Ever since we quit our jobs and left our 9-5 lives, we have semi-based ourselves in Costa Rica, just 20 minutes south of the town of Tamarindo in Guanacaste province.
You may be surprised to learn that Tamarindo is one of Costa Rica’s younger towns. Just 30 years ago, it was nothing more than a small fishing village with no roads and no tourism infrastructure. With a population of under 7,000, it’s not the most populated place in Costa Rica, but it attracts more than its fair share of tourism.
Over the years, Tamarindo area has established itself as a hub of tourism in Guanacaste. The shore of Playa Tamarindo offers great surf and attracts plenty of surfers for the waves, its white sand beaches draw in families, and the vibrant town vibe attracts plenty of solo travelers in search of the Pura Vida lifestyle and a great party town scene. Yes, Tamarindo is a destination loved by all!
For us, Tamarindo is a lifeline. It acts as a central hub for shops, art galleries and activities, so we never run out of things to do in Tamarindo. It’s precisely for that reason that we have a love/hate relationship with Tamarindo. In the low season, we love taking a trip out to Tamarindo. We hang out on the beach, stock up on groceries, and treat ourselves to some tacos or sushi while we are there.
But in the busy season, when tourists flock to Tamarindo Beach, our weekly trips become more of a hassle than a treat, as with many popular beach towns. For that exact reason, the locals have nicknamed the town “Tamagringo.”
Don’t leave your home without Travel Insurance!
From the US? We recommend Allianz Travel Insurance, a world leader in travel protection and our trusted Travel Insurance partner for the last 5 years. Allianz offers Single Trip and Annual Travel Insurance Policies that include medical coverage, trip cancellation, rental car insurance and more! (Benefits vary by state and by plan, so read your policy carefully!)
Not a US resident? Consider Safety Wing, a budget friendly travel insurance provider with travel insurance plans for Digital Nomads and travelers from all around the world.
Is Tamarindo Worth Visiting?
If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica, Tamarindo Beach is likely a stop on your itinerary and for good reasons. While it can be busy and touristy, Tamarindo does offer a convenient way to experience the Guanacaste region and some of its top activities, so you’ll never be wondering what to do in Tamarindo.
Tamarindo is known for its gorgeous white sand beaches that are a hotspot for surfers, families, and tourists from all over the globe. People also flock to Tamarindo Beach for the amazing water sports available in the area, like kayaking, SUP and fishing. It’s definitely worth visiting if you’re looking to soak up the Costa Rican sunshine or try surfing for the first time.
Check out our Featured Video
Is Tamarindo Safe?
Yes! Tamarindo is relatively safe as long as you use good travel sense. After all, leaving your valuables unattended on the beach isn’t a good idea anywhere. Out of all of the travel destinations in Costa Rica, Tamarindo is one of the safest. Pickpocketing and other minor tourist area crimes still happen, but anything beyond that is unlikely.
READ NEXT: Things To Know Before Traveling To Costa Rica
Best Time to Visit Tamarindo, Costa Rica
When it comes to Tamarindo weather, there are 2 seasons in Costa Rica. The dry season, and the green season.
The dry season runs from December until April. Contrary to popular belief, the dry season is not the best time to visit Tamarindo, because it coincides with an influx of tourists. It’s hot, really hot… and crowded, which, in our opinion, takes away all of Tamarindo Beach’s appeal.
Temperatures hover just shy of 30 degrees Celsius, and keep in mind, it is a dry heat. So drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
However, in the dry season, Tamarindo Beach is a great place to visit for those looking for a party spot. Tamarindo tourism is busy and buzzing with activities.
The rainy season runs from May to November, and it is also known as the green season because the rain makes the countryside a deep, verdant green.
Don’t be afraid to visit Tamarindo in the rainy season. It’s quiet, lush, and really laid back. Most mornings are bright and clear, and the rain clouds don’t roll in until the afternoon.
It can be a little muggy at this time of year, but temperatures hover in the comfortable mid-twenties.
We recommend planning a Tamarindo beach vacation in the shoulder season. The months of November, as well as June/July/August, are much quieter and more pleasant if you want to enjoy the beach and the surroundings.
These months experience less rainfall than during the height of the green season. You will miss the crowds, and won’t have to pay premium high-season prices.
READ NEXT: Best Time to Visit Costa Rica
How to Get to Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Tamarindo is conveniently located with easy access to Liberia airport in the heart of Guanacaste region in the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.
By Air: If you want to arrive by air, fly into Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) in Liberia. This airport has many flights from major cities in North America, like Toronto, New York, and Miami.
Tamarindo town is located just 1-hour drive from the Liberia airport. You can rent a car, take a taxi or shuttle bus, or take a 2-3 hour ride on the public bus for US$2.50.
By Car: For the most convenience, getting to Tamarindo by car is the best bet. With a car, travel can happen on your own schedule; you won’t need to rely on public transportation schedules. You can plan your schedule more carefully, take more day trips, and save on the transfer from the airport. Depending on the year and how packed Tamarindo Beach is, a car also means you can stay farther from town. Because trust us, in the high season when the town swells beyond capacity, staying in the heart of time can be quite exhausting!
