24 Best Things to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

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Image of Tamarindo Estuary

Tamarindo is a city filled with great vibes, great people, and a ton of action. This city isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is rewarding! If you are looking to visit Costa Rica and you want an isolated resort experience, Tamarindo may not be suitable for you.

However, if you enjoy great nightlife, food, and some of the best experiences, Tamarindo is a must-have in your Costa Rica itinerary. For me, Tamarindo was a city that hit everything I was looking for, including outdoor excursions, art, culture, great food, diversity, and lively nightlife.

If you want a couple of stories on how much action there is in Tamarindo, I stayed there for a limited time. During this time, I saw a handful of and experienced some unbelievable things, including a dog attacking an iguana on the beach (disturbing), a Ticos band dancing in the middle of the road, and monkeys at our hotel.

I stayed at the amazing Capitan Suizo Beachfront Hotel. Read our full review of Capitan Suizo for a personal perspective of our experience. Let’s get into the must-see and do during your Tamarindo trip.

TL;DR: Top Picks by Category

Let’s give you a summary breakdown of our favorite attractions and activities in this fantastic Costa Rican city.

Must-Do Activity: Surf Lessons
Activity with Kids:: Las Baulas National Marine Park
Nightlife: El Garito
Tour: Sunset Sailing Tour
Beach:: Playa Tamarindo (Duh!)

Things to Do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

1. Cruise the Estuary of Tamarindo

Aerial View of Tamarindo Estuary
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Another fantastic thing to do in Tamarindo is to spend some time at the estuary. Learn more about the local wildlife on a relaxing floating boat journey through the Tamarindo National Fauna Refuge, part of Las Baulas National Park.

The Tamarindo estuary excursion is convenient since it starts from a location just outside of town. It’s also great for families. A whopping 95 percent of the refuge’s plant life comes from the estuary, inhabited by waterbirds, crocodiles, monkeys, iguanas, and five different mangrove trees.

On a Tamarindo estuary tour, you can observe many of these animals in their natural environment. Spend the day in Barra Honda National Park, just outside Tamarindo, exploring one of the 42 caverns.

The trip begins with a walk through a typical dry forest before diving into the system’s only cave open to visitors. After touring the shelter, you’ll be served lunch before returning to your accommodation. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

See Related: Things to Do in San Jose, Costa Rica

2. Take Surf Lessons

Girl Surfing in Tamarindo

Tamarindo is one of the best surfing cities in the entire world. This is mainly because Tamarindo surfing is an easy and fun surf with clean, consistent waves hitting the arching beach of Playa Tamarindo. 

You may ride waves daily at the beach since they are consistent. There’s no need to be concerned if this is your first time surfing. Surf schools, camps, and holidays are available at several shops in town.

A surf lesson is a great way to learn the culture and challenge yourself in a new sport. It’s not easy to learn but a lot of fun; for many, it’s a lifestyle. Advanced surfers should go to Witch’s Rock for a surfing adventure.

When there is a surge, waves can reach up to 6 feet high, with fast hollow tubes flying overhead. On a calm day, it’s excellent for boogie boarding.

Tamarindo is packed with surf shops because it’s one of Costa Rica’s most popular surfing sites. Tamarindo surfing is at its best during the green season, from May to November, when the South Pacific Coast swells reach this area.

This is the ideal time to surf for expert wave riders. Surf shops in town can point you to some of the area’s best surfing locations, including Witches Rock and Playa Negra, which appear in Endless Summer, one of the most well-known surfing movies.

Tamarindo is home to one of the best surfing spots on the entire Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and it’s a must-do activity for visitors. This beach is ideal for beginners since there are consistent waves every year!

3. Hop the Beach Bars

Pacifico Bar in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Image from Pacifico Bar Facebook Page

You’ll get the real feel of beach town vibes by hanging out with the amazing blend of locals and tourists. Tamarindo’s nightlife is colorful due to its popularity as a surfing vacation spot. Two of the most well-known drinking and dancing clubs are Pacifico Bar and the Crazy Monkey Bar.

Sharky’s Sports Bar in Tamarindo Diria, Costa Rica, is a sports bar that has live music, ladies’ night, karaoke, and other entertainment throughout the week. There is a casino at Tamarindo Diria. There is no shortage of restaurants in Tamarindo for the most incredible places to eat.

The Bamboo Sushi Club is in the heart of town. They are, without a doubt, Tamarindo’s top sushi restaurant. Their Tico Roll is a must-try. You can stop by Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. On Sundays, they are closed.

