Monday, June 30, 2008

Blue Pacific

This is a view of the Pacific Ocean at Playa Langosta, from the patio/balcony of our condo. The waves roll in and break at several points, causing a constant sound of the surf. On sunny days, which are most days (especially during the dry season from November until May), the Pacific Ocean takes on a brilliant blue color more typical of the Caribbean or Mediterranean.

Unlike the Pacific in California, the ocean in Costa Rica is warm and comfortable for swimming all year round. The ocean in Costa Rica also feels warmer than in Hawaii.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Here's a surfer ready to challenge the waves at Playa Langosta. This photo was taken at the mouth of the Langosta Estuary, which is in the foreground of this picture, where it meets the ocean. The Barcelo Resort is located here. The beach is very sandy for several kilometers to the south. It is a great location for surfing, and for long walks along a sandy beach with very few people around. Perhaps some women might wish that there were more people around, if they were like this guy.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


This row of surfboards at night in a Tamarindo surf shop awaits renters to use the boards the next day. There are many surf shops in Tamarindo where people can rent boards and/or receive surfing lessons.

I have never tried surfing. I know, that makes as much sense as someone who lives at Pebble Beach who has never tried to play golf. Fortunately, Tamarindo is much more than a surfing town. There are many other things to do in the area and many other ways to enjoy the surf, sand and ocean.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Baby Gecko or Iguana?

I think that this is a baby gecko, although baby iguanas are green also, and I must confess that I cannot tell the difference.

We like geckos because they are cute and they eat insects. At night they will perch upside down on the ceiling of the patio of our condo. They can make a chirping sound louder than a bird.

I took this photo on the very short path from our condo to the beach in Playa Langosta.

[Later note: If you click on the comments, you will read that this is a baby iguana.]

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sunset Number 2

This view is from the balcony/patio of our condo on the beach in Playa Langosta.

We refer to the dead tree in the foreground as the Georgia O'Keefe tree, as it reminds us of the type of tree she would have painted as part of a landscape of the New Mexico desert. The rather suble, understated color in the sky in this photo appears to have been delicately painted on the clouds. Some of my future sunset photos will make it appear that the sky is on fire.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Walking Roots

This palm tree in Langosta has what appears to be roots that are walking away from center of the tree, and, indeed, the roots form an open cone and replace the trunk at the center.

Costa Rica has more than 10,000 different plant species. It has only 0.03% of the earth's land area (about the size of West Virginia or Switzerland) but has 6% of the earth's biodiversity. The country plans to plant 7 million new trees this year, up from 5 million new trees planted in 2007, as part of its effort to become the world's first carbon-neutral country by the 2020's.

This tree, known locally as chonta, maquenque or palmito amargo, can reach heights of 25 meters, or more than 80 feet. Its scientific name is Socratea exorrhiza, named after Socrates.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Walk Down Memory Lane

This inviting lane is on the grounds of the Cala Luna Resort in the Playa Langosta area of Tamarindo. There are cottages to stay in spread out on the grounds, with lush vegetation. The beach is a short block away on a little wooded path.

We like to walk to Cala Luna for lunch at their poolside restaurant. My wife describes the humus dish as spectacular. I am not a humus connoisseur, and you certainly would not want to take my recommendation about the quality of humus. I do feel qualified to give the opinion that on a warm day, their frozen drinks are nice complement to the meal. I also recommend the sushi for dinner.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Church in Guaitil

This is the church in Guaitil, a small village. In the foreground is part of the football (soccer) field, which is in the main square of typical Costa Rican villages.

Guatiil is an artists village, with about 100 families making pottery in the same style and techniques as the Chorotega pre-Columbian culture. The artists' families welcome visitors to watch them as they shape the pottery, fire the pottery in dome shaped outdoor ovens, and paint the pottery.

Guaitil is located just east of Santa Cruz, which is about 30 minutes southeast of Tamarindo. It is a popular stop for tourist vans on the way back to Tamaindo after wildlife viewing boat excursions in the area. I will post additional photos about Guaitil and its pottery in the future.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


The dogs on the beach love to track crabs. In a future posting, I will show a dog who digs holes in the sand following the crabs. The crabs are colorful and they can climb bushes, like this one, not content to stay in the ocean. They are shy and scurry away before a person or dog can get too close.

The presence of crabs in the bushes along beach is reflected by the fact that in Costa Rica there is a species of racoon that is named the "crab-eating racoon." You probably think of racoons as a woodland animal, not a tropical beach animal, but we regularly see racoons at night.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tidepool Dogs II

Do you wonder what goes through the mind of dogs?

"Hey, Fido, look over here. See what I found. Check out this fish."

"I can't come right now, Rover. I'm tracking a crab. How do they walk sideways? I can't do that, and I've got four legs just like them."

"These marine creaturs move fast. I'm getting tired and dizzy trying to chase them. I think I'll head back up to the beach. I've trained my owner to throw me sticks. They are much easier to catch."

