This Gold Coast mini-metropolis is all about great surf, sand, food and nightlife. And while that makes Tamarindo a hotspot for surfers, partiers and bohemians, it doesn’t make bonafide adults shy away, either. Our Langosta and Tamarindo travel guide introduces you to this Costa Rican hotspot for couples, kids, and anyone who loves nature (nesting turtles!), calm beaches, and lots of amenities. Just watch out for the crocs.
- Area: Guanacaste
- Average Temperature: 75-95º F (23-35º C)
- Closest Airport: Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR), 1.5 hours
- Can’t-Miss Attractions: Beaches, Las Baulas National Marine Park (turtle nesting), Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge (mangroves, wildlife), Monkey Park (wildlife rescue), Catalina Islands (snorkeling & scuba), Palo Verde National Park (wetlands, bird watching)
- Hot Activities: Zip Lining, Surfing, White Water Rafting, Horseback Riding, ATV Tours, Sport Fishing, Nature Tours, Waterfalls, Turtle Nesting, Kayaking, Sailing, Snorkeling (+Scuba), Learning Spanish, SUP
- Great for: Families, Couples & Honeymooners, Surfers, Nature Lovers
Nicknamed “TamaGringo”, Playa Tamarindo is a town full of vacationers, visitors and expats from around the world.
“It’s the best place to find an eclectic, beach community, while still having access to an array of modern day services.”
Take advantage of our Tamarindo travel guide, and discover the city’s local markets, classes, music nights and a growing art scene, all of which do their part to create a fun and diverse community of people, built among a foundation of dirt roads and fancy hotels.
What to do in Tamarindo
Tamarindo was founded on the passion and love of surfing. A great place for all levels, Tamarindo is home to many surf shops where you can rent a board and schedule a lesson, a tour or a surf photographer.
Playa Tamarindo is known for being a great spot for beginners, but advanced surfers love it as well. Around the bend or down the road, you will find Playa Langosta, a great break for more experienced surfers.
Still want more? Tamarindo is between Playa Avellanas to the south and Playa Grande to the north, both great beaches for surfing. Make sure to check out Avellanas Shuttle providing transportation between the many great beaches just north and south of Tamarindo.
Anywhere you end up staying in Tamarindo, you will be able to find a yoga class within walking distance. You may even find one at your hotel. If not, check out one of the studios or ask around for your favorite style. There is also a growing number of workshops and retreats in the area.
Tour guides will lead you on an adventure through the jungle trails, up mountains and to neighboring beaches
Short zip-line tours can be found in and around Tamarindo. Feeling more adventurous? Sign up for a full day out of town (transportation provided) and experience a canopy tour high in the mountains before returning to the warm beach.
This tour is a must. Over the last 6 years I’ve seen the number of tour boats expand, and they are all wonderful experiences. Most tours provide snorkel gear, lunch and an open bar to assure that every moment of the tour is exciting.
There are many options for fishing as well. Find a group of friends to share the boat with, then bring your catch to one of the beach front restaurants offering to cook your very own catch of the day while you relax with a cocktail.
Music & Art
Photo by Leona Abrahao
Art (of all kinds) is a growing community in Tamarindo. Art galleries have popped up over the last couple years and this year was the first annual Tamarindo Art Wave Festival.
Check out the local publication, The Swell Dealer, for a calendar of events. Live music, open mic, dance classes and more can be found.
Las Baulas National Park includes Playa Grande to the north, Tamarindo, and Playa Langosta to the south. Conservation efforts are active in Playa Grande. Some efforts are also made to protect the turtle eggs on the sandy stretch of beach to the south of the San Francisco estuary in Playa Langosta. Any tour company in town will be able to schedule a guided visit to a nearby turtle beach at night. To see the Leatherbacks laying eggs, it’s best to visit between October and March.
Photo by Leona Abrahao
If you haven’t scheduled your visit to Tamarindo yet, make sure to be there on a Saturday morning and visit the local “Feria”. This outdoor market offers locally crafted items, as well as organically grown produce, local spices, honey, eggs, meat and even locally baked sweets.
Tamarindo Travel Guide to Bars & Restaurants
Noguis – “Where it all began”. Noguis has been open since Tamarindo was just forming in 1974, before phones, running water and electricity. Located right on the beach it is a great spot to enjoy breakfast, lunch & dinner, or drinks at sunset.
Sabor de la Vida
Photo by Leona Abrahao
Located on the same block is this “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant with typical Costa Rican food at a standard Costa Rican price. As you step down into this small space, you will see it is not “fine dining” and there is limited seating, but Sabor de la Vida is your best bet for a tasty, Costa Rican dish in the center of town. This “Comida Tipica” is not easy to find in a town full of foreign influence.
