Tamarindo is one of Costa Rica’s most visited tourist destinations. Home to beautiful beaches, an electric atmosphere, and all the comforts one could want, Tamarindo certainly shouldn’t be overlooked for a beach getaway.
For many, it’s ideal for a short holiday because of the town’s location close to Liberia – home to one of Costa Rica’s international airports. On top of that, Tamarindo is safe – an important factor when choosing a place to visit abroad.
Although many come to unwind, don’t miss the chance to get out and explore all the best things to do in Tamarindo. In this blog, I’ll share with you the 31 best things to do in Tamarindo so you can choose to explore as you wish!
Things to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
1. Sunset sail/catamaran cruise
As I mentioned above, many come to Tamarindo to unwind. Luckily, there are a ton of activities that are perfect for just that, and one of the best is a sunset cruise through Tamarindo Bay.
Aboard a catamaran, you’ll sail out into the bay in search of magnificent views, wildlife, and of course, an epic sunset. Tours include activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, and SUPs. It’s not just a booze cruise but an afternoon on the water.
This specific sunset cruise is the most popular in Tamarindo. You can choose to do the tour in the morning or afternoon (afternoon is better), and it includes an open bar, water activities, and a meal for only $85 USD! The best part is, the boat is capped at 35 people – unlike other cruises that have around 50!
The tour lasts for 5 hours and finishes just after the sun sets in tamarindo. It’s a big day that is one of the best value tours in Tamarindo for the price.
2. Drink craft beer at Volcano Brewing Co.
The craft beer industry in Costa Rica is thriving, and breweries are popping up all over the place. Thankfully, Tamarindo has its own brewery called Volcano Brewing Co.
Visiting Volcano Brewing Co. is a must for craft beer lovers like myself. Although the actual brewery is now closed to the public, you can drink at their beach beachside restaurant and pub with live music and sunshine.
They had four types of beer available the last time I was there, which included an IPA and a Pale Ale. Both were delicious, and I certainly had a few too many. I also had lunch at the brewery and highly recommend the pulled pork sandwich!
3. Learn to surf
Although you won’t find Tamarindo on any list of the best places to surf in Costa Rica, it’s arguably the most ideal place for beginners.
The calm waters of Tamarindo beach produce soft waves perfect for visitors not overly comfortable in the ocean or on a surfboard. In fact, your chances of standing up are greatly increased because of this.
You can do surf lessons any day of the week, and there are tons of surf schools in town. On average, a two-hour lesson costs $50 USD, and they are usually done in small groups of around four people. The trick is to find a good school that’s highly rated.
This two-hour surf lesson in Tamarindo is top-rated and has over 1,100 five-star reviews. Although I myself did not do the lesson (I am well past that stage), the reviews and mentions of the instructors speak for themselves. Don’t get stuck with a grumpy instructor (very common on afternoon lessons) who will make you feel less confident.
If you have no expereince, I don’t recommend just renting a board and giving it a go on your own. There are rocks hidden beneath the water in Tamarindo, and the local guides know where to go to avoid them.
4. Visit Playa Grande
Tamarindo Beach is the most popular beach in the area; however, it’s often overcrowded. Instead, enjoy a walk over to Playa Grande and relax without the crowds (or horse poop.)
Playa Grande is a pristine beach located next to Tamarindo Beach. Although the beach is separated from Tamarindo by the river, water taxis take you across for only 1,000 Colones ($1:60 USD.) Once on Playa Grande, you’ll have miles of open beach to explore as well as a cool village.
If you love turtles, you can see them on Playa Grande. Although you do need some luck, keep an eye out – we saw a baby walking to the ocean when we went the other day.
The small village on Playa Grande is called Palm Beach Estates. Here you’ll find a lot of beautiful hotels as well as cafes, restaurants, and even another brewery.
Las Olas Brewing Playa Grande is located on the north end of Palm Beach and has fantastic craft beer. Another cool stop is Cafe Mar Azul. They have a banana bread ice cream sandwich, and it’s as delicious as it sounds!
