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12 Things to Know BEFORE Going Scuba Diving in Tamarindo

12 Things to Know BEFORE Going Scuba Diving in Tamarindo

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Some of the best diving in Central America takes place right in Costa Rica. The natural beauty and the extreme biodiversity Costa Rica is known for extend to the water, making this a perfect spot to explore under the surface. While there are many great diving spots in Costa Rica, our top pick is Tamarindo.

With naturally clear water and an impressive amount of wildlife, Tamarindo is a clear stand-out in the diving world. I’ve seen manta rays, bull sharks, and sea turtles all in one dive here. Since living in Costa Rica, we’ve been on a few diving excursions while visiting this area and are always left in awe! 

There is a lot that needs to be researched before you jump (or shall I say dive) into scuba diving in a new place, so we wanted to share our experiences with you! This guide will answer all of your questions about scuba diving in Tamarindo, including the best tours, so you can simply enjoy this exciting adventure when you visit.

Don’t have time to read the full article? Scuba diving in Tamarindo is amazing! If you have your diving certification, this tour to the Catalina Islands includes two dives in this must-see location. If you’ve never been diving, you can take your PADI certification with this 3-day course or opt for a discovery dive like this one that doesn’t require any prior experience!

1. About scuba diving in Tamarindo

Bailey and Daniel scuba dive in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Hey!

Tamarindo is a top destination in Costa Rica for anyone looking for a tropical paradise! It is well known for its amazing beaches, ecotourism, and surfing scene, and it is also a cute, lively beach town with some of the best restaurants in Costa Rica. Tamarindo is also one of my favorite scuba diving locations!

Tamarindo is located right on the Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste, and unlike many parts of the Pacific coast, the water is warm year-round. This warmer climate allows an underwater tropical ecosystem to flourish, giving us crystal-clear water and a wide variety of marine life – ideal for diving! The temperature stays pretty consistently around 28°C (82°F).

There are over 7,000 species of marine life swimming in these warm waters! I was so excited to spot a variety of animals, like rays, sea turtles, sharks, and so many colorful fish. Seriously, there were so many colors! People love scuba diving in Tamarindo because you are almost always going to see something truly unique. Costa Rica does a fantastic job of conserving and protecting their marine life, which allows this tropical ecosystem to grow in abundance. 

Two iconic diving spots off of Tamarindo are the Catalina Islands to see manta rays, and Bat Island to see bull sharks. These two spots are cheekily called “the Cats and the Bats” and offer some stunning rock formations for experienced divers, such as The Wall. 

But there are even more dive spots in the area for those who are just getting their feet wet in the sport (literally!). We love that there are opportunities for novice divers so you can still indulge in the incredible marine life in Tamarindo, even if you’re not certified!

2. Why I love scuba diving in Costa Rica

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie while scuba diving in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Underwater selfie!

I absolutely love getting the chance to scuba dive whenever I’m traveling somewhere new. Costa Rica is one of the best countries for diving, as there are so many amazing places you can explore underwater that are relatively close together. This makes a scuba diving vacation easy, and if you’ve never been PADI certified before, this is a great place to do so. 

The overarching theme that makes Costa Rica a top diving location in my books is their good tourism. They understand how beautiful and precious their country’s ecosystem is – from the lush jungles, giant volcanoes, diverse wildlife, and incredible marine life, it is a beautiful and unique place. To keep it thriving, there are safeguards put in place to preserve the environment, and that definitely extends to the water!

When you travel to Costa Rica to scuba dive, you can expect to find certified instructors and boats that keep safety as a priority. This is to ensure the protection of marine life, and also the divers! This way, we can return time and time again to scuba dive in this beautiful area. Diving here is also affordable because they want tourists to come. I always appreciate a budget-friendly experience in Tamarindo too! 

Due to Costa Rica’s naturally temperate climate, you’ll almost always find crystal-clear water and a huge variety of sea life. This is also why I love diving anywhere in Costa Rica – it is simply unbeatable in terms of views! I was instantly drawn to Costa Rica’s diving culture, and I’m sure once you get a taste of it, you will be too.

3. When is the best time to go scuba diving in Tamarindo?

Daniel and Bailey scuba diving Tamarindo, Costa Rica
We both love diving!

The best time of year to go scuba diving in Tamarindo is November through May with the best visibility from June to September. This is actually the rainy season, which most people wouldn’t assume is the prime time to visit, but for diving, it certainly is. Typically, it will only rain for a few hours in the afternoon, so most diving excursions will take off in the morning.

