was a big full wave. Problem is it breaks over a half mile out to sea and there is no easy way out. It was pure glass, shoulder to overhead, kind of like big Doheny. Took it easy as I was the only one out, until my last wave then opened it up and rode it all the way in. No crocks thank god! I have a bad habit of locking my keys in my car, guess what! Good thing I had full coverage insurance and there was a big rock near by ....
On the way home got pulled over by the Police (no idea what for) but I only had a copy of my Australian passport and my California drivers licence and he spoke no English, I pointed to my passport and started jumping up and down, saying Kangaroo, Kangaroo, so he just waved and let me go! After that took it easy, good thing, they had radar speed traps every few miles and I was told later it costs $400 US for a speeding ticket!
Next stop Tamarindo. Of course I lost the map and drove blind. You could guess what some of the road signs said, like ALTO but what the hell is Adelaide (I know its a city in South Australia)? Three hours later, after passing by the Volcanoes, Jurassic Park, complete with a plastic Dinosaur and rickety one lane bridges, made it to Liberia. Then I got lost! Driving on a narrow country road through cattle and horse ranches, finally found a Soda (bought a drink so I would get true directions) then 25 miles of washboard dirt road that rattled your bones.
At last jungle with howling monkeys and the ocean, Tamarindo.
Checked into the Pueblo Dorado www.pueblodorado.com for $50 a night with hot water, air conditioning and internet connection, that's good in Tamarindo, unless you want to sweat! They lock your surfboard up in a cage downstairs, but 24 hour reception. Went to "Eat at Joes" for a late lunch, steak and chicken fajitas with two beers. $10 US or $5,000 Colones) everything costs $5,000. One English radio station 103.5, plays Madonna and one English TV station, plays sitcoms. Passed out.
Up at dawn, clean shoulder high glassy peaks off the reform from the lava reef. Warm water, sand bottom and no one out. Similar to good Rock Piles in Doheny but hardly world class. Ripped it up until the local invaded. Time for breakfast! Later on driving to mail some postcards checked out the surf. OMG the tide went out and the hot dry wind switched to hard offshore. Bolsa Chica had turned into world class Pureto Escondito sand spitting tubes! Only made three waves, still spitting out sand. Take off sideways and go go go aaagh!
Tamarino is a Spring Break resort, half of Texas A&M were there, two bus loads of college girls. Several small creeks create nice left or right peaks. Sand bottom verifying from coarse gains to black river silt. The break varies all day long depending on the tide (9 feet) and the wind. Glassy and high tide in the mornings full fun wave. When the tide goes out and if the hot Guanacaste wind blows offshore its Santa Barbara Sand spits or mini Puerto Escondito. Very very fast thin lip tubes breaking in a foot and a half of water. Water has cleaned up from last weeks Pacific Hurricane but still green not clear blue like the pix show. In the morning the sun comes up over land by your right shoulder, which just burns the hell out of your neck as you look out to sea in the lineup. In the afternoon you are looking directly into the white hot sun.
My eyelids are fried! Mostly short, fun, fun, fun rides.
Poor knee raw from surfing. Fun this morning, only waist to chest high but clean with great shape. Went out at the rivermouth almost a right hand point break, think Johnson's Cove, Noosa Heads OZ. The secret is to get out there before the sun comes up like thunder! They had an earthquake early this morning but I was out in the water, with George of the Jungle, what was that about a Tsunami alert aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!
Went on a Heart of Darkness trip up river in an old boat with George and Liz who was freaked out. Saw a couple of small cayman and a bunch of birds including a vulture! We tied up to an overhanging branch in the mangroves and scrambled ashore for a trek into the jungle, opressively hot, humid and quiet until a family of howler monkeys hooted BEAT IT!
Have you ever seen a snail crawl across a straight razor ....
To get to the rivermouth break I just walked across the street from my hotel and followed the path through the mangroves, swatting mosquitoes. It seems like there is surf somewhere in Costa Rica every day! High tide (9 feet) low tide, morning, afternoon and evening. The best is the "normal" low tide on the incoming.
Usually glassy early morning and evening. Wind can shift from hard offshore to hard crossshore or onshore within an hour. The water seems to be much saltier than ours and really stings your eyes. In the morning the sun rises over your back, which is great, just burns the hell out of the back of your neck. In the afternoon the hot dry Guanacaste wind blows offshore like our Santa Ana's and you are staring directly into the burning sun! There is only blue sky in the morning and evening, the rest of the time its blinding white, fries your eyelids.
The sun really does come up like thunder plus the humidity drenches you in sweat, this is winter?
Playa Tamarindo is an open beach break like Bolsa Chica with a rocky outcrop and reef (they call it a point break) called Pico Pequeño to the south (Nice easy fun peak over sand and rock bottom) and El Estero an excellent super fast left and right hand river mouth break to the north, all within walking distance. The middle section is home to tourist hordes of beginners riding the white water. Tamarindo is protected from the big swells and is usually smaller than everywhere else. The locals seem to be so blase about waves they tend to use the Hawaiian scale.
Playa Grande is an open sand beach break (a few miles to the north by dirt road) with offshore rocky reefs. Big swells break way out and reform into shifting peaks that just stand up and spit. I made a couple, the rest made me.
Playa Negra is a picture postcard small bay with a right point break, a middle section with big fun peaks running into the channel and Stone Fish reef or Lefty Lefts as the locals call. Its a fast fun wall over a shallow flat rock reef. Playa Negra is rated as one of the best breaks in the country. I totally agree! Its about half an hour south on a dirt road with pot holes that will shakes your fillings out.
