Tamarindo/Manuel Antonio beaches?

Old Jul 28th, 2008, 09:34 AM
  #1  
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Tamarindo/Manuel Antonio beaches?

Hello -
I am considering getting married on the beach in Costa Rica. We have somewhat limited time and would like to visit Arenal and Monteverde, as well. So, I thought it might be easier to stay up in the northwest vs trying to get to the south/central west coast.

My question is - what is your opinion about the beaches in Man. Ant. vs the beaches near Tamarindo?

I am considering Sueno del Mar on Playa Langosta (south of Tamarindo). But I have heard that Tamarindo is a little like going to Florida, strip malls and all. We're not big, all-inclusive resort kinda folks, but we'd like a nice strip of beach (great sunset, even?!), a nearby unique hotel/B&B, and I just wanted to know if people thought it was worth it to haul off to MA and then back up north.

Thanks!
tkmg23 is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2008, 10:45 AM
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We haven't been to Tamarindo yet, but it has a bit of a reputation as being a party town with lots of drugs available and for having water contaminated with sewage. There have been a few posts on the board about it. The beach inside the park in Manuel Antonio is very pretty. MA gets some gorgeous sunsets as well. We had a driver take us from Arenal to MA, and it wasn't bad. MA was touristy, but not in the tacky sense - just lots of restaurant choices, hotels, etc.
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Old Jul 28th, 2008, 12:18 PM
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Tamarindo is trying to address it's problems. They have mandated that everyone cleans out their septic tanks. That should help, but it won't completely solve the water quality issues. These problems did not develop overnight, and it is going to take awhile to finish the job. So for now, we are still directing our clients away from there.

Tamarindo has also surpassed Flamingo as the most commercial beach in the country, and it has become very popular with gringo retirees. So the crowd on the beach and along the shops has become a weird mixture of Midwestern senior citizens and surfer dudes. Okay, it is really not that bad, but you get the idea. It doesn't have the feel that I liked so much twenty years ago.

Quepos has become more commercial as well. But the National Park is still unspoiled. Outside the park, they have been very strict in enforcing the 150 meter maritime zone. This keeps the hotels off the beach. Most of the hotels are not located right on the main road too. So they have at least hidden a lot of the development. The big houses and new hotels are not right in your face like they are in Tamarindo, and the end result is that this area retains a small town feel. I still recommend Manuel Antonio and enjoy it myself.

Regarding the beach and sunset? There is a long public beach outside the National Park, that is very scenic. This is a great place for the sunset, as well as the many restaurants and bars that are situated to take full advantage of the view. You will have lots of choices.

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
(Travel professional)
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Old Jul 28th, 2008, 03:16 PM
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Been to both...

www.manuelantoniopark.com

Particularly MA #3 beach the best

Puts Tamarindo to shame.

stayed in the penthouse overlooking

the park at www.costaverde.com

270 degree panoramic view awesome

very romantic perfect for weddings.

paid $150/nt it was over 2000sqft!

Amazing value...

Might also consider

www.xandari.com

good central valley pacific beach

packages also great for weddings.

Congrats and have fun,
qwovadis is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2008, 04:01 PM
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If I were you, I would lean toward MA, maybe Buena Vista Villas? We had friends that honeymooned at Si Como No and others that stayed at Makanda by the Sea - both were happy. We stayed at a B&B called Mango Moon and got upgraded to a very nice room, but a lot of the rooms share a balcony, which left us wanting more privacy.
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Old Jul 28th, 2008, 04:46 PM
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Thanks for your advice! I'll definitely look into those options. I do think that MA is the way to go. May need to cut out a little time on the way back north, but I guess we'll just have to plan another visit!
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Old Jul 28th, 2008, 05:45 PM
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We've been 3 times already and still haven't come close to seeing everything we want to. Congrats on your upcoming wedding and marriage!
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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 06:08 AM
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I didn't see you mention when you're planning the wedding. We thought MA was great, but haven't been to Tamarindo so can't comment.

