Tamarindo is in Costa Rica. Located on the Pacific Coast, Tamarindo is a popular destination for couples and families looking for a good time. With spectacular beaches and rainforests, Tamarindo is the epitome of everything that Costa Rica prides itself on. However, if you are expecting to experience the real Costa Rica then Tamarindo is probably not for you - it's something of a tourist trap geared towards people from the US, on short vacations, and prices are high (comparable to US and Europe) with rarely the quality to match.
It is recommended to fly into Liberia International Airport (LIR IATA) and take a taxi from there which lasts approximately 1¼ hour. Or you can arrange a private transfer or shared shuttle. There are several companies like Xplore Costa Rica that do this service. Most airlines fly to Liberia from Houston, Miami, Atlanta or Los Angeles.
Tamarindo also has an airport which is approximately a 45-minute flight from San José. There are several domestic airlines that offer daily flights to and from Tamarindo (Skyway Airlines, Aerobell Airlines, Sansa Airlines). The bus ride from the San José costs US$14 leaving Alfaro Station. The bus stops frequently and the trip takes 6-7 hours but there is much to see throughout Costa Rica. Purchase 2 hours or more in advance as buses in CR often sell out. If coming from Liberia, there are buses every couple of hours, fare is a couple of U.S. dollars. Not the world's most comfortable buses, they stop everywhere and take many detours off the main road into villages. The journey takes about 2½ hours, but it's a good way to see the Costa Rican countryside.
The town is nice and small, a sort of miniature tropical paradise. You can find taxis, rent cars, bicycles, and a few scooters. There are two legal taxis in Tamarindo, available for local or airport transfers or for hire to anywhere within the country. You will find many "pirate" taxis that you can negotiate your ride, but they are probably not insured in case of accident.
Street addresses throughout Costa Rica are difficult for foreigners to navigate, but even more so in Tamarindo, where Google Maps sometimes shows street names that are no longer used. When in doubt, ask.
Numerous lagoons in the area are filled with wonderful wildlife. Incredible sunsets and sunrises on beautiful beaches add to the overall experience.
Rainforests are a short ride away, as are volcanoes and other aspects of nature unique to this region of Costa Rica.
Tamarindo has become a magnet for surfers and blue water sport fishermen, with a sport fishing fleet of talented and conservation oriented captains who are the pioneers of the Pacific coast. Their record catches of marlin, sailfish, giant tuna and other species have become legendary. Whether you want deep bluewater fishing, or reef or shoreline fishing, the fleet can accommodate you. Surf casting and handlining in front of your villa for snook and jack are also popular. Any way you do it you can be sure to have your fresh catch cooked up for you at one of the friendly beachfront restaurants.
- Amagi Adventures [dead link] - Custom guided surf trips including photography & videography of your sessions.
Warm water surfing is enjoyed year 'round and families find this area offers opportunities for surfers of all skill levels to enjoy the great waves that bless this part of the coast. Tamarindo was the first stop on an epic worldwide surf journey in the popular movie Endless Summer II. The beaches are very crowded with amateur surfers these days. It can be hard to catch waves without running into another tourist. The crowds do start to thin out as evening approaches though.
Visitors also can choose to scuba dive, snorkel, go on beach cruises, water ski, jet ski, go ocean and river kayaking, wind surfing, sailing cruises and horseback riding. Bicycles, beach gear, surfboards, boogie boards and equipment of all types are available for rental from specialty stores.
In addition, there are only a few places in the world where the Giant Leatherback Turtle comes to lay her eggs, and National Park Las Baulas is one of them. A short ride from Tamarindo, watching this beautiful part of nature is a once in a lifetime event.
There are a few great places to go at night. La Barra is a great bar where everyone goes for some salsa dancing, watch out though, the locals are all very good at it. There is another place called Pacifica playing mostly Top 40 music for the younger crowd at the end of the main street in Tamarindo. At the other end, you can find a relative new place, Agua. Pretty nice interior compared to the other bars, but it has a tendency to be a little empty at times. Be careful about pickpockets around Agua, especially of those men dressed as women.
- [dead link] Bikini Surf Shop (Biniki Surf Shop Tamarindo, Costa Rica), Main Street, Tamarindo Costa Rica, ☏ . Tamarindo Bikini Surf Shop, offers surfboard rent, surfing lessons and tours, surf report, bikinis
- Tamarindo Spanish School, Calle Este, 50309 Playa Tamarindo. Spanish and surf school.
- [dead link] Tamarindo Spanish and Surf School, Calle Real. Spanish and surf school.
- [formerly dead link] Languatica, ☏ . Language immersion travel.
- EF Escuela Internacional de Español, Tamarindo, Costa Rica, ☏ . Spanish school with weekly start dates.
- La Oveja Negra Surf Camp & Hostel, Hostel La Oveja Negra, ☏ . La Oveja Negra Surf Camp has a range of different surf packages.
