Tambor Costa Rica

Tambor Beach
Bahia Ballena, the wide bay of Tambor

Tambor is set in the valley of a large and calm horseshoe bay, the Bahia Ballena, which in English means whale bay. During dry season these giants of the seas used to come into the bay. Nowadays with the increased coastal activity whales no longer frequent the bay of Tambor.

The beach of Tambor is easily accessed with a car and you find shade under almond and palm trees. The volcanic history serves up a grey-colored, hard-packed sand which gently slopes into the crescent bay. Low tide produces a broad expanse of beach and the shallow waters are exceedingly calm, offering good swimming for even the most timid of bathers.

Playa Tambor
Swimming is safe in Tambor

The valley of Tambor is cradled by lush forested hills which are part of the Biological corridor of the Nicoya Peninsula. To the north of the Tambor bay lies the » Curu Wildlife Reserve which protects various ecological habitats and a wealth of wildlife. It is fronted by the » Islas Tortugas, a tropical island paradise which can be visited on a boat tour.

To the north of the village center the majestic Rio Panica creates a scenic river landscape. You can hike along the river on your own or make a guided bird watching tour, offered by hotels in Tambor. See also » Costa Rica’s birds. There is also a local breeding program in Tambor for scarlet macaws and sometimes you can see flocks of these gregarious, large parrots foraging the almond trees on the beach.

6 km north of the village of Tambor you find the the large, self-contained holiday resort world of Barcelo’s Hotel Playa Tambor, with over 400 hotel rooms. Hotel Playa Tambor was the first all-inclusive resort in Costa Rica. Nearby is the Tambor Airport, long the only airport on the southern Nicoya Peninsula. However, with the opening of the Cobano Airport in August 2023, Tambor’s Airport is scheduled to close in 2025. See also: » Flights to the Nicoya Peninsula

Fisherman in Tambor
In Tambor you can buy fresh fish

What strikes you in Tambor are the many barren, abandoned properties. They are the remnants of failed real estate projects. Despite many ambitious development plans, Tambor has never established itself as a residential or tourist destination. A sleepy, quiet atmosphere still prevails in the settlement and on the beach.
However, this should soon come to an end. The most ambitious and extensive development project to date is now to be realised on a 360-hectare area in the coastal section south of Tambor. A joint venture between wealthy Arab investors and a Costa Rican real estate company aims to transform the unspoilt jungle into a luxurious development encompassing thousands of new residences, a town, 5-star hotel, and marina.
The modest, small fishing community and the landing pier on the south side of the bay of Tambor will therefore soon have to make way for new construction works.

Tours and Activities in Tambor

Activities in Tambor
Snorkeling at Tortuga Islands

Snorkeling and Diving

With its immaculate white sand beaches and tall arching coconut palms, the » Islas Tortugas is everything imagined in a tropical island. The islands also offer the best diving and snorkelling opportunities in the entire south of the Nicoya Peninsula. Plunge into the turquoise, clear water and admire shoals of colourful fish and the underwater fauna. You can also hike to a view point on Tortuga island or simply loll on the beach and relax. However, don’t expect to enjoy this tropical paradise on your own. Boatloads of day tourists land on the small island from all the surrounding tourist resorts, from Puntarenas, and even from San Jose, so everything is very crowded

Horseback Riding

On a guided tour on horseback you can ride to viewpoints in the hills of Tambor from where you can gaze down to the islands in the gulf and look as far as to Montezuma. Other tours go to the upper Panica river to a gorgeous waterfall with a large natural swimming pool.


Tambor boasts 2 different 9-hole golf courses nearby: one is located at Tango Mar Beach resort at the north of Tambor, the other one at Los Delfines, near the Playa Tambor resort.

Sport Fishing

Fishing buffs enjoy world class sport fishing in Tambor. Professional operators take you to the best fishing sites in the Pacific ocean or in the Gulf of Nicoya. You can haul in game fish like marlin, sailfish, giant tuna, roosterfish and wahoo. On a lower budget you can go on a fishing tour with a panga, a small traditional fishing boat.


Tambor Pochote
Rio Pochote river mouth

At the northern end of the Tambor bay the small fishing village of Pochote is tucked into the estuary of a river with a large » mangrove forest. You can rent kayaks to silently slip through the intricate habitat of a mangrove swamp. You will see many » water birds like herons, ibises, egrets, roseate spoonbills among others.

At low tide you can cross the Rio Pochote by foot to get to the secluded northern end of the Tambor bay. You will walk along lonely beaches, passing by secluded coves, and small rivers. The beach is backed by a steep and densely forested hill which borders the » Curu Wildlife Reserve.