The main drawback of renting a car is that parking in Tamarindo is not for the faint of heart. Given that the town was not designed for the tourism numbers, street parking and traffic in Tamarindo can be a real nightmare… even in the low season! So if you do decide to rent a car, we recommend finding a hotel with on-site parking and being prepared for a short walk into town on most days.
Book the Best Car Rental in Costa Rica
Renting a car in Costa Rica can be one of the most challenging parts of your visit! Unfortunately, car rentals in Costa Rica often come with significant hidden insurance fees, result in many frustrations at pick-up. The experience has ruined many trips and ballooned trip budgets for friends, family and followers. After years of not having a good solution, we finally found an honest car rental company that we proudly recommend to our readers.
We recommend booking with Vamos Costa Rica – a local car rental company that offers fantastic service and NO HIDDEN FEES and get 10% of your rental rate plus FREE additional driver, FREE child seat and other perks and benefits when booking through our link below!
Book early as rental car availability all across Costa Rica is currently lower than demand!
CHECK RATES NOW
By Shuttle Transfer: If you are planning to base yourself in Tamarindo for the duration of your trip or prefer to use shared transport, you’ll need to book a shuttle to get to Tamarindo from the airport or from many other destinations. Unfortunately, Tamarindo is not very well connected to other tourism hubs in Costa Rica, so getting around by public busses is quite challenging.
Distance From Tamarindo to Popular Destinations Across Costa Rica
Tamarindo to San Jose, Costa Rica: Driving from San Jose to Tamarindo and vice versa takes 4-5 hours. They are 260 km (160 miles) apart, and the well-paved road makes for a pretty easy drive.
Monteverde to Tamarindo: Expect a 3-4 hour drive from Tamarindo to Monteverde even though they are only 162 km (100 miles) apart.
Tamarindo to Santa Teresa: Heading from Santa Teresa to Tamarindo is a 200 km (124 miles) journey that takes about 5.5 hours each way.
Tamarindo to Manuel Antonio: Getting to Manuel Antonio National Park and the surrounding area takes about 5 hours from Tamarindo. They are just over 300 km (186 miles) apart.
Tamarindo to La Fortuna (Arenal to Tamarindo): It is a 4-hour drive from La Fortuna to Tamarindo (210 km/130 miles). The distance is similar if you’re leaving from Arenal.
Liberia to Tamarindo: The distance from Liberia, Costa Rica, to Tamarindo is 80 km (50 miles). It takes 1.5 hours to drive from Liberia city centre and just over 1 hour to drive from the airport.
Nosara to Tamarindo: Getting from Tamarindo to Nosara is a 2-hour drive along Route 160. The two towns are 70 km (44 miles) apart.
Tamarindo to Samara: Traveling between Tamarindo and Samara takes 2 hours on the main highway via Nicoya. For a scenic drive, you can travel along the coast for 2.5 hours but beware of potholes! The coastal route is only 4 km (2.5 miles) longer than the paved highway (94 km/58 miles) but takes much longer due to road conditions.
San Juan to Tamarindo: Costa Rica welcomes many visitors connecting from Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries. The flight from San Juan takes about 6.5 hours over the Caribbean sea.
To compare all transportation options and to book a minivan, car, bus or flight from and to Tamarindo, check out Bookaway.
Top Things to Do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Tamarindo is one of Costa Rica’s few beach towns that literally offers everything from white sand beaches and snorkelling to horseback riding and hiking.
Visit Best Beaches near Tamarindo
There are a number of beautiful beaches in and around Tamarindo, so if you are coming to Costa Rica for that beach life – Tamarindo will not disappoint!
Playa Tamarindo (Tamarindo Beach)
The main attraction in town is a nice long, sandy white, beautiful beach that stretches for 3.5 km along the main road. The beach is great for swimming, at low tide and high tide, relaxing, and sunbathing, and offers plenty of good waves for beginner surfers looking to give it a try. More experienced surfers will enjoy excellent surf breaks just outside of Tamarindo at Playa Negra and Avellanas (25 mins away by car), Playa Grande (25 mins away by car), or Witch’s Rock (1 hour by car and then 30 min by boat).
Tamarindo Beach is also a popular spot for beach volleyball, a casual soccer match and other activities. There are plenty of restaurants on the beach, so you can enjoy ocean views with a cocktail in hand. The beach is also famous for its beautiful sunsets!
Playa Langosta, Costa Rica
Playa Langosta or Langosta Beach is a quieter alternative to the busy shores of Playa Tamarindo. Located just 2 km (1.2 miles) away, Playa Langosta is a beautiful beach with its own share of amazing surfing waves and picturesque shoreline. Langosta is known as one of the more luxurious beaches and even has the only all-inclusive hotel in the area. It’s close enough to town that you can do some beach hopping and visit both Playa Tamarindo and Playa Langosta in a day.
Playa Avellanas is a beautiful swimming and surfing beach located a 30-minute drive from Tamarindo that offers a nice break from the hustle and bustle. We might be biased but Playa Avellanas is our favourite Guanacaste beach to relax, surf, and enjoy Costa Rica’s wildlife. There are also some great restaurants in the area, including the famous beachside restaurant called, Lola’s, home to 2 pigs that just love the beach!