- [dead link] Dreamsea Surf Camp, Tamarindo, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Dreamsea Surf Camp has accommodation and surf packs.
- Tamarindo Surf Vacations (Tamarindo Surf Trips), Tamarindo, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tamarindo Surf Vacations offers Witch's rock Ollie's point boat surf trips, beachfront hotel, surf camp, surf packages.
- [formerly dead link] CRA Costa Rica Student Tours (Costa Rican Adventures), ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. An educational travel company focused on cultural immersion.
- Chill Expeditions Student Educational Tours, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. Experiential learning trips to Costa Rica, Belize, the Galapagos Islands, Peru and Spain.
- Hacienda Pinilla, Hacienda Pinilla resort, Guanacaste (15 minutes from the Tamarindo intersection), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. An exclusive beach resort and residential community, it offers six pristine beaches, scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, fishing horseback riding, an 18-hole championship golf course, and about 16 km (10 miles) of nature trails.
Many local vendors offer authentic Costa Rican jewelry. For children, inexpensive souvenirs are to be found everywhere.
There are 5 supermarkets in the area.
- SuperCompro (Well Hidden from the general public, next to the Park).
- Super 2001 (on main road near intersection, almost at the end of tamarindo).
- Supermercado Las Palmeras (upon entering Tamarindo, on the other side of Aqua).
- Automercado, very upscale and air-conditioned, on the road towards Tamarindo.
- Vindi Tamarindo, modern (just past the Super 2001, left onto Central Avenue)
There is a fair-sized farmers market between the beginning of the road to Langosta every Saturday morning, which has a variety of items for sale, not just food. You will usually find at least a few dozen vendors there. There is also a smaller farmers market in Villareal, at the corner of the soccer field, every Friday morning, but it only has fruits and vegetables.
There are 3 banks in Tamarindo.
- Banco Nacional de Costa Rica on the road from the center of town, has parking, 2 ATMs and Security. It closes at 3:45pm.
- Another two are in Plaza Conchal Commercial Center, below Expertis Law firm, and at very end/back of the shops. These are open later hours than Banco Nacional. Both have ATMs.
- There are two ATMs,in front of Subway and another inside Super Compro.
Retail shops and restaurants love the American dollar. However, as a rule of thumb, don't use anything over a $20 bill... forget using a $100. You will get change in colons.
There are several shops in Tamarindo that sell and rent surf boards. They also sell related equipment and clothing.
Tamarindo offers an amazing selection of international and typical Costa Rican restaurants. Tamarindo has a French and German bakery, as well as restaurants catering to health-conscious and vegetarian. There is an abundant supply of fresh local seafood, fruits and vegetables. Most restaurants face the beach, so while waiting for food, one can play in the sand or admire the beautiful sunset.
However, most restaurant food is not cheap by Central American standards. Expect to pay US$10 for a starter, $15-20 for a main dish, $3-4 for a juice or smoothie, $6-7 for a sandwich.
Tamarindo also has grocery stores, fresh produce and fruit juice stands, and internet cafes.
Locals will come daily during lunchtime with food in the back of their truck and sell to local Costa Ricans for about ₡2000 you get a full plate, it's a great way to try local cuisine.
- Pipos Dog (The Best Hot Dogs in town), Centro comercial Plaza Esmeralda (on the main road left side, where the HSBC Bank is). Hot dogs and open late.
- Longboards BBQ, Located on the right side of the road to Langosta (Next door to Mandarina), ☏ . Noon until late night. Enjoy an amazing pulled pork, chicken, or brisket sandwich while relaxing in a tropical setting, listening to American music. The ribs and onion rings are fantastic. All of their meat is smoked and served with homemade BBQ sauces. New flat screens make it a good place to watch the games. under US$10.
- [dead link] Le Petit Cafe, A03 Plaza Tamarindo (Next door to ABC Realty), ☏ . 08:00-18:00. Located in Plaza Tamarindo and serving North American and Jamaican-influenced fare including panninis, salads, home baked goods, apple pie to Jamaican jerk chicken, and vegetarian selections, and Montreal style bagels. Patio and enclosed air conditioned dining area. US$4-7.
Any tropical drink is recommended. Fresh papaya, mango, pineapple, and bananas are Tamarindo's specialty.
When in Tamarindo, definitely try a Tamarind and Ginger agua fresca if you find it.
- Monkey Bar (On the Main strip). The Monkey Bar is great on Fridays: they have a live band and a DJ playing, so you are able to choose which side of the party you wish to be on.
- Aqua. Within walking distance from the Monkey Bar, Aqua delivers a more intense night club experience. A great place to be on Friday or Saturday and there's even a pole on stage.
- Pacifico Bar. Pacifico is the place to be on Sunday and is also busy on Thursday. Expect reggae dance-hall music at this beach side bar.
- Eco Camping Tamarindo - Nice camping place, a bit pricey, yet still cheapest option around Tamarindo. Kitchen, bathrooms, showers, slow wifi. A bit far from the beach but Tamarindo is not such a big town. US$8 per person.
