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Your Ultimate Tamarindo Travel Guide 2024

Tamarindo, Costa Rica is a stunning destination for your next vacation. Located on the northwest coast of Costa Rica, Tamarindo offers a range of activities for travelers of all ages and interests. Whether you’re looking to enjoy some sun, sand, and surf at Tamarindo’s beautiful beaches, explore the lush rainforests, or sample some local cuisine, Tamarindo has something for everyone. With this guide, you can be sure to get the most out of your trip to Tamarindo! You may also want to check out our San Jose travel guide.

Top 5 Things To See And Do In Tamarindo

  1. Surfing: Tamarindo is known for its incredible waves and is one of the best places to surf in Costa Rica. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there are plenty of surf schools and rental shops in town to help you get out on the water.
  2. Playa Tamarindo: This stunning beach stretches for miles and is the perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, and watching the sunset. With crystal-clear waters and soft sand, it’s no wonder why it’s one of the most popular beaches in the area.
  3. Sunset Sailing Tour: Tamarindo is famous for its spectacular sunsets, and there’s no better way to see them than by taking a sunset sailing tour. These tours take you out on the water to watch the sun go down while enjoying drinks and snacks.
  4. ATV Tour: Get off the beaten path and explore the jungle on an ATV tour. These tours take you on a thrilling adventure through the Costa Rican countryside and offer some of the best views in Tamarindo.
  5. Snorkeling: Tamarindo is home to some of the most beautiful underwater landscapes in Costa Rica. Take a snorkeling tour to explore the colorful coral reefs, spot exotic fish and turtles, and experience the underwater world like never before.

Where To Stay In Tamarindo

  • Playa Tamarindo: The main hub of Tamarindo, Playa Tamarindo offers a lively atmosphere with a range of accommodations. Here, you’ll find upscale resorts, beachfront condos, and boutique hotels. Playa Tamarindo is also the center of the town’s dining and nightlife scene, with plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from.
  • Langosta Beach: Located just south of Playa Tamarindo, Langosta Beach is a quieter, more upscale neighborhood. This area features luxurious villas, high-end condos, and boutique hotels, and is known for its stunning beachfront properties.
  • Playa Avellanas: About 30 minutes south of Tamarindo, Playa Avellanas offers a laid-back vibe and secluded beachfront properties. Here, you’ll find a range of accommodations, from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious vacation rentals.
  • Playa Grande: Located just north of Tamarindo, Playa Grande offers a quieter and more peaceful setting. This area is known for its pristine beaches, and it’s a popular spot for surfers. Playa Grande has a range of accommodations, from beachfront villas to budget-friendly hotels.
  • Hacienda Pinilla: Located about 20 minutes south of Tamarindo, Hacienda Pinilla is a gated community that features a range of upscale accommodations. This area is known for its stunning golf course and private beachfront properties, and it’s a great option for those looking for a more secluded and luxurious setting.

Top Tamarindo Hotels

  • Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas: Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas is a stunning 4-star hotel situated just 5 minutes from the beach in Tamarindo. The hotel offers a variety of accommodation options including rooms, suites, and villas. The villas are the perfect choice for those looking for privacy and space. They feature a private pool, garden, and a fully-equipped kitchen. The hotel has an outdoor pool, spa, and restaurant on-site.
  • Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort: Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort is a 4-star resort situated on the beautiful Tamarindo beach. The resort offers a range of accommodation options including rooms, suites, and villas. The rooms and suites have a modern design and are equipped with all the necessary amenities. The villas are the perfect choice for families or groups of friends. The resort has several swimming pools, a spa, and restaurants on-site.
  • Hotel Pasatiempo: Hotel Pasatiempo is a charming 3-star hotel located just a few minutes walk from the beach in Tamarindo. The hotel has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and the rooms are comfortable and tastefully decorated. The hotel has an outdoor pool, bar, and restaurant on-site. It’s an ideal option for budget-conscious travelers who want to be close to the beach.
  • JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa: JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa is a luxurious 5-star resort located about 30 minutes from Tamarindo. The resort is set in a stunning location surrounded by lush greenery and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, and the resort has several restaurants, swimming pools, and a spa on-site. It’s a great option for those looking for a luxurious and relaxing vacation.
  • The Coast Beachfront Hotel: The Coast Beachfront Hotel is a beautiful 4-star hotel located on the beachfront in Tamarindo. The hotel has a modern and stylish design, and the rooms are comfortable and well-equipped. The hotel has an outdoor pool, bar, and restaurant on-site, and it’s a great option for those who want to be close to the beach and enjoy a comfortable stay.