5. Visit the Monkey Park Foundation
Although Costa Rica has many national parks protecting animals, there are still a lot of conflicts with humans. To combat this and help the native species of Costa Rica, the Monkey Park Foundation was set up to rescue, rehabilitate, and release animals back into the wild.
The organization is a non for profit and visiting is not only a great way to support this work, but it’s also one of the best things to do in Tamarindo. This is not a zoo but a rehabilitation center that works with wildlife experts and conservation specialists!
A visit to Monkey Park Foundation costs $20 USD and includes a walk through the park with a guide who will talk about the animals and the efforts to rehabilitate them. Although the name suggests the park is filled with monkeys, there were only two when we visited. Instead, the park is filled with a massive variety of Costa Rica’s native species including jaguars, sloths, macaws, and more.
Unfortunately, the Monkey Park Foundation is located 30 minutes from Tamarindo. If you don’t have your own vehicle, a taxi to the park costs $20 USD (for four people.)
6. Go SUP
At low tide, Tamarindo Beach is calm enough to stand up paddleboard – making this a great activity for those who like to stay active. I actually gave it a go one day and had a fabulous time. With very little wind or currents, it was a breeze paddling up and down the beach as well as out around the bay.
SUP rentals cost $20 USD for 2 hours or $40 USD for an entire day. I rented my board from Kelly’s Surf Shop; however, there are lots of rental places along the beach, and booking in advance is not required.
7. Eat authentic Italian at Antichi Sapori Tamarindo
During my stay in Tamarindo, I enjoyed dinner at a lot of great restaurants. However, none compared to the delicious Italian food at Antichi Sapori Tamarindo.
Antichi Sapori Tamarindo is only a small restaurant with only a few tables that’s owned and operated by a couple from Sicily. The husband serves, the wife cooks, and the food is top-notch authentic Italian.
I had the seafood pasta during our last visit, and Bailey had the pistachio gnocchi. Both were amazing, and we also had wine and finished with homemade cannolis. However, the restaurant has all five-star reviews, and many others commented on the pizza and the gluten-free options.
The restaurant gets very busy, and most nights, you need a reservation to get a table. With that said, call ahead and see. This is not to be missed!
8. Rent an ATV or side-by-side
One of the best ways to get around Tamarindo is on an ATV or side-by-side. Not only are many of the best places to visit out of town, but exploring the Tamarindo is just easier with wheels.
ATV and side-by-side rentals are easy to get in Tamarindo, and all you need is a valid driver’s license and credit card. Drivers must also be 25 years or older.
Paradise Cart Rentals is one of the best places in Tamarindo, and their prices start at $95 USD per day for a side-by-side. This depends on the vehicle you choose, with the larger more powerful side by side’s costing $195 USD per day. Their ATV rental is $75 and gets cheaper the longer your rent it for.
Although expensive, you can head off with your group and really explore the area. Head up into the mountains or visit some of the other beaches on this list.
You need to book your rental over the Christmas and New Year period in advance. Easter and Spring Break are also very busy. Those who don’t will likely miss out or not get the rental they want.
It’s no secret that Tamarindo is a party town. It’s one of the many reasons many people choose to visit. But where are the best places to go?
To start your night, many people head to one of the beach clubs to watch the sunset. My favorite while in Tamarindo was Ocho Beach Bar located on the south end of the beach. They often had live DJs with quality tunes and happy hour specials.
Later on, one of the most popular bars is Pacifico Bar, which is located in the heart of town. The bar plays mostly reggaeton and Spanish music, and the vibe is good, especially if you want to meet people.
Another bar similar to Pacifico is called Rumors Tamarindo. However, this is a more laid-back cocktail bar. There is also another bar behind Shark’s Sports Bar (I am not sure if this is owned by Sharky’s or Rumors) on the West Road alleyway. This is a huge outdoor bar with DJ, and you enter from the alley.
