Costa Rica - Day 7

We headed southwest from Playa del Coco to the town of Tamarindo to try our hand at some surfing. Tamarindo is not what I would call authentic Tico --  gringos and tourists abound, but the beach is nice and the waves are great for learning to surf.  We booked our lesson at the Iguana Surf Shop.  Iguana runs four two-hour lessons each day, starting at 9, 11, 1, and 3.  Each instructor can instruct up to four people and the cost is $45 per person (includes a souvenir tee-shirt!). Turns out surfing really is a lot more difficult than it looks, but all four of us were able to stand up on the board within about 20 minutes. I'm still not sure if my snowboarding experience helped me much, although it's probably didn't hurt. If anything it may have helped my steering and fore-aft balance, but the trickiest part is getting up to the standing position, which is unique to surfing. Our lesson left us tired and sore and with some new bumps and bruises, but we all agreed that it was all worth it for the feeling you get when ride your first wave (dude!). After surfing we did the tourist thing (...when in Tamarindo...). We hit the main drag with two goals: souvenirs and cocktails. Among the many trinket stores there are a couple of standouts.  One of our favorites, Roots Gallery, features bowls from locally sourced wood created by the shop attendant's husband, Edwardo.  Each piece is handcrafted and unique.  With gifts in hand, we headed to Le Beach Club, a beach-front, gringo-heavy bar/restaurant down the main street. Service was a little slow, but it was nice to relax with a few cocktails and take in the sunset.  As the tide went out, the surfers gave way to the pelicans diving for fish in the increasingly shallow water. Parking on the beach across from the Iguana costs ¢3,000, but it is worth paying because there is a security guard who will keep an eye on your car. I would still warn against leaving anything valuable in your car -- we received multiple warnings about how common theft is in these parts, but the guard was still vigilant when we returned to our car about 2 hours after sunset (earning our ¡Gracias! and a nice tip...). Iguana Surf Shop also rents boards for as long as a week, rents kayaks, runs shuttles to other beaches, and runs snorkeling trips.  Check out Iguana Surf Shop online at