Tamarindo Costa Rica: The Ultimate Tropical Beach Paradise

Explore Costa Rica’s Beaches in Tamarindo, Guanacaste

Located right along the gorgeous shores of the North Pacific Coast, Tamarindo, Guanacaste is a favorite spot of tourists and locals alike, especially those seeking an exceptional beachside vacation.

While Tamarindo is a fairly small beach town, its culture more than makes up for its size. With lots to do and see, it’s one of the most popular spots for those seeking to vacation in Costa Rica, and with good reason!

Tamarindo is best known as a great beach and party spot! It offers easy access to exceptional Costa Rica surf spots such as Tamarindo, Playa Grande, Playa Negra, Playa Avellana and Playa Langosta, so it’s very popular with both experienced and beginner surfers.

Aerial view of Tamarindo with Playa Grande in the background
Aerial view of Tamarindo with Playa Grande in the background

Tamarindo is bordered by a number of breathtaking beaches which are mere minutes away from the downtown area, though all of the Costa Rica beach destinations along the Northern Pacific Coast are great spots to dip your toes in the water and go for a beachside stroll. Visitors can enjoy miles of soft, golden sand and crystal-clear waters, helping to give the region its reputation as a tropical getaway.

In addition to other popular activities in the surf and on the shore like sunbathing, sailing, kayaking, and sport fishing, there’s plenty to do further inland as well. You can dine at a local restaurant for a taste of authentic Costa Rica food culture, hike or bicycle down a forest trail, try your hand at horseback riding, or even go golfing!

It’s easy to customize your Tamarindo vacation to suit your preferences, which also helps reduce crowding at its many attractions.

Best Things to Do in Tamarindo

There’s a little something for everyone in Tamarindo. Whether you’re a beachgoer intent on enjoying the sun and surf, or you’re more interested in taking a canopy tour and exploring a nearby Marino Las Baulas National Park, your trip is sure to be filled to the brim with amazing sights and fun activities.

Girls in Tamarindo Sunset
Girls in Tamarindo Sunset

Splash Around

Beaches are the main draw in Tamarindo, and there’s plenty of coastline to enjoy. Those who enjoy swimming and sunbathing will find a lot to enjoy at these beaches, as will anyone interested in trying their hand at kayaking and sailing.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle swimming in the ocean
Hawksbill Sea Turtle swimming in the ocean

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

If you’re interested in seeing more of Costa Rica’s varied wildlife, be sure to grab some scuba gear, as the pacific ocean is full of tropical fish and other sea creatures you won’t find anywhere else.

Learning to surf in Tamarindo
Learning to surf in Tamarindo

Surfing

Surfing is especially popular in Tamarindo, even for those without much experience. The waves are fairly consistent and gentle, so everyone from beginners to experts can enjoy some laid-back surfing. Many vacationers also take surfing lessons offered in Tamarindo, while more experienced surfers can try out a surf trip or take a local surfing tour.

Sailfish jumping out of the water
Sailfish jumping out of the water

Sportfishing

Guanacaste sportfishing is another of the town’s big draws. If you’re lucky, you might reel in a marlin or sailfish, which are known to live just off the coast. Rent a boat yourself, or consider taking the Coyote Sportfishing tour.

Head Outdoors

After you’ve had your fill of the beaches, be sure to head inland, as there’s lots to do beyond the beaches and throughout all of Guanacaste.

Baby leatherback turtle hatching at Playa Grande
Baby leatherback turtle hatching at Playa Grande

Visit Costa Rican National Parks

National parks and wildlife refuges are another big draw of the Guanacaste area.

Nature-lovers are sure to want to explore Marino Las Baulas National Park at Playa Grande, which consists of mangrove swamps and coastline and is perfect for kayaking & hiking. Rare species of plants and animals abound in this national park, from over 150 species of birds to a population of leatherback sea turtles, which use the beaches of this park as a nesting site for their eggs.

In addition to Marino Las Baulas National Park, the ever-popular Monkey Park in Portegolpe is just a 20 minute drive outside the city. Here, you can see howler monkeys as well as a butterfly garden.

Horseback riding is also available in Tamarindo
Horseback riding is also available in Tamarindo

See the Area on Horseback

Some visitors prefer to traverse the area on horseback. You can take horseback riding lessons in Tamarindo, which feature the added benefit of the beautiful natural scenery.

Another popular activity is golf, which feels like a whole different game when you’re playing it surrounded by incredible coastlines and lush forests!