Nogui’s Restaurant, located in the center of town, has been serving Tamarindo residents since 1974 and is considered one of the most outstanding local restaurants, famous for its sunset cocktails.

4. Go Fishing and Catch Your Dinner

Sportfishing Boat in Tamarindo
Image from tamarindosportfishing.com

Tamarindo sportfishing is some of the best in Central America. The main catches are the Pacific Sailfish, Dorado (Mahi-Mahi), and Tuna. You can charter a boat for a half or full-day trip, and the crew will take you to the best spots.

Be sure to try some of the local seafood restaurants in town after your fishing excursion! Or, if you are feeling like a full night experience, book a tour that also lets you grill your catch of the day.

5. Watch the Sunsets on Playa Tamarindo

Sunset over Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Additionally, one of the free things to do in Tamarindo is to watch the sunset on the beach. Watching the sunset on Playa Tamarindo (Tamarindo Beach) is a must-do activity. First and foremost, it is entirely free!

Second, Tamarindo’s sunsets are one-of-a-kind, and you’ll be blown away once you witness one! Everyone will carry a camera and head for the beach around 5:30 p.m. During the rainy season, sunsets are more intense thanks to the presence of other clouds that convert the sky into a ring of fire.

Because Tamarindo sits on the north side of Tamarindo Bay, you must be on the north side of the beach instead of watching the sunset behind the point between Tamarindo and Langosta Hill or in Playa Grande or Langosta to see the evening into the ocean. Tamarindo’s oldest bar & restaurant, the Noguis mentioned earlier, is close.

6. Take a Sunset Sailing Tour

Boats at Playa Tamarindo beach during sunset
Sunset at Playa Tamarindo” by dog4aday is marked with CC BY 2.0.

There are plenty of great boat tours in Tamarindo; enjoying relaxation, drinks, and amazing views in one spot is best. So, take a sunset sailing excursion from Tamarindo Beach to see the natural beauty of Costa Rica. As the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean, you may appreciate stunning views of the coast while sipping on a cool drink.

The sunset cruise includes stops at two of Costa Rica’s most popular beaches, Playa Grande and Playa Flamingo. You’ll also have the opportunity to swim, snorkel, and kayak in the clear turquoise waters. The perfect way to end your day in Costa Rica is with a sunset sailing trip from Tamarindo Beach.

7. Visit the Sea Turtles at Las Baulas National Marine Park 

Turtle at Las Baulas National Marine Park
Image from costa-rica-guide.com

Address: 500 m SO de la Escuela de Playa Grande 933, Provincia de Guanacaste, Santa Cruz, 50308, Costa Rica

If you’re looking for a unique and inspiring wildlife experience, a visit to Las Baulas National Marine Park is definitely in order. This Costa Rican National Park is best known for its sea turtles, which nest on the beaches here yearly.

It’s impossible to overlook the graceful giants of Aru Island, which live in an unspoiled environment. To see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

In addition to sea turtles, Las Baulas National Marine Park is also home to a variety of other sea and land creatures. Migratory birds can often soar overhead, while howler monkeys and iguanas can sometimes be spotted in the trees. And, of course, the park’s pristine beaches are perfect for enjoying quality time in the sun.

8. Go ATVing

Two people ATVing in Costa Rica
ATV Tour” by Mark & Andrea Busse is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

There are plenty of ATV tours near Tamarindo for visitors to choose from. One of the most popular is the ATV Adventure Tour, which takes you through a variety of landscapes, including rainforests, banana plantations, and rivers.

If you’re looking for something more extreme, there are also options for ATVing through mud pits and down steep hills. No matter what level of adventure you’re after, there’s an ATV tour for you in Tamarindo.

9. Visit the Night Market of Tamarindo

Tamarindo Night Market with people having look at the items on display
Image from the Tamarindo Night Market Facebook Page

The Tamarindo night market is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Costa Rica. Locals and visitors flock to the market weekly to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, delicious food, and unique handmade goods.

The market is set up in the main square of Tamarindo, and it runs from sunset until late into the night. Visitors can find everything from fresh produce to handmade jewelry, and there is always a wide variety of food. The Tamarindo night market is a great spot to get souvenirs for friends and family or to enjoy a night out in the lively town of Tamarindo.

10. Go Horseback Riding on the Beach

Sunset Horseback Riding on the Beach in Tamarindo
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

It might sound too good to be true, but watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean while riding a magnificent horse along the beach in Tamarindo is a common sight here in paradise.