10. Turtle nesting tour
The pacific coast of Costa Rica is home to an abundance of wildlife. Among them are turtles who use the beaches for breeding. Seeing turtles and their young is easily one of the best things to do in Tamarindo.
On this turtle nesting tour, you’ll be driven from Tamarindo to secluded beaches near Playa Grande to see these magnificent creatures nesting. It’s common to see both Olive Ridley and Green Pacific turtles either laying eggs on the beach or hatching.
The experience begins at 6 pm, so getting photos is tricky as you cannot use your flash. You are supplied with a red light torch, which won’t disturb the turtles. You can see the turtles all year round; however, November to April is peak season.
11. Visit Rio Celeste
One of the most beautiful rivers and waterfalls in Costa Rica is within reach of Tamarindo. Rio Celeste is a natural phenomenon where two rivers meet and cause the water to literally turn blue.
This happens because particles in the two rivers mix and become heavy enough to reflect light, causing the blue color. It’s one of the most incredible places I have seen in Costa Rica.
Unfortunately, Rio Celeste is located 2.5 hours away, so unless you have your own vehicle, you’re going to need to join a tour. This specific tour leaves from Tamarindo at 6:30 am and includes:
- A guided walk through Tenorio Volcano National Park (where Rio Celeste is located).
- A visit to Llanos de Cortez Waterfall.
- A guided tour through Finca Verde Lodge for a sloth and wildlife tour.
If you do have your own vehicle, I recommend leaving really early so you can arrive at the park around opening time at 8 am. This is the best time to visit without the crowds. The entrance fee is $12 USD per person.
12. Guachipelin Adventure Volcano
When you arrive in Tamarindo, you’ll notice a lot of tour companies selling full-day combo tours that involve a ton of activities. These take place north of Tamarindo in Parque Nacional Rincon de la Vieja. Common inclusions are ziplining, hot springs, tubing, and horseback riding.
Out of all the tours, none are as highly reviewed as the Guachipelin Adventure Volcano Combo. This epic full-day adventure includes 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 for the included transport.
Seriously if you are looking for a day to remember, this is it!
13. Go ziplining
Ziplining is a popular activity you can do all over Costa Rica. In fact, I’m not sure there’s a tourist town that doesn’t offer it? With that said, you get a very different expereince depending on where you go.
In Tamarindo, ziplining is more about being above the canopy with wide-open views that let you know just how high up you are. You’ll go fast, get a little scared, but overall, have a great time.
There are a few different tour options in tamarindo, depending on what you want. The first, and what I did, was a ziplining tour on its own. Tours such as this one cost only $65 and involve a ride out into the mountains and around ten ziplines. It’s a great introduction, and the tours last around 1 hour. Of course, you can see lots of wildlife and enjoy spectacular views.
The second option is to book one of the larger combination tours such as the one mentioned above. I enjoyed the zip lining on the Guachipelin Adventure Volcano Combo tour, but it’s not as in-depth as the tour on its own.
14. Shop at the Tama Market
Every Saturday from 7 am until 1 pm the Tama Market comes to life in Tamarindo. It’s a great place to do some boutique shopping, pick up some fruits and vegetables, or even jewelry.
You come and enjoy breakfast, brunch, or lunch, and even grab yourself amazing cold brew coffee. I even picked up a really good sunscreen made with natural products – I use it every day!
The Tama Market is located behind Plaza Tamarindo near the skatepark.
15. Watch the sunset from the comfort of a beach club
The beach clubs in Tamarindo really have to be enjoyed at sunset at least once during your stay. Not only can you listen to great music, but you’ll also enjoy delicious cocktails and amazing service.
I mentioned above that my favorite is Ocho Beach Bar on the southern end of Tamarindo. Honestly, the drinks here are so good – especially the sangria! Also, the service is amazing, and it’s the first place I have been in Costa Rica that brought us free shots for having to wait too long for drinks.
