If there is one thing Costa Rica will not run out of, then it’s her beaches to visit! From grey-sand beaches, and off-white sand beaches, to the majestic white-sand beaches and thrilling adventures, Costa Rica has definitely got you covered. Within the province of Guanacaste, four and a half hours away from Costa Rica’s capital city San Jose, you’ll find a popular beach town teeming with travelers from all over the world—the bustling beach town of Tamarindo. The warm weather and blue waters are sure to draw you in to experience more of Costa Rica! But aside from its natural beauty, the town of Tamarindo is also a vibrant, buzzing, and bustling town filled with a lively atmosphere ideal for those looking for both energetic daytime and night-time activities. There are tons of things to do at Tamarindo. That’s why we rounded up the best of them for you to do here!
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How long to stay in Tamarindo
There are plenty of exciting things for you to do at Tamarindo, so we suggest staying for three to five days. However, we recommend staying for longer if you want to specifically come here to surf.
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Where to Stay in Tamarindo
Where you stay to rest up during your travel matters, that’s why it is also important to get to know more about the atmospheres and activities available in different locations of the place you visit. In Tamarindo, if you are someone who prefers an amazing beach-side experience with plenty of activities, we suggest staying by Playa Tamarindo. But Playa Tamarindo is also where most visitors will likely stay, so it can be more crowded, especially during peak seasons.
If you’d like a more quiet, secluded, and laid-back atmosphere and to immerse yourself in nature, we recommend staying by the area of Playa Grande to the North and by the area of Playa Langosta to the South.
But if you can’t decide, don’t worry! We’ve narrowed down our top picks of places you can stay while you visit Tamarindo.
Sueño del Mar Beachfront Hotel: The Sueño del Mar Hotel is located just a 5-minute drive outside of Tamarindo. Each room and apartment of the hotel is equipped with air-conditioning and free WiFi and also offers a fantastic view of the beach or the gardens; the rooms all have private bathrooms and a kitchenette. The hotel also has an outdoor pool and garden areas and offers free daily breakfast to guests. If you can’t find what you want inside, there’s a grocery store and a beachfront restaurant just within 600m of the hotel. The hotel is also a 15-minute drive away from the Tamarindo Local Airport and Las Baulas Marine National Park. You can check rooms and rates here.
Casa Monacita: Located just a few minutes up the hills of Tamarindo is Casa Monacita. Casa Monacita offers free WiFi, a barbecue facility, an outdoor pool, and a free private parking space for your car. Their rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, a kitchenette, a seating area, and a dining area. The hotel also has a sun terrace providing you with breath-taking views of the ocean. You can check rooms and rates here.
Capitán Suizo Beachfront Boutique Hotel: Capitán Suizo is located just outside town at the end of the bay and located directly in front of the beach. They offer massage services and spa facilities, and gardens. The rooms here are air-conditioned and all have a balcony offering magnificent views of the beach. You can check rooms and rates here.
The Best Things to Do in Tamarindo
Tamarindo’s growth as a popular beach town means that it’s come a long way from its origin as a small fishing town. Now it’s considered one of the top destinations for those who want to experience activities such as, and most importantly, surfing, along with zip lining, kayaking, ATV, scuba diving, boat trips, and bird watching.
Apart from these activities, the beach town is also known for its nightlife scene, perfect for unwinding after a day filled with physical activities.
Visit Beaches in Tamarindo
One thing this town is definitely known for is its beaches (Tamarindo is not called a popular beach town for no reason!). Tamarindo is filled with beaches you can visit where you can spend your time with watersports activities, cooling down in its crystal clear blue waters, or just soaking up the warm sun while you enjoy their white sands. These beaches are also perfect for early morning walks and a stroll past the various stores selling fruits, ice creams, and hand-made pieces of jewelry. Tamarindo beaches sound like, and are paradise! So here, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite beaches in Tamarindo that you definitely should not miss.
- Playa Langosta: Just 1.5 miles south of Tamarindo is Playa Langosta, a spectacular soft-sand beach ideal for relaxing. You can bring a picnic, lounge around the area, watch the surfers, and cool down in the ocean. Playa Langosta is also known for its natural beauty and can be a secluded and quiet place for you to enjoy its white sand while you catch the sunset and explore the tidal pools.