Horseback riding is a great way to see Tamarindo’s beaches and surrounding area. This is a must-do during your Tamarindo vacation.

If you’re looking for something fun in Tamarindo, you can go on a cowboy ride. You’ll go through creeks and pristine jungles to the mountains. While you’re there, you’ll be able to see the ocean and the ranchlands near Playa Conchal.

While on your way to Playa Conchal, you may see different types of wildlife, such as monkeys and tropical birds. In Playa Conchal, you can snorkel in the bay’s clear waters or relax on the beach. After half an hour at Playa Conchal, you’ll return to the ranch for lunch.

11. Stargaze at Night

Stars and Galaxy at Night

What if I told you the best time to hang out on Tamarindo Beach is after the sun? Yeah, it’s pretty amazing for stargazing. The sky is so clear and dark that you can see all the stars. Bring a blanket and snacks; you’ll be set for a fantastic evening.

The Pacific Ocean is so dark that it provides the perfect backdrop for the stars. As you look out at the dark ocean, you’ll see nothing but stars throughout the sky. It’s a truly amazing sight that you won’t want to miss.

12. Go Scuba Diving

Angel Fish Swimming at Cano Island
Image from costa-rica-guide.com

Scuba diving is a great way to explore the beauty of the ocean. You can see coral reefs, fish, and other sea creatures up close. Regarding scuba diving and snorkeling, Tamarindo is a great spot to do both activities. I talked to a few travelers who said that the dive sites around Tamarindo are impressive and definitely worth exploring.

You can find great deals on scuba diving and snorkeling trips in town, so there’s no excuse not to check out this popular activity. Maybe check to see if your travel insurance is good for scuba diving, too.

13. Watch the Sunset at Playa Langosta

This is an image of sunset view at Playa Langosta
Sunset at Playa Langosta” by dog4aday is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Address: Playa LangostaGuanacaste Province, Costa Rica

We mentioned watching the sunset at Playa Tamarindo, but just south of it is Playa Langosta (Langosta Beach). It’s one of the most picturesque places in Tamarindo, just past the town’s main peninsula.

The secluded Langosta Beach makes for a great spot to watch the sunset if you want to avoid crowds. This beautiful beach filled with golden sand, crystal clear waters, and gentle waves makes this a must-see spot in Tamarindo.

14. Go Whale or Dolphin Watching

Image of a humpback whale near the surface
Image from costa-rica-guide.com

A trip to Costa Rica is incomplete without some whale or dolphin watching. Luckily, Tamarindo is one of the best places in the country to do this. A few different companies offer whale and dolphin watching tours from Tamarindo. We recommend researching ahead of time to find the best company for you. But some of the best tours in Tamarindo town are :

15. Visit Playa Coco and Other Beach Towns

Playas Coco Sunset, Costa Rica
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

I know you are here to learn more about Tamarindo, but if you are in Costa Rica, chances are you are exploring multiple places. There are plenty of great day trips from Tamarindo to explore other nearby beach towns, adventure parks, and amazing national parks.

Tamarindo and Coco are two of the most popular beach destinations in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province. These two beaches draw tourists from all around the world who come to Tamarindo for the abundant Pura Vida beach lifestyle it provides.

Playas del Coco is a little unusual because it’s a fishing town. It’s smaller but more organized than other cities. Only one major road runs through the heart of Playas del Coco from the gate to the public beach and park. A fantastic park, skate park, basketball court, and little boardwalk adorn Playas del Coco’s beautiful beach.

Del Coco is also home to some of the best seafood restaurants in Costa Rica, as well as some of the cheapest beers. There are many well-designed and planned communities in Coco, like Las Palmas and Pacifico. You can get to Ocotal Beach from the town’s main junction. In Coco, almost all roads are paved, making it easier for people to walk around.

16. See an Epic Costa Rica Waterfall

Kyle Kroeger, visiting La Leona Waterfall, Costa Rica
The hike to this waterfall was epic (Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers)

The Costa Rican waterfalls are one of the most photographed natural wonders in this stunning country. They amaze both seasoned and inexperienced tourists with the many activities in Tamarindo.

There’s something mystical about the water pouring down from the rainforest canopy into a pool at the base of a cliff. After a walk through the jungle in tropical heat, a cold dip in these powerful natural forces will not disappoint.

The La Fortuna Waterfall is stunning. The beauty of the waterfall and adjacent hot springs attracts tourists from all around the world. The “Fortune” waterfall, fed by the Tenorio River and known as “Good Fortune” in Spanish, is a popular turnaround point on various excursions near Arenal Volcano.

