Introduction to Tamarindo
Tamarindo’s long Pacific beachfront has become a popular place to be in recent years and a somewhat flashy and high-end scene has taken over what was, once-upon-a-time, a small and unassuming fishing village. Today Tamarindo offers designer shopping, many restaurants and a highly developed nightlife. The town also has plenty of colorful Tico flavors and there are art galleries, traditional pottery stores and markets next door to more modern restaurants, bars and clubs. Surfing is a big deal here, and there are long, easy waves for beginners, as well as more exciting breaks for the pros. Surfing along the main beach, Playa Grande, is ideal no matter what your skill level. Whether you’re looking to surf or just relax, the beaches here are first rate and the town’s laid-back feel make it a top choice for anyone looking to have a good time. Of course, like anywhere in Costa Rica, there is amazing nature right there on the doorstep. Tamarindo Beach is part of a large bay and facing it to the north of the bay is Playa Grande. Off the coast lies Captain’s Island and both beaches are separated by the Matapalo River. This river is part of the Tamarindo Natural Wildlife Refuge, a 400 hectare protected area, with wetlands, mangroves and dry tropical forest. Playa Grande, just like Playa Langosta located to the south of Tamarindo Bay, forms part of the Las Baulas Marine Park system. Both are protected nesting areas for the giant sea turtles that arrive on its shores for their breeding season between November and February.
What not to miss in Tamarindo
Novice or pro, Tamarindo is one of the best places in Costa Rica to have a go at surfing.
Playa Tamarindo is a must! The dazzling colors of the sky reflected in the gently rolling waves never fail to impress. Pull up a chair at one of the beachfront bars order a drink and raise a glass to nature’s show.
There is a great sailing excursion taking you along the coast of Playa Grande to Bahia De Los Pirates. Once there you can go snorkeling, swimming or, enjoy a snack on board before sailing back across the bay for a spectacular sunset.
Playa Grande and Playa Langosta are major nesting areas for Leatherback Turtles and during breeding season you can visit the beaches to observe them. It is an incredible sight to see both the adults coming ashore and the baby turtles hatching and running to the sea.
Explore the underwater world off the coast of Tamarindo snorkeling amidst the colorful coral reefs and diverse tropical fish.
Set out to explore the beach, forest and mountains on a thrilling ATV tour. Drive through the small surf towns near Tamarindo and enjoy this exhilarating and adventurous way to discover the natural beauty that Costa Rica is known for.
What you need to know
When to go
June through to November is great beach weather in Tamarindo with July and August being the busiest months for visitors when booking well in advance is recommended. For the best waves surfers should time their trip for the months of September and October. If you are on the lookout for leatherback turtles, then November to February are the best months to visit.
How to get there
Tamarindo’s airstrip is 1.86 miles (3 km) north of town. During the high season, Sansa and Nature Air have three daily flights to and from San José.
Where to stay
Tamarindo has a wide range of accommodation offerings including simple B&Bs and high-end resorts. Although Tamarindo can at the best of times feel crowded and with the constant heat, it’s not that hard to escape it all by heading or staying on the south side of town. Things quiet down pretty quickly as soon as you leave the main drag.
The wide range of accommodations, abundant restaurants, and active nightlife, along with its excellent surf have established Tamarindo as one of the most popular beaches on Costa Rica’s coast.
The town itself is very compact and you should be able to walk most places although there are a large fleet of taxis in town.
There’s no gas station in Tamarindo, but if you’re in desperate need of gas, you can buy expensive gas drums from the hardware store near the entrance to town. We recommend filling up in Santa Cruz or at the gas station in Huacas.