- Playa Tamarindo: You definitely should not miss spending time at Playa Tamarindo, the most popular beach in the town. This is where most visitors to Tamarindo base themselves when they plan to explore the town since it is a central location where all the action happens. You can catch the waves or watch others as they surf. The waves here are also ideal for beginner surfers, so if you’ve always wanted to try surfing, Playa Tamarindo could be your perfect place. But sometimes, waves and currents can be large and strong, so be sure to check out advisories ahead of your visit.
- Playa Avellanas: Playa Avellanas is just a short drive away from Tamarindo. This black-sand beach has captivated visitors, making it one of the popular destinations. Playa Avellanas is also known for its waves, which are perfect for surfing, and its majestic beauty, perfect for relaxing. But the currents are stronger, so it’s not advisable for those who are just beginning to surf or those who are looking to just swim. The beach area also has several restaurants and shops you can enjoy while you spend the day basking in the sun.
- Playa Grande: Playa Grande is not only a known surfing spot but also a sea turtle nesting spot! You can witness Leatherback Sea Turtles laying their eggs during nesting season, between November to April. This tan-sand beach offers visitors a quiet and secluded area perfect for catching waves and spending a quiet walk during sunset. Playa Grande is also ideal for both beginner and intermediate surfers, but its waves and currents could also be perfect when the time is right.
Take A Surf Lesson in Tamarindo
If you don’t know how to surf yet, that’s okay! Since Tamarindo is a well-known surfing location, everyone is welcome to try it out! You can take surfing lessons by checking out Frijoles Locos, Mojo, or Cachet Surf. May to November are the best seasons for surfing, so be sure to schedule your travel during this season. Some of the best surfing spots are Witch’s Rock and Playa Negra. Lessons are usually taught in groups and are around USD50 to USD65 per lesson. You can also check out surfing camps that last for about five to seven days with prices that start at around USD170.
But if you’re not (yet) up for surfing, there are plenty of surfers to watch!
Get a view of the rainforest canopies by Zip Lining in Tamarindo.
Tamarindo is not all beaches! This town also showcases the beautiful lush jungles of Costa Rica, and exploring them and seeing them from above is definitely a must. Zip lining offers you just that, a magnificent view of the amazing canopies of the jungles. Get your adrenaline pumping as you zip past the tall trees and get a chance to have a glimpse at the wildlife residing up here. You can book ziplines locally, or you can check out this zip lining tour which also includes a horse riding tour, a volcanic mud bath, a trip to natural hot springs, and a lunch buffet!
Go Kayaking in Tamarindo
Get to know more about the beauty of Tamarindo by kayaking the seashore. You can choose to gently paddle across the ocean. It’s a great way to see wildlife as you paddle across the waters and get a chance to see monkeys, birds, and even crocodiles(!) It is best, however, to go kayaking with a professional guide so you can fully enjoy the tour as they can guide you where to go and look so you can properly see the wildlife. You can find a kayak guide locally.
See the varying species of birds by birdwatching in Tamarindo
With thick forests come hundreds of species of birds residing in them! If you’re a bird lover, Tamarindo is a place full of them. You can go on a hike, a boat tour, on a zip line, or even just strolling by the beach; you will be able to see the birds flying above your head and be enthralled by the magnificence of nature. For specific bird-watching tours in Tamarindo, then this is a great option.
Watch the Sunset on the Beach in Tamarindo
Even though the sunsets every day, there is a certain feeling of comfort when you get to watch it every day. It’s even better when you’re by the beach. The blue waters glowing orange, the sand is warm, the sound of calm waves, and the salty breeze of the ocean—what better way to spend an afternoon than to watch the sun setting, a beautiful reminder that simple everyday things can be breathtakingly spectacular. During these sunset hours, you can also enjoy ‘Happy Hours’ at some bars.
Go White Water Rafting in Tamarindo
Tamarindo still has some high-octane activities left to do! And going white water rafting in the raging waters of Tamarindo is one of them. You can go for classes I and II rapids white water rafting if you’re a beginner or if you prefer a calmer ride. You can also go for a class III and IV rapids if you already have advanced skills or if you like a more thrilling tour of the river. The Tenorio River nearby is an excellent spot for III and IV white water and this 2.5-hour tour of the Tenorio River is perfect for both beginners and intermediate travelers! You can see the prices and reviews here.