Playa Grande is another beautiful beach destination north of Tamarindo in Marino Las Baulas National Park. It is one of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica, known for its great waves among local Guanacaste surfers. But good surf breaks aren’t its only attraction—the beach is also famous for being a nesting site for leatherback sea turtles. If you visit from October to May, you might see the nesting turtles during a night walk or tour.
READ NEXT: Best Surf Camps In Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Take a Surfing Lesson
As one of Costa Rica’s premier surfing destinations, Tamarindo is teeming with surf shops. Tamarindo surfing is at its best during the green season, between May-November, when the South Pacific brings sizable, long-period swells toward this region. This is the ideal surfing time for experienced wave riders. Surf shops in town will show you the best spots to surf around Tamarindo and take you out to popular surfing spots nearby, like Witches Rock, or Playa Negra – featured in the famous surfing movie, Endless Summer.
Good beginner conditions ideal for small-medium-sized surf can be enjoyed from December – April in Tamarindo. March is known as a particularly great time to visit for Tamarindo surfing. Beginner surf lessons can be arranged at any of the surf shops in town and if you are looking to commit to surfing and are looking for a good surf camp, Tamarindo offers a few great options.
Iguana Surf is a surf shop, surf camp, and tour agency combined into one, with simple group lessons, week-long surf camps, and everything in between. For those who don’t mind having company while they learn, group lessons start at $45. But surfing isn’t all that’s on offer. If you aren’t sure what you want to do in Tamarindo, they also offer a variety of other tours, including ATV, boat, and diving tours. If you’re feeling more adventurous, they also offer zip-lining, snorkeling, horseback riding, and white water rafting, among other things.
Salty Sols Surf School
With lessons for beginners through advanced, in groups or one-on-one, Salty Sols Surf School is a great option for families looking to do something fun with the kids at Playa Tamarindo. The instructor is noted for being great with kids and making newbies feel comfortable, while still providing the fun and great training one would expect. Group classes start at $50 and provide everything you need to catch your first wave in the Pacific Ocean.
Surf Every day Academy
At Surf Every Day Academy, Leandro Van Megroot offers daily group surfing lessons and a variety of classes for those who want to improve their surfing skills or those who want to learn from scratch. Taking a more holistic approach, Surf Every Day Academy encourages students to improve their skills through not just surf practice, but also skateboarding, mindfulness, strength training, and flexibility training. Lessons start at $69.
READ MORE: Best Surf Camps in Tamarindo
Take a Sunset Boat Cruise
Numerous sailing trips and boat tours depart daily, taking Tamarindo visitors to beautiful bays and great snorkeling spots. Many run as full-day tours, but there is also an option to do half-day tours or sunset tours. These are two of the most popular sunset sailing Tamarindo tours.
- Marlin del Rey Sunset Sailing and Snorkeling Tour – this 4.5-hour sunset cruise sails from Tamarindo Beach and follows the coastline along the Pacific Coast. The boat stops at a secluded beach for a swim, but the highlight of the experience is a chance to enjoy a few drinks while watching the sunset. Light lunch, snacks, and an open bar make it extra special. The company is professional and has been in operation for years.
- Dream Chaser Catamaran Sunset Cruise– enjoy a 5-hour sunset sailing trip aboard a 40-foot Dream Chaser catamaran with sailings from Tamarindo. Enjoy relaxing lounge areas, an open bar, lunch buffet, snorkeling equipment, and paddleboards.
Our Tip: Be sure to book through the links above or directly through the provider. There are a lot of boat ride and tour providers pushing these types of tours in town. They all sort of sound the same, but the comfort level of the boat, the quality of food/drinks and the atmosphere can make a huge difference in your experience, so choose carefully.
Kayaking tours are also popular and offer a great way to explore the mangrove ecosystem of Tamarindo Bay and the Tamarindo estuary. From the water, you may see some of Costa Rica’s diverse wildlife ranging from howler monkeys, caymans, and iguanas to tropical birds. Tours usually last 2-3 hours and are a great way to explore the natural landscape.
Kayak Club Tamarindo offers estuary tours, snorkeling tours, fishing excursions, and sunset tours. They supply kayaks and equipment and offer brief paddling lessons, so even newcomers can fully appreciate Costa Rica’s beauty from a kayak.
Whether it’s the 3-hour guided estuary tour through the mangrove forest to get up close with the howler monkeys or the less-structured fishing excursion or sunset tour, you’re sure to have a good time. Don’t forget to bring a camera with you.
Try SUP in Tamarindo Estuary
Another alternative is to stand up Paddleboard (SUP); it’s a bit more unique, where water sports are concerned. The water in the estuary is very calm so even beginners can enjoy a peaceful paddle through the jungle. You’ll get a chance to see many of the animals and fish that call this area home.
If you aren’t sure where to start, check out Costa Rica Stand Up Paddle Adventures. They offer SUP lessons for beginners or for anyone who’s only familiar with paddleboarding in flat water, rather than the ocean. Once you know what you’re doing, there are a number of guided SUP tours to other beaches near Tamarindo, ranging from 2-4 hours. Lessons start at $85, while tours start at $135.
READ NEXT: The REAL Cost of Living in Costa Rica
Go Snorkeling or Scuba Diving
Another way to explore the Pacific Ocean is through scuba diving or snorkeling tours, both of which can be arranged from Tamarindo. Snorkeling in Tamarindo Bay isn’t great, so snorkelling tours are often combined with sailing tours (see above).
