Tamarindo, a charming coastal town in Costa Rica, is a paradise for beach lovers, surfers, and nature enthusiasts. This post explores the top attractions, activities, and accommodations in Tamarindo.
Tamarindo is a vibrant town that offers visitors an abundance of natural beauty, adventure, and relaxation.
With its stunning beaches, world-class surfing, and diverse wildlife, Tamarindo is the perfect destination for anyone looking to experience the best of Costa Rica. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what makes Tamarindo such a special place.
Discovering the Beauty and Adventure of Tamarindo
Tamarindo is a coastal town without high elevations. It has several low-altitude hills that are part of the Santa Elena geological formation (the oldest in the country), among which the Morro, El Negro, Boquerones, Los Coyotes, Zonchiche, and Ventanas hills stand out.
Tamarindo, a former artisanal fishing village, is currently one of the most developed tourist communities in Costa Rica. Its geographical and climatic conditions make it an ideal area for practicing surfing and other water sports.
Until the early 1980s, Tamarindo was a sparsely populated fishing village, where local residents lived by fishing for red snapper and bass in the Matapalo River estuary. Tamarindo hardly existed as a town before its tourist boom. The district of Tamarindo was created by executive decree in 1995, due to its population increase, with part of the northern part of the territory of the Veintisiete de Abril district.
In Tamarindo, you can find artisan shops owned by Costa Ricans and some foreigners. In addition, many Costa Rican cultural manifestations can be found in the nearby city of Santa Cruz, considered the folkloric city of Costa Rica.
Tamarindo is best known for its beautiful beaches, which stretch for miles along the coast. Tamarindo has the best, surfer-friendly beaches and it’s generally a charming town with a lot of opportunities.
Playa Tamarindo is the town’s main beach, and it’s a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. The beach is lined with restaurants, bars, and shops, and it’s a great place to soak up the local atmosphere.
If you’re looking for a quieter beach experience, Playa Langosta is just a short walk from Tamarindo and offers a more secluded setting. The beach is surrounded by lush vegetation and offers plenty of opportunities for surfing and swimming.
For those who want to get off the beaten path, Playa Grande is a hidden gem that’s just a short boat ride from Tamarindo. The beach is part of Las Baulas National Marine Park, which is home to a large population of nesting leatherback turtles.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the park and witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
Tamarindo Beach is one of the most renowned tourist destinations in Costa Rica and one of the most accessible in the northern region of the country. Tamarindo beach is a pearl in itself. It’s a long, wide beach.
Some places on the beach are good for swimming, whereas other places on the beach are good for surfing. The sunset at the beach is incredibly beautiful and many go to the beach to see the last rays of the sun.
Tamarindo Beach is located in Tamarindo Bay, within the Las Baulas National Marine Park. It is distinguished by its gentle waves and crystalline waters, although with strong currents and barely submerged rocks, with yellowish sand, exuberant vegetation, reefs, and landscape in general.
It is shaped like an arch and has a small slope, therefore the safety for bathers is very good. It is suitable for various activities such as hiking, fishing, surfing, etc.
As Tamarindo is a Wildlife Refuge, it protects the nesting of leatherback, olive ridley, and green turtles, which arrive on arrival between the months of October to March. The park offers exhibition hall facilities, general information, drinking water, latrines, trails, and local guides.
It is separated from Playa Grande (north), also in the Las Baulas National Marine Park, by the Mata Palo River estuary or Tamarindo estuary. Playa Grande is one of the most surf-friendly spots in Costa Rica and can be accessed across the estuary on a ferry.
It is not recommended to attempt the crossing on foot as the current is very strong and can be dangerous.
Tropical climate all year. The life zone corresponds to a “Tropical Dry Forest, transition to Humid”. The average temperature oscillates around 32 °C. Tamarindo’s climate has two seasons, the dry season and the wet season. The dry season, which lasts from November to April, is dry, hot, and sunny. In that season there is very little humidity, which is very pleasant.
The rainy season begins at the end of March or at the beginning of April and continues until October.
A typical day is sunny or partly cloudy until late afternoon or evening, when showers occur in the interior of the country and move toward the coast, often producing spectacular sunsets.
Everything is green and abundant during this season of the year. Although there are no hurricanes here, a hurricane or tropical depression in the Atlantic often brings rain to Tamarindo. Average rainfall ranges from 2,000 to 2,500 mm.
Tamarindo is famous for its world-class surfing, and it’s a popular destination for surfers of all skill levels. Playa Tamarindo offers a variety of breaks that are perfect for beginners, while more experienced surfers can head to nearby breaks like Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point.