Set your eyes on nature’s artwork with a Tamarindo Estuary Boat Trip
Witness the unique natural world of Tamarindo’s mangroves and estuary as you navigate your way around the maze-like waterways just north of Tamarindo. Go on an estuary boat trip and get to see the captivating ecosystems existing within the estuary. Have a chance at getting to see the wildlife that resides within the thick trees and the river, and you might find a crocodile or two and a bird flying above as you gently move through the waters. Take this Tamarindo estuary boat ride with a naturalist guide that will point you in the right direction and enjoy it as you float through the mangrove forest.
Go on a thrilling ATV Trip through the forest of Tamarindo.
Take a bumpy, but exhilarating tour as you rip through the different trails within Tamarindo’s forests with an ATV tour. Navigate muddy trails, mud pits, steep hills, and exciting trails, and get some mud on you! Be sure to bring extra shirts and keep your valuables in a waterproof bag to keep mud from getting on them. You can also join the group Tamarindo ATV tour to get the best experience of Tamarindo’s beach, forest, and tropical scenery.
Sea Turtles at Las Baulas National Marine Park
The Las Baulas National Marine Park got its name from the endangered Leatherback Sea Turtle, the largest marine reptile. Through Playa Grande, the Las Baulas National Marine Park stands as a turtle conservation dedicated to protecting the turtles laying their eggs at the beach. You can witness these turtles laying their eggs during nesting season between November to April. However, these tours to see the turtles are done only during the night, and rangers will be there to guide you so that the negative impact on the turtles is minimized.
While turtle nesting tourism is surely bringing in resources for the continuous protection of these turtles, the presence of travelers and the lights used to see the turtles at night are making the turtles confused and disoriented. That’s why you must follow all the ranger’s instructions when you visit the turtles. From the park, you can also visit the mangroves and estuaries and find a perfect spot to spend the day either kayaking or strolling by Playa Grande.
Alternatively, you can join this turtle-watching tour in Tamarindo that will take you on a boat trip around the protected areas of Las Baulas National Marine Park.
Take a cruise through the different areas of Tamarindo.
Another way to explore more of this popular beach town is to go on cruises! You can cruise by the estuaries and explore more of the mangrove forest and its habitats, you can also take a sunset cruise where you’ll get to see the sunset as you float the waters, and you can also take a jungle cruise at the Palo Verde National Park where you’ll get a chance to see monkeys, crocodiles, iguanas, varying species of birds, and caimans.
You can also join a group Tamarindo jungle cruise for half a day at the Palo Verde National Park to get a more immersive experience of the wildlife wonders of Tamarindo.
Take a sunset boat trip around Tamarindo.
We just love sunsets! The beauty of sunsets will leave anyone in awe and wonder how this amazing and spectacular event is for us to see daily and for free! Watching the sunset while you’re on a boat, and gently cruising the waters of Tamarindo is the perfect way to celebrate this natural beauty. As you cruise soak up the warmth of the sun and even take a dip and snorkel under the cool blue waters. Get to see more secluded beaches where you can spend your time strolling or lounging around. This 5-hour catamaran cruise from Tamarindo on a 40-foot long Dream Chaser catamaran visits secluded beaches like Playa Minas, Playa Huevo, or Piratas Bay and is a perfect way to watch the sunset at sea in Tamarindo.
Witness the beauty of Miravalles Volcano
Just an hour’s drive away from Tamarindo, you’ll find Miravalles Volcano. No major volcanic activities have been going on with Miravalles, but this magnificent volcano continues to spew gases and geysers by its base. While there, you can also bathe in the natural hot springs after a hike. At the top, you’ll get to see a stunning view of Guanacaste’s landscape. The volcano’s slightly active status is turned into geothermal energy that supplies electricity to a large part of the Guanacaste province. If you have your own car you can drive to Miravalles, but for a stress-free day, you can also join this Miravalles tour, taking you up the volcano and then a swim and soak in the natural hot spring, along with a mud bath.