(Tomorrow, I will post a photo of what these dogs were chasing.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tidepool Dogs

Langosta Beach has tidepool areas that are exposed at low tide. Dogs, like people (but with more agility and enthusiasm), enjoy walking along the beach and exploring the abundant tidepools teeming with marine life.

Tomorrow, I will show you what these dogs did next, and the following day I will show you what they found.

Part of Playa Langosta has this volcanic rock under the water, and other portions are sandy and good for swimming and surfing, such as the part of Langosta where the Barcelo Resort is located.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

May the bird join for lunch?

Tiny Costa Rica has 850 different bird species -- twice as many as the USA and Canada combined! You never have to go far to admire beautiful birds. In fact, they may be as close as . . . your lunch companion.

What might this white-throated magpie jay be thinking? Perhaps, "I'm better looking than you," or "I hear they have great sushi here at dinner."

Magpie jays breed cooperatively. Only the oldest pair of a group breeds, and all of the others help build the nest and feed the young. The mother incubates the eggs (for 16 to 21 days) and she is fed by her mate during that time.

Perhaps that explains this bird who wanted to join our lunch. His wife probably said, "Honey, please fly over to one of the many open air restaurants, such as the Cala Luna Resort in Langosta, and pick up some carry-out food for me for lunch."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Typical "Tico" house

Costa Ricans in Guanacaste live in houses such as this one, often colorful and reflecting a pride of ownership. This photo was taken in a nearby village, as most of the housing units in Tamarindo are condominiums and homes for the international community.

Costa Ricans refer to themselves by the nickname "Tico" because of their practice of adding the suffix "ico" to make the diminutive form of a noun.

Ticos are justifiably proud of their high (95%) literacy rate and health care. In the late 1940's, the country abolished its military and redirected the money from the military budget to education and health care. The result has been a stable democracy, well-informed electorate, and standard of living that is unique among Central American countries.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A radiant fungus is among us

Following up yesterday's ferns, here is a photo of translucent mushrooms climbing and clinging to the side of a tree in Rincon de la Vieja National Park.

Rincon de la Vieja is a volcano, with geyser activity of bubbling, steaming vents. It is higher in elevation and is a transitional area from the seasonal, dry forest of the coastal plains and the cloud forest vegetation of higher elevations, such as these mushrooms. The park has hiking trails through the lush forest and viewing areas of the gurgling geysers and waterfalls. On a recent hike there, we also saw toucans and other birds (there are 300 bird species in the park)and an agouti, which is similar to a capybara.

Rincon de la Vieja is located a little northeast of Liberia, which is the capital of the Guanacaste province. There are tour operators who will pick up tourists in Tamarindo in vans and take them on guided walks through the park to make sure that they see the best parts and do not get lost. The park reaches 1,916 meters (approximately 6,000 feet) in elevation and has 32 rivers and 16 seasonal creeks.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Costa Rica is known for its biodiversity. The country's President, Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias, has declared the country's commitment to become the world's first carbon-neutral nation, a goal slated for the 2020's.

The fern in this photo is a primitive ancestor to the tree, developing 400 million years ago. This picture was taken in Tamarindo on the lush grounds of the Cala Luna Resort in Langosta.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Carefree boys on Langosta beach

For Father's Day today, here is a photo of boys enjoying the simple pleasures of the beach and ocean at Playa Langosta. They seem not to have a care in the world, except whether the next wave will hit them.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Do you wanna Iguana?

Iguanas are plentiful in Costa Rica. If you look up in the trees, you may be under the watchful eye of an iguana. As you walk along almost any path, you may see an iguana leave as you approach. Even in town, they can be seen walking across a sidewalk as they head into the bushes.

Most iguanas are grey in color and walk slowly as their torso waddles from side to side with each step. They resemble miniature dinosaurs.

Baby iguanas are bright green in color and are even cute in appearance. They may be mistaken for a gecko. Few would call adult iguanas cute. Iguanas become more colorful, like this one, when they are attempting to attract a mate.

Friday, June 13, 2008

This is a Costa Rican beach town?

What is your image of a Costa Rican beach town? Chances are, this picture does not fit your image. This is the courtyard of the Garden Plaza Shopping Center at the entrance to Tamarindo. There are about 30 shops that encircle a series of pools and fountains, above an underground parking garage.

The shopping center is anchored by a modern supermarket that is comparable to large grocery stores in the U.S. or Europe. The stores include a furniture/home furnishings store featuring very modern designs. There is a restaurant that proclaims four specialties: Italian, Japanese, Argentinean and Peruvian food.

Come to think of it, in all my travels I have never seen another combination Italian-Japanese-Argentinean-Peruvian restaurant anywhere else. I guess it is the perfect choice if you ask your companion what he or she wants for dinner, and they respond: "I think I'd like some sushi, then some pasta, and a steak right off the parilla, while I am drinking some Pisco sours."

If that sounds like your kind of meal, then perhaps Tamarindo is your kind of place.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sunset Number 1

Tamarindo is known for an infinite variety of vibrant sunsets, from soft pastels to a deep penetrating fiery glow. Sometimes the color hangs from feathery clouds that looks like an artist’s brushstrokes. Here is one sample.