Note, that since this is the best time to visit Costa Rica for diving here, it’s also the most popular, so if you’re planning on booking a scuba tour, you should do so in advance.

You’ll find the calmest waters from August to December, so I recommend going then if you’re a beginner. The rainy season brings about swells that attract bull and hammerhead sharks, and you can spot humpback whales and turtles from July to August. So you really can go at any time and have a uniquely amazing experience!

Related Read: Another year-round experience here you’ll love is a sunset cruise in Tamarindo. Watching the pastel colors paint the sky over the ocean is always a highlight for me!

4. What can you see when scuba diving in Tamarindo?

A turtle swims past while scuba diving in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
A turtle swims past while scuba diving in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Obviously, one of the coolest parts of diving is all the sea life you can see! We have been hyping up Tamarindo’s array of animals for a while now, so I wanted to dive into what animals you can expect to see! 

Sharks – There are six species of sharks that live off of Costa Rica’s coast. The most popular amongst divers is the bull shark, which is often spotted on tours around Bat Island during the rainy season. These sharks can actually live in freshwater or saltwater! You’ll also likely see whitetip reef sharks, which aren’t as scary as they sound as they only get to about 1 meter (3 feet) in length. 

While you probably won’t encounter the endangered whale shark, they do live in this area and have been spotted a few times. These are the largest fish in the world and can get up to 18 meters (60 feet) and over 20 tons. Luckily they are harmless and only enjoy snacking on plankton and small fish.

Manta Rays – Manta Rays are the largest species of rays, but not to worry as they are super docile and safe to be around. Manta rays can reach as wide as 7 meters (23 feet) and can weigh as much as 1,360 kg (3,000 pounds). Somehow, these massive creatures look incredibly graceful as they swim and are a sight to see while diving. Mantas love Costa Rica’s climate, so you can see them around the Bat Islands and Catalina Islands from November to May.

Turtles – I’m willing to bet that seeing a turtle up close is what draws the majority of people to diving. While they are difficult to catch a glimpse of onshore, they are plentiful in the water! Costa Rica has four main species that travel to its waters. 

The green turtle is recognizable for its green skin and can travel up to 2,500 km/1,600 miles each year! The hawksbill sea turtle is critically endangered and rarely spotted in Costa Rica, but it has a stunning shell pattern. Leatherback sea turtles are the largest turtles in the world and can weigh almost 500 kg (1,100 pounds)! Finally, olive ridley sea turtles are known to return to nest at the shores they were born, you can see this phenomenon all over Costa Rica from June to December!

Colorful fish – I can confidently say that you will see some colorful tropical fish while diving in Costa Rica. There are over 800 species accounted for in these waters. In fact, 800 is a conservative guess, there are probably more! You can see angelfish, parrotfish, puffers, and seahorses, and probably even more brightly colored fish zooming around than you can count!

Eels – Eels are a fascinating and weird creature you can expect to find in the depths of Costa Rica. There are actually over 200 species and some can live in freshwater as well! There are many accounts of divers thinking an eel is trying to bite them, as their jaws hang open, but that’s actually how they breathe. I always think these little creatures are a bit freakish and funny-looking, and it’s quite a sight if you can see them in their natural habitat. 

Stingrays – Stingrays are beautiful creatures to admire from a distance, you certainly don’t want to accidentally run into one of these! They are super common in Costa Rica, although they might be hiding in the sand waiting to catch their prey. You might spot the longtail stingray, devil ray, or leopard round stingray, but I am most fascinated by the bullseye electric stingray. This is easily spotted by the bullseye pattern on its back and can send a shock up to 37 volts … definitely steer clear of this guy!

5. What are the best dive spots in Tamarindo?

Sharks hide under a reef while Scuba Diving in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Sharks hide under a reef while scuba diving in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Bat Island – Also known as, Islas Murciélagos, Bat Island is a world-renowned area for diving with bull sharks. Bat Island is part of Santa Rosa National Park – one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful national parks. It’s highly protected by the Costa Rican government and it’s amazing to swim around an area that is so untouched, that you can truly see its natural habitat thriving!

Getting to Bat Island isn’t the most convenient task, it is about a 1 hour and 30-minute boat ride from Tamarindo. If you’re willing to make the trek, it’s worth it as you won’t see nearly as many other divers! A tour like this one that’s offered from May-September helps you get there and do multiple dives so you have the best chance of spotting bull sharks! The island is uninhabited, so you can enjoy the lush untouched jungle while on the boat, and the clear blue water and vibrant colors while diving. This is by far, one of our favorite diving locations. 

