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Tamarindo, Costa Rica – Travel Guide

The largest beach on the North Pacific Coast rich in culture, nightlife, things to do, delicious food, and Costa Rica’s most stunning sunsets.

Tamarindo is the most popular beach destination in the Guanacaste Province.  Although it is a tourist mecca, many fall in love with Tamarindo and come back year after year.  Here is why…..

 

Overview

The town has a great mix of expats from all over the world as well as many locals, creating a large mix of cultures in small beach town with a comforting community vibe.  It is a great place for any traveler – solo travelers, couples, friends, students, corporate groups, and pretty much any walk of life can be found in Tamarindo.

 

Surfing

Tamarindo is the largest beach on the north Pacific Coast and is known for it’s great beginner to intermediate waves throughout the year.  It is an ideal place to learn how to surf or improve your skills. Take a few surf lessons, join a surf camp, or create your own surf adventure itinerary.  Just pick your dates, interests, accommodation and transport choices, and we will send you a quote! There are many beaches nearby to surf larger waves such as Langosta, Grande, and Avellanas.

 

Getting Around

The town of Tamarindo is small and most accommodations are within walking distance of everything, but it is nice to have a golf cart to get places quickly and carry beach gear, groceries, etc., especially if you are staying a bit further from town. Pura Vida Electric Cars is the golf cart company in town and is located on the road between Tamarindo and Langosta Beach. If you are staying very far up the hill, you can not take the golf carts there as they do not have enough power and it is better to rent a UTV buggy.

By Bus

Many private companies run routes in the Guanacaste & San Jose area to Tamarindo  From Liberia and San Jose, we find La Pampa to have to most efficient and frequent routes from Liberia and San Jose, although it will typically take much longer (about 6-7 hours) than a shuttle or driving a car.

 

Shared Shuttles

In comfortable air conditioned minivans

  • From Liberia: These shared shuttles leave frequently throughout the day. The cost is $25 per person and you will need to reserve your spot ahead of time.
  • From San Jose/SJO Airport area: $55 per person leaving at 8 am and 2 pm. Exact pick up time will depend on where your pick up location is. From San Jose, there may be a stop on the way to change buses.
  • From Tamarindo Airport: Tamarindo airport is less than 5km from the center and you can easily get there by taxi which will cost you about $8 and in just over 5 minutes you will be in the center of our favorite town, or we can arrange transport for you.

From Monteverde:

From Arenal Volcano/La Fortuna:

From Manuel Antonio:

 

Private Shuttle:

Private shuttle are the most direct and fastest way to get to Tamarindo without renting a car.  Prices are based on the number of people in your group and where in the country you want to get picked up from.  Prices start at $80 one way Liberia-Tamarindo for 1-4 people, and $220 one way between San Jose to Tamarindo for a rule of thumb, but you can arrange them from anywhere.

 

Rental Car

You can rent a car in Liberia Airport, San Jose Airport, Tamarindo, or basically any major destination in Costa Rica.  The car selection can be minimal in Tamarindo in busier seasons, so you will want to reserve well ahead of time or at least not wait until you get to Tamarindo to rent the car.

Best Tamarindo Restaurants

With such a diverse expat community, the food scene has flourished.  With well over 100 restaurants in Tamarindo, you will find no shortage of great places to eat.  Here are our favorites:

 

