Internet & Cell Phones in Tamarindo
Over the last 7 years we have seen a dramatic improvement in Tamarindo’s internet speeds and cell phone coverage, but it’s still far from what we experience in the States. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it’s going to be slower, it’s not going to be completely consistent and there is a good chance that for a period of time (5 min? 4 hours?) it probably won’t work very well, or at all. Once you’ve accepted that, you get used to the speeds and it becomes normal and completely useful.
Internet Connections and Access in Tamarindo
Almost every place you will stay in Tamarindo offers some form of internet access. The majority will be wifi, so make sure you don’t need a physical connection to access the internet when you come down. Almost all of the access points are shared connections so the more people you have connected, the slower it will be. Hotels and Hostels can have really slow access during busy times (like at night for watching Netflix) but for email and social media browsing it should work fine. Vacation rental homes will typically have faster (or at least less crowded) connections, so if you need quicker internet speeds, try booking a home vs a hotel/hostel.
Many of the restaurants in Tamarindo also have wifi and the majority of them are happy to give you the password if you ask. If you need to check in with work or upload some photos to your social media accounts, it can be nice sitting at a restaurant or bar and getting some things done while you enjoy a meal and a beverage. We have found ourselves at a number of restaurants to work when our internet at the house fizzles out from time to time.
Another thing to keep in mind is that when the town is super crowded (Christmas/New Years & Semana Santa) there is a good chance that the internet (and cell phones) just aren’t going to function very well.
Cell Phones in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Tamarindo (and the surrounding area) has very good cell phone coverage, so if you have a cell phone plan that allows for roaming you should have very little problem getting a signal anywhere in town. It is possible to purchase a pre-pay cell phone in Costa Rica (as a non-resident) if you are planning on staying for an extended period of time as well. Additionally, many property managers around town can rent you a cell phone for your vacation with pre-loaded minutes for a small fee.
If you are a USA visitor and have T-Mobile (like us!) then you will have free data roaming (as of 2017) all over town and the rest of the country, which is a huge plus for T-Mobile. The other major carriers (AT&T, Verizon, etc) offer the ability to add international plans for a extra fee if needed as well.
Locally, we see a lot of use of WhatApp, Facebook Messenger Calling and FaceTime to avoid making International phone calls on the traditional lines.