Scuba diving trips go to Catalinas Islands or Bat Island, where you can have a chance of spotting bull sharks. A number of scuba diving companies operate in town and offer 2 dives + equipment packages for about $250/person.
Go on a Ziplining Tour
If you want a chance to experience the longest and coolest canopy tour in Costa Rica, you’ll have to visit Monteverde. But those that don’t plan to travel that far can experience the thrill of zip lining not too far from Tamarindo.
It’s important to note that there are no zip-lining courses right in Tamarindo, so no matter what tour provider you choose, be prepared to travel anywhere from 30 mins to 2 hours to get to your final adventure destination.
Most canopy tours in Guanacaste take place in Rincon de la Vieja National Park, located about 1.5 hours from Tamarindo. Here, the canopy is thick, the rivers are flowing, and adventure tours are offered by a number of adventure operators. These Zipline Tamarindo tours offer transfers to Rincon de la Vieja and most include other activities in the package to make it into fun Tamarindo excursions.
Zip Lining in Rincon de la Vieja
- Zip-Line and Rafting Full Day Adventure Tour at Canyon Lodge: Embrace your passion for the outdoors by joining this full-day 8-in-1 adventure trip to Canyon Lodge in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. This action-packed tour includes zip-lining, horse riding, canyoning, rafting, rock climbing, and more!
- Zipline and Hot Springs Day Tour at Blue River Resort & Hot Springs:This 9-hour adrenaline and relaxation tour takes place at Blue River Resort & Hot Springs near Rincon de la Vieja National Park. They have an elaborate zip line course with 9 thrilling zip lines, Tarzan swing, and hanging bridges. Enjoy lunch and finish the day soaking in the hot spring pools of the Blue River Resort.
- Zip Line, Horseback Riding & Natural Spa Day Tour at Buena Vista Lodge: This full-day tour takes place at Buena Vista Lodge and Adventure Centre in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. The tour includes a canopy tour with zip lines and hanging bridges, as well as the horseback ride, a soak in the volcanic mud bath and relaxation time in the swimming pool. Lunch is also included as is transportation.
- Canyon Canopy Tour at Hacienda Guachipelin: although this tour does not include transportation, it is our favourite zip line tour in the Guanacaste area. This tour takes place at Hacienda Guachipelin and includes a 2-hour canopy tour through the stunning blue canyon. You will rappel, rock climb and swing from the 12 cable rides, 24 canopy platforms, two climbing walls, hanging bridge and swing seats, as well as take in of the exotic flora and fauna. There is a restaurant on-site where you can enjoy lunch afterwards as well as other activities, like Rio Negro Hot Springs and a few beautiful waterfalls. If you have your own vehicle and can drive yourself to Guachipelin for the day, this is definitely the best zip line tour to join!
Zip Lining Near Tamarindo, Guanacaste
- Rainforest Canopy Zipline Tour– this is one of the shortest Tamarindo zipline tours that allows you to experience 11 zip lines on the different levels of the canopy. Despite the name, the tour only lasts about 3.5 hours and includes transport to and from Tamarindo to a nearby canopy course.
- Pinilla Canopy Tour – is another provider offering zip line tours near Tamarindo. Their zip line course includes 8 cables, Tarzan swing, a hanging bridge, and a little bungee jump. You can’t book this tour online, but any travel centre in town will be able to arrange this activity for you.
Go Horseback Riding
Horseback riding is a popular way to discover the back roads of Tamarindo and the surrounding areas. Tours can range from just a few hours to full-day adventures and can be organized in town.
For the best experience – check out Guti Tours in Playa Lagartillo/Playa Avellanas, about half an hour away from Tamarindo. Born and raised in this area, Andrei and his team are true locals with plenty fo great stories to share. They offer morning and afternoon horseback tours of Playa Avellanas and Playa Negra allowing you to get that iconic experience of riding a horse on the beach in Costa Rica. The scenery in this part of Guanacaste is gorgeous, it’s not too crowded and truly an escape into nature. The price is reasonable, with tours starting at $70. Sunset tours are also available and are highly recommended!
READ NEXT: Buying Property in Costa Rica: What You Need to Know
Tamarindo is conveniently located close to some of the most productive fishing grounds in the world. Depending on the time of year, Billfish and other large species can be found as close as 3 miles off the shores of Playa Tamarindo. Private Tamarindo fishing charters can be arranged through Tamarindo Charter Company or Tamarindo Sport Fishing.
Most operators have a strict catch-and-release policy for Billfish, but you can usually keep a smaller catch and arrange to have one of the restaurants in town cook it for you for dinner.
See Turtle Nesting on the Beach
Las Baulas National Park, located just a short 25 min drive from Tamarindo in Playa Grande, is a famous destination for Sea Turtles Nesting Tours. It is one of the few places in the world where Giant Leatherback Sea Turtles come to lay their eggs. To witness this unique natural occurrence, you’ll need to hop on tour departing from Playa Grande.
The unique tours take place in the evenings, just after dusk, and are led by rangers involved in the conservation projects in the park. The tours are highly regulated thanks to the conservation efforts by the Leatherback Trust in collaboration with Earthwatch.