The only thing I'd add re timing is the rainy season issue. It didn't stop us from having a great trip to MA in Aug, but you can't count on sunsets during the rainy season (we never had one) and it does rain most afternoons. So if you want a sunset wedding on the beach, plan accordingly.
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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 09:30 PM
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We just returned from Costa Rica. It was my first trip. The beaches at Manuel Antonio are lovely. We stayed at Buena Vista Villas (in a Casa) and loved it. There is also a small private beach on the Tulemar property which would make a lovely setting for a wedding. Congratulations.
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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 09:51 PM
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Tamarindo does have some interesting things going on, but many enjoy it there. It has some little strip mall areas, but it isn't what most would consider built up. Nothing like Cancun or what you might be picturing. Quite a few buildings have been added in recent years, but it is still not a very big town.

If you do end up considing Tamarindo, you might want to also look at the website for Capitan Suizo. Small place, right on the beach, monkeys and birds everywhere and lots of fun restaurants and activities within walking distance.

I hear the beaches in MA are nicer than in Tamarindo, but both are known for fantastic sunsets. What time of year will you be going? MA will often be wetter than Tamarindo.
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 01:46 PM
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Hi everyone -
We were thinking about this winter, maybe mid-late January.

A third option might be the Nicoya Penninsula? Montezuma or Nosara?

I have heard good things about Capitan Suizo. I'll check it out again.

Thanks for the ideas so far!
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 10:03 PM
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Manuel Antonio would be a much better choice for your wedding than Tamarindo. There is more to see and do there, it is a beautiful part of the country, and you and your guests will really have a great time there.

Tamarindo, Flamingo, Playa Cocal, Liberia, and the whole Guanacaste region is very boring, with polluted beaches andnot that much to see and do. I feel sorry for folks that get lured in to vacationing in Tamarindo and the surrounding areas through fancy web sites that over state the area with the help of pretty pictures and inaccurate information.

The best Costa Rica Vacations and expereinces are found down the West Central Pacific coast from Los Suenos down to Manuel Antonio.

I hope you find this information helpful.

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Old Nov 8th, 2008, 04:26 AM
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You mentioned Montezuma. We are getting married in February at the Ylang Ylang resort just outside of town. It is a small resort, with bungalows right on the ocean, and stunning landscaping. There are birds and monkeys everywhere. They have been fabulous so far with the planning, and I have many good reports of others who have been more than pleased with the resort and their facilitation of weddings. You should check it out. And congrats to both of us!
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Old Nov 18th, 2008, 11:36 AM
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Thank You for the blogs. We are going to Manuel Antonio for Christmas week this year and I was concerned that we should have chosen Tamarindo to stay instead. I feel more confident about my choice now. Has anyone ever rented a luxury villa in Manuel Antonio? I hear about resorts but we are staying in a villa. Any inside tips about guides or chefs. The management company offers both but wonder if there is more information out there.
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Old Nov 18th, 2008, 01:49 PM
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Update - we decided not to get married in CR, but we are still going for our pre-wedding honeymoon in January! We will be going to MA, Arenal, and Alajuela. Can't wait to report on our trip. It's nice to see that people are still getting some use out of this thread!

Thanks for everyone's input. I check the site pretty often!
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Old Nov 18th, 2008, 03:33 PM
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Better beaches for sure at MA--and more way more wildlife if that is a high priority for you (speaking of animals!).

That said, I think Sueno del Mar would be an excellent choice should you decide to stay near Tamarindo. We haven't stayed there, but I would in a heartbeat. It has always sounded like a great place, and is owned by the same folks who own Flor Blanca in Ste. Teresa.

Unlike CostaRicaPro (?), I'd never use the word "borng" to describe ANY area of the country. Guanacaste (Playa Flamingo, Playa Conchal, Playa Potrero, Playa Hermosa, Brasilito, the Tamarindo area) will always be special to us, and we make a point to return there every year for just a few days.
It may not be for everyone --obviously isn't for CostaRicaPro-- but to describe it as if it IS everyone's opinion is not a valid description.

It is very hard to beat the beauty of Playa Conchal's shell beach and its crystal clear water or those Playa Flamingo sunsets, or the Monkey Trail though Playa Potrero up to Playa Hermosa. And the cuisine in many fine restaurants in this particular area.

If you have to nix it in favor of Manuel Antonio (certainly an excellent choice as well), I hope you'll give it a go sometime!

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Old Nov 18th, 2008, 03:37 PM
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I guess the word I wouldn't use would be "BORING"--not "borng"--

CostaRicaPro--it really isn't accurate to characterize people who enjoy this area as having been lured there by false advertising necessarily. Again, you're lumping a few experiences together as EVERYONE'S experiences.
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