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31 Best Things to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica (Our Favorite Activities!)

31 Best Things to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica (Our Favorite Activities!)

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Tamarindo is home to beautiful beaches, an electric atmosphere, and all the comforts one could want. This is why Tamarindo is one of our favorite places to visit in Costa Rica – and the reason we keep coming back over and over again.

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.

But what should you do while you’re visiting this vibrant Costa Rican city? I mean, I know that I was overwhelmed when I visited Tamarindo because there is just that much to do and see.

This is exactly why I’ve written this blog. I’ve summarized the absolute best activities in and around Tamarindo so you can pick what interests you most.

In this blog, I’ll share with you the 31 best things to do in Tamarindo that made us fall in love with the place. From relaxing beach dinners to turtle nesting to partying, you really are spoiled for choice in Tamarindo.

Let’s dig in!

The BEST Things to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

1. Sunset sail/catamaran cruise

A lady relaxes with a drink in hand on a cruise in Tamarindo, Costa rica
Just relax and enjoy the views and the drinks!

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. 

Two beers sit on a table at the beach at Volcano Brewing Co in Tamarindo
Mmm cold beer on the beach!

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

Bailey learning to surf in Tamarindo
Bailey learning to surf in Tamarindo!

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 in Tamarindo 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 experience, 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

Playa Grande, Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Playa Grande at low tide with no one around!

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 ($1.87 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 

A monkey at the Monkey Park Foundation
How cute is he?!

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 $34 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

Paddle boarding in Tamarindo
it takes a little bit of getting used to!

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

Eating Italian food at Antichi Sapori Tamarindo on a night out in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
How good does the food and Bailey look!?

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! 

2023 Update: Antichi Sapori Tamarindo will be closed for the foreseeable future as the owner is recovering from a personal health issue. Check their facebook page for updates.

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 $275 USD per day. Their ATV rental is $85 USD 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. 

9. Party!!!

Partying at Pacifico Bar in Tamarindo
Pacifico Bar!

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.  

Some other great bars include El Garito and Kinky Tamarindo – an LGBTQ+ bar. 

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 babies 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 costs around $46 USD and 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

Rio Celeste Waterfall, Costa Rica
I think this is my favorite waterfall in Costa Rica!

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. 

To get to the base of the waterfall you’ll need to hike 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) on the moderately rated Rio Celeste Trail which takes the average person around 3 hours to finish. It’s not overly technical but if you don’t have much hiking experience some of the sections might be a bit challenging as there are steep areas and stairs. Just take your time especially if the trail is wet and it should be duable for most.

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 $13.56 USD per person. 

12. Guachipelin Adventure Volcano

Guachipelin Adventure Volcano tour
Photo credit: Native’s Way Costa Rica

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 USD for the included transport. 

Seriously if you are looking for a day to remember, this is it! 

13. Go ziplining 

Ziplining in Tamarindo
Off Bailey goes!

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. 

Ziplining in Tamarindo 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 USD 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

A lady shops at the TAMA Market in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
There are around 30 stalls at the Tama Market!

Every Saturday from 8 am until 2 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 

Sunset drinks at Ocho Bar, Tamarindo
The amazing view from Ocho 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

El Mercadito de Tamarindo Food and Cocktail Market
How beautiful is 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 

Coco Loco on Playa flamingo, Costa Rica
Coco Loco on Playa flamingo, Costa Rica. Photo credit: Coco Loco

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

The mangroves in Tamarindo!
It’s like a different world!

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 because it’s one of the most popular activities in Tamarindo. So do yourself a favor and grab tickets as soon as you can!

19. Sports fishing

Onshore fishing in Costa Rica
Trawling for tuna!

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 $540 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 $920 for an entire boat that can take seven surfers.

21. ATV tours

Riding an ATV in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
This is so so much fun!

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

Tamarindo Night Market
Photo Credit: 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

Boiling mud pot in Rincon de la Vieja national park, Guanacaste,
Boiling mud pot in Rincon de la Vieja 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 (4.8 km) 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 USD 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 where you’ll hike for around 3 hours where you’ll pass by cracks in the earth that let out volcanic gases, volcanic craters, and bubbling mud pools. After heating up on the journey you’ll be able to cool off with a swim once you arrive at the base of Oropendola Waterfall.

With that said, it’s more popular to book the adventure tours like the Guachipelin Adventure Volcano tour.

24. Scuba diving at the island

A sea turtle while diving at Bat Island
A beautiful sea turtle!

There are some fantastic dive spots in Costa Rica near Tamarindo that beginners and advanced divers will have a blast diving! 

By far the best diving in Tamarindo 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 experience, 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 experience diving, you can also do this half-day dive course for $225 USD 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 (33 feet). 

25. Snorkeling

A yellow pufferfish while Snorkeling at the Catalina Islands
A yellow pufferfish while snorkeling at the Catalina Islands!

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 experience 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 experience that lasts for 5 hours and includes snacks and water for only $95 USD. 

26. Go boutique shopping 

Boutique shopping in Tamarindo
You could spend a lot of time shopping with all the options in Tamarindo!

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

A dj plays at a pool party in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
DJ by the pool!

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 $45 USD if you book in advance, and that includes your transport, drink and food deals, free shots, lots of games, and a bonfire on the beach. 

28. Horseback riding

Two people ride a horse on Tamarindo Beach
I would go more often but Bailey is allergic!

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 $60 USD. 

29. Whitewater rafting

Pacuare River white water rafting
The Pacuare River is one of the most famous in Costa Rica!

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

La Leona Waterfall River

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 $45 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/2.5 mi long) to the waterfall and a snack and takes between 3 to 4 hours. 

31. Go out for a delicious brunch

Breakfast at NOI Cafe in Tamarindo
How good does the food at NOI Cafe look!

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 is a gluten-free cafe that has an amazing breakfast bagel priced at only 2,500 Colones ($4 USD.) If you love cold brew coffee, this is also the place to go. The prices are so good that eating here is one of the best cheap things to do in Tamarindo.

Where to Stay in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

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

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. These are our favorites:

Selina Tamarindo – $

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.

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 Tarindo 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.

Pura Vida!

Bailey and Daniel Take a selfie in Tamarindo
Thanks for reading! (Yes, we once spent a Christmas in Tamarindo!)

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 including:

Where to see sloths in Costa Rica

How to spend 7-Days in Costa Rica

Ultimate guide to driving in Costa Rica

Stephanie

Sunday 12th of November 2023

Hi! How difficult is it to drive in Costa Rica? I'm going for my 1st time in Dec. and will be traveling solo for a week before meeting up with a friend. I was thinking of renting a car for my solo week. I've driven in other countries (Turkey, Italy) but sometimes the drivers in some Latin American countries can be a little crazy. I'd rent from the San Jose airport, so I'm guessing the biggest issue would be getting out of San Jose (just like getting out of Rome or Naples in Italy). I have to meet my friend back in San Jose, so it's a convenient pick up/drop off location. What do you think about this for a solo female? Better in a car or getting shuttles? Am I better off renting the car outside San Jose to avoid crazy driver traffic?

I also heard the roads are bad in some places. I've lived in rural areas, so no problems with dirt roads...as long as they are safe. One travel agent told me if I stay on the western/Pacific side I should be fine, but I wanted to confirm.

Costa Rica Travel Life

Tuesday 21st of November 2023

Hey,

It's not that hard in my opinion. I found it harder in Italy!

just rent in San Jose, it's not that crazy of a city. No different to traffic in any major city.

Yes in most places the roads are pretty good. there are some remote areas on the Nicoya Peninsula you should avoid but there is often a long way with good roads for almost every place.

Thanks Daniel