Breakfast
  • La Princesa: Everything is made from scratch in house! Bagels, cinnamon rolls and
    apple bread are to die for. The breakfast and lunch sandwiches are delicious.
  • Waffle Monkey: Small place on the beach with a great variety of salty and sweet waffles, plus they will provide service out on the beach!
  • La Bodega: Small place near the back end of town but lots of flavor! They use local ingredients such as goat cheese and arm raised chickens.  They also have exquisite coffee and a fresh daily quiche.
  • Santa Rita Cafe – A large, comfortable air conditioned cafe with good coffee and a large, creative menu.  A good choice one block back from the beach for both breakfast and lunch.
Lunch
  • Green Papaya: Cool and casual restaurant with swigs for chairs. Cant seem to get enough of their Mahi mahi and tuna tacos.
  • Wild Panda: Costa Rican typical food. Probably the best Casados (rice, beans,
    sweet plantains, and a meat of your choice) in Tamarindo.
  • Pico Bistro: Beach front restaurant in the center of the Tamarindo strip.
    Very nice, clean, good food and a/c.
  • Pasta Casera: If you want something quick, cheap and good. This is your
    best option. They have all types of empanadas ready to go.
Dinner
  • La Esquina: Large variety of pizzas at a fair price with the perfect crust and quality ingredients. And they are cooked in a brick oven!
  • La Oveja Negra: Casual local hangout spot with Pool Table and Foosball.  Some of their signature nights are Open Mic Night on Mondays, and and live music many other nights featuring Tamarindo’s best musicians.  The best 2 for 1 margaritas, and we love the casual vibe. It is our favorite place to grab dinner and drinks for a more than fair price before heading out to the bars.
  • Falafel Bar: Some of the best Mediterranean food I’ve tried. Great option for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Bamboo Sushi: We fell in love with the outdoor secret jungle ambiance, right in the center of Tamarindo! It is
    truly breathtaking, with an elegant mix of tropical plants, fountains, and bamboo walls and ceilings. Exquisite plates (not just sushi!) and quick service (a bit rare in Costa Rica).
  • Patagonia: Steak Lover? It can be hard to find a good steak in Costa Rica but Patagonia is where you’ll find
    the best mean in the Guanacaste Province. Great cuts, very generous portions, and delicious sides and sauces.
  • Pangas: Beach front, simply mind blowing. It is a fine dining beachfront restaurant with
    a touch of the local cuisine. Pricey, but worth it.

 

Nightlife

On any given night during busy seasons you will find a thriving night life in Tamarindo.  After dinner and before the night club scene, many locals and travelers alike go to La Oveja Negra to relax, have a meal with 2 for 1 happy hour, play a game of pool or foosball, and listen to live music.  The restaurant is very spread out, making it a great place to get together for drinks with friends before heading home or going out to party. After dinner and drinks, here are where the parties are

  • Monday: La Oveja Negra – Open Mic Night – 8 PM
  • Tuesday: Sharkys – Karaoke Night – 9/10 PM
  • Wednesday: Pacifico – Ladies Night – 11 PM
  • Thursday: La Oveja Negra – Max & Friends – 8 PM, Pacifico – Reggae Night 11 PM
  • Friday: Crazy Monkey – Biggest Party of the Week – 10 PM
  • Saturday: La Oveja Negra – Big Brutus 8 PM, Pacifico – Wild Nights 11 PM
  • Sunday: Sharkys – Beer Pong – 10 PM

 

Shops

There are many boutique shops around Tamarindo, and you will find many places with great gifts for yourself and for loved ones.  A couple of our favorites are Bagus, Guana T Shirts, & Double 6, all located on the main road towards the cul de sac.

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When to Visit Tamarindo

High Season: End of December to End of April – Prices will be the highest but there will be no rain at all, also known as the dry season.

 

Low Season: May to Mid December – Prices are lower and it rains at least a few times a week, usually in the afternoons or at night.

  • In September and October it rains nearly everyday and the town is very slow.  Many shops and restaurants close down during this time and there isn’t much nightlife, but you can find some excellent deals on hotels, tours, and surf camps.
  • “Shoulder” Season: This is a few weeks at the end of July through August where the weather is dryer than the rest of ‘rainy’ season.  The town is quite lively for a few weeks, similar to high season.  It is a nice time to visit because the land is very lush and green from the recent rains and there are typically clouds to keep the temperature a bit cooler than the hot/dry high season, but the prices are typically close to low season rates.

Top 3 Local Tamarindo Tours

Tours you can do in town or from surrounding beaches

Antares Sunset Cruise

5 Hr Sunset Cruise

  • Open Bar
  • Food
  • Live Music
  • Snorkeling

Scuba Diving or Snorkeling

Catalinas Islands

  • Snorkel or Scuba Dive
  • Non Certified or Certified Divers
  • Includes Hotel Pick up/Drop off
  • Tropical Fish, Turtles, Giant Manta Rays, and much more!

ATV Tours

Many Options!

  • 1 Hour Sunset
  • 2 Hour Mountain
  • 3 Hour Snorkel
  • 4 Hour Beach/Mountain

Top 3 Day Trips & Excursions

One Day Tours from Tamarindo and Surrounding Beaches

$130

Ziplining

River Tubing

Horseback Riding

Buffet Lunch

Hot Springs

$115

2 Hour Hike

Oropendola Waterfall

Buffet Lunch

Hot Springs

Volcanic Mud Bath

$115

2 Hour Hike

Swimming in Blue River

Costa Rican Lunch

Llanos de Cortez Waterfall

Sloths

Tamarindo Blog Articles

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