Met up with George of the Jungle from Texas and his wife Liz who shot some video. The high resolution shots are from Bob Ledbetter www.StoneFishFoto.com King of Playa Negra. The Howler monkeys live up river and you can hear them every morning and evening. They eat fruit but have BIG teeth. Went out to dinner with George and Liz at "Eat at Joes" downdown Saturday night. What is the chance of running into a killer rock band The Banana KIngs email@example.com with one of the guys from Huntington Beach!
Left before dawn with George and Liz from South Padre Island, Texas for Playa Negra supposed to be a right hand point break that picks up swell. Half hour drive through the jungle (when was the last time drove on a dirt road)? Anyway the black sand (Negra) was a half a mile down the beach. Was it any good? It was going off! Its not really a classic point break, more of a small rocky shell and sand lined bay. A nice head high right hand peak was breaking on a reef to the right and a smaller left hander off a rock shelf to the left. Only two locals out and left they shortly after we paddled out. You had to wait for the big sets outside and take off deep in the peak. Tide was a little high so it was like a big fast drop, hard off the bottom then up high across a steep section into a softer inside wall. We stayed out for a couple of hours then came in for some water and fruit. Pitcure postcard kind of remote spot shady trees clean coarse sand and howler monkeys in the big trees up the path. Only one Hacienda style hotel.
As the tide dropped the left started to fire! We paddled out, handfull of people including Stone Fish Bob, Karina Fledra and her young 11 year old son Aldito, the junior Costa Rica champion ripping it up. Also a Kelly Slater look and surf alike, of course I dropped in on him, actually I took off outside and he came through the back door! I was up front on a shoulder high wall just styling when this board came flying up over and around me as if I was standing still! Anyway we split the next big peak, think Lowers Trestles, and I got a head high screaming right hander. They call the place Lefty Lefts and I went right!
By the way its other name is Stone Fish reef, yes the nearest hospital is in Libera 150K away. Good thing I was wearing my reef booties!
Last night in the playground! Heavy thunder and rain last night but clear this morning. Some of the dirt roads were messed up, we tried to get through to Little Hawaii but too much mud. Surf was big but sloppy, saw a big turtle swim by and a big ray flip out of the water. Sold the AUZ Quad (Kurt's contest cheating Longboard, yes its legal its 9'00 and rides super with a 8" noserider fin) to Kelly Zac owner of Kellys Surf Shop www.kellyssurfshop.com in Tamarindo.
You should see my ankles covered in sand flea bites, itchy. Surfed every day, one day did 2 hours at dawn, Playa Negra Point and Middles. Had a rest, some fruit and juice than another hour and a half at Lefty Lefts. Had lunch, then out at Playa Grande for another hour and a half. First day did glassy Pico Pequeño at dawn, then El Estero a little later in the morning, until the wind came up, onshore. Was going to the Post Office later in the afternoon, the tide had gone out and the hot offshore Gunacaste wind had come up strong. I could not believe it. It looked like mini Puerto Escondido. Shoulder to head high tubes! Got in about and hour before the wind switched again. Made a right hand pocket rocket.
Only saw baby Caymans in the river, don't know where the big ones are. Did get hit around the wrist by a Jelly fish.
At the airport after a 6 hour drive from Tamarindo even taking the short cut to highway 1 through Nicoya and across the big bridge spanning the Gulf of Nicoya. Bridge repair lost a half an hour as they route traffic to one lane. Customs and Security are a breeze.
Flight may be delayed hum dinger of a thunderstorm and a deluge. Yep: No flights out of San Jose after 3:30 PM after the thunder, lightning and rain stopped, the tooly fog rolled in. It was as thick as pea soup. At first you could see all the aircraft lined up, then nothing. The big board started flashing Delay Delay, Cancelled Cancelled, Diverted Diverted. A local said we may be stuck all night, however about 7:30 PM it cleared into patchy cloud.
The rush was on! Planes were diverted, gates were switched and LAX passengers were put on a A319 direct flight. We were third in line behind American and US AIR, local guy says the first aircraft bores a hole through the overcast and the rest follow the path. We made up two hours and arrived only one hour late. Little sketchy on climb out through the thunderstorms but once we got to 34,000 it was smooth sailing. By the way TACA is the local airline so all information is in Spanish with three words of English at the end. Say what!
Just when I was getting used to Rice and Beans (our TACA flight originated in Brazil) so instead of the Burrito we had going down, I got Irish Stew, diced Chicken Salad and Chocolate Chip cookies washed down with a Corona?
Arrive LAX 1:30 AM local pick up the Solara at Parking Lot C and home again, home again, jig jig jig. Its 2 AM and I have to be at work at noon!
More to come ....
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Re:All you want to know about Tamarindo - 2011/08/02 14:18Playa Negra pix coming:
The pix below is Stone Fish Reef or Lefty Left's at Playa Negra. If you get sick of surfing the right hand point break just padde 100 yards over to the reef and go left!
Post edited by: DrC123, at: 2011/08/07 08:23
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Re:All you want to know about Tamarindo - 2011/08/07 08:19
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Re:All you want to know about Tamarindo - 2011/08/07 14:41Excellent Write up & info Doc. My wife & I went close to Tamarindo several years ago in mid July and must have lucked out. It was dry w/ almost no bugs. I will have to remember the "Kangaroo trick"!
We did not see any Caymans/Crocs, it sounds like you were in the jungle alot more.
We decided to skip the SJ to Tamarindo drive & took the prop plane to Liberia airport which was fine. You cannot really have a board w/ lenght on those small planes, so we just rented and it worked well.
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Re:All you want to know about Tamarindo - 2011/08/07 14:41
Post edited by: L8DROP, at: 2011/08/07 15:25
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Re:All you want to know about Tamarindo - 2011/08/08 05:53Playa Negra is the spot!