Visitor interaction with the leatherback sea turtles is very limited (no cameras are allowed), but if you have never seen turtles nesting on the beach before, it’s a very cool and educational experience and one of the best things to do in Tamarindo. Leatherback Sea Turtle nesting season is from October to February. Your hotel or a number of agencies in town can help organize Turtle Nesting Tours.
Rent Your Own Gear
If tours aren’t your thing and you’re wondering what to do in Tamarindo you can also rent some gear to explore the area at your own pace. Bicycles, surfboards, boogie boards, SUP board and other equipment are available for rent from a variety of stores.
Visit the Tamarindo Night Market
Every Thursday night from 6pm-9pm, the town of Tamarindo comes together at the Tamarindo Night Market. The market has live music performances, fire dancers, and family-friendly fun and features a number of stalls with food, artisan goods and hand-crafted souvenirs made in Costa Rica. There is also a skate park on-site popular with local kids of all ages. It’s a fun place to be on a Thursday night and a great way to feel the vibe of the town.
Tamarindo Farmers Market
Tamarindo Farmers Market is an event not just for the tourists, but for the entire community. It’s particularly popular among those living in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. The market takes place every Saturday morning, just beside Oneida Park. Stalls at the market range from fresh produce, ready-to-eat food, snacks, personal care products and souvenirs.
Visit a Spa
Coco Spa Tamarindo is our favourite place to relax and unwind after a day on the waves. It’s a full-service spa, offering a number of services ranging from massages to nail treatments and waxing. The spa is professional and has lovely staff, plus they use natural local ingredients, where possible. We frequent the Spa when. we are in town and would highly recommend a stop here on a visit on any Tamarindo trip.
While not the most cultural of Tamarindo activities, shopping in Tamarindo, Costa Rica can be a fun way to spend an afternoon. After all, Tamarindo is one of the few places in Costa Rica that has unique shops worth exploring.
Aside from the usual souvenir shops that sell $10 tank tops, flip-flops, and sarongs, there are a number of unique boutique-style shops in Tamarindo that are definitely worth a stop while you’re visiting Tamarindo.
Clothing & Souvenir Shops
Clothing stores are peppered along the downtown area, along the main street in Tamarindo, so it’s easy to pop into a few stores as you make your way around town. The following are the most popular ones:
- Papaya con Leche – for custom-fit swimsuits and in-house handcrafted shoes
- Morena Beachwear – beautiful, sustainably locally-made swimwear. My favourite bathing suit store in town.
- Con Mucho Gusto – for artisan products and unique clothing
- Azul Profundo Boutique – for affordable beachwear, footwear, bags, bikinis, jewelry, and souvenirs
- Lydia Beech Art – for functional art and custom-made clothing
- Diamante Boutique – for unique swimwear, footwear and more
- Buena Nena – for bohemian vibes and handmade hippy styles
- Del Toro Bikini Shop – for fun and flattering bikinis in trendy cuts and patterns, for a variety of body types
- Guana Beachwear – for comfy and casual clothes to wear on the beach or around town. Designed and made in Costa Rica this is a responsible and better alternative to those $ 10 t-shirts you’ll see in all other souvenir shops.
For natural organic products made in various corners of Costa Rica, head to the Organic Products shop right next to the Coco Spa Tamarindo.
Another great spot for organic goodies is Almacén Orgánico, a bulk shop a few blocks down the street from the spa. They have a great selection of natural foods, bulk goods, specialty items and a lust-worthy list of organically grown teas. Make a stop here for ingredients you won’t find in Costa Rican grocery stores. The shop also hosts yoga classes in its on-site studio.
To stock up on groceries (not the most exciting shopping in town, but very necessary), head to the Auto Mercado on Calle Central. There is also another grocery store called Mega Super a bit further out of town. The latter is a more local alternative, but the former is your best bet for any Western ingredients or foods that you might be missing from home.
Day Trips from Tamarindo
If you plan on spending more than a few days in Tamarindo, it’s worth considering taking a few day trips for a change of scenery. Here are a few fun day trips we recommend.
Located about 20 mins south of Tamarindo, it is a beautiful 3km beach popular for swimming and surfing and a place to avoid the crowded beaches in Tamarindo. It’s the kind of place you could come to for the whole day, park up in the shade in the hammock or lawn chairs at the beach restaurant Lola’s and enjoy a relaxing day. Lola’s serves up great food for breakfast and lunch and yummy cocktails are on offer until 5pm.
Note: The road to Avellanas is not paved and is very dusty in the dry season. It is passable for any vehicle and does not require a 4×4, but if you are traveling in a smaller car, the journey can be quite uncomfortable and bumpy.
READ MORE: Things To Do In Playa Avellanas Costa Rica
Rincon de la Vieja National Park
Located about 1.5 hours from Tamarindo, Rincon de la Vieja is the closest National Park to town and a great destination for hikes and adventure activities. The park is named after a dormant volcano, located inside the park. Although this volcano is not quite as impressive as Arenal, the surrounding area still offers a nice change of scenery from the beach and is a must-see for nature lovers.
