You don’t have to talk long to convince me to go to the beach. I’m a California girl, born and bred, and grew up with Santa Cruz as the destination of choice if you were cutting school. Hard to believe, but I was such a rule follower back then that I never did that myself but it always lingered in my imagination as I stared at chalkboards and tuned out teachers.
Now, I believe I’ve had the perfect beach vacation here in Costa Rica (where the way of life is called Tico) at a quiet surfer’s beach – Playa Grande. For me, a beach has to be uncrowded to really enjoy it, and this one is just that. There are a few families, some singles, a dedicated group of local surfers and those that have come from far and wide to try the waves, and that’s about it. It stretches a long way, I’m guessing about 2 kilometers and the white sand is littered with shells.
We lucked out in our choice of hotels with Sugar’s Monkey, a cool little hotel decorated with panache and carrying the coolest vibe I’ve seen in a long time. Our room was cute and comfortable, but it was the outside area that I felt so happy to be around. There were little touches everywhere that felt unique, including the ball they tossed in the pool each night that was actually a pool light and changed colors every couple of minutes.
Besides just enjoying our beach, we took two day trips – one by taxi boat to Tamarindo Beach, and another a sunset catamaran cruise with snorkeling – both of them terrific.
In Tamarindo, we found the typical glitzy tourist beach with vendors and souvenir shops, but also with a lot to look at. We enjoyed searching for a backpack for me (so I could discard my second and broken rolling suitcase) and had a wonderful meal at Gallo Fino, where roasted chicken is their specialty. It was reasonably priced, too.
But it was our day on the ocean that topped off our vacation and Vanessa’s stay with me before she had to head home. We were ferried aboard a big catamaran, smiling and happy as we headed out towards the Catalina Islands where all the snorkeling crews go. It was relaxing just to ride along, feeling the water, chair dancing to the music, and if you were so inclined, drinking to excess. I had a rum punch and a gin and tonic, but felt no effects, happily.
For Vanessa, snorkeling was a blast and she filmed underwater at least an hour’s worth of fish and rocks and so forth. Unfortunately, I got a broken snorkel but didn’t figure it out until I was quite a way from the boat. My face mask didn’t fit either and when I finally got back to boat to exchange them, the snorkel was fine but the face mask still leaked – so no real snorkeling for me. I returned to the boat and had great conversations with those still on board who hadn’t chosen to snorkel in the first place. A great time was had by all.
As I always do when I have to leave a place I find enchanting, I felt a little sad to leave Sugar’s Monkey and Playa Grande. But, hey, I’m just down the coast a bit…in Playa Potrero for a month – maybe I’ll return for a visit.