Coastal Spanish Institute

Learn Spanish in Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica

The Area & School

Coastal Spanish Institute (CSI) is a family owned Spanish language school located in the heart of Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica, overlooking the beach. The school is housed in a charming three-story, thatched-roof building and is outfitted with modern amenities throughout. All classrooms and common areas are equipped with air-conditioning and Wi-Fi. Tamarindo is consistently ranked as a top destination for surfers of all levels, and students will have the opportunity take advantage of this through surf lessons with CSI's sister school, Costa Rica Surf Institute, located in the same building.

Spanish Courses

Standard 20 Spanish

This program consists of 20 lessons of group Spanish courses per week, totaling 18 hours and 20 minutes. Small group courses are limited to a maximum of six students per class, and are broken into four, 55 minute lessons each morning.

Starts at $360 for one week

Intensive 30 Spanish

20 lessons of group Spanish courses and 10 private lessons per week totaling 27 hours and 30 minutes. Group courses are taught each morning and private courses each afternoon. Students may choose to focus on any topic they wish during one-on-one classes including career specific themes such as business or medicine.

Starts at $490 for one week

Family Spanish Course

Bring the whole family to Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica for Spanish language learning and fun. Parents and children will be enrolled in a Spanish immersion course during weekday mornings, and will have the rest of the day for beach time, activities or relaxation . This program consists of 20, 50 minute lessons per week taught in small groups of 2-6 students (4 lessons per day). Classes cover conversation, grammar, reading and writing, using a combination of interactive methods, activities and exercises. Levels All levels are welcome. No prior Spanish experience is necessary...

Starts at $310 for one week

Surf & Spanish Course

Course Overview Spanish and Surf students will experience the joys of riding Costa Rica's warm waves each afternoon* after morning Spanish lessons. Playa Tamarindo and the surrounding beaches are some of the best places to learn to surf in the world. With beautiful weather and consistent waves year round, Tamarindo is a top surfing destination in Costa Rica. Students participating in the Surfing and Spanish program will not be limited to simple surf lessons. Rather, they will receive a comprehensive wave education...

Starts at $600 for one week

Teen Surf & Spanish Camp

Program Details Students aged 13 to 17 are eligible to participate in this exceptional camp. Morning Spanish classes will be combined with afternoon surf lessons and weekend adventure tours. Students can expect an exciting and challenging study abroad experience. This is the perfect option for high school students looking for a fun way to learn Spanish, while learning to surf in a sunny, tropical beach setting. Students may travel unaccompanied or with an adult(s)...

Starts at $850 for one week

Teen Spanish & Volunteering Camp

This Spanish immersion camp for teenagers, located in Turrialba, Costa Rica, is a wonderful way for students ages 13-17 to learn Spanish in an immersion environment, experience a new culture, and give back to the local community through volunteering. Each week, students will take 20 hours of intensive Spanish language courses per week taught by native speakers. They will stay with local host families in Turrialba to complete the immersion experience and get extra Spanish conversation practice. Four afternoons per week, students will volunteer in the community...

Starts at $1,295 for one week

Teen Spanish & Adventure Camp

This action packed immersion camp combines morning Spanish classes with adrenaline filled afternoon adventure tours. There is also an overnight weekend tour to visit volcanoes, waterfalls and rivers. Students will take part in a beach and kayaking expedition, learn to surf, zip line through the forest canopy and take a catamaran tour of local islands. The Adventure Camp is only held two weeks each summer. Most students combine this with one of our other camps while in Costa Rica...

Starts at $1,695 for one week


Host Family

(Half Board) Staying with a local family is the best way to learn a lot of Spanish in a short amount of time. Host families are located between 2-3km from the school, and a free shuttle is available each morning and afternoon to and from school. Host family students are given a private room and their own key so they can come and go as they please. Taxis to town cost between 3-5 USD. Half-board (daily breakfast and dinner) is included in the price of host family accommodations. Families are hand selected by the accommodation staff and are very experienced hosting students. They can accommodate virtually any diet, allergy or preference. If you have any special needs, please indicate them on your registration form.