Take in spectacular views at Palo Verde National Park
Witness the spectacular display of nature at Palo Verde National Park. This national park houses both wetlands and tropical dry forests and is considered one of the best examples in the world. This is because of Rio Tempisque flooding over parts of a park located within a country with a pretty dry climate. One of the popular attraction of the park is the birds that usually migrate to the park and stays at the marshes formed by the floodwater from Rio Tempisque during Costa Rica’s wet season. To get a better view of the birds, be sure to situate yourself near a water source, and you might also spot other animals like Variegated Squirrels, Howler monkeys, White-nosed Coatis, White-tailed Deer, and White-throated Capuchin monkeys. You can also rent mountain bikes from the Organization for Tropical Studies station here at the park, so you can have a chance to explore the other parts of the park.
The best time to visit the park is during the dry season, which is December to May, since, during the wet season, the roads are not passable. You can drive here if you have a rental car, but if you don’t the easiest way to visit Palo Verde National Park from Tamarindo is to join a tour. This group tour of Palo Verde National Park picks you up from your hotel and gives you a more immersive visit to Palo Verde National Park.
Go Scuba Diving and swim with the fishes of Costa Rica.
Located just 30-minutes away from Tamarindo, you’ll find the Flamingo Marina, the start point for scuba divers to go to Las Catalinas Island. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry! You can have a brief lesson for an hour and then go for a two-tank dive with a guide. Under the water, you can come across whitetip reef sharks, manta rays, dolphins, fishes, and even eels! If you catch the right season, you might also catch a glimpse of humpback whales and sea turtles. Head to the Marina to organize your Tamarindo dive trip.
Day Trips from Tamarindo
Costa Rica is filled with picturesque and unforgettable places you can easily visit even while you’re in another region! Tamarindo is one of Costa Rica’s places that is an ideal base for you to travel to areas in the local from. These are the best day trips from Tamarindo. You can head to these spots independently if you have a rental car (check rates here).
If you need to rent a car in Costa Rica we recommend Discover Cars for car hire. You can search, compare and save up to 70%, with no hidden fees and free cancellation, it’s the perfect option! Get a price for a rental car in Costa Rica here.
Visit the Rio Celeste on a day trip from Tamarindo
Satisfy your nature-lover heart with a trip to Rio Celeste. Rio Celeste is located at Tenorio Volcano National Park. To reach the clear blue river and the crashing waterfalls, you’ll need to hike up 8 kilometers from the parking lot. Getting to Rio Celeste will take about two and a half hours by car. There’s more about Rio Celeste here. If you don’t have a rental car, then this full-day Rio Celeste tour from Tamarindo includes a hotel pick-up and drop-off along with a more in-depth exploration of Rio Celeste and its wildlife.
Visit Arenal National Park from Tamarindo
You can’t visit Costa Rica without visiting at least one of its spectacular volcanoes. One of them is at Arenal National Park. The national park offers tons of exciting activities for you to enjoy, and you can read all about it here (we’ve written all about it!). You can drive to Arenal Volcano National Park from Tamarindo, which will take you about three to four hours. You can also take the bus, but that makes it a bit more than a day trip! From Tamarindo, take the one that heads to Liberia, then from Liberia, you’ll board another bus to Cañas. From Cañas, you’ll have to make a short walk to head to the station that will bring you to Tilarán. Once you reach Tilarán, take a taxi to Arenal Volcano National Park. This bus trip will take you approximately five and a half hours.
Alternatively, you can join a tour to Arenal from Tamarindo that will pick you up and take you to Arenal Volcano National Park and experience the magnificence of the iconic Arenal Volcano.
Visit Nicaragua from Costa Rica for the Day
Want to go to another country and then come back to Tamarindo? Head to Nicaragua! (here’s how!) This country is a bustling place filled with magnificent beaches and lakes, spectacular volcanoes, farmlands, and buzzing towns, quite like Costa Rica. You’ll find that Nicaragua’s atmosphere may feel the same as Costa Rica’s, especially Guanacaste since Guanacaste was once a Nicaraguan land. From Tamarindo, you can take a four-hour drive to Managua, Nicaragua’s capital city. You can also take the bus from Tamarindo via Peñas Blancas. Then from Peñas Blancas, you can head to Managua.
Do remember to bring your passport! The easiest way to go to Nicaragua from Tamarindo is to join a tour – You’ll get to explore the Catarina Volcano, Masaya Artisan Market, and the Masaya Volcano, then end the day with a sunset cruise – read more about it here.