Golfing at Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course near Tamarindo
Golfing at Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course near Tamarindo

Play Golf

You’ll also find a variety of incredible golf courses in Guanacaste, most notably the Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course, which is a gorgeously well-maintained course that spans 7500 yards. The Hacienda Pinilla area also includes the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa, vacation rentals, and more permanent housing, all within walking distance of the course.

White water tubing on Combo Tour at Guachipelin Adventure near Tamarindo
White water tubing on Combo Tour at Guachipelin Adventure near Tamarindo

The Best Combo Tour in the Tamarindo

If you’re looking for a good way to experience everything Tamarindo has to offer in one package, you may enjoy the Guachipelin Adventure, which bundles together ziplining, horseback riding, and river tubing activities. This tour picks up and drops off in Tamarindo and it is about an hour away near Rincon de la Vieja Volcano.

Wild On E! Shower Party
Wild On E! Shower Party

Food and Dancing

There’s no better way to immerse yourself in a new place than by sampling its food and getting in touch with local culture!

Guanacaste is teeming with restaurants serving up regional favorites, and Tamarindo is no different. Consider visiting during a festival, such as the annual BPM Festival, when the streets are filled with dancing, laughter, and great food.

After sunset, get a taste of Costa Rica nightlife as you check out local bars full of drinking and dancing. Many venues offer live music from local performers, so be sure to explore downtown Tamarindo.

The Best Places to Stay in Tamarindo

There are no lack of wonderful accommodations in the area with something perfect for couples, friends, family travelers and more!

Pool at Hotel Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort
Pool at Hotel Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort

Hotel Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort

This large resort features 4 restaurants, 4 bars, a casino and a full-service spa. Don’t miss the pizzeria and beach bar for an afternoon lunch or evening cocktail.

The resort is well located, under a mile from the Marino Las Baulas National Park. The hotel receives high marks from solo-travelers as well so if traveling alone, this might be the place for you!

Pool at Capitán Suizo Beachfront Boutique Hotel in Tamarindo
Pool at Capitán Suizo Beachfront Boutique Hotel in Tamarindo

Capitán Suizo Beachfront Boutique Hotel

Like many hotels in Tamarindo, you’ll get an amazing Pacific Ocean view alongside convenient amenities such as an outdoor pool, gift shop, and internet café.

This beachfront hotel features rustic luxury style rooms with air conditioning and balconies and is a great choice for newlyweds or couples looking for a Costa Rican getaway.

Pool at Jardín del Edén Boutique Hotel in Tamarindo
Pool at Jardín del Edén Boutique Hotel in Tamarindo

Jardín del Edén Boutique Hotel

This boutique hotel is an adults-only retreat complete with tropical gardens, ocean views and stylish high-end accommodations.

The hotel features an on-site poolside restaurant as well as a spa and wellness center

A Guide to the Tamarindo & Nearby Beaches

The vast majority of people vacationing in Tamarindo are looking for a convenient way to access Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches. These are in no short supply along the Pacific Coast, and each Northern Pacific Coast Costa Rica beach location has something unique to offer!

Sunset on Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica
Sunset on Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica

Tamarindo Beach

You don’t have to go far from your hotel to find an amazing beach when visiting Tamarindo!

Tamarindo Beach, also known as Playa Tamarindo, is very popular, and though it’s not an especially large beach it is very pretty and during low tide the waters here can be calm and clear, which makes it an excellent spot for swimming.

Surfing is popular at Playa Tamarindo as well, with plenty of manageable waves for beginners. Snorkeling and people watching are other popular activities which are fun for adults and kids alike. It’s also a wonderful place to snap a few pictures of the sunset.

Playa Grande looking to the north from Tamarindo
Playa Grande looking to the north from Tamarindo

Playa Grande

Playa Grande is located within the boundaries of the Marino Las Baulas National Park and borders Tamarindo to the north. It is a very beautiful and clean beach, in part because it is highly protected. It is open to the public, but only during the daytime, and it’s important to be mindful of the leatherback turtles that frequent the beach.

Leatherback turtle mothers come to lay their eggs in the sands of Playa Grande, typically in the early fall. The eggs hatch in May, and the turtles make their way to the sea. Playa Grande is an ideal spot for animal enthusiasts who want to catch a glimpse of these reclusive creatures, but it might not be the best spot for anyone looking to play beach volleyball or take a midnight stroll on the beach.