There are a few trails inside the park, some waterfalls to explore, and the Rio Negro Hot Springs, where you can soak your sore muscles after a day of activities. Lots of adventure centres in the park offer activities like zip lining, tubing, horseback riding and more (see above for tour suggestions).
Rio Celeste in Tenorio National Park
The turquoise waters of Rio Celeste have made this an appealing destination to visit on a day trip from Tamarindo. The famous Rio Celeste waterfall is located inside Tenorio Nationa Park, about 3 hours inland from Tamarindo. The hike to the waterfall is easy to moderate difficulty and should take under 2 hours. However, the journey to Tenorio makes for a long day trip!
If you don’t have time to visit Tenorio for an overnight trip, we recommend joining a tour and letting someone else do the driving for you.
- Celeste River and Llanos de Cortez Waterfall Tour is a full-day trip to Tenorio National Park that allows you to visit Rio Celeste Waterfall, and admire the beauty of the national park. You’ll have a chance to spot wildlife along the way, including sloths, red-eyed leaf frogs, toucans and beautiful butterflies. Tour includes lunch and a stop at the beautiful Llanos de Cortez Waterfalls
READ NEXT: 8 Best Day Trips From Tamarindo
Best Restaurants in Tamarindo
When it comes to the best places to eat in Tamarindo, there is no shortage of restaurants. Tamarindo offers something for everyone with a large selection of cuisines and great restaurant options. Here is a list of a few of our favourite food joints.
Bamboo Sushi Club is located in the center of town and is a great spot to have something a little bit different if you are growing tired of rice and beans. The atmosphere is nice and relaxing, and in the evening the restaurant can serve as a good spot for a romantic dinner. This is by far the best sushi spot in Tamarindo and is worth the hype. Try their Tico Roll – it’s unlike anything you’ve ever had before! They are open Monday- Saturday from 11:30 a.m to 3:00 p.m, and 5:30 p.m – 10:00 p.m. Closed on Sundays.
Nogui’s Restaurant has been serving Tamarindo since 1974 and is probably the best known local restaurant in town. They offer delicious desserts and a really fresh Tuna Poke right on the main beach! Nogui’s Tamarindo is open every day from 6 a.m to 10 p.m.
Latitude Blue is open from 11 to 11 daily. They offer local flavours with a western flare. A good place to catch some nighttime entertainment in a nice setting. Good spot for a romantic dinner in a central location on the main strip in town.
Green Papaya Taco Bar has delicious and healthy tacos, salads and more! They even offer vegan-friendly options. They are closed Mondays but otherwise operate from 11 a.m to 9 p.m daily.
Falafel Bar has the best hummus in Tamarindo! They offer a tasty Mediterranean menu in a laid-back restaurant setting. Falafel Bar is closed Tuesdays but is otherwise open from 7 a.m-10 p.m.
Sprout: Has lunch & dinner made only from fresh, organic, & locally sustainable ingredients Open from Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m-10 p.m. Oh, and it’s delicious!
Mercadito De Tamarindo: (Tamarindo Market) is a big hit in Tamarindo. The open-concept market opened in February 2018. It houses trendy food stalls and clothing shops which all face center stage. The food is cheap and cheerful, so don’t expect anything too fancy, but it’s a nice spot to grab a bite to eat while exploring the town. Live musicians and acts perform regularly. The Tamarindo Market is open every day from 11 a.m to 11 p.m and is located just 25m East of Patagonia Argentinian Grill.
Looking for Bars/Clubs in Tamarindo?
Tamarindo has long been known for its vibrant nightlife. However, over the years, especially since the pandemic, the party scene in Tamarindo has taken a big hit. Lots of places have shut down and the ones still in operation have become increasingly seedy. Here are a few recommendations, but be warned – judge for yourself and proceed with caution.
- Sharky’s Bar is a happening sports bar and club and a great place for some drinks and pub grub throughout the week. This is one of the more rowdy local bars in Tamarindo, so cautious when visiting. Sharky’s is particularly popular on Saturdays or anytime there is a sporting event on TV. Open daily (closed on Wednesdays) from11am-9/10pm
- Pacifico Bar is an open-air bar right on the beach. Great spot for Tamarindo night life, they have popular reggae and Latin music nights. Open Monday to Saturday from 7 pm to 2:30 pm.
- El Garito is a popular late-night spot known for its underground house music. Expect lots of dancing and great drinks. They are open from 7 pm to 2:30 pm except on Wednesdays and Sundays. TEMPORARILY CLOSED.
Best Hotels in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
There are a plethora of Tamarindo hotels and vacation rentals to choose from in town. Options range from cheap hostels, affordable B&Bs, mid-range hotels and luxury resorts.
Our recommendations below include a few of the most sustainable, environmentally friendly options.
Selina Tamarindo Hostel
If you’re visiting Tamarindo on a budget, a stay at the Selina Tamarindo Hostel is the way to go. Popular for digital nomads and backpackers, Selina Hostel is located in the heart of the beach town just steps away from bars, restaurants, and the beach. It’s one of the best places to stay in Tamarindo, Costa Rica for backpackers.
Selina Hostels are scattered across Latin America and focus on promoting local culture through activities and community engagement. Those happy to share a room with up to 10 people can snag a bed for just $25 a night or opt for a private suite with a bathroom for $100+. Lots of activities are available on site including yoga classes, surf lessons, and coworking spaces.