We like to think that the most stressful part of the day in Tamarindo is deciding what type of wine enjoy while watching the sun set into the Pacific Ocean.

This photo was taken while walking on the quieter, southern part of the main beach in Tamarindo. The gentle slope of the wide beach is evident from the reflection of the sunset in the water. If you walk around the point on the left of the photo, you would then be on Langosta Beach.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Langosta Beach

This photo shows the beach at Playa Langosta, looking south. Langosta is an upscale residential area just around the point to the south of Tamarindo It is about a 10 minute walk from the heart of Tamarindo, and you can walk along the beach or a road.

In Costa Rica, all beaches are public. You can walk along every beach without fear that someone will tell you that you are trespassing.

We love to walk along Playa Langosta (which in Spanish means Lobster Beach) because it is not crowded, there is the constant roar of the surf because the waves break at several places and there are always breaking waves rolling in to the shore. The sunsets are spectacular.

The condo building that you can see just above the tree line on the left of this photo is our condo overlooking the ocean.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lunch time for howler monkeys

Howler monkeys are amazing. They make a guttural hoot or roar that is so deep and so loud that it sounds like it should be coming from a gorilla, not a small, agile animal. If you have not heard one, imagine the sound of the bark from the largest dog, and multiply that sound by about 5 times. That is the sound of one howler monkey.

They usually travel in groups of about 6 monkeys. They can be heard more than a km away. If several groups are in the area, it sounds like the forest is coming alive and roaring.

You do not have to walk deep into the forest to hear howler monkeys. You can hear howlers at times in town. There is a group that lives in the trees on the grounds of the Capitan Suizo resort on the beach in town on the road that leads to Langosta Beach. They can be heard at the Barcelo Resort in the Langosta area of Tamarindo. They travel through the trees that lace from the surrounding forests through town.

It is common to encounter groups of howler monkeys in the trees outside of town. A walk along the beach south from Langosta or a drive outside of town will often enable one to see howlers up in the trees, if you look closely. There are tour operators in Tamarindo who will take you on wildlife viewing river trips that almost always include howler monkey sightings. The guides do a nice job of imitating the roar and hoots of the howlers so that they will make the same sound back.

Howlers are easy to hear, not hard to see, but extremely difficult to photograph well. This photo, taken by my wife, is extraordinary. This howler was looking right at us while eating from a low branch. Usually when one sees howlers, they are high in the trees, and to photograph them you have to shoot up towards the sky. Taking a picture of a dark, black animal against a bright sky in the background usually results in photo that shows only the silhouette of an animal, but does not show the howler's features. I invite you to click on the photo to enlarge it so that you can study his features.

Howlers do not stay still and pose for photos. They hop from branch to branch, and tree to tree. They travel by following each other in their groups, often with a baby hanging on its mother's back. My son recently noticed the spot where they leaped from one tree to the next, and he waited with his video camera and got a video of a monkey flying through the air.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Surf's Up, Dude!

Tamarindo is very popular for surfing. There are many shops in town that rent surf boards and give surfing lessons. This photo was taken on the main part of Tamarindo beach, which has conditions that are ideal for surfing. The waves break at multiple points, both right on the beach and a little off shore. The water is warm throughout the year.

Playa Langosta, just around the point to the south of Tamarindo, also has good conditions for surfing. There are a lot of good surfing locations, so they are not crowded and surfers and swimmers can stay out of each other’s way.

I have read that Tamarindo was featured in the surfing movie Endless Summer II, but I have never seen the movie. Moreover, anyone who has seen the movie would not recognize Tamarindo today. It is no longer a sleepy Costa Rican beach town where surfers hang out, relatively undiscovered by the modern world.

As future photos will show, Tamarindo has many modern resorts, fine restaurants, and other services and amenities for tourists with a wide variety of interests, not just surfers. Visitors include families with children of all ages, adults interested in golfing, hiking, bird watching and wildlife viewing, zip lines, ATV and off-road trips, river rafting, ocean kayaking, sport fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving, shopping, fine dining, Spanish classes, or simply relaxing at the beach and escaping cold weather up north.
But, despite its development, Tamarindo is still popular for surfers.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Tamarindo -- Life's a beach

Tamarindo is know for its glorious beach, surfing, and tourist services, including fine dining, banks, shopping, and tourist activities. Its wide, crescent-shaped, gently sloping beach, with multiple surf breaks, has warm water all year. This photo was taken from the heart of the Tamarindo beach looking north to Cabo Velas at the end of the bay. The palm trees from the Tamarindo Diria resort provide the shade from the rising, morning sun.
Between Tamarindo and the point to the north shown on this photo is Playa Grande, which is the nesting site of the endangered leatherback turtles, who return to Playa Grande each winter to lay their eggs.
Much of the ocean area shown in this photo is protected as part of Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas de Guanacaste - Tamarindo, one of Costa Rica's many national parks.
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