As previously mentioned, the area surrounding OJOS DE LA TIGRA, at present, is mainly composed of native Costa Ricans or Ticos. This will inevitably change as more North Americans and Europeans and others move into the region. However, when compared to the real estate hotspots in Costa Rica, native acceptance of newcomers here is invariably, not cordial, but quite warm. Ticos here enjoy North American's and Europeans and anyone else for that matter and usually show genuine respect and curiosity. The delightful nature of Ticos, here is one of the main reasons foreigners come to Costa Rica in general and to our area in specifically. In the hotspots like Jaco or Tamarindo or Playa del Coco, which have come to be dominated by foreigners, a palatable tension exists between the remaining Tico population and these new residents.
The closest town of any size to Ojos de la Tigra is the village of Jicaral, about 7.5 kilometers down the road. It is a surprisingly bustling town of 5 to 10 thousand. Kind of a crossroad town out of which main roads head north in the direction of Liberia, south toward the ferry and town of Playa Naranjo and beyond to the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula and west to the magnificent unpopulated beaches along the Pacific coast. A kilometer to the east of Jicaral will land you into the waters of the majestic Golfo de Nicoya.
Jicaral is an interesting mix of a place with a decent amount of modern technological amenities (internet cafe), coexisting with a real old-time entrepreneurial atmosphere. You know you're in the 21st century here while at the same time, it is almost as if you are living in a small town in America or Europe, a hundred years ago. In Jicaral, before long, you are on a first name basis with many of the townspeople and all of the towns merchants. There are many small locally owned boutiques and shops and restaurants and smaller supermarkets here. Two franchises exist; One is a bakery which, boasts pretty good breads and pastries and is owned by a delightful local man by the name of Tony. The other is the well-known supermarket chain, Pali. On Fridays, in the town square, there's a farmer's market. Fresh fruits and vegetables abound, along with a few nice fast food delicacies. The atmosphere is festive and there might even be someone playing the guitar and singing a song for your pleasure.
In Jicaral, there are 3 butchers and, one might find curious, not really a fish market in town. Fresh fish are usually purchased directly from the many fishermen in the area or one of their private agents. Anything from lobster, shrimp (Gulf, from fish farms or river shrimp, small to jumbo) or a large variety of fish are available and virtually right from the Gulf waters, fresh. A number of pretty decent restaurants(sodas) are scattered around town and several bars offering food as well. They are all very clean establishments and pretty much conform to the typical Tico cuisine you might find anywhere in Costa Rica, although 3 quality Chinese restaurants are also here. Some offer specialties that only time will reveal. Then again if you have something special you want cooked up, many are open to suggestions. The coffee is great just about anywhere you go. However, if it's stylish and sophisticated cosmopolitan restaurants you're looking for, at present, Jicaral is not where you will find them. In this area, we are still cutting edge, so that as more and more ex-patriots move here, more interesting bars and restaurants will inevitably surface. In the hotspots of Costa Rica, fast growth has spawned this type of cosmopolitan growth, but at a very high price. Drugs, crime and Tico resentment are among these negative results. Here, in La Tigra and Jicaral, if the growth and influx of North American and European influence develops in the measured way it has until now, these negatives can be avoided and the quality of life here should be preserved. Ojos de la Tigra and Jicaral promise to remain a real and genuine place to live; a jumping off point, if you will. Live here in this very beautiful and centrally located area, with a friendly local population. Then, when you need that cosmopolitan stimulus, go and visit those hotspots, but only long enough not to experience those negatives, previously referenced.
As you travel north out of Jicaral on highway 21, the next town of any size is Carmona. It sits about 5 kilometers off of the highway and as a result is more quiet than Jicaral. It is about the same size as Jicaral and boasts a very beautiful church and park area. As is the case in Jicaral, Carmona and its citizens engage in may colorful fiestas and fairs and rodeos throughout the year. Probably most impressive is the festival of light that happens in their park and the church every Christmas. People come from far and wide to experience this and are never disappointed. The evening when the church and park lights are revealed is very special indeed. Carmona is about 20 kilometers from Jicaral.
