Planning a visit to Tamarindo during your Costa Rica vacation? This beach town in Guanacaste has tons to offer for all travelers and despite it’s touristic nature, Tamarindo’s convenient location, sweet surf breaks and laid back atmosphere is one not to miss.
For those who need a bit of help trip planning, here is a list of 10 things to do in Tamarindo. You can spend a whole week and never get bored! If you don’t know much about Tamarindo or aren’t sure if you want to visit, check out our Tamarindo beach guide to see what the town and beach are like.
Tamarindo is one of the premiere surfing beaches in Costa Rica, particularly for beginners. The beach has consistent waves so you can catch a wave every day. If you’ve never popped up on a board before, no worries. There is a handful of surf shops in town that teach lessons and offer surf camps and vacations. We did a surf vacation with Iguana Surf and my surfing improved drastically in one week (aka I was able to stand up on my own without falling the first two seconds).
A board rental costs around $20 for 24 hours and many surf shops offer promos, you can also strike up a deal if you want to rent long term. A group lesson costs around $45 for 2 hours.
If you’re more experienced, there are a few more intermediate to pro size waves on Tamarindo. Since it’s such a long beach, there are spots for everyone who wants to surf! Since this beach is so great for beginners, it’s one of the must do things in Tamarindo!
Estuary Boat Ride
Tamarindo is not just the beach, there is actually a large mangrove and estuary right next to the beach. Locals set up boat tours and kayak rentals so that visitors can explore the estuary and see monkeys, birds, crocodiles and more wildlife.
Estuary boat rides start at around $40 per person and you can book the tours directly at the little house near the entrance of the estuary. You will see on the right hand side of the road driving into Tamarindo. It has a sign for “Marino Las Baulas National Park.” Or you can walk over from the beach like the photo above.
This is one of the relatively cheap things to do in Tamarindo.
You don’t have to travel far out of Tamarindo to fly through trees, over rivers and from mountain to mountain. There are several canopy tours right outside of Tamarindo that range in all excitement levels. For the extreme adrenaline junkies, take a sunset zipline tour in the mountains with Black Stallion.
Canopy tours run around $55 per person and at some places like Black Stallion, you can combine it with horseback riding or something else. Ziplining is one of the essential experiences to have in Costa Rica so don’t miss out on soaring through the Guanacaste landscapes!
What better way to experience the Pacific coast of Costa Rica than by going for a sailing trip? Head out on a catamaran to do a morning or sunset tour (we love sunset tours) to snorkel, visit different beaches and enjoy the open ocean.
On the way, you can may see dolphins, turtles or even whales during the right time of the year. Catamaran cruises is a super fun activity with families or big groups, or even for couples to enjoy a bit of romance. Blue Dolphin and Marlin del Rey are two of the most popular in Tamarindo and cost around $85 per person for a sunset cruise.
Barra Honda National Park
Tamarindo is close to Barra Honda National Park where you can hike and explore caves. It’s an extremely unique activity and great way to see the Nicoya landscapes.
Tamarindo sport fishing is great pretty much all year round and sport fishing is popular with tourists. Head out to the deep sea to wrestle huge fish like mahi mahi, marlin, roosterfish, sailfish and more.
Visiting different beaches
With so many great beaches around, it’d be a shame not to visit other beaches while in Tamarindo. You can take a boat ride across the estuary to Playa Grande, another surfing beach, bike to neighboring Playa Langosta or drive to Conchal and Avellanas.
Or if you have a car, head down further south to lesser known beaches such as Playa San Juanillo and Playa Junquillal or up north to the Gulf of Papagayo beaches. No matter what, you’ll find a beach to lay a towel down on and relax!
Stand up paddle board/surf
SUP is the new hot sport and if you’re not sure if you like surfing, try stand up paddle surfing. It’s still a great exercise and it’s now very popular in Tamarindo.
Most surf shops also rent stand up paddle boards or you can SUP through the mangroves.
ATV is very popular in Tamarindo and you can find tours right in downtown. They normally take you to back roads that lead to great viewpoints, through rivers and up the mountains.
Watch the Sunset on the Beach
Last but not least, the one must do thing in Tamarindo is to watch the sunset on the beach. Tamarindo’s sunsets are one of a kind and once you see one, no sunset can ever compare (well probably some but Tamarindo’s sunsets are just that stunning).
When it hits around 5:30 PM, you’ll see everyone walk onto the beach with a camera in their hands. Rainy season sunsets are particularly intense as there are more clouds, turning the sky into rings of fire. Watching a sunset on the beach is one of the free things in Tamarindo!
Where to Stay in Tamarindo
Here are some recommendations for places to stay in Tamarindo.
- Hotel Mar Rey (formerly known as Zullymar): Mid range hotel right in downtown. Decent rooms, nice pool.
- Hotel Luna Llena: Mid range hotel in the back of Tamarindo town, about a 5-10 minute walk to the beach. Have rooms and bungalows and is eco-friendly.
- Cabinas Marielos: Budget rooms right across the street from the beach. Clean and basic but super close to the beach.
- JW Marriott Guanacaste: Though it’s not right in Tamarindo, it is about a 15 minute drive away and is the best option for a luxury stay. Read our review and get 10% off your stay!
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Want to read about other things to do in Costa Rica? Check these posts out!