Another great beach club, and my second favorite, is El Be. They also have great cocktails and a more central location. However, I haven’t had food here before.
16. Eat at the El Mercadito de Tamarindo Food and Cocktail Market
If you’re traveling in a large group with picky eaters, the El Mercadito de Tamarindo Food and Cocktail Market is the perfect place to visit. It’s basically a huge outdoor food court with around 15 restaurants, bars, and cafes (I did not count them all.) The decor is gorgeous, and it feels like a fancy restaurant as opposed to a food court.
There’s Italian, seafood, steak, burgers, traditional Costa Rican food, and more. On top of that, you can grab a cocktail at the bar or even ice cream. Once you’ve decided what you want, grab your food and meet at a table in the food court. Everyone can eat together, but you’ll have way more choices!
Related Read: For more epic restaurants, check out our guide about where to eat in Tamarindo!
17. Visit nearby beaches
Both Playa Tamarindo and Playa Grande are beautiful; however, beach enthusiasts should also take a drive out of town to explore. Some of the best nearby beaches include:
Playa Flamingo: Around 45 minutes north of Tamarindo sits a beautiful beach called Playa Flamingo. If you have a vehicle, I highly recommend taking a drive up the coast to check it out. Not only is Playa Flamingo much less crowded than Tamarindo, but in my opinion, the beach is much nicer. Head down for the day and enjoy lunch. A great place is Coco Loco which is right on the sand!
Playa Avellanas: Playa Avellanas is a gorgeous beach perfect for swimming or surfing. The beach is 30 minutes from Tamarindo, so a car is the best way to visit; however, that makes it much less crowded.
Playa Langosta: Located only a short drive from Tamarindo, Playa Langosta is a great place to go and watch the sunset. The beach faces west and is the ideal vantage point. It’s also much less busy. You can either get the bus or a cheap Uber to the beach.
18. Estuary Boat Safari
Las Baulas National Park is an often-overlooked national park located just north of Tamarindo. It’s home to a vast network of mangroves filled with interesting wildlife including howler monkeys, crocodiles, and birds.
On this tour through the mangroves, you’ll enjoy a relaxing cruise while your guide shares lots of information with you about the area and the wildlife. It’s a super informative tour, and if you haven’t seen a large crocodile yet, this is your chance!
The Estuary Boat Safari costs only $38 USD and is often booked up well in advance (it’s one of the most popular activities in Tamarindo.)
19. Sports fishing
Fishing charters are a very popular activity in Tamarindo because of Costa Rica’s wildlife abundant coastline. I actually did a charter in Santa Teresa and loved it! We caught so much tuna that we threw a lot back.
In Tamarindo, there are lots of fishing charter companies, and you can choose from inshore and offshore charters. The inshore charters only go a few miles off the coast and tend to fish for small tuna, snapper, wahoo, and dorado. Inshore tours are typically only half days (4 hours.) This specific tour costs $450 USD for four people.
On an offshore charter, the tour lasts for 9 hours (there are also options for 7), and you can fish for sailfish and marlin. Of course, the tour can also go inshore, so you can mix it up depending on what’s working.
Although there is no “season” for fishing in Tamarindo, there are better times of the month as the quality of the fishing depends on ocean currents, availability of baitfish, and water temperature. However, you can catch fish all year round.
Please be aware that you need a fishing license in Costa Rica. This costs $17 USD for 8 days; however, it’s not policed heavily. In fact, when I did my tour, I had no idea about the license.
20. Go surfing at the famous Witch’s Rock
If you consider yourself an experienced surfer, the ultimate place to surf near Tamarindo is Witch’s Rock. This well-known reef break is arguably the best surf spot in Costa Rica, and it attracts a lot of famous faces.
Witch’s Rock is located around an hour’s drive north of Tamarindo, and you require a boat to get out there. The closest beach is called Naranjo Beach, and people often camp here so they can surf.
Of course, you can book tours from Tamarindo that will take you out there for the day. These cost $675 for an entire boat that can take seven surfers.