A 70-meter (230-foot) plunge into a tropical pond surrounded by the Arenal Mountain range’s lush, green jungle is breathtaking, with a waterfall flowing from a rock at the bottom of the extinct Chato volcano before reaching a tropical pool.

The beautiful natural beauty of the fall and adjacent hot springs attract tourists from all around the world.

17. Go on a Zip Line Excursion

Man Ziplining on Costa Rica Nature

Costa Rica is one of the best places in the world to go zip lining, and plenty of companies offer this activity in Tamarindo. Zip lining, also known locally as canopy tours, is a great way to see Costa Rica’s amazing jungle from a different perspective.

You’ll get close to the trees and wildlife as you zip through the canopy. Most zip-lining tours include other activities like hiking, rappelling, and river crossings.

18. Take a Palo Verde National Park Boat Safari on the Tempisque River

Ocean View at Palo Verde National Park

Address: 9MM8+978, Provincia de Guanacaste, Bagaces, Costa Rica

Palo Verde National Park is renowned for its incredible biodiversity. The park covers over 38,000 acres of tropical dry forest, wetlands, and grasslands and is home to an amazing array of plant and animal life. Visitors to the park can explore the diverse ecosystem on a boat safari on the Tempisque River.

The boat trip takes passengers through Palo Verde’s mangrove jungles, giving them a more personal perspective on the region’s distinct flora and fauna. Crocodiles, iguanas, howler monkeys, and many bird species may be seen throughout the journey. Palo Verde National Park is an incredible place to experience Costa Rica’s amazing biodiversity.

19. Sample Local Brews at Volcano Brewing Company

Volcano Brewing, Tamarindo
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: 8536+G93, C. Central, Provincia de Guanacaste, Tamarindo, 50309, Costa Rica

With Volcano Brewing Company’s handcrafted brews, you can get in touch with Costa Rica’s roots in brewing. The brewery is recognized for producing artisan beer locally and allows visitors to sample various beverages.

The outside bar is on the balcony and has spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. The dining room serves delectable nachos, burgers, and pork chops to help line the stomach.

20. Admire Beautiful Art

Image of the Tamarindo Art Gallery
Image from Tamarindo Art Gallery Facebook page

If you’re ever in Tamarindo, be sure to check out the Tamarindo Art Gallery. They have a great selection of acrylic paints inside and outside the country. They’re having a big decoration sale, so it’s the perfect time to stock up on supplies.

Junior Rodriguez Art Gallery is a popular tourist destination. The gallery showcases Junior Rodriguez’s vibrantly colored surf art, which attracts visitors from all over the world. As an avid surfer, Junior draws inspiration for his paintings from the elements of surf, including his signature surfboard.

Junior Rodriguez’s paintings are inspired by life. His paintings include water, earth, and emotional elements to create movement. People who visit Junior’s art gallery are often mesmerized by the colors and energy in his paintings.

See Related: Best Tourist Destinations in the World

21. Boat Cruise the Gulf of Papagayo

Bay of Papagayo, Costa Rica
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Various sailing and boat tours leave Tamarindo daily, carrying guests to lovely bays and fantastic snorkeling areas. Many terms are full-day, although half-day and sunset tours are also available. These boat cruises and snorkeling tours are among the most fun things to do when you visit Tamarindo.

Playas del Coco is one of our favorite places in the province of Guanacaste. On a private boating expedition, you’ll find secret white sand beaches and fascinating snorkeling locations that other excursions don’t visit.

The Gulf of Papagayo, or “Gulf of the Parrot,” is a large body of water off Costa Rica’s northwest coast in Guanacaste. Costa Rica’s government oversees a significant, large-scale tour operation along the country’s coast and gulf. The Papagayo Peninsula, located in the Gulf of Papagayo, is one of Costa Rica’s most developed areas, with resorts and many tourist attractions.

22. Playa Avellanas

Image of the Playa Avellanas beach that is Tamarindo
Playa Avellana” by Wha’ppen is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Address: 65H6+GX5, Provincia de Guanacaste, Los Pargos, Costa Rica

Playa Avellanas is a stunning beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. The beach is well known for its incredible surfing waves and beautiful natural surroundings.

Avellanas is located just a few minutes drive from Tamarindo, making it a popular destination for visitors to the region. The beach is also home to a number of restaurants and bars, making it the perfect spot to spend a day in the sun.