Las Catalinas Islands – A quick, 40-minute boat ride will take you to some of the best diving around Tamarindo! The Catalina Islands are a group of 20 uninhabited islands with tons of underwater areas to explore. This area has some of the clearest water in Costa Rica and an overwhelming amount of colorful fish. These fish are so vibrant, it looks like a neon flash as they swim past!

The Catalina Islands are great for beginner and advanced divers alike and this diving tour caters to both. You’ll get to dive at two different locations and all your gear and transport to the islands is included. We really love how big the Catalina Islands are, so you can go diving here time and time again and still discover something new.

6. What are the best scuba diving tours in Tamarindo?

Bailey scuba diving off the coast of Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Explore the underwater world!

Catalina Islands Diving Tour From Tamarindo 

Taking a tour in Tamarindo is hands down the easiest way to experience the Catalina Islands. This day tour from Tamarindo is perfect for experienced divers and is my top pick if this is your first time visiting the islands. We love that this tour only accommodates up to 10 travelers, so you don’t ever feel rushed and the experienced crew makes it even more fun and relaxing!

You’ll set sail from Tamarindo early in the morning and take a 40-minute boat ride towards the Catalina Islands. You will stop at two different dive spots to explore and experience all of the tropical fish, turtles, and other incredible marine life here. In between dives, you can relax on the boat, enjoy fresh fruits and drinks, and take in the gorgeous views! 

This 5-hour tour will finish up by 12:30 pm, giving you the whole rest of the day to soak in Tamarindo. You can expect hotel pickup (but no drop-off), water, snacks, and all of your gear included in the tour price. Be sure to bring a copy of your certification to participate in the dives! You can book this experience online for $160 USD.

Bull shark experience 

Bat Island is famously known for its bull shark population, and this tour allows you to experience it for yourself. Not only will you see the stunning underwater rock formations and coral reefs, but also the iconic bull sharks and possibly even manta rays! We have been scuba diving all over Costa Rica, and I can honestly say Bat Island is a totally unique experience. 

This full-day tour will give you three dives in total. Two off of Bat Island where you will deep dive to see the sharks, and one more in a shallower area to see manta rays, colorful fish, and plant life. You are required to be PADI certified with an Advanced Open Water Certificate (30 meters/100 feet) and must be at least 15 years old to participate in this tour. 

While you’re on the boat, you will get amazing views of the mainland, as well as the gorgeous untouched jungle on Bat Island. I always love these small boat tours (only 6 people are allowed) because you get plenty of time to dive, relax, and have fun with the crew. They will provide lunch and drinks, in addition to the scuba equipment, and hotel pickup and drop off from accommodations in Tamarindo and Langosta. 

This tour only operates from May through September, which is the peak rainy season and the best time to dive! This 10-hour tour is $390 USD and can be reserved online here

Two Dive Tour at Las Catalinas Islands

Prepare to see some wildlife, because this two-dive tour does a great job of taking you to diving spots to see the best that Catalina Islands has to offer. You’ll have the chance to spot manta rays, dolphins, moray eels, tropical fish, and maybe even a humpback whale!

This 4-hour tour will take off from the dive center in Playa Flamingo. After a 40-minute boat ride out to the islands and a quick refresher, you’ll start your dives! You will have two 45-minute dives, with an hour of surface time in between. This will give you plenty of time to explore and see as much wildlife as possible! 

In between dives, you can hang out in the boat and enjoy some light refreshments that are provided. This tour is open to 20 travelers, which gives you a great opportunity to make friends. I always enjoy meeting other divers so you can swap stories and share in the experience together!

You can plan on meeting at the designated point or arrange for hotel pickup if necessary (although it’s not included in the tour price). However, your scuba equipment and the knowledge and guidance of your divemaster and guides are included in the price of $190 USD per person. I recommend bringing sun protection and snacks, and booking this tour in advance as it’s highly rated and can fill up quickly!

Fundive Catalina Islands 

This Fundive tour is probably the best deal on the list. Not only is it longer than any of the half-day tours out there, but it also accommodates a small group (maximum of 5 people) and is only $160 USD for the whole experience! I love the smaller tours as you get more personal attention from the divemaster and the entire day feels more relaxed.

