Tambor, North Puntarenas

Resting in the valley of a horseshoe-shaped bay, Tambor is a small quiet beach town that nurtures a laid-back atmosphere.

This village is located on the west coast of Costa Rica along the Gulf of Nicoya, where calm waters ride up on a grey-hued shores colored from the neighboring volcano.

With plenty of cozy hotels nearby and a beach easily accessed by car, Tambor makes for a perfect family escape.

The bay in Tambor is called Bahia Ballena, which means "whale bay" in English. It was originally named because during the dry season, whales used to frequent the area; however, with more coastal activities nowadays, it is rare to see them here.

Activities in Tambor

Water Activities

On the shore, the low tide produces a flat expanse of sand where you can play soccer and beach volleyball. Since the waters are so placid, swimming is ideal for the easy floaters who just want to hang out and lounge in the Pacific waters.


Cast a line in this world-class sports fishing spot. Professional operators bring you to the best nooks in the Pacific or in the Gulf of Nicoya. If you don't want to spend a lot money, you can go on a fishing tour on a panga, which is a small traditional fishing boat used in the villages.

Beach Walks

Walks around the magnificent beaches are popular in Tambor. From the pier at the southern end of the village you can hike around the end of the bay. The path is about 4 kilometers and ends at Cocalitos Beach where the El Chorro waterfall pours out into the ocean.

You can even swim in the large rocky pool. For a unique walk through the north of Tambor, you have to wait for low tide, since you'll have to wade through the Panica River.

Horseback Riding

If you want to take in the vistas a little differently, take a guided horseback ride to the hills of Tambor, which provides views as far as Montezuma.

Other tours weave along the upper Panica River to a stunning waterfall. Along the way, you'll cross shallow rivers, canter down paths and maybe even spot howler monkeys swinging overhead in the tree canopy.

Tour the Tortuga Islands

No trip to Tambor is complete without seeing the Tortuga Islands. These pristine beaches are everything you could imagine for a tropical island: white sand, tall coconut trees and azure water.

Attention, scuba divers and snorkels, these shorelines provide the best diving in all of southern Nicoya Peninsula. Discover the underwater world swimming through schools of colorful fish. Since the waters are so clean, the visibility rates are astoundingly high. You won't want to miss this!

Afterwards, you can hang out on the beach and drink fresh coconut water.

Curu Wildlife Refuge

The north side of the bay hugs the Curu Wildlife Refuge. This privately-owned refuge is one of the hot spots of the Nicoya Peninsula.

It stretches 1,496 hectares across mangroves, rivers, beaches and estuaries, packed with more than 200 species of birds. Bird-lovers eager to catch a glimpse at these flighty friends can expect white-fronted amazons, laughing hawks, woodpeckers and motots.

Curu also offers some of the most sought-after species in the country, such as three types of monkey - the howler, spider and white-faced. There park is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and has a $10 entrance fee. If you're hungry, the hacienda serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Getting to Tambor

Tambor Airport offers at least daily domestic flights, including nonstop travel to four cities within the country.

If you prefer to drive from San Jose the best way is to drive to the city of Puntarenas and at the very tip of this town (it is a peninsula) you can catch the car ferry to Paquera then it is a quick 15 minute drive to Tambor.

If you are coming from the north you can drive through the city of Nicoya and following the road straight down the Nicoya Peninsula and you will find Tambor.

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