Starts at $175 / week

Shared Apartment

(No meals included) Shared residence apartments are also available on the third floor of the Spanish school building. The residences are basic, but affordable, and offer an ideal location for students who want to be in the center of town and on the beach. The residence is divided into a female apartment and a male apartment with a shared kitchen and living area. Each apartment has a private bathroom and a single bedroom with four bunks, arranged much like a standard university residence. The apartments also have balconies overlooking the beach. Air conditioning and free Wi-Fi is provided throughout the residences and students also have access to lockers. The kitchen is fully equipped for cooking and maid service is provided once per week. No meals are included in the price. Please note: The shared living area doubles as a yoga studio three nights per week for 1.5 hours.

Starts at $195 / week

Luna Bungalow

(Private room, breakfast) The Luna Bungalows are just a short 5 minute walk from the school, and two blocks from the beach. Guests will have access to a pool and free daily breakfast. All bungalows include A/C, a safe and WiFi. Prices are based on mid-season rates and include tax. High season and holiday rates will be higher. During Teen Camp weeks, the Luna Bungalows are chaperoned and recommended for families and unaccompanied campers.

Starts at $678 / week

Additional Details

The school will be closed on the following national holidays. The school does not make up for missed class days, and no refunds or discounts will be given, so please keep this in mind when choosing your dates.

  • January 1 (New Year’s Day)
  • April 11
  • April 17 & April 18 (Holy Thursday and Friday)
  • May 1 (Worker’s Day)
  • July 25 (Annexation of Guanacaste)
  • August 2 (Costa Rica’s Saint. Virgen de Los Angeles)
  • August 15 (Mother’s Day)
  • September 15 (Independence Day)
  • October 12 (Encuentro de las Culturas)
  • December 25 (Christmas Day)

Students enrolling in the Teen Immersion and Volunteer Camp in Turrialba should fly into and out of San Jose (SJO) International Airport. Students in all other programs should try to book flights into and out of Liberia International Airport (LIR)

  • Students taking classes in Tamarindo are encouraged to fly into Liberia International Airport, which is a short 50 minute drive from the language school in Tamarindo. CSI can arrange student pickup from LIR for $85 USD.

  • San Jose International (SJO) is another option, but it is 4-6 hours away depending on weather. CSI does not offer pickup from SJO and students will be responsible for arranging their own transportation to Tamarindo from San Jose.

Student accommodation begins each Sunday before the Monday course start date, so if a student arrives any day prior, they will be responsible for finding their own lodging prior to arriving at CSI.

Max Group Class Size: 6.0 students per class
Max Capacity: 75 students
Adjusted Price of INT 20: $19.64 per class hour

The school organizes a variety of activities that are open to participation from all students. Students will be presented with a list of available activities each Monday, and there is no need to reserve in advance. Weekday activities are organized a few evenings per week and are usually free or cost between $5-10 USD. A sampling of these activities includes:

  • Salsa and Merengue classes
  • Cooking classes
  • Movie nights
  • Welcome drink and town tour
  • Beach soccer or volleyball

The school also organizes weekend excursions to places of interest in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. These excursions range from $50-$200 USD per student, and normally include round-trip transportation, lodging and food. Some of the most popular excursions include:

  • Sunset sail and snorkel
  • Ziplining, jungle and volcano tours
  • Manuel Antonio Park National Park
  • Rincon de la Vieja
  • Canopy tours
  • Arenal Volcano
  • Monteverde cloud forest
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Visit to colonial Granada, Nicarauga
  • Horseback riding
  • Surf trips to Witches Rock, Playa Avellanas, Ollie's Point

CSI uses a communicative approach to teaching Spanish which encourages maximum conversation and student interaction. Each student will take a placement test upon arrival and be placed in one of 9 core levels. Classes consist of a combination of language exercises, role playing, reading, conversation, and grammar. Each Spanish teacher will then customize a program based upon the level of the participants in the class. Programs are offered starting each Monday throughout the year.