Where To Eat In Tamarindo

If you’re a foodie looking for great eats, Tamarindo will not disappoint. The beach town has plenty of dining options that range from international cuisine to local Costa Rican dishes. Here are the top 5 places to eat in Tamarindo:

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  1. Patagonia Argentinian Grill & Restaurant: This restaurant offers a mix of Argentinian and Costa Rican cuisine, but the highlight of their menu is their steaks, cooked to perfection on an open grill. Their outdoor seating area is perfect for a romantic dinner or a group meal with friends.
  2. Dragonfly Bar & Grill: Located on Tamarindo Beach, this restaurant has a beautiful ocean view and serves up fresh seafood, sushi, and international dishes. Their cocktails and happy hour specials are also worth checking out.
  3. Pangas Beach Club: If you’re looking for a beachside dining experience, Pangas Beach Club is the place to be. Their menu includes seafood, steaks, and vegetarian options, and their drink menu is extensive. The restaurant also hosts live music on certain nights.
  4. La Bodega: This is the perfect spot for breakfast or brunch, with options ranging from classic pancakes to local gallo pinto. They also have a bakery section with freshly baked bread and pastries.
  5. Nogui’s Sunset Cafe: This casual beachfront spot offers tasty bites and great views of Tamarindo’s sunset. Their menu includes fresh seafood, tacos, and burgers.

No matter where you decide to eat in Tamarindo, be sure to try the local favorite dish – ceviche! It’s a must-try in this coastal town.

How To Get Around Tamarindo

Once you arrive in Tamarindo, you’ll want to start exploring the area. Fortunately, getting around Tamarindo is relatively easy. Here are some of the ways you can navigate this beautiful Costa Rican town:

  • Walking: Tamarindo is a small town, and most of its attractions are within walking distance. You can easily stroll around the main street, where you’ll find shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s a great way to take in the local culture and enjoy the sights and sounds of the town.
  • Bike: If you prefer to travel a bit faster, consider renting a bike. Biking around Tamarindo is not only an efficient way to get around, but it’s also a fun way to see more of the town and its surrounding areas. Many hotels and bike rental shops offer daily or weekly rentals.
  • Taxis: Taxis are a popular mode of transportation in Tamarindo. You can flag down a taxi on the street or ask your hotel to arrange one for you. Make sure to agree on a fare with the driver before you get in the car. Taxis are a convenient way to travel to areas that are not within walking distance, like nearby beaches or restaurants.
  • Shuttles: If you’re planning on taking day trips or excursions outside of Tamarindo, shuttles are a great option. Many hotels and tour companies offer shuttle services to popular destinations like national parks or nearby towns. Shuttles are a comfortable way to travel and allow you to sit back and enjoy the scenery.
  • Rental Cars: If you prefer the freedom of having your own transportation, renting a car is an excellent option. However, driving in Tamarindo can be challenging for those not used to navigating narrow, unpaved roads. It’s also important to note that parking can be difficult to find in the busy tourist areas of Tamarindo.

Tamarindo Weather

The weather in Tamarindo is typically hot and sunny year-round like Acapulco, with occasional periods of rainfall. Depending on the time of year you visit, the climate in Tamarindo can vary significantly.

