10 Best Things to do in Tamarindo - the Ultimate Guide for 2023
Updated: Jan 9
Tamarindo is a well-known bustling beach town located in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province. The region is known for its outstanding beaches, and is drier than other parts of the country. Tamarindo is a popular destination for tourists. There is something for everyone, whether you want to try surfing, take a sunset catamaran cruise, walk on the beautiful white sand beach, or explore the dozens of restaurants and shops. On your next trip to ‘Tama, check out some of our favorite things to do!
1. Walk on the beach at sunrise
Being close to the equator, Costa Rica receives about 12 hours of daylight every day. Sunrise is reliably around 6:00a.m. and the temps are almost always in the 70s at this time of day. This is our favorite time to walk on the beach. Sights you’ll see: early morning surfers; fellow walkers; boat crews bringing their pangas in to shore to pick up passengers bound for a fishing or sightseeing boat moored just offshore; an early morning yoga class; beachside restaurants setting up for breakfast; and if you’re really lucky, maybe a newly hatched sea turtle or two making their way to the surf. It is truly a magical time.
2. Tamarindo Estuary Boat Safari
A great activity for families! This private boat safari will allow you to experience the Las Baulas Marine Park’s intricate mangrove ecosystem and its inhabitants up close and personal. Expect to see crocodiles, monkeys, marine life such as fish and sea turtles, and many different species of birds in their natural habitat. Good for ages 4+, it’s about 1.5 hours, with tours going out at 8:00am and 10:00am. Click here to learn more!
3. Surf Lessons and Camps
Playa Tamarindo is not known as one of the best beaches for surfing, but it is an EXCELLENT beach for beginners. Beginning surfers need the relatively calm waters, and shorter waves found at Tama. And on any given day, you’ll also see experienced surfers hopping in the water as well. We recommend private lessons from local instructors which are suitable for beginner to intermediate surfers. Board and rash guards are included. There are also great 3, 5, and 7 day surf camps. You’ll receive private instruction, surf photos to wow your friends back home, video analysis of your progress, unlimited board rentals, and a t-shirt. Click to learn more!
4. Farmer’s Market
Local farmers, food vendors, and artisans offer their wares on Saturday mornings from approximately 8am - 2pm. This is a great place to grab some coffee and a pastry while you shop for gifts or souvenirs to bring back home. It’s a lovely community of makers of all kinds, and a great way to support locals. The Tama Market can be found under tents and canopies behind Plaza Tamarindo near the skatepark.
5. Private Boat Charter
Nothing feels as good as getting out on the water in Costa Rica - it’s the kind of experience that will stay with you long after you return home. You can spend a morning or an afternoon at sea, where you will visit secluded coves along the “rich coast” (yes, that’s what Costa Rica means). When your captain drops anchor, there will be water activities such as snorkeling and sea kayaking while the crew prepares your delicious lunch. There is also an open bar with cocktails, fresh fruit smoothies, and more. If you are on an afternoon tour, you will get to experience the sunset as you head back into the bay, and if you haven’t yet witnessed a Costa Rican sunset, you are in for a treat. To learn more about private boat charters, click here.
6. Eat at El Mercadito - Tama’s open-air “Cocktail and Food Market”
El Mercadito is a food court, but nothing like a food court at a busy mall in the states. With tropical decor, a bar made from an old sailboat, comfortable and plentiful seating under canopies, live music, and food and drink vendors that offer excellent food, you should plan to eat here at least once. Or stop by for an ice cream on your back from the beach. Or do both! Check out the signature cocktails at Medusa Bar, enjoy a beer from Papagayo Brewing while you sample a pizza from Pizza Galeria, try some ultra fresh sushi, or a poke bowl from Ohana Poke or any of the offerings on hand!
7. Zip Lining, ATV Tours, and Horseback Riding at Hacienda El Roble
Hacienda El Roble is a family-run working farm and small eco-adventure center located in Coyolito. They have been raising livestock here for over 100 years. For a tour of an authentic Costa Rican ranch with adventure thrown into the mix, this is a great option! Enjoy the private transport from your lodgings, and get ready for a zipline canopy tour, a leisurely horseback tour, or an off-road ATV experience, all led by professional staff. They have combo packages or you can choose whatever activity suits you best. Most people want to do some adventure activities while in Costa Rica, and El Roble is affordable, not too far away, and has an excellent reputation. Click here to learn more!
8. Sunset at the Beach
We recommended starting your day at the beach, and we recommend ending your day there as well! With a predictable sunset at approximately 6:00pm year-round, you’ll often hear people around town say “let’s get together for sunset.” It’s like a little daily celebration of all things Pura Vida! Playa Tamarindo is lined with beachside restaurants and they start to fill up as people grab a table for sunset. If you can’t snag a table, just walk out to the beach and bring your camera. Sno-cone vendors are usually on the beach at this time of day for a cool treat. Whenever we have friends or family in town, our tradition is to enjoy their first Costa Rican sunset at El Chiringuito for drinks and appetizers, which often turns into dinner as well! With their sunny turquoise tables, good food, and prime sunset location, it always delights our visitors.
9. Discover Spearfishing
While not for everyone, this is a fascinating and unique activity. In this 5.5 hour course, you will learn how to use a speargun safely, and how to choose, stalk, and spear a fish. All equipment is provided with private instruction in English, Spanish or French. Refreshments will be served onboard the panga boat or Stamas Tarpon boat. Participants must be 18, able to swim, and must obtain a Costa Rican spearfishing license (which can be purchased online for about $50). Experience with Free Diving is recommended but not required. One member of our team is an avid spearfisher, and we eat really well on the days he brings home fresh fish! If you are staying somewhere with a kitchen, you might enjoy cooking up your catch! Click here to learn more.
10. Tamarindo Night Market
We will end our list with a tourist must-see! The Tamarindo Night Market is more than a food festival. It has, predictably, amazing food and drink options. But it also has all kinds of live performances which might include fire dancers, DJs, activities and entertainment that is kid-friendly, dancing, artisan crafts, and more. You don’t want to miss this high-energy quintessential Tama event! Every Thursday night from 6:00pm - 9:00pm. The Night Market is located at Plaza Palmas. Parking is tricky as this is a popular event. If you can walk from your lodgings, we recommend it!
We hope your stay in or around Tamarindo is enjoyable and memorable. Please reach out to us if you have questions. We love where we live, and we love to share it with others. Pura Vida!
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