23. Take a dip at Playa Brasilito

Playa Brasilito is a secluded beach located just south of Tamarindo. The beach is known for its incredible beauty and tranquil atmosphere.

Brasilito is an excellent spot for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing in the sand. The beach is also home to a number of restaurants and bars, making it the perfect spot to spend a day in the sun.

From Tamarindo, getting to Playa Brasilito on a day trip is easy. Drive north until you reach the town of Brasilito. The beach is located just south of the city and can be easily reached by following the signs.

24. See Sloths and Monkeys

Sloth Sleeping in a Tree, Costa Rica
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The greatest locations to watch sloths and monkeys are on the roads and pathways, especially if you’re riding with a tour or local driver. It’s not as exciting as slipping through the muck in the rainforest at the end of a dirt road, but national parks and animal refuges give opportunities.

You can add monkeys and sloths to your things to do in Tamarindo. Finding monkeys and sloths in Costa Rica is not like looking for a needle in a haystack — they’re all over the place.

One of the best ways to see sloths and monkeys is by visiting one of Costa Rica’s national parks or animal refuges. These locations offer excellent opportunities to see these animals in their natural habitat. Another great way to see sloths and monkeys near Tamarindo is by driving to the Eco-Diamonte Adventure Park.

Tours in Tamarindo

1. Private ATV Tour at Tamarindo Top Recommendation

Tamarindo Private ATV Tour - This private ATV tour is best for adults and families with younger kids. Travelers can drive themselves, or get paired up on twin ATVs with a partner. The guides will take you to the scenic countryside, deep into the forests, rivers and beaches so you can enjoy breathtaking views of the area. There are stops along the way to learn about Costa Rican culture, as well as places to stop for fresh fruit and refreshments.

2. Playa Tamarindo: Sunset Sailing and Snorkeling Tour

Whether you are a first time snorkeler or an experienced sailor, this tour is the perfect excursion for you! Sail from Playa Tamarindo on a custom-built 66-foot catamaran, and cruise along the Costa Rican coast to see the sunset. Enjoy an open bar with your favorite drinks, and snacks and a light meal on this excursion. Stop at a secluded beach and enjoy a swim.

3. Tamarindo: Zip Line, Horseback Riding & Natural Spa Day Tour

Tamarindo is a coastal town in southern Costa Rica and the adventure capital of the country. The Buena Vista Lodge and Adventure Center is located in the beautiful rainforest with amazing scenery and exciting outdoor activities to enjoy. On this tour, discover all that Tamarindo has to offer on a zip line, horseback riding, mud bath, and spa combination tour.

Is Tamarindo Worth Visiting?

Tamarindo should be on your Costa Rica itinerary. Tamarindo is a popular destination for tourists, and it may help you to have an enjoyable experience exploring Guanacaste’s most exciting activities, so you’ll never have to worry if something goes wrong in Tamarindo again.

Tamarindo has beautiful white sand beaches and is ideal for surfing lessons and family activities. Many residents visit Tamarindo Beach for the incredible water sports available in the region, including kayaking, SUP, and fishing. This place is certainly worthwhile if you want to experience Costa Rican sunshine and surf.

How do I get to Tamarindo Costa Rica?

Take a flight to Guanacaste and arrive at Daniel Oduber Airport in Liberia (or Liberia Airport). It also has flights from major cities in the United States, including Chicago, New York, and Miami. You can reach Tamarindo city within an hour and a half from Liberia’s airports.

Full Tamarindo Travel Video

FAQs

Is Tamarindo safe?

Yes! If you have reasonable travel and street smarts, Tamarindo is a safe place to visit. It would be risky to keep your stuff outside for an extended period. Tamarindo is one of Costa Rica’s safer locations. Pickpocketing and other minor tourist crimes continue to happen, although nothing else is common.

Is Tamarindo worth visiting?

Tamarindo has stunning white sand beaches that are visited by surfers and tourists from all over the world. It’s well worth a trip for sun-seekers or first-timers looking to experience Costa Rica’s best sunlight or try out surfing.

Is Tamarindo a party town?

Tamarindo is a fun city that is both family-friendly and party-central. Hundreds of young travelers, surfers, and visitors come to Tamarindo each year for exciting evenings on the beach.

What is there to do in Tamarindo today?

Tamarindo has some of the best surfing in Costa Rica. If you don’t like surfing, the estuary at Tamarindo is beautiful. Sunset cruises offer an experience unlike anywhere else and some of the best scuba diving in the entire world.

Related Resources:

Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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