Planning to use Tamarindo as your homebase in Costa Rica? This beach town in Guanacaste has tons to offer for all travelers and despite it’s more 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 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.
Here is a map of tour operators, activities and other things to do in Tamarindo. I included things like surf shops, scuba diving shops, happy hour and adventures.
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 are many surf shops in town that teach lessons and offer surf camps and vacations.
We did a surf vacation with Iguana Surf and it was a ton of fun. I also gained more confidence and enjoyed learning to surf much more than my first lesson in Jaco! A group lesson costs around $50 USD per person for 2 hours. You can also book a private lesson. Other good surf shops for lessons are Kelly’s, Mateo’s, Blue Trailz and Banana Surf Club.
If you don’t need a lesson, you can also rent boards. A board rental costs around $20 USD for 24 hours.
If you’re more experienced, there are a few more intermediate spots so there are spots for every surfer. 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 as part of the Marino Las Baulas National Park. 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 $25 USD per person and you can book the tours directly at the little park ranger office 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 cheaper 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 by Tamarindo that range in all excitement levels.
Canopy tours run around $55 USD per person. Some places Black Stallion Estates, you can combine it with horseback riding and a barbecue dinner. Ziplining is one of the essential experiences to have in Costa Rica so don’t miss out on soaring through the Guanacaste landscapes!
If you want to do a more exciting zipline, head to Diamante Eco Adventure Park, about 1 hour away. It has the longest ocean view superman zipline! Additionally, they have a wildlife sanctuary, botanical garden and cultural house for a full day of fun. (Get 10% off in the link).
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 (better snorkeling conditions) or sunset tour to 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 sunset catamaran cruises in Tamarindo and cost around $95 USD per person for a sunset cruise. For something a little nicer, Antares has a sail boat and includes gourmet food. Dream Chaser is another catamaran sailing tour that offers a more personal experience (less of a party boat like Marlin del Rey).
Just 30 minutes away from Tamarindo is the Flamingo marina, the launch point for scuba divers to go to the Las Catalinas islands.
You can get your scuba diving certification or if you don’t already have it, go on a discovery dive. They give you an hour of instruction before taking you for two tank dives and you have guides with you the whole time. At Las Catalinas islands, I saw whitetip reef sharks, manta rays, eels, dolphins and huge schools of fish. If you go in August or September, you may see humpback whales or turtles along the way!
You can check Pacific Coast Diving or Be Diving scuba diving shops (I went with Pacific Coast, read more about my scuba diving experience here).
Tamarindo fishing is great nearly all year round and you can catch your dinner! Head out to the deep sea to catch fish like mahi mahi, wahoo and more.
Some companies to check out are Go Fish, CR Fishing Charters, Sea Breeze, Bluefishing Tours, Tamarindo Sport Fishing and Coyote Sport Fishing.
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, bike or walk to neighboring Playa Langosta. If you have a car, you can or drive to Conchal and Avellanas.
Additionally, if you want to keep exploring beaches, head down further south to lesser known beaches such as Playa San Juanillo and Playa Junquillal. You can even go further down south to Nosara or up north to the Gulf of Papagayo beaches. No matter what, you’ll find a beautiful beach to lay a towel down on and relax!
Stand up paddle board/surf
SUP is the new hot sport and we highly recommend it, especially if you aren’t keen on surfing.
Mojo Surf Adventures runs a 2 hour stand up paddle tour from Tamarindo that goes out to the island. When you get to the island, you can snorkel and swim.
ATV is very popular in Tamarindo and you can find tours right in downtown. There is an ATV tour desk across from Oveja Negra Hostel and the owner’s name is Casey. 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!
Happy Hour and Nightlife
Being a touristic surf town, Tamarindo has a lively nightlife. Pacifico Bar and Crazy Monkey Bar are two popular places to drink and dance. Sharky’s Sport Bar always plays all the games and has live music, ladies night, karaoke, etc. during the week. There is a casino at Tamarindo Diria.
For a good time, you can also check out the Beach & Pool Crawl to party and drink with other young backpackers and surfers on Sundays.
For happy hour, check out Nogui’s (2 for 1 beer at 4 – 5 PM) or The Roof. El Be usually has live music, Barefoot Lounge has a nice happy hour by the pool.
Hotel Bula Bula in Playa Grande offers a nice dinner excursion. Their dinner package includes a boat ride across the estuary from Tamarindo to the hotel, dinner and the boat ride back. On Mondays they have Mexican buffet night and Wednesdays is Italian buffet night.
We personally like the Volcano Brewing Company for a chill night out. We’ll get a couple of craft beers there, play some ping pong and then head to Mercadito (open air food court) for dinner.
Check out Coco Beauty Spa (nice massage), Massage by Arthur or Revive Wellness Center in Langosta Beach Club. For a more luxury experience, check out Los Altos de Eros spa (15 minute drive from Tamarindo).
Things to do in Tamarindo with Kids
Our recommended things to do in Tamarindo with kids is Bolas Locas, a mini golf course in Tamarindo, an estuary boat ride, surf lesson, boogie boarding, Reina’s Chocolate tour and art classes at Paint Club.
Where to Stay in Tamarindo
Here are a few quick recommendations for places to stay in Tamarindo.
- Hotel Mar Rey: Mid range hotel right in downtown. Decent rooms, nice pool.
- Hotel Luna Llena: Mid range hotel in the back of Tamarindo town, about a 10 minute walk to the beach. Has rooms and loft style bungalows.
- Cabinas Marielos: Budget rooms right across the street from the beach. Clean and basic but super close to the beach.
Want to read about other things to do in Costa Rica? Check these posts out!
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