Oh what can I say about Tamarindo, other than AMAZING! This costal city is all about the beach life. Located on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, it’s all chill vibes here. It’s really easy to do Tamarindo on a budget and have a great time! It’s no wonder why most people who visit Costa Rica make this mini paradise a priority. After being really disillusioned with all the rain we received in Costa Rica the month before, especially in La Fortuna, Tamarindo was a nice vacation escape. It’s the driest area in the country so there is hardly any rain here, even in the rainy season. A super nice escape if you’re doing the rest of the country in the rainy season like us. Here I’ll share the best things to do in Tamarindo.
The first thing you’ll run into is that it is overrun by tourists. More fondly known as Tama-gringo, there are many American and Canadian tourists around. It’s more developed than most towns so it’s not a huge cultural shock but also not the true Costa Rican experience. But it was sunny and warm, so I’ll take it! We enjoyed the main Tamarindo beach which is a nice one but the real treasures are the surrounding beaches. No tourists (or at least much, much less) and quieter secluded beaches with just a few locals. Two of the nearby beaches we visited that are definitely worth a visit are Flamingo Beach and Playa Conchal. If you’re looking for things to do in Tamarindo, there’s horseback riding, snorkeling, surfing, jet skis, and most importantly good places to work on that tan!
What to See
Playa Tamarindo – obviously, the first thing you are going to check out once you arrive. A decent beach where you can work on that tan or learn to surf. There are many tourists, all doing the same. There are shops, restaurants, and everything you need near by. However, don’t make this your only destination. However, it is a great place to watch the sunset. Just beware there are crocodiles in the northern bay of the beach.
Playa Flamingo – a nice, quiet, mostly local beach. You can get there by bus from Tamarindo, the easiest way is just to ask your reception. There are some tourists here but you’ll be sure to find our own secluded area for the day and the water is great. There isn’t much to choose for food but if you’re lucky you might find a guy walking along the beach promoting his restaurant. If you’re really nice I’m sure he can even deliver it to you.
Playa Conchal – absolutely the best part of my Costa Rican trip! STUNNING! AMAZING!! BREATHTAKING!!! You’ll find crystal clear water that is VERY different from all neighboring beaches. The northern part of the beach is made from shells, giving it’s name Playa Conchal (shell beach in Spanish). But if you walk a bit south the sand becomes the softest sand in all of Costa Rica. Absolutely beautiful with a pink tint to it. We even saw stingrays swimming around the shore. They weren’t heading towards people, just enjoying the breaking waves. Check out this drone shot I got (which looks scarier than what it was, the video seems way more peaceful). Also, some AMAZING pink sunsets here!
Playa Grande – If you surf, be sure not to miss Playa Grande. Tamarindo is great for beginners but the pros go to Playa Grande. It’s a sight to behold
Where to Stay
Tamarindo Hostel Resort – budget accommodation done right. An excellent place to stay on a budget. We booked this hostel on the bus ride from Liberia and when we arrived they told us one bed wasn’t available due to overbooking. However, the staff was super friendly and offered to upgrade us to a private room for the night then back to our original booking the following day for no extra charge. That’s service done correctly. There’s a clean kitchen, large outdoor seating area, and even hammocks upstairs. The rooms have powerful air conditioners, large lockers in the room, and power ports (with USB) next to every bed. A great place to stay in Tamarindo, a block away from the beach, restaurants, supermarkets, and bars. We loved this place so much we extended 2 more times and stayed about a week here. One of the best places to stay in Costa Rica.
Where to Eat
La Oveja Negra – great Mexican food with great drink specials. I was craving Mexican food, and after searching around for some decent spots we came by this place. They have live music, happy hour specials (2 for 1 drinks), great service, and excellent food. What more could you ask for?
If you’re going between Tamarindo and the northern beaches nearby (like Playa Conchal) make sure you stop at Soda El Guanacaste for cheap local food that’s delicious.
There are a number of supermarkets in Tamarindo as well as delicious restaurants. I’ve just heard to not go to Bamboo Sushi Club as it’s nothing to write home about and service is terrible.
Where to Shop
There are plenty of stores and stalls all up and down the strip. You can find all your souvenirs here but be aware that if you’re traveling the rest of the country they will be more expensive here than other cities.
Good areas to go grocery shopping are the Super Compro and Supermarket 2001, both located next to Plaza Tamarindo.
How to get here
Tamarindo is a major destination within Costa Rica. You can get here via the San Jose Airport or airport in Liberia in the north which is closer, flights to both can be found on Skyscanner. There is a domestic airport in Tamarindo but you can get here easily by bus from either area. Be sure to check my guide on how to get around Costa Rica by bus.
Your Map of Tamarindo
Here is a map with all the places listed. You can save it and open it up on your phone when you’re exploring the area
Have you been to Tamarindo or planning on going soon? Have any suggestions for things to do in Tamarindo? Let me know in the comments down below!