Sabanero Eco Lodge
This Tamarindo boutique hotel is located about 20 mins outside of the town centre. Sabanero Eco Lodge consists of 15 air-conditioned chalets built from local teak trees, with a porch overlooking the Cañafistula valley.
Their onsite restaurant uses locally grown produce for meals, and the place is run with a commitment to supporting the local community. Daily yoga classes is available.
Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort
Diria Tamarindo is one of the oldest Tamarindo resorts and arguably the most iconic hotel in town. Diria has existed in Tamarindo since the town was nothing more than a fishing village. It has continued to keep up its grounds to carry a 4-star certification.
This is a kid-friendly spacious resort, with 240 air conditioning rooms, ocean view accommodations, 3 swimming pools, 5 restaurants, 4 bars, and much more! Despite its size, Diria Resort is working towards being carbon-neutral through eco-friendly practices and the support of ongoing reforestation efforts in Costa Rica.
Jardin del Eden, Costa Rica
Located just a few steps away from the beach and surrounded by beautiful tropical gardens. Jardin del Eden Boutique Hotel offers guests a relaxing eco-friendly atmosphere.
The hotel has implemented a long-term sustainability management system committing to using local materials, solar heating, and eco-friendly toiletries. This is another adult-only hotel, with 46 rooms ranging from $180-$450 USD a night.
READ NEXT: 8 Best Hotels In Tamarindo
How Much Time Do You Need in Tamarindo?
Plan to spend at least 2-3 days in Tamarindo to give yourself time to enjoy different beaches and take advantage of some activities and tours in the area.
With that said, though, if you don’t like touristy places, overpriced restaurants (because they are not cheap in Tamarindo), and nightlife isn’t high on your bucket list, consider skipping a visit to Tamarindo altogether.
There are quieter beaches to enjoy all along the Pacific Coast and towns that come with a lot more Costa Rican flare and cultural vibe than Tamarindo (which basically has zero).
31 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to the Best Things to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica (Updated 2023)”
Great post! Looks fantastic, might have to add Tamarindo to the itinerary! I’d love to see the turtles nesting, or at least do a tour to learn more about them. Are there any other places along the Pacific Coast where I’d be able to find turtles? We’ll be making our way from Nica to Corcovado so I’d love to stop at some places on the way.
Playa Grande is the most popular place to see turtle nesting, but if you are visiting the region at the right time, Playa Ostional can be another great spot. Check out our video about turtles in Ostional here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXfaTTiBVg4
Hi! Can you suggest any towns that you write about here? I’ll be traveling with my husband and six year old and love to get a little local flare. Thanks!
There are quieter beaches to enjoy all along the Pacific Coast and towns that come with a lot more Costa Rican flare and cultural vibe than Tamarindo (which basically has zero).
Check out Playa Avellanas, it’s just south of Tamarindo and is much more local and less touristy than other hot spots in the country!
I’m going to travel around the Guanacaste and Punta Arenas provinces this August.
I would like to have a nice party night at some point, is Tamarindo the place to party in August?
Tamarindo is always a good place to party, but August falls within the low season, so not all bars will be opened, so the party won’t be too wild. But it’s probably the best you will get in Costa Rica during that time. Aside from San Jose, of course, although clubbing in the capital is not very safe, so we would never recommend it to visitors.
Traveling to Tamarindo in October with my family, wife a 6 kids.
How will the atmosphere be in October? Will it be relaxing? Not to busy?
Would you suggest other places to stay?
Brian and Vickie
Hi Brian, October falls within the green season, so Tamarindo will be quiet and quite nice. Be prepared for some rain, although you can get lucky and get lovely sunny days. We are a bit biased but we always recommend that our readers spend a few nights in Playa Avellanas, a lovely quiet beach area just south of Tamarindo. This is where our Drift Away Eco Lodge is located and it’s a perfect destination for a family with kids. The kids LOVE our pool!
Thanks for the info! Coming in February. Have you heard anything about the hotel in the shade?
Thanks in advance!
No sorry, haven’t come across that one. But there are so many hotels in Tamarindo that it’s hard to keep up. We have a list of our recommended Tamarindo hotel here: https://drinkteatravel.com/best-hotels-in-tamarindo-costa-rica/
Thank you so much for the blog!! It was nice learning more about the city! I am going for the first time during christmas/new years week. I had a quick question regarding new years, what do you recommend doing? Since it is during COVID times, I want to know if bars/clubs/parties are still going on.
Hi Alex, glad to hear that you have chosen to spend the holidays in Costa Rica. You’ll love your time here!
Some bars may still be opened on NYE, but honestly, if you want to be safe, we would not recommend going to a bar/club/party on NYE, as these types of social activities are known to have a higher likelihood of COVID transmission. If you are traveling with a friend loved one, or family consider spending a quiet New Years’ with them. Star gazing on the beach with a bottle of champagne is a great way to ring in a New Year. Happy Holidays!
Thank you! This is great advice that I will follow closely. What is the best hike (or National Forest) to see waterfalls and/ or volcanoes? Can’t decide if we want to be travelling all the way to Arenal???
