1. Sunset cruise with The Antares
$85 plus tax – 12.45pm to Sunset. Open bar, 5 course tasting menu, snorkeling in the national park and live music. http://tamarindosailing.net/
Here we have an old 80ft sailboat which was a former treasure hunting vessel. Built in 1947 it still has much of its original charm yet mixed with modern elements. From the beach you will be escorted to the sailboat on a small panga. Upon climbing the ladder and hopping aboard you are welcomed by the crew and shown to an area of the open deck which has been allocated for you and your party. Once all the guests are safely aboard and comfortable on the large bean bags provided the experience begins.
The fantastic drinks start flowing immediately, ‘rum punch sir?’ echoes across the deck as all the guests are made comfortable and served the beverage of their choice while the boat starts to move towards the north. Not long after departure, to the tune of live acoustic music from locals and other musicians from around the world, the 1st plates of food start to be served.
The food is a gastronomic pleasure. From Thai style salads to classics like smoked salmon and cream cheese the dishes flow as the does the wind across the open deck while you are invariably basking in the sunshine. The food is regarded as some of the best in town, the curry is one of my personal favorites and the food is what sets The Antares from the competition. Along with the service and quality of the drinks provided. Try the rum punch!
Once you enter the national park the boat is anchored. Here you can swim, snorkel, take advantage of the SUP boards and kayaks or simply enjoy the motion of the ocean in comfort aboard the boat. The crew are more than happy to serve drinks to the guests in the water and cans of beer being tossed to guests is not an uncommon sight and very welcomed. Diving or jumping into the ocean from a schooner like this is a great experience for the thrill seekers out there.
Around 4pm you are encouraged to rejoin the boat and your comfortable bean bag paradise. Again the drinks are offered and the music plays as you double back down the coast heading back to the bay of Tamarindo. During the afternoon sail sights of Dolphins, Sharks and Humpback whales are common and really make the whole experience worth while.
As the sun starts to set on the horizon you will slowly arrive back into the clutches of Tamarindo, as the sun makes its final goodbyes for the day you will be anchored in the bay with an unobstructed view of the sunset. This alone is worth the trip on the boat. Once the sun is set you will disembark the sailboat and be escorted to shore by the local crew in the small panga style boats. What a day…
2. Open water diving with Tamadive
$120 Fun Dive- 7am – 1pm – Pickup from hostel/hotel, transportation to Flamingo marina, all equipment and 2 tanks of air, experienced multilingual instructors. https://www.tamadive.com/
Amazing Discover SCUBA experience.
I will try to find the words to describe how amazing of an experience Franco provided for my girlfriend and I… but words will fall short. Everything about the experience was absolutely amazing. Starting off with booking, it was simple and easy to make the arrangements. Clear and concise communication. No details overlooked. We chose to drive ourselves to flamingo to meet Franco at the office for the signing of waivers, gear fitting, and safety brief. My girlfriend is a Tica who speaks Spanish much better than English, so although English is my first language, we opted to do the briefing in Spanish. Franco was so clear that I was able to understand 95% of what he was saying and demonstrating in Spanish without any issues. Where I didn’t understand a word or two, he would cover the material in English. Everything we would need to know about the function of the BCD, regulator, hand signals, and the basic procedures we would be following for the dive, as well as our skills we would need to demonstrate before the dives once we arrived on-site at the Catalinas Islands was covered clearly and concisely.
We headed over to the marina in Flamingo, got on the boat, and were on our way to the Catalinas. About 5-10 minutes into the 30-40 minute “commute” we saw a family of humpback whales. Already worth the trip, and we haven’t even dove yet! Arriving at a very sheltered cove, a buoy was dropped, gear was donned, and we were guided into the water. On the buoy we did a quick review of some very important, but ultimately easy skills. Breathing for example. Recovering your regulator if you drop it and then breathing. Clearing your mask. Very simple. Franco is an excellent non-verbal communicator, and demonstrates the skill for you and then has you repeat. I was mildly anxious about this part, as it was not being done in a pool, and my anxiety was completely unfounded. It may have actually been better to do it this way, since immediately after demonstrating the skills you are starting your first of two dives. The best part was that Franco was able to make my girlfriend completely comfortable. She has much less ocean experience than I do (she has snorkeled once, I free dive regularly, this was both of our first times SCUBA diving).
Down we went below the waves in this sandy bottomed, well protected cove, and then once we had gotten a little comfortable with the basics, we were off! We worked our way a decent distance around the island. Saw white tip sharks, various eels, colorful reef fish, and swam along in some giant schools of fish. Our first dive had a duration of 56 minutes! Back to the surface, we were picked up by the dive boat, had some fruit, cookies, and bottled water (provided) and then just relaxed before our second dive. The second dive we went to the more exposed side of the island, and started off at a deeper depth immediately off the boat. We went down to I would estimate between 8-10 meters to begin, vs 3-4 at the start of the first dive. The topography on this dive among the volcanic rocks was amazing. Shooting through underwater canyons, popping into holes in the rock formation. Swimming with more white tip sharks, fish, eels, and we even saw a few octopuses (octopi?).
Overall the experience was an absolutely amazing experience for me. As a fairly comfortable ocean person, who has visited these depths without tanks of air, it was an amazing experience to spend over an hour and a half on the bottom in total over the two dives. Both myself and My girlfriend rate this as one of the top experiences of our lives. Thank you Franco and TamaDive!
3. Sunday Funday with The Beach and Pool Crawl
$45 – 12.45pm – 7.45pm – Meet at Sharkys sports bar and head to 3 bars up the coast of the Pacific, welcome drinks, happy hour, food specials and entertainment. www.beachandpoolcrawl.com
We met the crew at Sharkys around 12.30pm, signed up for the tour and enjoyed some 2×1 cocktails and our free shot before getting on the bus! The hosts start with a no frills meet and greet. This was great, broke the ice and made everyone more comfortable. We were on the bus for 40 mins or so, nice views, air rushing through the windows and a fun playlist to keep it going. I would advise bringing a beer or 2 for the journey, most of the others had!
The 1st stop was cool, as we walked into the lobby there were shots waiting for us and the hosts guided us to the drinks and food offers and let us explore. Great views of the bay and some islands off the coast to the north, private black sand beach, DJ, 241 cocktails and a swim up bar! the pool was my highlight, nice and fresh and the swim bar was wicked.
After a walk back to the bus with the crew we set off to stop no 2. On the way we played a quick fun drinking game and the whole bus sang along to the tunes. We arrived at the second bar which was right on the beach. Again we had our shot as we walked into the bar which had some chill reggae music playing. We drank beers here but there were cocktail offers on show and some food deals. The best bit for me was the beach volleyball. I loved it, mixed teams with some competition but mostly lots of laughs. My partner really enjoyed the live music, country but with a twist!
Before we knew it our hosts had guided the whole crew back onto the bus and we were on the way to stop no 3. We arrived again right on the beach at a latino style beach bar with an amazing back drop of palms and hills. The free drinks were again waiting for us, slushy goodness was the name i think? Here there was a DJ/dance party inside and a laser/smoke show. The beats were pumping and most of the bus crew were dancing with smiles and drinks all round. As the sun started to set the bonfire was lit, this was one of the highlights of our trip. We all sat around and chatted while sipping more delicious cocktails. Back into the bar for a dance and a quick twerk before we were informed it was time to leave. The day was over… at last so we thought!
The bus ride home was brilliant. More fantastic music picked for a mixed crowd such as this. 50 people singing and dancing and waving glow sticks on the bus ride home was brilliant. We laughed and danced the whole 45 mins back to Sharkys sports bar in Tamarindo. What a great day for all!