You will get to explore the iconic Catalina Islands on this 7-hour tour. The tour will pick you up from your hotel based in Tamarindo or Langosta, then set off towards the islands. You will have two dives in different locations, with a nice break in between. The divemasters deserve a shoutout on this tour, as they know the best spots to find the animals and make sure to point them out. 

You can expect an exciting day in the water, and simply enjoy being outside in this beautiful area. The tour includes scuba equipment, snacks, drinks, roundtrip transportation, and your guides. I highly recommend booking this tour in advance because it is such a good deal. You can reserve it online here

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here!

7. Can you learn to scuba dive in Tamarindo?

A lady gives the ok sign while scuba diving in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Learning to dive!

Tamarindo is a great place to get PADI certified! With so many amazing areas to explore and talented divemasters, you will gain great experience by learning how to dive in Costa Rica. This three-day certification course is our top pick for those looking to get PADI certified. 

We love that this certification course is a small group of only 4 people. It gives you great one-on-one time with the instructor, opportunities to ask questions, and get personal feedback. Your first day will be in the classroom to learn the essential foundations of diving. Your second and third days will be out in the open water with your instructor. At the end, you will take the PADI exam and once you pass, be free to explore the entire ocean (or something like that!).

I have been PADI certified for years, and think it is totally worth the investment. It gives you a whole new skill set and the ability to take off on underwater adventures all over the world. You can get PADI certified through this tour for $705 USD. 

If you’re looking to take your certification a step further, you can take this rescue diver course. You need to be certified in Advanced Open Water as well as CPR. If you don’t currently have your CPR certification, you can do so through this course. Over three days, you will learn how to manage diving accidents and strengthen your own diving skills. You can enroll in this certification online for $800 USD. 

Related Read: If you’d rather soar through the air, these are the best ziplining tours in Tamarindo to give you a look at a whole different side of this beach town!

8. What is a discovery dive?

Daniel getting ready to go scuba diving in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Getting ready to go!
Bailey swims past some corals while scuba Diving in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Bailey swims past some corals while scuba diving in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Discovery dives are a great opportunity to try out scuba diving before you commit to the entire training process. In a discovery dive, you will go into very calm ocean water or a pool with your instructor so you can learn the techniques and try out being underwater for an extended time. I think joining a discovery dive is a great idea if scuba diving is something you are interested in because the actual certification process is definitely an investment! 

During this discovery dive tour, you will go through some instruction and pre-dive briefing so you have base-level knowledge before jumping into the water. You will then go on two dives in different locations with a surface interval in between. Hopefully, you’ll have the opportunity to see some of the unique marine life the Costa Rican waters hold, so you get hooked on diving like I did! And if you like it, you can jump into a PADI certification course so you can continue chasing the dive. 

This discovery dive is with one of the highest-rated diving companies in Tamarindo, so you’ll be sure to learn a lot! You can reserve this experience for $195 USD. 

9. What if you have your diver certification but haven’t dived in a long time?

Bailey scuba dives through a small rock cave in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Bailey scuba dives through a small rock cave in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

If you haven’t been diving in a long time, getting a refresher course is a good idea. Scuba diving is not something you want your skills to lapse on. As rewarding as diving is, it’s important to be aware of the risks and be sure you can avoid them at all costs. That way you can continue diving for as long as possible!

If you’re in Tamarindo and want to refresh your skills, this full-day course is your best bet! Not only does it get you out into some of the best diving areas in Costa Rica, but it also is under the guidance of an instructor. You will spend some time relearning diving theory and practicing skills before taking to the water. During this refresher course/tour, you will have two dives in different locations around the Catalina Islands. 

You can enjoy all of the colorful and unique marine life while feeling more confident in your diving skills! This tour costs $194 USD and includes transportation from your hotel in Tamarindo or Langosta, scuba equipment, guided instruction, and time to practice with your divemaster. This refresher course can be reserved online here.

10. Is scuba diving in Tamarindo safe?

Yes, Costa Rica is considered one of the safest and best places to scuba dive in the world. Tamarindo in particular is one of the safer areas of Costa Rica due to its calm waters and easy access to epic dive locations.

Thousands of tours take off out of Tamarindo every year, proving the safety of the area and the expertise of the tour operators. All of the tours we’ve mentioned are by certified divemasters and well-rated companies.

11. Scuba diving vs snorkeling in Tamarindo

coral and fish while snorkeling in Costa Rica
Snorkeling is not as good as scuba diving!