- 1 Hostel Café Café, Avenida de las Palmas, near Calle San Javier. Delightfully funky surfer hostel with 1970s-style décor and wall art. Private and shared rooms available. As of October 2017 (low season), very much a work in progress, with the desk not continually staffed—especially when the surf's up. Free wi-fi, good air conditioning in the rooms. Kitchen available though spartan (e.g., it is not advisable to open the left-hand refrigerator). Suggest bringing your own toilet paper. Owner and staff actively working on improvements before the beginning of high season. Prices don't seem firmly established and might be flexible, though they will probably increase during high season. Staff very friendly and helpful, both with the accommodations and regarding recreational opportunities in Tamarindo. Within easy walking distance to a post office and reasonably inexpensive food stores and eateries, though not to the beaches. US$14—35.
- 15 Love Bed and Breakfast. A contemporary bed and breakfast with two tennis courts.
- 360 Surf Camp (360 Surf Camp), In front of Milagro Hotel, ☏ . 360 Surf Camp surf school and lodging in front of the beach.
- [formerly dead link] Domus Kahuna, Next to the children playgound, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Fully equipped apartments and hotel rooms. 50.
- Hacienda Pinilla Beach Resort and Residential Community, ☏ . Offers villas, beach houses, the 30-room La Posada Hotel or the eight-suite Casa de Golf.
- 2 Harry's, El Escondite, Cabinas El Escondite (50 m west from Arco Iris (Season's Restaurant), 100 m south to end of road, look for surfboard in tree), ☏ , toll-free: (Viber), ✉ Harry@EsconditeTamarindo.com. Free surfboards & bikes. Secluded 4-plex of studio-apartment style cabinas in Playa Tamarindo. These vacation rentals have accommodations for individuals or groups up to 8 people and host many annually returning clients. A surf guide and lessons are also available for visitors new to the area and/or surfing. The kitchens are fully equipped with stoves, ovens, microwaves, coffee makers, toasters, all cutlery and cooking utensils. The hotel is located at the end of a quiet and private dead-end road, a short walk from downtown. It has a pool, lounge chairs and hammocks. On the 2nd floor is a large sundeck for BBQs, dining and entertaining. Hotel services available include laundry facilities, phones and wireless internet access and a large media collection. Also has private, off-street parking for guests. US$60.
- Hotel Jardin del Eden (En frende a la Colina), ☏ . Set on a hill, just a few minutes walk from the beach, and with a great view of the entire Tamarindo Bay. US$192.
- [dead link] Hotel Mamiri, ☏ . Across the street from Pasatiempo Hotel. Charming tropical gardens and very relaxed vibe, excellent morning coffee.
- [formerly dead link] Hotel Nahua, Tamarindo, ☏ . Apartments and hotel rooms around a lush garden with swimming pool, BBQ area and lazy corner to kick back and relax. Only a short walk to the beach.
- Hotel Tatanka, Playa Junquillal (Frente al mar), toll-free: . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. A great surf hotel, with its own pizzeria, located about two blocks from the beach, it is clean and the service is good. US$60-65.
- [formerly dead link] HPV Tamarindo House Rentals (Horizon Pacific Vacations), Plaza Tamarindo, Suite 13, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. Offering vacation rentals, property management, long-term rentals, and a complete concierge service. Provides you with a local contact during your stay.
- JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa, Hacienda Pinilla, ☏ . A traditional Costa Rica hotel with 310 guest rooms.
- Los Altos De Eros (About 25 minutes' drive inland from Tamarindo), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This boutique hotel offers yoga, cooking classes, a luxury spa overlooking the tropical forest, and honeymoon/wedding packages. They are a 5-star hotel, on a 27-acre estate, atop a small mountain with stunning views to the Pacific Ocean. Within a 20-minute drive (which they provide) you can surf, swim at two beaches, shop, take a canopy tour, go sport fishing, ride horses or ATVs, play golf, visit nearby towns, nightlife, restaurants.
- Mirador B&B, 300 m east of gym, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Enjoy sweeping ocean views perched high atop town in a quiet location, but close enough to enjoy all the town's amenities. US$95-150/night.
- RPM Vacation Rentals, Plaza Tamarindo, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Vacation rentals of condos and houses.
- Tamarindo Village. Its hillside location has beautiful sunset views of the ocean and it's within walking distance of the beach. It's not a cookie-cutter hotel. Each of the cabins is private and charming.
Public bus to Monetzuma: Journey takes about 8-10 hours to Montezuma. Catch the bus at 08:00 in Tamarindo to Santa Cruz (₡ 1200). From Santa Cruz take the bus to Nicoya (₡400). From there you have to wait 2 hours to take the bus to Playa Naranjo for ₡1700. After arriving in Playa Naranjo, you have 2 options: hitchhike from there to Montezuma or go on the ferry to Puntarenas, take another ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera and take a public bus from Paquera to Cobano and then to Montezuma.