21. ATV tours
ATV tours are so much fun! I do them in every country I visit, and I’ve now done around five tours in Costa Rica. Each destination brings its own unique touch. In Monteverde, we got wet in the dense cloud forests, but in Tamarindo, we splashed through rivers and explored stunning beaches. Both were amazing!
This specific tour in Tamarindo is one of the cheapest and best-rated. The tour lasts for 2 hours, and you’ll visit Playa Conchal and Playa Real. Along the way, you can spot wildlife and have a fun time driving a powerful ATV through the jungle and on beaches.
22. Tamarindo Night Market
The Tamarindo Night Market is a fun event on every Thursday from 6 pm to 9 pm. Not only can you grab yourself lots of delicious food at all the stalls, but there’s also live music and performances.
Of course, you’ll also find your usual handmade souvenirs and other goods such as jewelry and clothing. It’s a fun market and one of the best things to do in Tamarindo on a Thursday night.
23. Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park
One of the best places to get away from the crowds and enjoy the great outdoors near Tamarindo is Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park. The park is located just over 2 hours from Tamarindo and is home to its own volcano.
Those with their own vehicle can drive out to the Rincón de la Vieja and enjoy one or many of the hiking trails through the park. These include the trail to the Las Pailas (boiling mud pots.) This is an easy walk that takes around 20 minutes each way. Another cool hike is the Catarata La Cangreja trail, leading to a breathtaking waterfall. This trail is around 3 miles each way.
Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park is also where you’ll find the Rio Negro Hot Springs as well as adventure centers offering horseback riding, ziplining, and tubing (mentioned above on the Guachipelin Adventure Volcano tour.)
The park costs $17 USD to enter for adults and $5.60 for children without a tour. After paying for that, you can explore on your own. There are also guided tours such as this guided hiking tour. With that said, it’s more popular to book the adventure tours like the Guachipelin Adventure Volcano tour.
24. Scuba diving at the island
There are some fantastic dive spots near Tamarindo that beginer and advanced divers will have a blast diving!
By far the best dive experience is out to Bat Island to swim with bull sharks. This is a fantastic opportunity for Advanced Open Water certified divers to challenge themselves and swim with large sharks. The tour includes two dives, one at Bat Island (where the bull sharks are) and the second near Playa del Coco, where you can see manta rays, turtles, and other ocean life.
If swimming with sharks sounds too scary, or you’re not advanced certified, you can always do this Catalina Island Diving Tour. Here you can dive with turtles, manta rays, small reef sharks, and lots of fish. It’s a top-notch dive spot, and any diving license is ok!
For those without expereince, you can also do your PADI Open Water dive course in Tamarindo for $700 USD. Although expensive, Costa Rica is a great place to learn to dive and get certified!
If you just want to expereince diving, you can also do this half-day dive course that has you diving in the ocean. Although you won’t get certified, it’s a great introduction with 5 hours of training and a dive to 10 meters.
Diving isn’t for everyone, and those who just want to see wildlife should instead go snorkeling. Although the snorkeling spots are never as good as the dive sites, you can still have a fun expereince in Tamarindo.
Tours such as this one take you out to the Catalina Islands to snorkel some of the shallow reefs in the area. You’re guaranteed to see lots of fish, including snapper and pufferfish, as well as sea turtles and maybe even reef sharks if you’re lucky. Overall it’s a great expereince that lasts for 5 hours and includes snacks and water for only $80 USD.
26. Go boutique shopping
One of Bailey’s favorite things about Tamarindo is all the boutique shopping! There are lots of places to pick up unique clothing all over town – especially a new bathing suit.
Prices for boutique goods are generally high, but bathing suits are available for around $50 USD for a top and bottom. I paid $40 USD for a really nice men’s top, and the best part is, it reminds me of Tamarindo every time I wear it!
