Tambor, 18 kilometers southwest of Paquera , is a small fishing village fronted by a gray-sand beach in Bahía Ballena (Whale Bay), a deep-pocket bay rimmed by Playa Tambor and backed by forested hills. I find the setting unappealing, but many readers report enjoying Tambor.
You can play a round of golf or tennis at the nine-hole Tango Mar Golf Club tel. 506/2683-0001, www.tangomar.com ). Play is free for guests; others pay a $30 greens fee ($35 golf cart, $20 club rental). Tango Mar also offers tours, sportfishing, and horseback riding.
Ultralight Tours S.A. (tel. 506/2683-0294, www.ultralighttour.com ) offers thrilling auto-gyros from the Los Delfines airstrip, perfect for a fantastic bird’s-eye view of the area.
Seascape Kayak Tours (tel. 506/2747-1884, www.seascapekayaktours.com ) offers sea kayaking to Curú  November–April. Merle Fedders, of Pacific Coast Voyages (tel. 506/8371-7093, www.fishingtambor.com ), will take you sportfishing.
Budget hounds might try Cabinas y Restaurante Cristina (tel. 506/2683-0028, http://cabinas-cristina.blogspot.com , $30 s/d with shared bath, $36 s/d private bath, $50 s/d a/c), with nine simply furnished but clean rooms with cold water only. It also has an air-conditioned apartment ($90) with kitchen, and a pleasant open-air restaurant.
The Hotel Alkamar (tel. 506/2683-1117, www.hotelalkamar.com , from $50 s/d), one kilometer east of the village, opened in 2010. It offers a motel-style layout and somewhat bare-bones but huge air-conditioned rooms with TVs. Some rooms have kitchenettes.
I like the flame-orange Hotel Costa Coral (tel. 506/2683-0105, www.hotelcostacoral.com , $80 s/d Sun.–Thurs., $95 s/d Fri.–Sat. low season; $105 Sun.–Thurs., $120 Fri.–Sat. high season), a colorful little beauty of a hotel on the main road in Tambor. It has 10 air-conditioned rooms in three two-story Spanish-colonial structures arrayed around an exquisite pool with whirlpool. The charming decor includes wrought iron, potted plants, climbing ivy, ceramic lamps, and a harmonious ocher-and-blue color scheme. The upstairs restaurant offers ambience and good cuisine, and its gift store is splendidly stocked.
Another lovely property is Villas de la Bahía (tel. 506/2683-0560, www.villasdelabahiacr.com , $30–65 s/d), with two-story villas painted in tropical ice cream pastels.
The architecturally dramatic Tambor Tropical (tel. 506/2683-0011, U.S. tel. 866/890-2537, www.tambortropical.com , $160–220 s/d year-round) is a perfect place to laze in the shade of a swaying palm. Twelve handcrafted two-story hexagonal cabinas (one unit upstairs, one unit down) face the beach amid lush landscaped grounds with an exquisite mosaic-lined pool and whirlpool tub. The rooms are graced by voluminous bathrooms with deep-well showers, wraparound balconies, and fully equipped kitchens. Everything is handmade of native hardwoods, all of it lacquered to a nautical shine. A restaurant serves international cuisine. Snorkeling and horseback riding are offered. Rates include breakfast.
For an intimate beachfront resort, top marks go to the Belgian-run Tango Mar (tel. 506/2683-0001, www.tangomar.com , $178–899 s/d low season, $242–1,199 high season), five kilometers southwest of Tambor. Now a stylish resort, it’s backed by hectares of beautifully tended grounds below a forested cliff face. There are 25 rooms, including five Polynesian-style thatched octagonal bamboo Tiki Suites raised on stilts, 18 spacious oceanfront rooms with large balconies, and 12 Tropical Suites with romantic four-poster beds with gauzy netting. You can also choose four- and five-person luxury villas. It has two swimming pools (one a lovely free-form, multitiered complex), a nine-hole golf course, stables, water sports, Internet, plus massage and yoga. It rents 4WD vehicles. Rates include American breakfast.
If large-scale, all-inclusive package resorts are your thing, consider the Barceló Playa Tambor Resort & Casino (tel. 506/2683-0303, www.barcelo.com , from $152 s/d all inclusive), with 402 rooms sprawling across a 2,400-hectare site. The Los Delfines Golf & Country Club (tel. 506/2683-0294, www.delfines.com ), adjacent, has 64 Spanish-style two-bedroom air-conditioned villas arrayed in military-camp fashion around a nine-hole golf course.
Restaurant Cristina (tel. 506/2683-0028, 8 A.M.–9 P.M. daily) proffers good seafood and pastas on a shady patio for those on a budget. The Restaurante Arrecife (11 A.M.–2 P.M. and 6–10 P.M. daily low season, 11 A.M.–11 P.M. daily high season, $4–9), in the Hotel Costa Coral, is a charmer with its lively color scheme and dishes such as ceviche, club sandwich, burgers, fettucine, chicken with orange sauce, and sea bass with heart-of-palm sauce. It has a large-screen TV and karaoke.
The elegant thatched open-air restaurant at Tango Mar (6:30–10 A.M., 11:30 A.M.–3:30 P.M., and 6:30–10 P.M. daily, $4.50–22) offers gourmet seafood and fusion dishes.
SANSA and Nature Air fly daily to Tambor from San José , with connecting service to other resorts. The Montezuma-bound buses pass by Tambor.