Drive another smooth and paved 30 kilometers and you reach the city of Nicoya. It is the next step up in town size and a real commercial center. From a shopping point of view, what you can't find in Jicaral or Carmona you can in Nicoya or Puntarenas. What you can't find in Nicoya, you can on your way to or in Liberia. And finally, what you can't find in Liberia, your final shopping destination would then be on your way to or in the San Jose area. Nicoya has the areas nearest hospital. It also boasts a farmer's market 3 days a week with plenty of wholesome fruits and vegetables (and much more) to indulge upon. At present it is about 1 hour from Ojos de la Tigra. Saddle makers, artists, and all kinds of retailers, restaurants and bars of greater variety than Jicaral are readily available here. But again, even here you won't find it very cosmopolitan in Nicoya. Banks, the insurance company, large supermarkets, numerous internet cafes, sophisticated hardware stores, yes. But international restaurants and sophisticated bars, no. For that you must travel another 25 minutes to Playa Samara, on the Pacific coast.
Samara is a beautiful beach town with very interesting bars and restaurants to experience. A great place to visit (has a magnificent white sand beach and tranquil bay) but it is one of these hotspots and is not lacking the negatives that accompany such places. So again, by all means drive an hour and a half from Ojos de la Tigra to get here. Enjoy what Samara has to offer for a day or 2 or 3. Then return to La Tigra to ride your horses, relax and recharge your batteries for your next excursion into that plethora of places to visit in Costa Rica. Also, there is a small aircraft airport in this area.
Now let's return to Jicaral and head out south along highway 21 through Lepanto to Playa Naranjo. Here is where the ferry ports from Punarenas. This drive is particularly beautiful; about 20 kilometers in length from Jicaral. Along the way, there are several areas where boats can enter the beautiful Gulf of Nicoya, through Mangrove dominated waterways during high tide. In Playa Naranjo there are 3 hotels with restaurants decent enough for most westerners to enjoy. There is also a condo which offers nice rooms and a swimming pool to enjoy and at very reasonable prices. At present, if there is a place here where western expatriots like to congregate, Playa Naranjo is it. It is inevitable that new hotels and restaurants will eventually bud and bloom here. Also, new information suggests that a new 360 slip marina will be built here in the next year or 2. This, along with the several quite tranquil and beautiful gulf beaches here promise much for the future growth and development of the area. All of this justifies great optimism for those who decide to invest in properties like those in our magnificent development, OJOS DE LA TIGRA. When I hear myself saying “properties like OJOS DE LA TIGRA" I must qualify this, because there are really no properties quite like ours.
Back in Jicaral, we now head out to the west on the main but presently dirt road that leads to the exquisitely varied and beautiful Pacific coast beaches (in about 45 to 60 minutes depending on the condition of the road.) The nearest of these are Playas (beaches), Caletas, Punta Coyote, Coyote and San Miquel. They are all magnificent, each with their own characteristics and much of the time, you would be the only humans in sight, believe it or not. This can also be said for the Gulf of Nicoya. It is always very surprising, how under used the Pacific beaches and Gulf waters are. And while there are not many special restaurants or hotels in this not well traveled (at the moment) Pacific coast area, they do exist. Discovery is normal in Costa Rica, and so rather than list them, I would just say to you, “spend some time here.” All of the jewels in this area will eventually expose themselves to you, inevitably and delightfully.
So if you are looking for a wonderful place to spend part or all of your year with your young family or in retirement; where you want the most investment bang for your buck and you want a real place to live, far from the maddening crowd, do consider us here at Ojos de la Tigra.
Incredible views, quiet ambiance, horses, cows, natural environment, warm weather, a gateway to Costa Rica, and beautiful local people........., it's all here.
Pura Vida !