We might be a bit biased, but we think that scuba diving is much better than snorkeling in Tamarindo. Scuba diving is much more immersive, you can stay underwater longer and get to explore such a unique ecosystem. In the Tamarindo area, there are some truly beautiful coral reefs, rock formations, and marine life that sit deeper in the ocean and are only accessible by scuba diving. 

However, not to say snorkeling in Costa Rica is an activity to skip! For those who can’t scuba dive, you can still enjoy the underwater world in Tamarindo. This half-day snorkeling experience will take you to the iconic Catalina Islands for two snorkeling sessions. You can swim through the clear water and see the brightly colored coral reef and fish, as well as bucket-list animals like dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays, and more! 

The tour provides all the gear, guides, snacks, and drinks. I love that this makes exploring the vast marine life possible for any traveler, not just those who are scuba-certified! This experience is available for $95 USD and can be reserved online here

Related Read: Take a break from the water and head to the nearby beach town of Nosara. It has gorgeous beaches, epic surfing spots, turtle spotting tours (we saw babies!), and one of the best brunch places I’ve tried!

12. Is scuba diving in Tamarindo worth it?

Daniel and Bailey swim past some corals while scuba diving in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Yes!

This is an easy “yes”! We have been scuba diving all over the world, and Tamarindo is a stand-out location. We couldn’t believe how clear the water was and were happily surprised to see so many cool animals. The tour operators were truly amazing, you can tell that they have a passion for diving and sharing their beautiful country with travelers. We will certainly be taking another scuba diving tour when we are back in Tamarindo!

Must-do Activities While You’re in Tamarindo

Bailey on staircase looking down at Rio Celeste Waterfall in Rio Celeste, Costa rica
I think this is my favorite waterfall in Costa Rica!
A Turtle swims in the ocean in Costa Rica
So amazing to see in the wild!

Tamarindo is a town filled with tons of things to do and see. So while you’re planning your trip here, make sure to check out a few more of our other favorite activities:

  • Visit Rio Celeste – One of the most beautiful rivers and waterfalls in Costa Rica is within reach of Tamarindo. Rio Celeste Waterfall is a natural phenomenon where two rivers meet and cause the water to literally turn blue. Since it’s 2.5 hours away, unless you have your own vehicle, you’re going to need to join a tour. This specific tour leaves Tamarindo at 6:30 am and includes everything from hiking to a swim in the turquoise waters and even a visit to a wildlife sanctuary to see sloths!
  • Learn to surf – Although you won’t find Tamarindo on any list of the top places to surf in Costa Rica, it’s arguably the best place for beginners. You can do surf lessons any day of the week, and there are tons of surf schools in town. This two-hour surf lesson is top-rated and has over 1,600 five-star reviews.
  • See turtles – Getting a chance to see turtles in Costa Rica is pretty amazing. Luckily there are some secluded beaches around Tamarindo where turtles come to lay eggs on the beach from November to April. This turtle nesting tour is an evening experience (that’s when turtles come ashore) and if you’re really lucky you’ll even see baby turtles hatching and making their way to the ocean.
  • Adventure tour – If you’re craving a day bursting with fun activities, this Guachipelin Adventure tour delivers! It’s an epic full-day experience with ziplining, river tubing, horseback riding, a visit to natural hot springs, a volcanic mud bath, and a full buffet lunch. It’s so popular because, with all those activities, the tour only costs $135 USD for the self-drive option (what we did) or $149 USD for the included transport. 
  • Check out a local market – On Saturdays, the Tama Market is the place to be in Tamarindo! From 8 am to 2 pm, the market is bustling with stalls where you can do some shopping, pick up fresh fruit or veggies, or even grab lunch. We tried some excellent cold brew coffee here and I found a sunscreen I love made with natural products!

Where to Stay in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

lady sits poolside at Selina Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Relaxing poolside at Selina!

You have so many choices when it comes to places to stay in Tamarindo! There are over 100 hotels and hostels in the downtown area catering to all needs and wants. These are our favorites:

Selina Tamarindo – $

The Selina Tamarindo is a good option for budget travelers, and I have personally stayed here. It’s an upper-market hostel with a great atmosphere and pool. The location is also right near the beach, and the dorm rooms and privates all have AC.

Rates for a private room start at $139 USD per night, and a bed in the dorm rooms starts at $71 USD per night. You can book Selina Tamarindo on HostelWorld or Booking.com

Tamarindo Bay Boutique Hotel – $$

If you’d prefer a little more luxury, the Tamarindo Bay Boutique Hotel comes with gorgeous rooms, a large pool, and a very modern and sleek design. However, the location is slightly back from the beach, and it’s not for families. 

