The Town of Tambor!
I have been traveling to Costa Rica since 2007 and have explored a lot of the country since. Our family has fallen in love with the easy “pure vida” lifestyle, beach and jungle vibes, and the recent developments! Within the past two years my parents have built a vacation home on a luscious forested property in the Nicoya Peninsula. I was able to co-design it and found that working with the locals really helped establish a sense of home and roots in the area.
The house is in a small town called Tambor, near the larger town of Cobano, and 30 minutes from Santa Teresa. From my perspective, it is one of the best parts of Costa Rica to spend long chunks of time in. Kevin, myself and our two kids just spent four months living there. My daughter Yale went to school in the town over, we worked remotely from Casa Izumi, and we were able to establish some roots in the community.
Tambor is a small fishing village, though that may change with a possible shiny new marina coming into town! Tambor Bay is their local beach and although the sand is dark, it is SO amazing for small kids as the shore is vast, super shallow, and gradual. The waves are also smaller and calm so overall, it’s just a really nice spot to take the family. I actually wrote a blog post about the best beaches in the Nicoya Peninsula!
There are a handful of local restaurants from pizza to costa rican dishes! There is a pescadoria market for grabbing fresh local fish and seafood, and pretty much any kind of wildlife you’re looking to see. Locals are riding their bikes or “motos” and in general, it’s a nice quiet town.
The Town of Cobano!
The town over is Cobano which is where we go to run most of our errands. From doctor runs, gas, bank, the boys hair cuts etc. It is a slightly larger town than Tambor and there are quite a few schools.
In a nutshell, the Tambor/Cobano part of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica is fantastic and a safe spot for young families wanting to take the pace a little slower but still have access to enough amenities to thrive for multiple months. You need to respect that are you in living in the jungle and realize you will encounter all types of wildlife, but to our family, that is part of the fun.
The Regions of Los Suenos and Jaco!
Another spot that I think is becoming more suited to families and long term stays are the Los Suenos and Jaco regions. These are essentially on the other side of the bay from our casa in Tambor. They are on the San Jose side of the Nicoya Peninsula and are much more populated. As such, they have certain amenities that you won’t get (yet!) compared to the Tambor/Cobano side.
Los Suenos has an Auto Mercado grocery store which is basically the Costa Rican Whole Foods. It is about an hour and a half drive from the international airport and proper city of San Jose. It is more touristy than the Tambor/Cobano area so naturally there are more touristy things to do like zip lining and guided tours. Thirty minutes from our Casa is the surf town of Santa Teresa that is super touristy and geared towards trendy boutique stores and surfing.
Jaco used to be known for its somewhat rough and tumble vibe, but it has changed significantly in the past five years and is continuing to change. There is now a brand new outdoor mall with a ton of high end and trendy restaurants and shops and fresh pressed juice places etc. I see it as continuing to grow in size and fanciness as the years go on and more and more people buy up land in the area.
Both of these towns are, in my opinion, really suited to long term stays! It just depends on what you want to prioritize in order to determine which one is best for you. Either way, you can visit both areas in one go as there is a ferry that goes between both spots every day (Paquera to Puntaneras). There is also a water taxi (smaller boat that goes between spots across the bay). And lastly, if you have the funds it is easy to charter a smaller boat to take you around (there is also tons of epic fishing in between – more on that later).