Last Updated on March 10, 2023
Are you planning a visit to Costa Rica? While narrowing down your list of potential vacay spots, consider Tamarindo.
Tamarindo is a town in Guanacaste Province, on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
Why Tamarindo you ask? For one, its beaches are spectacular. And there are endless activities and excursions for the adventurous traveler (you’ll be within a stone’s throw of beautiful Las Baulas National Park!).
The town is accessible by air, thanks to a nearby private airport. You can catch a direct flight from San Jose to Tamarindo; the route runs daily. The journey is quick, taking only 45 minutes.
Travelling by car will take around five hours, leaving from San Jose.
So, now that I’ve got your attention, what are the best things to do in Tamarindo?
Long beaches (no worrying about overcrowding!) and the perfect tide create the ideal conditions for surfing, a popular sport in Tamarindo.
For those new to surfing, there are instructors (for example at the Iguana Surf Shop) ready to teach you the basics and help you get your footing.
The ocean here is calm, so there is no need to be afraid of crashing tidal waves.
However, if you are more experienced or ready for a challenge, you can paddle farther out and catch the stronger currents and larger waves.
2. Sport Fishing
Tamarindo fishing tours are among the best in Costa Rica.
And the various charter boat companies provide both inshore and deep sea fishing.
Try your luck at catching a variety of fish…including roosterfish, marlin, sailfish, snapper, and wahoo.
From April to September, you are likely to catch marlin, sailfish, or tuna. You might also spot a dolphin or two.
The dry period from October to December is for catching billfish.
3. Kayaking / River Cruising / Sailing
If you don’t like fishing, kayaking is another great way to get out onto the water.
Tour providers in Tamarindo offer kayak excursions on the estuaries of Rio Matapalo and Rio Fransisco, both of which are wildlife sanctuaries. As you paddle through the mangrove forest, keep your eyes peeled for water birds, crabs, and even monkeys.
There’s also ocean sailing available. Try to schedule your trip in the evening for a magical sunset – and make sure to take photos!
While on the open ocean you may be lucky and spot a pod of dolphins, swimming sea turtles, or even a whale!.
While out sailing, snorkeling is available for those who want to take a closer look at the ocean life.
For those brave enough to try, ziplining always makes a thrilling and memorable experience.
The provider Monkey Jungle Canopy Tour has some great ziplining packages available. The course has seven cables running high in the treetops, giving you a stunning view of the lush, verdant forest below.
If it will be your first time ziplining, worry not as there are specialists on site at all times to answer your questions and ensure your safety.
If you’re still not jumping at the prospect of ziplining, another adrenaline-filled activity to consider is sky walking. Traversing Tamarindo’s many hanging bridges is a great way to explore and observe the rainforests.
5. Day Trips
Playa Flamingo is just a short drive outside of Tamarindo and is worth a visit.
The beach has a stunning coastline and back from the water there are hotels, restaurants, and stores.
If the previously detailed fishing excursion piqued your interest, it may also be worthwhile to check out the scene at Playa Flamingo; the waters are home to a similar variety of fish, such as marlin, snapper, swordfish, and tuna.
If during your visit you want to take a break from the ocean, Playa Flamingo has an 18-hole golf course…
6. Tamarindo ATV Tours
Do you want to explore more than just your resort? Rent an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) and discover all Tamarindo has to offer, from sandy beaches to off-road jungle and rainforest trails.
There is also a guided tour option if you need an experienced driver to help you navigate the area.
Some of the ATV tour services in Tamarindo are ATV Surf Trip, Sunset Beach, ATV Canopy, and 3-Hour Beach.
7. Snorkeling in Tamarindo
Tamarindo has a multiple diving centers where you can rent snorkel or scuba diving gear. Dive into the blue unknown and marvel at what lies below the surface.
Playa Conchal to the north of Tamarindo is the perfect place to go snorkeling; the greater water clarity allows you to easily see sealife like manta rays and turtles.
8. Golfing in Tamarindo
Paradisus Conchal and Hacienda Pinilla are two golf courses in Tamarindo. The fantastic layout at Pinilla is why many consider it the better of the two.
For a less traditional trip, why not try camping? Instead of sleeping in your hotel room, sleep outdoors on the beach…
You can also stay at a campsites such as Eco Camping Hostel, which has facilities including toilets, showers, and kitchens.
10. Go for Walks in Tamarindo
If neither ziplining nor quad-biking interest you, a walk along a beach or nature trail is another way to take in the beauty of Tamarindo.
The less-crowded areas of the beach are perfect for your morning meditation or evening stroll.
11. Shopping in Tamarindo
Tamarindo has a large selection of boutiques and markets to browse when you want a break from sunbathing.
Many of the shops sell handmade jewelry, perfect as a gift or souvenir.
If you are staying in an apartment or at a campsite, Tamarindo has two large grocery stores that sell all of the essentials.
12. Try Out the Local Cuisine in Tamarindo
There’s no shortage of restaurants in Tamarindo.
You’ll find many serving both traditional and fusion cuisine, with vegetarian and gluten free options. There’s food aplenty for everyone.
The beachfront is dotted with restaurants and cafes, ideal for treating yourself to a bite to eat after spending the day snorkeling or surfing.
Alternatively, you can head down to the farmers market and buy fresh bread and produce at the French bakery and prepare your own meal.
13. Night life in Tamarindo
Tamarindo is known to be one of the best spots for nightlife in Costa Rica.
Monkey Bar, for instance, has a live band and a DJ on Friday nights. Pacific Bar (near the beach) plays dance-hall music. Both of these venues are busiest on Friday.
So, to sum up:
Tamarindo is renowned for surfing. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned professional, hire a board and hit the waves.
Other popular outdoor activities include sport fishing, sailing, kayaking, ziplining and sky walking.
And if you’re a foodie, Tamarindo has a range of restaurants offering both local and international cuisine.