  • Spring (March to May): During the spring months, temperatures in Tamarindo average around 85°F (29°C) with minimal rainfall. This is a great time to visit for those who want to avoid the crowds of the high season while still enjoying the warm weather.
  • Summer (June to August): In the summer months, temperatures in Tamarindo can reach as high as 95°F (35°C), making it a popular time for tourists seeking the ultimate beach experience. However, it is also the wettest season with occasional thunderstorms.
  • Fall (September to November): Fall in Tamarindo is known as the low season due to its heavy rainfall. Temperatures hover around 80°F (27°C), and the humidity is high, making it feel even warmer. It is important to pack rain gear if visiting during this time.
  • Winter (December to February): The winter months are considered the high season in Tamarindo, with average temperatures of 82°F (28°C) and very little rainfall. The warm, dry weather makes it an ideal time for outdoor activities and beach lounging.

No matter what time of year you visit Tamarindo, be prepared for sunny skies and warm weather. Don’t forget your sunscreen and a hat to protect you from the sun’s rays!

Best Time To Visit Tamarindo

Tamarindo is a popular year-round destination, but the best time to visit Tamarindo depends on what you want to do. If you are looking for the warmest weather, the best time to visit Tamarindo is from December to April, which is considered the dry season. During these months, you can expect clear blue skies and temperatures ranging from the mid-80s to low 90s Fahrenheit.

However, the dry season is also the busiest and most expensive time to visit Tamarindo. If you want to avoid the crowds and save some money, you may want to consider visiting during the shoulder seasons, which are May to August and November. During these months, the weather is still warm, but there may be occasional rain showers.

If you are interested in surfing, the best time to visit Tamarindo is from April to November, which is the surfing season. During these months, you can expect consistent waves and warm water temperatures. Keep in mind that Tamarindo is located in the tropics, so you can expect some rainfall throughout the year. However, the rainy season is from September to October, which is also considered the low season. During this time, you may encounter heavy rain showers and some businesses may be closed.

Overall, the best time to visit Tamarindo depends on your preferences and what activities you want to do. Regardless of when you visit, Tamarindo offers a variety of experiences for travelers of all ages.

How To Stay Safe In Tamarindo

Tamarindo is generally a safe place for tourists, but like any other travel destination, it’s important to take some safety precautions. Here are some tips to help you stay safe in Tamarindo:

  • Don’t Walk Alone At Night: Although Tamarindo is generally safe, walking alone at night can make you an easy target for petty theft or worse. Always walk with a group or take a taxi.
  • Be Cautious With Your Belongings: Petty theft can occur in Tamarindo, so be careful with your belongings, especially in crowded areas. Don’t leave valuables unattended, and use a money belt to keep your passport and cash secure.
  • Don’t Buy Drugs: It’s illegal to buy drugs in Costa Rica, and drug dealers may take advantage of tourists. Don’t put yourself at risk by trying to purchase drugs such as weed or cocaine.
  • Be Careful In The Water: Tamarindo has some strong currents, so be careful when swimming or surfing. Only swim in designated areas and always follow the instructions of local lifeguards.
  • Be Aware Of Wildlife: Tamarindo is home to a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, crocodiles, and snakes. Don’t approach wild animals, and always stay on designated trails in national parks.
  • Know The Emergency Numbers: Make sure you know the emergency numbers in Tamarindo in case of an emergency. The general emergency number in Costa Rica is 911, but you can also dial 128 for the Tourist Police.