The hotel’s terrace overlooks the property’s tropical gardens, and breakfast is served outside here from November 1 to April 30. Rates for a one-night stay begin at $160 USD. Reserve a room at Tamarindo Bay Boutique Hotel on Booking.com.

Hotel Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort – $$$

Those with a luxury budget should check out Hotel Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort. This is one of the most beautiful hotels in Tamarindo, and it’s not only located on the beach, but they also have a pool with ocean views. 

All of the rooms have a seating area and a mini-bar. Prices for a room start at $224 USD per night. You can book Hotel Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort here on Booking.com.

Getting Around Costa Rica

Bailey with our rental car near Rio Celeste Costa Rica
Our rental car!

How you choose to get around Costa Rica is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when planning your holiday here! How you do it depends on your budget, travel style, and comfort level. 

Renting a Car

Without a doubt, the number one way to explore Costa Rica is in a rental car. We book rental cars on the Discover Cars website as we have had good experiences with them in the past.

One of the things you need to watch for when renting a car in Costa Rica is the mandatory insurance that the government requires you to have. There are a lot of very cheap rentals that don’t include this mandatory insurance (TPL) in the original booking price, but there are also ones that do. To avoid additional surprise charges when you pick up your rental car, be sure to rent a car that includes the mandatory insurance when you book.

Thankfully, on Discover Cars it’s easy to tell apart the companies that include the mandatory insurance and those that don’t. The trick is you can’t pick any car on their website. In the picture below, you can see this rental car, with pick up in Jaco, includes the TPL. That means the mandatory insurance is included in the price. Any cover you get above that is extra.

Of course, I still suggest getting the full coverage offered by Discover Cars, which covers you even more.

You can browse cars on Discover Cars here.

TPL Cover Costa Rica
TPL Cover Costa Rica

Book Shuttles

If renting a car isn’t in your budget, you don’t feel comfortable driving in Costa Rica, or you just don’t like driving, shuttles are the next best option. There are hundreds of shuttle routes available all over the country, and they are very affordable.

Shuttles in Costa Rica are specifically for tourists and often include pick up and drop off at your selected hotels and airports. The drivers also speak some English, and the vehicles have air conditioning. You’ll also be guaranteed a seat when you book a shuttle (which isn’t the case with the public bus system.)

To get the best price, use the website Bookaway. They compare all the offers and prices of shuttle companies in Costa Rica so you get the best price! Honestly, we have saved so much money using Bookaway! 

You can search for shuttles online on Bookaway here.

Public Bus

Lastly, you can use the public bus system. On short journeys, such as from San Jose to La Fortuna or Uvita to Manuel Antonio, this system is great. However, the longer the journey the more hassle and time spent on a bus. It’s undoubtedly best to save the public bus in Costa Rica for short and straightforward trips!  

The public buses are definitely the cheapest way to get around Costa Rica, but they are not always very reliable and schedules often change without notice and delays are to be expected. The buses can also be very crowded and hot – so just be prepared!

It’s also good to speak some Spanish if you plan on riding the public bus since most drivers and ticket booth operators don’t speak English.

Invest in Travel Insurance

Paying out of pocket for trip interruptions or medical treatment will add to what might already be a stressful situation. We always travel with SafetyWing travel medical insurance.

The best part is that it costs only a fraction of what most insurance policies charge, which makes it perfect for digital nomads, long-term travelers (like us), and budget travelers. It only costs $45 USD per 4 weeks!

To start coverage, you must purchase it after leaving your home country. We usually purchase it as soon as we land at the airport.

Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada from Colombia before the border closed!

You can click here to get a quote and read all the details!

Pura Vida!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie in Costa Rica in a pool of water
Thanks for reading!

I hope I’ve helped convince you to dive into Tamarindo! This beachy Costa Rican town is known for its scuba diving for a reason. The sea life, incredible underwater landscapes, and clear water make for ideal scuba conditions whether you’re an experienced diver or planning to jump in for the first time!

If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, let us help you before you book those plane tickets! We have tons of blogs about Costa Rica that cover everything from the best activities and tours to helpful travel tips. Here are a few popular blogs or leave us a comment below with any questions!

7 BEST Surf Lessons in Tamarindo +How to Choose One for You!

10 BEST Tours to Monteverde Cloud Forest

Best Activities for One Day in San Jose, Costa Rica