Where is Tamarindo
Tamarindo is located about four hours away from Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose (read more about San Jose here). Tamarindo is also about three hours away from the Tambor Airport and an hour away from the Daniel Oduber International airport in Liberia. For a great beach vibe and atmosphere, head to Tamarindo for fun-filled adventures and a thrilling experience.
When’s the best time to visit Tamarindo
Tamarindo experiences two seasons, the green and the dry seasons. The dry season is from December to April. You can opt to visit during the dry season so you can better enjoy the beaches, but this is also the peak season and travelers from all over the world visit this popular beach town.
The green or wet season, on the other hand, which runs from May to November, makes the town green and lush, hence its name. While the wet season seems like not the best season to go to Tamarindo, the cool weather makes it an ideal time to visit. You can still enjoy different water sports, especially during the mornings, as the weather only gets cooler during the afternoon while rain clouds roll in.
But our most recommended time to visit it is during shoulder season, which is during the months of November, June, July, and August. During these months, Tamarindo is more quiet and pleasant to visit. There is less rainfall during this season, the beaches are less crowded, and prices are lower.
What is Tamarindo known for
Tamarindo is a perfect place for you to spend your time at the beach and engage in plenty of water-based activities like kayaking, boat tours, and scuba diving. But travelers don’t just come here for that; Tamarindo is also a very well-known place to surf for adrenaline junkies from all over the world, so be sure to try your hand at surfing if you haven’t already! While the town is pretty popular for its water-based activities, it also offers a range of land-based activities like hiking, strolling through the national parks, and zip-lining atop the lush greenery of Costa Rica.
How to get around Tamarindo
Tamarindo is a pretty busy town, so there are several ways you can get around the town. You can board buses which take you to beaches; tickets will usually cost USD1.
If you want to experience Tamarindo closer, rent a bike! Renting a bike can cost around USD7 to USD18 per day.
You can also rent motorbikes which usually start at USD40 a day during the off-season and around USD55 per day during peak season.
If you want a more fun experience and a few friends or family you can go with, rent an electric golf cart! Since these carts don’t use gas, it’s considered one of the more affordable ways to get around Tamarindo; rent will usually cost you around USD45.
Or, if you don’t want to commit to having to bring your bike, motorbike, or golf cart for the whole day, you can also go by taxi! There are also a few Ubers for getting around.
How to Get to Tamarindo
There are several days to reach Tamarindo. One way is to fly; the town is located just an hour away from the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia. From Liberia, you can either take a taxi, board the public bus, or take a shuttle bus.
How to Get to Tamarindo from San Jose
There is a high chance you’re coming in from the capital city, San Jose when you visit the buzzing little town of Tamarindo. If you’re going by air, you’ll get to Tamarindo from San Jose via Juan Santamaria International Airport. Here are a few ways to reach Tamarindo when you’re coming from San Jose.
Drive to Tamarindo
If you want to take a longer route or maybe spend more time with your family or friends (if you went with them), driving to Tamarindo from San Jose is the option. From San Jose, you can drive directly to Tamarindo for about four to five hours. Pick up a rental car in San Jose – you can check rates here.
Take the Bus to Tamarindo
You can board a bus from San Jose as well. From the capital city, you can board a bus heading to Santa Cruz, then from Santa Cruz, board another bus to Playa Tamarindo. This will take you about five to six hours. You can also board a bus that directly heads to Tamarindo; it has multiple stops, but you just have to reach Tamarindo before you get off. This route takes about five hours.
- Here are the bus options from San Jose to Tamarindo
- You can also take a shuttle to Tamarindo from San Jose
Final Words on The Best Things to do in Tamarindo
Beaches, beaches, beaches! It’s hard to get enough of beaches! Their soft sand, cool waters, and spectacular views are things we don’t want to miss when we want relaxed and fun travels. Costa Rica offers just that! A bustling town with plenty of beaches to visit and a nightlife scene to die for. Visiting Costa Rica and its towns like Tamarindo (and Jaco) provides you with a thrilling experience filled with meaningful trips to conservatories, glorious views of our sunset, exhilarating adventures, and a deeper appreciation for the beauty of nature. If you want to unwind from the stress of your everyday life, Tamarindo is one of the best places to be, so keep Tamarindo part of your itinerary and make unforgettable moments while visiting.
With thanks to the author of this article, Alyssa Manuel
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