Tamarindo / Langosta

Tamarindo, or Tamagringo as it is known among some expatriates,  is the epicenter of northwest Guanacaste’s real estate boom. Most people seem to have a love-hate relationship with the town. A lack of planning and regulation and an easily corruptible former municipality have led to uncontrolled development that is now threatening the surrounding environment. 

The local Tico and expatriate communities are trying to address the situation through the APMT, Associación Pro Mejoras de Playa Tamarindo, (Tamarindo Improvement Association), which has been lobbying the current administration to do something about the problems the area faces. The government responded last year (2008) with a building moratorium that put a height restriction on buildings within a certain distance of the coast, but the decree expires with the current administration. 

APMT is also trying to work with the government to get a black water treatment system for the city, a through road to stop the traffic jams (there is currently only one way in and out of Tamarindo and Langosta) and to push through a zoning plan to control development. 

Still, Tamarindo has some bright sides. For one thing, it indisputably has the best services for miles around, including great restaurants and rare titled beachfront. However much many people say they hate Tamarindo, most people who live in the area end up going there to meet with lawyers, have an evening out, and see friends. 

Plenty of restaurants, clubs, and bars are around to serve most tastes. The town also has several small grocery stores, a supermarket, plenty of real estate brokers and property management companies, and a few strip malls with lawyers’ offices and title insurance companies. An increasing number of banks are opening branches there as well.

Langosta, which has grown into Tamarindo, is the classy side of town. Its main stretch of road is lined with multimillion-dollar houses that take you on a surreal architectural tour of Morocco, Beverly Hills, and former Spanish colonies. 


The Tamarindo community is a mix of North American, French, Italian, British and other Europeans, with a few South Americans thrown in the mix. Fewer Ticos live in the area simply because property prices have gone too high. The community is young and active and most of its members are involved the tourism or real estate industries. 

As nice as that is, there is a seedier underbelly involving drug addiction and prostitution. This serves a purpose, of course – as sex workers won’t exist without demand for their services. Still, that side of the town is rather too prominent for some. Likewise, there are more than a few drug addicts. They can be locals, tourists, or construction workers, and some are petty thieves who steal almost anything to get a fix. Despite its small size and rural location, Tamarindo should be approached with the level of caution appropriate to a large urban area.

Real Estate

Mainly vertical condominium units whose quality ranges from great to awful. Some single-family homes and gated communities are available, mainly in the Langosta area or back from the coast. Some parcels of land are still available, but they’re priced for vertical developments, not single-family homes. Expect to pay through the nose. 

Many of the condominium projects under construction are being sold pre-construction, though their prices are already so high that it’s hard to imagine that they will really make good investments. Never buy pre-construction until you’ve done your due diligence. Not all developers are honest and you could lose your money if you choose poorly. Many people have.

This is an area for investors or people looking for a lively vacation home spot. Langosta is much more quiet and discrete for the wealthy, and the Tamarindo Preserve resort, currently under construction between the two towns, should preserve a pocket of green in this speedily developing area.

Prices in the area have skyrocketed because of the demand for titled beachfront property and the intervention of speculators. Word on the street, however, is that price increases have leveled out, and in some places even started to fall. That’s hardly a surprise when some people are trying to charge $1,500 per square meter for beachfront property in a place where roads and sanitation are sub-par. 

The future of real estate in the area also depends on how successful the APMT and government are in expediting measures to control development and protect the environment. If they are successful property prices in the area should keep rising steadily, and you could be sitting on a goldmine. If they aren’t successful, you could end up sitting on an ecological disaster. 



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