Looking for the best things to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica? We can help!
Tamarindo’s mainly known as a surf town, but we found plenty of other watersports, great restaurants, and a bustling night market, as well as zip lining, ATVs and horseback riding on the beach.
Sure, Tamarindo gets a bad rep occasionally. It can be busy and touristy, and when compared to some other Cost Rican areas, a bit on the expensive side. Even so, Tamarindo is a beautiful place, with a long, sweeping public beach, and clean clear waters.
Things to do in Tamarindo Costa Rica
Like most vacation destinations in Costa Rica, you’ll need to spend a little time on the road to get here. The trip from San Jose to Tamarindo takes four or five hours by car, but you can also take a commuter flight to Tamarindo airport.
Here are some of our favorite activities in Tamarindo.
Spend Time on The Beach
Tamarindo’s main beach, called Tamarindo Beach, is long, sandy, and perfect for everything from sunbathing to surfing, to sand castle building, to even enjoying a delicious meal outdoors under a palm tree. Hanging out on the beach is our favorite of the many cheap things to do in Tamarindo. We’ve spent many hours just walking up and down the beach, enjoying the scenery and the water.
Tamarindo is one of the top surfing destinations in Costa Rica. It’s a wonderful place to learn to surf, with consistent waves almost every day. There are plenty of surf shops offering lessons, but Carlos’ Surf Shop is probably the best known in the area. Group lessons are pretty inexpensive at around $50 USD for a couple of hours and almost guarantees you’ll get up and going at least a few times.
Beginner surfers catch waves off Tamarindo Beach itself, just in front of the town. As you improve, you’ll surf off the Estero river mouth for faster breaks, and beyond.
Boogie Boarding on Playa Langosta
While Playa Tamarindo is the most famous beach in Guanacaste, Playa Langosta is just a short walk away. The waves at Playa Langosta are generally smaller, and better for families and newbie surfers.
Teaching our then five year old son to boogie board was one of our favorite family things to do in Costa Rica on that trip.
That said, we caught the waves at Langosta at high tide on a big swell day, and managed to smash a boogie board in two.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Kayaking
Stand up Paddle Boarding (SUP) is hugely popular with tourists now, but it wasn’t as huge when we last visited. It’s a lot of fun, but I find the waves are a little large to make stand up paddle boarding in the ocean waves easy.
If you’re up for something a little less .. bumpy, you can rent a kayak to explore the estuary, where you’ll see wildlife like birds, monkeys and even crocodiles.
One of the most popular things to do in Tamarindo, is taking a sunset (or sunrise) sailing tour.
There are several operators that offer catamaran tours, and most include something to eat and drink. It’s a lovely time, with a chance to see dolphins, sea turtles or even whales.
Fishing offers a chance to get out on the water and even catch your dinner. Some of the more popular fish around Tamarindo include Marlin, Sailfish, Mahi-Mahi, and Yellowfin tuna.
The beaches in Tamarindo’s Guanacaste province are picture perfect for horseback riding. Horseback riding tours start in Tamarindo and goes down to Conchal Beach. There’s a chance to look at local wildlife, and maybe do a little snorkelling off Conchal Beach as well.
Monkey Park is a refuge for injured or sick animals. It’s a non-profit and run by volunteers, with a low entrance fee.
They have a spider monkeys, as well as birds and other animals like marmosets. This is not a traditional zoo, and is run on a limited budget from the proceeds of admissions. Many of the animals are being rehabilitated for release to the wild, but some permanent residents are unable to survive on their own.
Tamarindo Night Market
The Tamarindo Night Market is open every Thursday night between 6 pm to 9 pm. There are food vendors, local entertainment, and plenty of vendors.
Tamarindo has a well deserved reputation for great restaurants. In terms of cuisine, this beach town is definitely punching far above its weight class. The best restaurants in Tamarindo range from breweries to beach bars to elegant dining.
Volcano Brewing Company is a great place for beers, while Shrimp Hole is popular for seafood, and Antichi Sapori Tamarindo is the place for Italian. Green Papaya Taco Bar is hugely popular, with swings for seating and a chill vibe.
Visit Marino Las Baulas National Park
The Marino Las Baulas National Park was established in 1990 to protect the endangered leatherback turtle eggs from poachers. Las baulas means the leatherbacks.
During turtle mating season, you can take an educational nighttime tour to see the turtles nesting. Read about our experience taking a tour at Las Baulos National Park.
Tennis and Pickleball
This is the place to go if you fancy a game of tennis, or pickleball. There are tennis and pickleball clinics, open play, and competitions if you’re feeling up for it. There’s also a 15 Love Tennis & Pickleball Vacation villa Airbnb rental on site.
Nanny Garden for the Kids
Next to the Tamarindo gymnasium, Nanny garden is for kids aged one to six. It’s open 7:30 am to 3:30 pm, and focuses on fun and art. Lunch is provided, and nanny services are available.
Go Zip Lining or ATV Riding
We spent a day at Monkey Jungle with the kids, and it was one of our favorite things to do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
While we had fun at Monkey Jungle, there are plenty of other options, including Black Stallion Eco Park & Estates, and Canopy Vista Tamarindo.
Scuba Diving or Snorkeling
Scuba divers take off from Flamingo marina (about half an hour from Tamarindo) to dive the nearby Catalina Islands.
Be Water Diving Tamarindo or Tamadive are popular choices. PADI courses are available as well.
If you’re up for a more cerebral challenge, WAYRA Spanish Institute offers Spanish lessons in Tamarindo.
They offer a wide range, from online classes, to intensive courses, to courses with lodging included.
Go to the Gym
If you’re looking to stay fit, Tamarindo has a few gym fitness options. The most popular is arguably Nick Holt Fitness, but plenty of people visit the Revive Wellness Center at Langosta Beach Club, Tamarindo Fitness, and Pura Vida Barre.
Unusual and Quirky Things To Do in Tamarindo
Up for something a little different? Check out these unusual things to do in Tamarindo.
If you haven’t tried this iconic Costa Rican ice cream concoction, you’re in for a treat with Trits.
Trits is sold in most convenience and grocery stores in Costa Rica. It’s not generally available outside Costa Rica or Nicaragua, so enjoy it while you’re here.
Try Your Luck at the Casino
Reviews on Tamarindo’s Casino Diria are decidedly mixed, but it may be worth a visit if casinos are your thing. We’ve never visited, but it’s a smaller casino with table games and slot machines. It’s the only casino in the area that we know of.
Get an Inspirational Psychic Reading
If you’re looking for something unusual to do in Tamarindo, a psychic ready might be the ticket.
Sally Rice psychic bills herself as “a Certified Psychic Medium and Reiki Healer, Remote Viewer, and Medical Intuitive”.
While your future may not be certain, it’s almost certain you’ll find plenty to do while visiting Tamarindo.
Looking for more travel inspiration for South and Central America?
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Did we miss anything? Let us know what you love to do in Tamarindo!