When is the rainy season and when is the sunny season?

The rainy (green) season in Guanacaste, Costa Rica (the region where Tamarindo is located) is technically late May through early November, while the sunny (dry) season is mid November through late April. It's a bit more complicated than that though. Most years, with the exception of September and October, the rainy season months are actually quite pleasant, with sun all day until late afternoon, when rainstorms move in. It gets dark between 5-6pm every day anyway, so you actually enjoy sun most of the day. September and October are the rainiest months when you're most likely to see rain all day. The flora is beautiful during the rainy season, with all the jungle plants fully bloomed and green. It can be very dry and hot toward the end of the dry season and dust and drought can become a problem. November is a great month because the weather begins to turn sunny, but everything is still very green and the holiday crowds have not arrived. So to summarize:

Mixed weather (green) - May-August Rainy (green) - September - October Sunny (green) - November - December Sunny (dry) - January - April

Where are host families located?

Homestays are located in the neighboring towns of Villa Real and Santa Rosa. The school provides a free shuttle each morning and afternoon (about a 5-10 min ride) and taxis can be taken after hours to the town center of Playa Tamarindo for $3-5 USD.

Are there ample food options in town?

There are dozens of restaurants at all price points in town and two small grocery stores within walking distance of the school. There is also a large super market that is a short, free shuttle ride from the town center. The shuttle leaves each hour.

Are meals included?

Two meals per day, breakfast and dinner, are included with host family accommodation. Meals are not included with hotel accommodation unless stated otherwise. Some hotel options offer use of a shared kitchen for cooking meals.

What do you suggest for lodging?

If you are intent on learning as much Spanish as possible, and participating in a full Costa Rican immersion experience, we highly recommend living with a host family. Alternatively, we can arrange long term private accommodation in an inexpensive hotel, or you are welcome to arrange your own lodging.

Does this school offer classes for families, children, and or teens?

Yes, students aged 16 and older can enroll in group classes year round. The school also offers private family lessons year round. In June and July, the school offers special Spanish immersion camps for children and teens. More information can be found on these camps in the "specialty programs language courses" section of the Coastal Spanish Institute school page.

What is the average age of the students at this school?

We enroll Spanish students of all ages each month, from 18 all the way up to 99 years old. In May and June, we tend to get a higher percentage of college/university age students and families, because public schools are on summer break, while the late summer, fall, winter and spring bring students in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond.

What does the schedule look like for a typical week in the Standard 20 course?

Schedules are subject to change on a week to week basis, but a typical week looks something like this:
Sun- Placement test and school intro (1st week only) Mon- 8am-10am grammar, writing, 10am-12pm conversation, speaking Tue- 8am-10am grammar, writing, 10am-12pm conversation, speaking Wed- 8am-10am grammar, writing, 10am-12pm conversation, speaking Thu- 8am-10am grammar, writing, 10am-12pm conversation, speaking Fri- 8am-10am grammar, writing, 10am-12pm conversation, speaking

Does the school organize activities?

Yes, the school organizes activities during weekday afternoons such as cooking classes, salsa dancing, movie nights and yoga. Most of these are free or require only a small materials fee. In addition, weekend excursions may be organized based on student interest (as measured by sign-ups at the beginning of each week). Weekend excursions cost between $50-150 dollars per person based on provider prices and group size. Examples include:

-Manuel Antonio -Monteverde Cloud Forest -Arenal Volcano and surrounding attractions -Playa Conchal -Fishing -Sunset sail and snorkel -Granada Nicaragua -Whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River -Rincon de la vieja ranch

How long are Spanish classes?

Classes are 50 minutes each with a 10 minute break in between.