A Carefree Beach Life in Laidback Tamarindo, Costa Rica

People often ask me about a typical day in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. When my husband and I first moved here,  people asked us what we would do and if we would get “bored” of living in a vacation spot. These questions can be hard to answer, not because the answer is hard to find, but because I never know where to begin.

The best place to start is by explaining that life at the beach in Tamarindo is carefree. Not in the sense that we’re void of all responsibility, or even void of all stress—but life here is carefree in the sense that it’s a place we’ve been able to simplify, and that simplification has benefitted us both mentally and physically.

While many of our friends and neighbors here in Tamarindo are retired, my husband and I are not. Even so, we both have adjusted our careers, giving ourselves the ability to work remotely and dictate our own schedules.

Each morning begins with a beach walk, accompanied by our dog Harvey. Morning walks are a mainstay for a lot of people who live in the beach towns of Costa Rica. It’s a calm and refreshing way to start your day—before the sun heats up—with the crisp ocean breeze and the soundtrack of lightly crashing waves. Tamarindo offers about 2 miles of soft, golden sand and a walk along the shore soothes you, starting at the soles of your feet. This is always the time of day we run into friends and neighbors and stop to chat a bit while the dogs play together.

We come home and heat up the water for deliciously rich, Costa Rican coffee in our French press, and then make a smoothie prepared with locally grown produce. The constant access to fresh tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, papaya, and maracuya (passion fruit) make for a great tasting and healthy way to start each day.

By mid-morning we usually sit down at our computers in our home office to get some work done, but these days, the key difference for us is that work fits around whatever else we have going on, rather than the other way around. We’re sure to take time to head to the CrossFit gym in town for the 5 p.m. class we like. I also make time at least once a week to go to one of my favorite yoga classes.

Back in Chicago where we lived prior to moving here, we ate out for every single meal—because the time and energy to keep the house stocked with groceries and make meals at home simply didn’t exist. Here, not only do we have more access to fresh, local, non-processed food, but we also have the time to cook and eat at home, and—unless we have special plans—we do so for pretty much every meal. When we do decide to go out, one of the things we love about Tamarindo is the cuisine options. We can go to a local soda and get a casado (a typical Costa Rican plate) for about $5. For a nicer night out we can go to our favorite restaurant in town, Patagonia—an Argentinian steak house. Being a town that attracts expats from all over the world, you can find almost any type of cuisine you might desire.

In Tamarindo, we’ve learned to slow down. Where we used to book our calendars solid, being surrounded by the pura vida mentality here at the beach has taught us to value a day where we have absolutely nothing planned. And the natural beauty that surrounds us—at the beach, in the wide open spaces, and up into the hills surrounding us—is all the more reason to have days where we have no obligation other than to take it all in and enjoy it.

Where being late used to be a great cause of stress for me, adjusting to what people affectionately call “Tico time,” has had many benefits. Not all things happen on time here and it’s been a great lesson in not sweating the small stuff. And being pardoned by others for being a little late here and there has been pretty awesome too. A reminder that not everything in life needs to be treated with the importance and level of seriousness as brain surgery.

People here call sunset the social hour. The sunsets over the Pacific Ocean are just breath-taking almost every single day, and one of the simple things we enjoy about living here is the time people take out of their schedule to gather with friends and watch the sun go down on what has usually been another beautiful day.

Meeting up with friends is easy here. Whether retired, or a digital nomad with a flexible schedule, or someone whose work is based around a business in town, people here generally make time to enjoy with friends. It’s a priority and a way of life here. Not to mention, while Tamarindo is one of Costa Rica’s more developed beach towns, it’s still a small town, and your friends are not too far away. These factors combined make an impromptu pool day or barbecue easy to organize and a delight to partake in.

While we still have our work and our daily responsibilities, life just seems to flow a little easier here, and we’ve found more balance. So, when people ask about our carefree life at the beach, these are some of the things I love to be able to share.

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