Tamarindo is known as a tourist hotspot, but the lengthy beaches provide plenty of room for all to enjoy. The area offers a variety of different beaches with varying wave sizes making it great for swimming, learning to surf or even big waves in places for experienced surfers.
To the north, Playa Grande is a great surfing beach and also a famous nesting area of the leatherback turtles. During the months of mid-October through mid-February, these turtles will come to shore and lay their eggs. This area is a part of the Las Baulas National Park, with guided turtle tours available at night.
To the south Playa Langosta is a resort area with beautiful white sand beaches. There is a nice swimming area and also several areas which is better for surfing. The mini beaches of Langosta are broken up by scenic rock formations.
Tamarindo is one of the more Americanized destinations in Costa Rica, making it ideal for first time visitors. The beach side village has plenty of modern conveniences, condominiums, hotels, restaurants, shops and more. Although Tamarindo is a tourist town you will be embraced with the local Costa Rican culture and traditions. There are several outdoor markets that are supplied with fresh vegetables and fish that area caught each morning.
Planning a vacation to Tamarindo
We recommend visiting Tamarindo for 3 – 5 days. There are plenty of activities in the area, but you will enjoy a much more memorable experience by splitting time with another destination, such as a rainforest, cloud forest or volcano area.
There are many different styles of hotels in Tamarindo. For mid-range, we recommend Tamarindo Diria Resort, Tamarindo Bay, Casa Cook and Jardin del Eden. If you are looking for an all inclusive Tamarindo hotel, you are in luck with the Barcelo Langosta Resort. We recommend Capitan Suizo Hotel or Cala Luna Hotel for luxury. Hotel Luna Llena, Hotel Zullymar and Tamarindo Vista Villas are great budget options.
There are plenty of Tamarindo tours and activities available. While in the area, one can enjoy beach activities such as sailing, windsurfing, and surfing, all of which are ideal from this location. One can also enjoy snorkeling, horseback riding, kayaking, and fishing. Tamarindo is well known for great tuna, billfish and mahi mahi fishing.
Reasons to visit
- The beaches are beautiful.
- There are several beach areas; some are better for swimming, some for learning to surf and some for experienced surfers.
- There are many conveniences such as shops, restaurants and bars.
- The town offers good nightlife.
- There are many options for activities.
- It is located in the dry forest, so the rain season is short.
- You can see wildlife such as monkeys and sloths in the estuary.
- There is good snorkeling at Captains Island in front of Tamarindo.
- There is a wide variety of resorts and hotels including an all-inclusive resort.
- Easy access to Liberia Airport.
Reasons not to visit
- The town is somewhat Americanized.
- The main beach area can become a little crowded in the high season.
- As it is located in the dry forest, there is no rainforest.
- Rain can be heavy in September and October.
- This is not a good destination for nature lovers.
- It is located 4.5 hours from San Jose Airport.
- You are seeking a cultural experience.
- You are seeking an off the beaten path vacation.
- You think you can do day trips to Arenal Volcano or Monteverde. While money can buy it, be prepared for a 4 hour drive in each direction…
- You are seeking a beach to snorkel off of (actually there are few in Costa Rica that meet this requirement).
How to get there
From San Jose: The fastest way to drive from San Jose is to take the Autopista del Sol or the Interamerican Highway to Caldera and turn left after Puntarenas towards Puente de la Amistad (Friendship Bridge) over the Tempisque River. Cross the bridge and follow the road signs to Nicoya until you start seeing signs for Tamarindo. The drive takes about 4 hours.
Weather and packing list
The Northwest Pacific is one of the driest climates in Costa Rica. The beach areas have a fairly steady year round temperature with daytime highs averaging in the upper 80s to lower 90s. Night time lows are usually in the upper 70s. Precipitation varies through the year with the nicest weather between November and August.
Visitors should pack a bathing suit, towel, shorts, tee shirts, appropriate shoes, rain gear, sun block, and insect repellent.
Fun Fact: Tamarindo is not only an awesome beach destination for swimming, surfing and all around fun, but it is also surrounded by national park, estuary and wildlife reserve.