The Travel Guide to the Peninsula de Nicoya, Costa Rica, with detailed Maps, Hotels and Tourist Information
Tamarindo is the most developed beach on the Nicoya Peninsula and one of Costa Rica's best-known surf spots. The surfer mecca in the bay of Tamarindo offers all kind of tourist services, along with a vibrant nightlife scene and some of Costa Rica's best restaurants.
Only a 1-hour drive from the international airport of Liberia, Tamarindo is easily accessible from North American and European cities. With an assortment of awesome beaches extending to the north and south of Tamarindo the bustling beach town is a strategic location for exploring Guanacaste's sun-kissed coastline.
When in 1994 the surf cult movie "Endless Summer II" starred Tamarindo's surf beaches and pura vida lifestyle it lured the surf nomads and nature seekers to the secret beach spot. Only a couple of years later Tamarindo evolved into a lively town.
Today Tamarindo is built up with hotels and condominiums and you hear more English on the streets than Spanish. The village center is filled with souvenir, art, and fashion shops, some of them geared towards discriminating travelers. Supermarkets and specialty shops offer international delicatessen and you can indulge in wellness and health services. Tamarindo's cosmoplitan residents also offer a remarkable assortment of good restaurants. There are however still many choices for travelers on a budget who find typical dishes and snack bars, along with backpacker hostels and cabins. » Map of Tamarindo with Hotels
Playa Tamarindo is a mile-long crescent beach which serves as the front yard of the town. Restaurants and lounge bars line the beach from where you have front row view to the surf and beach life. At evening you can watch magnificient sunsets over the bay of Tamarindo with its fishing boats and the small islet of Isla Capitán. The shallow waters of Playa Tamarindo are perfect for bathing and the easy-going surf is also well suited for surf beginners.
If you crave more solitude and nature bliss you only have to stray a bit farther along the beach. Walking north from Playa Tamarindo you arrive at the estuary of the Rio Matapalo where small taxi boats can take you over the river to » Playa Grande, a beautiful swathe of white sand beach that stretches north for around 10 km.
Taking the other direction from the town center, walking south, you get to a rocky headland with tidal pools where you watch small sea life trapped in the pools. A little bit further comes Playa Langosta with its white-sand dunes and the scenic estuary of the Rio San Francisco. Around low tide you can cross the river by wading through waist-high water at the outer edge of the river mouth. On the other side you can continue until » Playa Avellanas.
Playa Langosta and Avellanas are some of the best » surf spots in Tamarindo.
The estuaries of the Rio Matapalo and Rio San Francisco are protected wildlife refuges and belong to the » Las Baulas National Park. They present large stands of mangroves with a big variety of water birds, crabs and mollusks. On a tour by boat or kayak you meander up narrow channels through the serene mangrove marsh to see birds, monkeys and maybe a crocodile basking on a sand bank. Although being close Tamarindo you will feel a world apart from the bustling town.
Sail off into the Pacific ocean in the afternoon and return to Tamarindo by sunset. Sometimes dolphins, turtles and even whales can be watched during from the boat. You can plunge into the water and snorkel. Cocktails and food are served while you enjoy the view to the bay of Tamarindo from the ocean side.
In Tamarindo you can do reef and shoreline fishing, or take a short boat ride for deep bluewater fishing off the continental shelf for hauling in marlin and sailfish. Other common fish you can catch are giant tuna, roosterfish and wahoo. The best season is mid April to August but fishing is also good for the whole rest of the year. For a memorable dinner at night you can have your catch cooked in one of Tamarindo's restaurants .
Snorkeling is most outstanding in the crystal clear waters in front of Playa Conchal, north of Tamarindo. The sea bottom here is made up of white coral sand so that the water has a gorgeous turquoise color. If you are lucky you spot a sea turtle or manta ray.
For a land-bound adventure hire an ATV (quad) to explore the beaches north and south of Tamarindo. Guided tours are available as well. A popular day jaunt leads through the countryside to Playa Avellanas with a stopover for lunch.
Tamarindo has two world-class golf courses nearby. North of Tamarindo is the course of the resort Paradisus Conchal and south of Tamarindo, behind Playa Avellanas is the championship golf course of Hacienda Pinilla. Designed by Mike Young the 18-hole course of Hacienda Pinilla has a spectacular layout meandering along the Pacific cliff. Golfers describe it as the most beautiful and well maintained golf course of Costa Rica.
A pro tennis court is available near the center of Tamarindo: at the Tamarindo Tennis Club you can rent court time and equipment for playing on two lighted outdoor courts open from 7am to 9pm.