Playa Grande also has its own surf spot known as La Casita. The waves tend to be consistent and easy enough for beginners, so surf camp lessons are often held here.

Surfers walking out to the surf at Playa Langosta near Tamarindo
Surfers walking out to the surf at Playa Langosta near Tamarindo

Playa Langosta

Surfing buffs should head south from Tamarindo to Playa Langosta, which has a great surf break off the mouth of an estuary river.

This is a surf spot best suited for people with lots of experience, as the waves tend to be smaller but faster with both right and left breaks. Watch out for coral and rocky ocean floors here as well, but if you can stay on your board, you’re sure to enjoy the challenge.

Playa Langosta tends to be less crowded than some of the other Tamarindo beaches, though there is still plenty of space to sunbathe and soak up the relaxing atmosphere. It is walking distance from Tamarindo.

Surfboards lined up on the beach at Playa Avellana near Tamarindo
Surfboards lined up on the beach at Playa Avellana near Tamarindo

Playa Avellana

Playa Avellana is more laid-back than the tourism-focused city of Tamarindo, which makes it an amazing locale for a getaway. Let your hair down and breathe in the sea air as you sunbathe and enjoy a beautiful beach picnic. You can even take a horseback ride along the shore.

The waves at Playa Avellana are usually too strong for swimming, but they’re perfect for some challenging surfing. There are multiple breaks, including the renowned El Estero de Avellanas, which is often regarded as one of the best surf breaks in all of Costa Rica!

Surfers walking out to the surf at Playa Negra near Tamarindo
Surfers walking out to the surf at Playa Negra near Tamarindo

Playa Negra

Unlike many other beaches in Costa Rica, Playa Negra's waves tend to be fast and punishing. There are a few exceptions, so beginners might spot some waves to build their confidence, but they’re usually only suitable for very experienced surfers. However, those who rise to the challenge can experience world-class surfing during high tide.

The waves here are right-hand hollow, barrel waves. It’s not unusual to see a local pro surfer or two testing their skills here, so it’s a great spot to watch others surf even if you don’t go out into the water yourself. If you do try your hand at it, note that the pacific ocean in this area is shallow with a rocky bottom, so it’s best to stick to high tide and be careful not to wipe out.

Make Your Trip Memorable With These Tips

Enjoy these tips and tricks for making your Tamarindo Costa Rica vacation the best it can be.

Tamarindo is Easily Accessible

Tamarindo has put a lot of work into making the area accessible to visitors with nicely paved-roads and bridges that cross rivers that other locations might not possess.

Flying to Tamarindo

You have a variety of options if you’re looking to fly into Tamarindo. Many visitors fly into the Guanacaste Airport, which is only about an hour drive from Tamarindo, though some choose to land at San José International Airport instead, which is quite a bit further at just over a four hour drive. Alternatively, you can take a domestic flight to Tamarindo Airport, which is faster but a bit more expensive.

If you’re landing at one of these airports, you may find it easier to take a bus or a taxi than to rent a car so you can enjoy the scenery during your trip. While some of Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches can be difficult to access, Tamarindo has made its roads tourist-friendly! It is a smooth ride, with paved roads and a bridge that will take you right over a sprawling river.

Use a Map of the Area

If you’re considering what nearby stops you’d like to add to your trip, be sure to refer to our map of the area.

Howler Monkey in Tree in Tamarindo
Howler Monkey in Tree in Tamarindo

Be Mindful of Wildlife

Costa Rica has many wildlife preserves and conservation efforts, and it’s important to avoid disturbing wildlife during your trip. Watch out for endangered sea turtle eggs, and avoid feeding or getting too close to wild animals.

Stay Hydrated

During Costa Rica’s dry season, which spans December through May, Costa Rica tends to be very hot and dry. This is a very popular and wonderful time to visit Tamarindo and all of Costa Rica.

If you plan to visit during this time, make sure you always have water with you, and bring plenty of sunblock to avoid getting a sunburn.

Guanacaste Escape Adventure Tour
7 Days / 6 Nights
Starting at $779 per person
Costa Rica Beach & National Park Tour
14 Days / 13 Nights
Starting at $2,084 per person
Travel Time Clock
Travel Time
Travel Time From:
Travel Time To:
Distance: 161 miles / 257 km
Drive Time: 4 hr 18 min
Distance: 223 miles / 357 km
Drive Time: 4 hr 48 min
Distance: 152 miles / 243 km
Drive Time: 2 hr 42 min
See More Travel Times