By following these tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Tamarindo. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Tamarindo Customs and Etiquette

As a tourist, it’s always best to be aware of the local customs and etiquette to show respect for the culture and avoid any unintentional misunderstandings. Here are a few things to keep in mind while in Tamarindo:

  • Dress Code: Tamarindo is a beach town, so beach attire is completely acceptable. However, when going into town, it is recommended to cover up and dress modestly. It is considered inappropriate to wear beachwear or revealing clothing outside of the beach areas.
  • Tipping: Tipping is expected in Tamarindo, especially in the service industry. The general rule of thumb is to tip 10-15% in restaurants and bars.
  • Greeting: It is customary to greet people with a handshake or a hug. If someone is a friend or a family member, a kiss on the cheek may also be exchanged.
  • Language: Spanish is the official language in Costa Rica, and while most people in Tamarindo speak English, it is always appreciated if you attempt to speak some basic Spanish phrases.
  • Punctuality: Punctuality is not a strict requirement in Tamarindo, but it’s always appreciated. If you have arranged a meeting or a tour, try to arrive on time or let the person know if you’ll be running late.
  • Respect For Nature: Tamarindo is known for its stunning natural beauty, and locals are passionate about preserving the environment. It’s important to follow the local regulations, dispose of waste properly, and avoid activities that could harm the local flora and fauna.
  • Respect For Religion: Costa Rica is predominantly Catholic, and religious celebrations are taken seriously. It’s important to be respectful if you happen to be visiting during a religious event or ceremony.

By following these customs and etiquette guidelines, you’ll show respect for the local culture and enjoy a more authentic experience in Tamarindo.

Other Things To Know About Tamarindo

Before packing your bags and heading to Tamarindo, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the country, currency, language, and time zone. Costa Rica is located in Central America, bordering Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. It’s known for its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and diverse wildlife. The official language spoken in Costa Rica is Spanish, although many locals in tourist areas also speak English.

The official currency of Costa Rica is the Costa Rican Colón (CRC), but US dollars are widely accepted in many establishments. However, it’s still a good idea to have some local currency on hand for smaller transactions or to shop at local markets. Tamarindo is in the Central Time Zone, which is six hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-6). It’s important to keep this in mind when making travel arrangements, as well as when scheduling tours or activities.

Overall, Tamarindo and Costa Rica as a whole are relatively easy to navigate for tourists, with many establishments accepting US dollars and English-speaking locals. However, it’s still a good idea to have a basic understanding of the country and its customs before arriving.

Tamarindo Travel Costs

Costa Rica is a popular travel destination, and Tamarindo is no exception. The good news is that there are options for every budget.

  • Accommodation: There are various accommodation options in Tamarindo, including hostels, hotels, vacation rentals, and resorts. Prices vary depending on the location, type of accommodation, and the time of year you visit. Hostels are the most affordable option, with prices ranging from $10-$30 per night. Hotels and vacation rentals range from $50-$300 per night. For luxury resorts, you can expect to pay around $400 per night.
  • Food And Drink: Tamarindo has a great variety of food options, from street vendors to high-end restaurants. For budget travelers, you can find cheap eats for as little as $5 per meal. Mid-range restaurants will cost around $10-$20 per meal, and high-end restaurants will be around $30-$50 per meal.
  • Transportation: Tamarindo is a small town, so walking is a great option. However, if you need to travel further, you can take a taxi or a bus. A taxi ride will cost you around $10-$20 for a short trip. If you prefer taking the bus, you can travel around Tamarindo and nearby towns for around $1-$2.
  • Activities: There are many activities to do in Tamarindo, such as surfing, hiking, and zip-lining. Prices for activities vary, but surfing lessons can range from $30-$70, depending on the length of the lesson and the equipment included. A zip-lining tour can cost around $50-$80.

Overall, a budget traveler can expect to spend around $30-$50 per day in Tamarindo, while mid-range travelers can expect to spend around $50-$100 per day. Luxury travelers should expect to spend around $200 or more per day. However, these costs may vary depending on the season and the type of activities you choose.