Just wondering for a couple in their late 50s, who enjoy Scuba, fishing and lounging on the beach. Also enjoy day trips, what would your recommendation be for the west coast of Costa Rica. We are going in February and would like a more authentic area. I also want to compliment you on your blog, very informative. Thanks in advance, John and Liz.
Hi John and Liz, we are so happy to hear that you’ve found our articles helpful! Tamarindo would be a good central place to base yourself for a few days or even up to a week. There are tons of tours, day trips and activities you can do to keep yourselves busy. Fishing charters run out of Playa Flamingo, scuba diving in our of Playa de Coco, so you could also add a few days at each one fo those destinations. Also, check out Avellanas, as a quiter alternative to Tamarindo beach.
Hi Guys. Thanks for the post. Myself and my wife and toddler (just under 2 years) are hoping to spend a month in CR in February ‘22. We have found a place just ten minutes walk out of town that seems perfect. I will be working remotely while we are out there, and we were wondering about any possibility for us to find a nanny or someone to help us with our son while we are there – do you think this might be possible in this area? Thanks in advance for any help.
Yes, shouldn’t be hard to find help. Reach out to your host ( I assume you got an Airbnb or similar rental) and ask them for recommendations for someone hyper local.
Thank you so much for this article. A friend and I are staying in Tamarindo for a week in early Nov and this was so helpful, really so helpful. We are younger guys and open to traveling elsewhere in the country. But felt Tama would be a good central hub because of the surfing. Should we rent a car for the week? Is a two day trip to San Jose a good idea? Any other suggestions for younger (single) guys? We would like to go hiking and night life is important. Thanks!
Tamarindo is definitely a good destination for what you guys are looking for. Surf will be great, there is some hiking in Rincon de la Vieja National Park about 1 hour away from Tamarindo. Unfortunately, though, the beginning of November is still considered to be low season, so Tamarindo will be much quieter than normal… and a bit rainier. As for driving to San Jose, we would probably advise against it. It’s a long drive (5-6 hours each way) to go just for 2 days, especially if you have to drive back after a night out. Plus, there are still some restrictions on bars/clubs due to the pandemic, so you may not find the nightlife in San Jose to be that vibrant even if you do end up making the trip out.
Hi! Such a great article, thank you for all the information. I’ll be traveling to Costa Rica this December! Any low-cost suggestions as to how to get from San José to Tamarindo? Thank you!
yeah, the cheapest option is a public bus, or a more comfortable alternative would be a shared shuttle. You can search for both and book the tickets online at bookaway.com as mentioned in the article.
Hi! Sorry for the late response, I went with the shared shuttle option, I met a bunch o people at the place I was staying in San José and we found it to be better to go all together that way. I used bookaway.com 🙂 Thank you so much
Hi there! I am from Argentina and just arrived to Costa Rica! I’ve been working for a couple of businesses from here and wanted to get to know them a little bit better so as to do my job better 🙂 I plan on staying in the country for three whole months, and was wondering where do you suggest I stayed for when high season really kicks in? I am in Tamarindo right now and find it busy already, they are telling me it gets worse and your article says so too! Haha I wouldn’t want to go that far, for my clients are here but somewhere a little quieter… Thank you!
Yes, it will get busier, so it’s a good idea to look for another place now. Playa Langosta is a bit quieter but is still close to the action of Tamarindo, if you can get a hotel or B7B there. Alternatively, if you have a car, then Playa Avellanas is the best you are going to find in the area. A few hotels, some restaurants, beautiful beaches and no crowds. Some hotels and many Airbnbs have fibre internet here, so you can easily work remotely.
Thank you for this post. Great info, looking forward to my trip to Costa Rica
Looking forward to visiting in may with a party of 10. Staying in pinilla at an Airbnb. My question is this. We are traveling with 8 adventurers ages 25-55 and two seniors age 73-76. They are cool with hanging by the pool but we want to include them as much as possible in excursions. Any specific suggestions that could accommodate active folks and a couple of observers? Any info would be much appreciated
Hi guys! Great article, I was in Costa Rica this past January and definitely agree on the “Tamagringo” term :S it was BUSY but still quite lovely, I felt like it was up to me to decide whether I wanted to mingle with all the people or mind my own business, so I did get some much needed alone-with-nature time. I didn’t get to move around that much unfortunately but looking forward to returning soon and perhaps staying for a couple of months this time. I kind of fell in love with the Pura Vida lifestyle!
We are coming to Tamarindo April 1-9, 2023.
Our 9 year old son would like to surf.
He has surfed in New Jersey for the last 4 years and can paddle, catch a wave, and ride himself.
Neither one of us surf, so we really want him to have someone with him while he surfs every day.
Could you please recommend a a few surf companies that caters to kids and could provide lessons/supervision while he surfs.
We will have a car, so different areas are fine.
There are a couple of surf schools mentioned in this article. You can also check out our detailed post here: https://drinkteatravel.com/surf-camps-tamarindo-costa-rica/
We re planning a trip for next year in February 2023. I was wondering if you have seen any bioluminescent in Tamarindo area beaches at night? Otherwise we are planning to head down to Paquera for 1 night to kayak there.
No. Unfortunately, we have never seen or heard of bioluminescence in Tamarindo. Our only experience with this phenomenon was in Osa Penninsula in the South Pacific.