27. Sunday Funday Beach and Pool Crawl
Party lovers with love this next tour! The Sunday Funday Beach and Pool Crawl is the best daytime party in Tamarindo. Beginning as early as 12 pm, the party doesn’t finish until 8 pm and visits 3 bars with discounts at each stop and free shots.
The best part is that the party only costs $40 USD if you book in advance, and that includes your transport, drink deals, free shots, lots of games, and a bonfire on the beach.
28. Horseback riding
Horseback riding is a very popular activity on Tamarindo Beach. All up and down the beach, you’ll find people offering these tours. A great time to enjoy a ride is at sunset, and you can ride the entire length of the beach. These tours can be negotiated on the beach but expect to pay around $40 USD for an hour ride.
If you want more of a tour, you can book horseback riding tours in the mountains too. Tour companies such as Natives Way Costa Rica offer a 2-hour tour for only $55 USD.
29. Whitewater rafting
The thrill of whitewater rafting has to be experienced at least once in your lifetime. It’s a great way to see the countryside as well as get the heart racing.
In Tamarindo, you can do this tour down the Tenorio River and paddle down class III and IV rapids on a thrilling adventure. The tour is one of the top-rated whitewater rafting tours in all of Costa Rica and involves 2.5 hours on the river with your experienced guide.
I personally haven’t been whitewater rafting in Tamarindo. However, I have ventured down the Pacuare River from Puerto Viejo, which was so much fun!
30. La Leona waterfall
Last on this epic list of things to do in Tamarindo is another one of Costa Rica’s most popular and stunning waterfalls.
La Leona Waterfall is located near Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park in the town of Curubandé. On tours to the waterfall, you’ll walk through a canyon for 1 hour until you reach the gorgeous La Leona Waterfall, where you’ll be able to swim and enjoy its beauty.
For many, it’s a highlight of their trip to Costa Rica and a tour well worth doing.
The cheapest way to visit La Leona Waterfall is to drive yourself to a tour office in Curubande. We recommend booking with Guanaverde Experiences, which is just 2 hours from Tamarindo. You can either book your tour when you get there or book it online in advance, as I did. The price of the tour depends on the type of experience you want; for example, do you want lunch and other activities included?
It’s worth noting that different companies use different entrances to the waterfall, which means that your walk into the falls may be slightly longer or shorter depending on which operator you choose.
We did this $41 USD guided tour with Guanaverde Experiences, which is super-affordable and one of the cheapest activities available in Tamarindo! It includes a guided walk (which is 4 km long) to the waterfall and a snack and takes between 3 – 4 hours.
31. Go out for a delicious brunch
Brunch is the most important meal of the day in Tamarindo. It’s where you plan and fuel yourself for the day ahead. The best part is, Tamarindo is filled with delicious brunch places everyone will love.
My personal favorite was a small cafe called NOI Bistro. This place was busy every day we walked past and eventually we tried their brunch and wow! They serve everything from pancakes to eggs and smoothie bowls. Oh, and their coffee is amazing and comes in a really big mug!
If you want something a little cheaper, Nalu has an amazing breakfast bagel that’s only 2,500 Colones ($4 USD.) If you love cold brew coffee, this is also the place to go. The prices are so good too, eating here is one of the best cheap things to do in Tamarindo.
Where to Stay in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
You are spoilt for choice 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.
The Selina 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. You can book Selina Tamarindo on Hostel World or Booking.com.
If you’re past the days of staying in hostels, Villas Macondo is a top choice when it comes to a budget hotel. They have a pool, an excellent location, and lots of great reviews.
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.
Instead, those traveling with kids will love Hotel Villa Amarilla, which offers large quadruple rooms and is right on the beach. The only drawback is they don’t have a pool.
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.
As you can see, there’s certainly no shortage of awesome things to do in Tamarindo. Despite being a beach town, the surrounding landscape provides the perfect playground to have a great holiday.
Thanks so much for reading! I hope you found this guide helpful in planning your upcoming trip to Costa Rica. If you did, be sure to browse our website for lots more!