Finding Affordable Flights To Tamarindo

Flying to Tamarindo, Costa Rica can be quite pricey, but with some research and flexibility, you can find affordable flights. Here are some tips to help you find the best deals on flights to Tamarindo:

  • Book In Advance: The earlier you book your flight, the better the chances of finding a good deal. Start looking for flights at least 3-4 months before your planned travel dates.
  • Use Flight Search Engines: Utilize flight search engines such as Skyscanner, Expedia, and Kayak to compare prices and find the best deals.
  • Be Flexible With Travel Dates: Traveling during peak season can be more expensive, so consider traveling during off-peak times when prices may be lower.
  • Consider Alternative Airports: If there are multiple airports near your origin and destination, consider flying into a nearby airport and then taking a bus or taxi to Tamarindo.
  • Join Frequent Flyer Programs: If you fly frequently, join a frequent flyer program to accumulate miles that can be used for future travel.
  • Sign Up For Airline Newsletters And Alerts: Airlines, such as Avianca, often send out promotional deals via email, so sign up for newsletters and alerts to stay updated on the latest deals.

By using these tips, you can find affordable flights to Tamarindo and save money on your overall travel expenses.

Backpacking Tamarindo Suggested Budgets

For budget-conscious travelers, Tamarindo offers plenty of options to explore without breaking the bank. Here are some suggested budgets for backpackers:

Low Budget

If you’re traveling on a shoestring, you can easily get by on $25-30 per day. Hostels in Tamarindo offer dorm beds for as low as $10-15 per night. Street food stalls are your best bet for cheap eats, and you can grab a filling meal for around $5-7. You can also save on transportation by renting a bike for around $10-15 per day.

Mid-Range Budget

With a mid-range budget of $50-60 per day, you can afford to splurge a bit on nicer accommodations and restaurant meals. Look for budget hotels or guesthouses that offer private rooms for around $25-35 per night. For food, opt for sit-down restaurants that serve traditional Costa Rican cuisine for around $10-15 per meal. You can also sign up for affordable tours and activities like hiking, snorkeling, or surfing lessons.

Luxury Budget

For backpackers with a higher budget, $80-100 per day will give you plenty of options for luxury accommodations and upscale dining. Many hotels and resorts in Tamarindo offer all-inclusive packages that include meals and activities, so be sure to shop around for deals. You can also hire a private guide for a customized tour of the area.

No matter what your budget is, Tamarindo offers plenty of ways to experience Costa Rica’s natural beauty and vibrant culture without breaking the bank. Plan ahead and you’ll have an unforgettable backpacking adventure!

Tamarindo Money Saving Tips

Traveling to Tamarindo, Costa Rica doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some tips to help you save money during your trip:

  • Book Accommodations In Advance: Booking your hotel or hostel ahead of time can save you a lot of money. You can find great deals by booking online and taking advantage of early bird discounts.
  • Take Advantage Of Happy Hour Specials: Many bars and restaurants in Tamarindo offer happy hour specials where you can get discounted drinks and food. Look out for these deals and plan your outings accordingly.
  • Eat Local Food: Eating local food at small restaurants or street vendors is a great way to save money while enjoying delicious cuisine. Avoid eating at fancy restaurants or resorts that charge high prices.
  • Shop At Local Markets: Visit the local markets for fresh produce, snacks, and souvenirs. You’ll find better prices compared to shopping at the tourist stores.
  • Use Public Transportation: Taxis can be expensive in Tamarindo. Instead, take advantage of the public transportation system such as buses. It’s cheaper and can take you to many places around Tamarindo.
  • Avoid Peak Season: Peak season in Tamarindo usually runs from December to April. Try visiting during the shoulder season when prices are lower, and there are fewer tourists.
  • Take Advantage Of Free Activities: There are many free things to do in Tamarindo, such as visiting the beach, hiking, or watching the sunset. Take advantage of these activities to save money on entertainment.

By following these money-saving tips, you can enjoy your trip to Tamarindo without breaking the bank.