Sprouts – what started as sandwiches & salads has become a town favorite. Sprouts menu claims loyalty to “quality & sustainability”, offering local and organic ingredients. Sprouts is located on the main road, just as you get into town.
Sharky’s Bar – This sports bar has been a staple in town since it’s opening in 2008. From Karaoke night to Ladies’ night, every day of the week is another night to party. Sharky’s caters to sports fans, offering large screens for catching the game or fight night, as well as a complete menu of bar food.
Photo by Leona Abrahao
Just steps from the beach, the surf shack provides high quality burgers and milkshakes. A popular spot for families.
The Shrimp Hole – Find The Shrimp Hole in the center of town, just in front of Café Tico. It is a very small food stand, renovated into an elegant restaurant. Their deck, bigger than the restaurant itself, has three small tables to sit and enjoy “authentic, fresh, homemade” meals from scratch.
Pangas – Elegant dining on the beach. Pangas Restaurant is located at the beginning of town with a beach front view of the estuary coming out to meet the ocean. Sunsets are especially nice here. Just don’t forget your mosquito spray!
Bamboo Sushi – Also found in the center of town, just across the road from the beach, this garden atmosphere is great for enjoying a fresh sushi and drinks.
Note: There are many more places to eat in town; some long-standing favorites, but also new exciting options provide diversity in cuisine.
La Bodega – A pioneer in the burst of quality cafes, La Bodega opened in 2012 and offers fresh, quality breakfast and lunch daily.
Nordico – Newer to the café scene in Tamarindo, Nordico quickly became a local favorite. Nordico has a clean, modern atmosphere and is a great place to bring your laptop when you need a healthy snack as you catch up on emails or relax out of the sun for a bit.
Tamarindo Travel Guide to Hotels
In Tamarindo the lodging options are plentiful. The selections include; budget hostels, luxurious beach front hotels, eco camping, private condos, beach front mansions and B&B style hotels. Here are just a short list of names to get you started.
The Diria Hotel – located in the center of town, this hotel has beach front rooms, a pool and restaurant on the beach. In addition there are rooms just across the street. Here you will also find a large pool with a swim up bar and a tower of condos available as vacation rentals as well.
Occidental Tamarindo – The all-inclusive Occidental Tamarindo is located down the road from Tamarindo center on the sands of Playa Langosta. An international chain, this resort will keep you busy with all you can eat & drink, dance lessons, a large pool, a spa and more. While this can be a full vacation in itself, don’t forget to explore out of the resort as well.
Esplendor Tamarindo – a newer addition to Tamarindo, Esplendor sits up in the hills providing a stunning view. This hotel is modern and sleek. The one set back is you will need transportation up and down the hill for your beach excursions, but Esplendor has you covered. As a guest at this hotel, you have access to the Langosta Beach Club where you can lounge on the sand or swim in the beach front pool. A hotel shuttle will transport you there and back.
Pasa Tiempo – Hotel Pasa Tiempo is in the center of all the action. Step inside their property though and you will find yourself among palm trees and lounge chairs that surround the hotel pool. Rooms here feel more like small cabins, but with a clean hotel presentation. This is a great middle budget option.
La Botella con leche – just up the road from the bars and restaurants, this hostel is a clean and safe option for the budget traveler.
RPM Vacation Rentals – looking for more of a homey feel? RPM is a local vacation rental agency. They rent out condos and houses so groups or families can have a full kitchen (complete with dishes, towels & bedding) and lots of space to relax after long days in the sun.
Located on the Pacific coast in the Northwest region of Costa Rica, Tamarindo is part of northern Guanacaste. It is a great place to spend an extended vacation, making sure to take day trips out with local tours or to see the many neighboring beach towns. Schedule in plenty of time in town as well. Tamarindo is full of activity.
Most people think of tropical beaches and mountain top rainforests when they hear Costa Rica. Tamarindo beach, while tropical and sunny, is in a region of Costa Rica that is a tropical desert. This is good news for those who want to spend their vacation lounging under the sun. This northwest area has the countries longest dry season, December to April.
Light rain or occasional afternoon showers run through the end of July. August to October have historically been the wettest months.
Overall, if you are looking for a rain-free vacation under the sun, chances are high you will get just that any week (or month) between December and April.
Getting to Tamarindo
A very easy and affordable way to get to Tamarindo from Liberia International Airport or other major towns is with a shared shuttle. For instance Tamarindo Transfers and Tours is a reputable transfer service and offers shuttles from Liberia International Airport that cost $20 per person. Contact them by phone US +929-800-4621 (CR +506-2653-4444) or email reservations@tamarindoshuttle.
For the perfect balance of action, adventure and beautiful nature, plan your visit to Playa Tamarindo.