There are plenty of surf schools and rental shops in Tamarindo that offer lessons and equipment for visitors. Surfing is a great way to experience the local culture and meet fellow travelers, and it’s a must-try activity for anyone visiting Tamarindo.
Surfing is practiced in Tamarindo, which is one of the direct responsibilities for the growth and development of the district since the great beaches of Tamarindo bay present exceptional conditions for its practice.
In Tamarindo Bay, four points or “spots” are identified where you can practice surfing.
In addition to Playa Tamarindo, Playa Grande is the one with the best conditions, despite having the drawback that its access is difficult because it is located within the protected area of the Las Baulas National Marine Park.
Ollie’s Point and the legendary Roca Bruja, named after a local legend, are also recognized, where the waves range between 0.50 and 1.50 m in length, reaching 3.00 m on a good day.
At Witch Rock, the wind direction varies from southeast to northeast, with swells coming from the northwest, west, and southwest, allowing waves to reach up to 12 feet in height.
These two points can be accessed from Tamarindo or from Playas del Coco.
Learn to surf
The waves in Tamarindo are absolutely perfect if you want to learn how to surf. The waves are relatively steady and there are lots of them, which makes it optimal for the beginner. There is a great selection of places where you can learn to surf, and they all offer about the same service.
From my experience, Iguana Surf is the best place, and you can book the lessons online. Have fun!
Another thing to do, which is a clear favorite, is a boat tour. You’ll get a perfect sailing trip to a place with snorkeling, and the trip also includes a stop at a small beach. The sailing trip will return when the sun sets, so you’ll experience the most beautiful sunset.
There is also a free bar on the boat, which can be the beginning of an excellent night.
An experience that would be great for the whole family is turtle nesting. There are several places around the beach, that offers trips where you’ll be able to see turtles at night time, and where you’ll see where the turtles lay their eggs.
It would be a good idea to book the trip in advance since it’s often fully booked.
If you are more into a daytime experience, you can also see the baby turtles come out from the eggs, and help the little turtles from their nest into the ocean. This is definitely an experience that calls for people who love animals and wish to help them.
Zipline, visit vulcanos, horseback riding, and river tubing tour
This is an experience where you get the whole package. You’ll be picked up at your hotel, where the trip continues in a minivan with air conditioning. After this, the course is set for Rincón de la Vieja National Park.
Here the zipline adventure begins, and there are not only zip lines, but also hanging bridges and other exciting adventures.
When the zipline is safely over, it is time to ride through the rainforest, and the course is now set for the river, Rio Negro. Here there’ll be bath rings ready, so you can float down the river.
In the end, you will be met by an amazing lunch buffet, where you can also relax by the warm fountains that are heated by the Vulcan, Rincón de la Vieja. At last, you will be dropped off at your hotel. This is an experience that is definitely a must-try.
The last trip I would recommend is an amazing ATV tour. Your guide will meet you at your hotel or hostel, and from there you will drive to some places that you can’t really get to without an ATV. Here you’ll see some special and exciting animals.
Another great part about this tour is that you’ll drive to some nearby beaches that you wouldn’t see without the ATV tour, which is also why you should definitely consider going on this trip.
Costa Rica is known for its rich biodiversity, and Tamarindo is no exception. The town is surrounded by lush forests and is home to a variety of wildlife, including howler monkeys, iguanas, and exotic birds.
Tamarindo district is bathed by the waters of the Pacific Ocean, in Tamarindo Bay. This bay is located between Cape Velas and Punta San Francisco (or Madero) and includes Grande, Langosta, and Ventanas beaches.
Two rivers cross the territory of the district: the Matapalo River and the San Francisco River, which flow directly into the Pacific Ocean in two wide estuaries, which have important mangrove swamps.
Two other rivers, the San Andrés River and the Pinilla River, also cross the territory and are tributaries of the Matapalo and San Francisco respectively, and are in turn fed by several streams, such as Honda, Chepa, Marroquín, and Palmar.
There are two islands – Capitán and Verde – which are located off the coast of Tamarindo.
One of the best ways to experience the local wildlife is to take a guided tour of the nearby national parks and reserves.
The Palo Verde National Park is a popular destination, with its vast wetlands and diverse birdlife. The Rincon de la Vieja National Park is another nearby attraction that offers scenic hikes and stunning waterfalls.
For a more immersive experience, visitors can take a canopy tour of the local forests and get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding landscape. There are also plenty of opportunities for horseback riding, zip-lining, and other outdoor activities in and around Tamarindo.
Tamarindo offers a wide range of accommodations to suit every budget and taste. From luxury resorts to cozy guesthouses, there’s something for everyone in this charming town, offering affordable and comfortable accommodations.