What To Pack For Tamarindo

Packing for Tamarindo, Costa Rica requires careful planning as the weather can be unpredictable and the activities can vary greatly. Here are some essentials that you shouldn’t forget:

  1. Sunscreen: With the scorching heat, sunscreen is a must-have. Don’t forget to bring a high SPF sunscreen to protect your skin.
  2. Swimwear: Tamarindo is home to beautiful beaches, so don’t forget to pack your swimsuits, flip flops, and a beach towel.
  3. Mosquito Repellent: Although not a huge issue, there may be mosquitos around, so pack a good quality mosquito repellent to stay protected.
  4. Comfortable Footwear: Make sure to bring comfortable shoes, as there will be a lot of walking and exploring.
  5. Water Shoes: Water shoes are a good idea if you plan on exploring rocky areas or if you plan on doing any water activities such as kayaking.
  6. Lightweight Clothing: Costa Rica is hot and humid, so make sure to pack lightweight, breathable clothing.
  7. Rain Gear: It’s not uncommon for there to be brief showers in Tamarindo, so it’s best to be prepared with a lightweight rain jacket.
  8. Reusable Water Bottle: Drinking water is essential, so bring a reusable water bottle to keep hydrated and reduce plastic waste.
  9. First Aid Kit: A basic first aid kit can come in handy for any unexpected injuries or minor ailments.
  10. Camera: Tamarindo is full of beautiful scenery and activities, so make sure to bring your camera to capture those unforgettable moments.

Remember to pack only what you need and avoid overpacking, especially if you plan on backpacking. With these essentials, you’ll be ready to enjoy your Tamarindo adventure.

Can You Drink Tap Water In Tamarindo?

No, it is not recommended to drink tap water in Tamarindo. While the water is treated and safe for showering and brushing your teeth, it may contain bacteria and parasites that could cause gastrointestinal issues if ingested. It is best to drink bottled water, which can be found easily at local grocery stores and convenience stores. Additionally, be sure to ask for drinks without ice in restaurants, as the ice may have been made with tap water. Staying hydrated is important, especially in a tropical climate like Tamarindo, so be sure to always have a supply of bottled water with you.

Other Things To See And Do In Tamarindo

Tamarindo has so much to offer beyond the top 5 things to see and do. Here are some other recommendations for your itinerary:

  • Surfing Lessons: Tamarindo is known for its great surfing conditions and there are many surf schools offering lessons for all levels.
  • Beach Hopping: Tamarindo has several beautiful beaches to explore, including Playa Avellanas, Playa Conchal, and Playa Langosta.
  • Scuba Diving And Snorkeling: There are several diving and snorkeling tours available in Tamarindo that offer the chance to explore the area’s beautiful underwater world.
  • ATV Tours: Explore the surrounding area on an ATV tour, with options for different routes and levels of difficulty.
  • Sunset Catamaran Cruises: A popular activity in Tamarindo, a catamaran cruise offers stunning views of the sunset while enjoying drinks and snacks.
  • Yoga And Wellness Retreats: Tamarindo is also a popular destination for wellness retreats, offering yoga classes and spa treatments.
  • Horseback Riding: Take a horseback ride on the beach or through the jungle, with several tour companies offering guided trips.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Tamarindo is home to a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, iguanas, and exotic birds, making it a great spot for nature lovers.

With so many options for activities and things to see and do, Tamarindo is a destination that truly has something for everyone. Don’t miss out on the chance to explore this beautiful corner of Costa Rica!

The Bottom Line

Overall, Tamarindo is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Costa Rica. With its beautiful beaches, exciting activities, and vibrant nightlife, there’s something for everyone here. Whether you’re a solo backpacker on a tight budget or a family looking for a luxurious beach getaway, Tamarindo has plenty of options to choose from.

As with any travel destination, it’s important to do your research beforehand to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Follow our tips for staying safe and respecting local customs and etiquette, and you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable experience in Tamarindo.
So why not book your trip to Tamarindo today? With so much to see and do in this tropical paradise, you won’t regret it!

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