Tamarindo is a popular beach town and holiday-makers destination on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.
It’s kilometers of golden sand beaches, incredible surf and abundance of bars and restaurants encourage people to flock there every year. The nearby Liberia International Airport also makes it a super convenient place to get to – especially for American tourists.
Visiting Tamarindo is easy as it’s adapted to be the perfect tourist destination. Once a quaint little fishing village, Tamarindo now has everything someone on vacation could want – beaches, adventure, restaurants, bars and shops.
This has earnt it a somewhat touristy reputation and the nickname ‘Tamagringo’ (gringo means foreigner). We’re going to be honest that Tamarindo isn’t for everyone, and there are much better places in Costa Rica to visit.
It really depends on what you’re looking for from your trip. Relaxation, ease and luxury are all over Tamarindo, but culture, authenticity and nature isn’t really what you will find here anymore!
That being said, a lot of fun can be had in the little beach town. There’s plenty of activities to get involved in such as an ATV tour along the beach and in the jungle, a sunset catamaran cruise or improving your surf skills.
How long should you stay in Tamarindo?
The answer to this question really depends on the purpose of your trip. Tamarindo is a great holiday destination if you want to enjoy gorgeous beaches, relax around the pool and have a huge choice of restaurants. If this is you, then 7 days there would be great.
If the purpose of your trip to Costa Rica is to travel around the country, experience its unique nature and culture, then we’d only recommend 1-2 days in Tamarindo.
In these two days you can beach bum on some of Tamarindo’s beaches, witness one of the best sunsets in Costa Rica, try to surf or even make a day trip to Nicaragua.
Some other great places to consider visiting include:
Tamarindo is a place of ease and convenience, which continues when it comes to choosing where to stay.
In other places, the area you stay in can be important, but Tamarindo is only a small town. Wherever you stay, you won’t be far from the beach and other amenities.
Let your accommodation be the deciding factor
The location will be good wherever you pick in Tamarindo, so just go for the accommodation that you like the most. The variance in accommodation options is huge.
Tamarindo is a holidaymaker hotspot, which has resulted in luxury hotels and resorts popping up everywhere. People come to Tamarindo to really indulge, and that indulgence can cost as much as $250 per night.
Don’t worry if that’s more your weekly accommodation budget, instead of your daily. There are plenty of hostels in Tamarindo – including their own pools – but without the high price tags of the high end resorts.
Private rooms are slightly more expensive here than other areas in Costa Rica because it is a tourist destination. Prices start at around $30, but expect to pay above $50 for a nice, well reviewed place.
Where to eat in Tamarindo
With over 150 restaurants in Tamarindo and the surrounding areas, finding where to eat can be somewhat overwhelming. There’s also a huge choice of different cuisines. There’s something from all over the world.
To help you spend less time researching where to eat, and more time actually eating, we’ve included our top 3 places to eat in Tamarindo:
El Mercadito de Tamarindo – a gourmet food market with lots of cuisines
When visiting Tamarindo, you could eat at El Mercadito every day. There’s just so much to choose from! Vietnamese one day, Costa Rican the next, and then finish with a delicious (vegetarian) burger on your last day.
El Mercadito is one of the most affordable places to eat in Tamarindo, but at the same time, it’s also one of the places that boasts the best atmosphere. There’s a bar within the food market so there’s a constant buzz, lots of people and a lively atmosphere.
Nordico cafe – great coffee, co-working space and acai bowls
Nordico Cafe is the perfect spot for breakfast, brunch, lunch or a place to work. Their air conditioning – which isn’t that common in Tamarindo – makes Nordico an ideal escape from the heat and enjoy great food.
Their menu focuses on healthy and rejuvenating dishes such as smoothie bowls, acai bowls, fresh fruit and a delicious traditional Costa Rican breakfast. Look no further for some of the best coffee in Tamarindo.
Dragonfly Bar and Grill – top quality, fresh fusion food
Dragonfly is always busy, a reservation is often needed, which tells you all you need to know. The mouth watering flavours, generous portions and friendly ambience makes people keep coming back to Dragonfly for more!
The extensive list of cocktails are the perfect accompaniment to the fresh, playful and tasty flavours in every dish. If you’re a fan of seafood, this is one of the best places to have it in Tamarindo.
Continuing with the theme of ease and convenience, getting around Tamarindo is super simple. It’s a very walkable beach town, with pretty much every amenity you can think of being within walking distance.
Bike rental is a fun way to get around too, but taxis and buses are also available. We’ll go into the transport options in more detail below:
As we mentioned above, Tamarindo isn’t that big. Getting around by foot should be perfectly fine for most people if your accommodation is within the main town.
Tamarindo is also a relatively safe town, so you should be fine walking home at night too.
Walking in the dark or the hot summer sun isn’t for all of us though. If you don’t fancy walking, there are plenty of taxis cruising around the town.
Unlike other areas in Costa Rica, the taxis in Tamarindo are yellow and can always be found at the main taxi stand in front of Plaza Conchal, as well as just on the streets.
Most of the taxis are metered, but if not, make sure to agree on a price before getting in. To give you a rough idea, here’s some estimated prices for beaches in the area.
A short taxi ride around the town should cost between $4-6.
Tamarindo is a great little beach town to explore by bicycle. It’s small enough that you won’t have to cover large distances in the heat, but means that you can get from A to B much quicker than walking.
Cycling around can also be a fun activity itself! Bicycle rentals cost between $8-10.
Kelly’s Surf Shop is a great rental option, if your accommodation doesn’t offer bike rentals.
If the taxi prices are a little too high for you, then the bus could be an option. 3 public bus lines run in Tamarindo, connecting to some of the beaches throughout Guanacaste.
Bus tickets cost around $2.50, but can take longer than a taxi because they make multiple stops along the way.
A lot of people choose to rent a car whilst visiting Costa Rica because the public transport can be confusing and convoluted.
If you’re planning on just spending your time in Tamarindo, then we don’t really think there’s a need to rent a car. If you plan to explore the surrounding areas it may be worth it. Renting a car also makes getting to and from Tamarindo easier. A lot of the car rental locations are from the nearby airport, Liberia. It may be worth keeping this in mind and planning ahead. Car prices from Liberia can be as cheap as $11 per day.
Tamarindo is full of luxury resorts, and Les Voiles Blanches is one of the top. There are a number of beautiful pools scattered around the property, so you’ll be able to find your own private oasis.
The hotel offers both normal hotel rooms and tent-style rooms. Don’t worry, there’s no slumming it, they’re more like luxurious wooden cabins. Every room has its own terrace, but there’s also stunning communal areas to relax in.
Ten North has a huge array of room options, ranging from a double room, all the way to 2 bedroom apartments. The pool is a pretty good highlight of the hotel, but it’s the staff that steal the show. They are incredibly friendly and just love to help you with anything that they can.
The rooms boast a rustic and bright vibe that feels very homely. You won’t want to spend too much time in your room as there’s so many places around the hotel to chill and relax. All whilst being surrounded by nature.
In a touristy destination as Tamarindo it can be difficult to find a family-run and cosy accommodation. Hotel Mahayana, is a hidden gem amongst all the hustle and bustle. The hotel owner makes you feel at home straight away and the pool is also a great plus!
All of the rooms are bright and spacious with pops of colour, giving them some life. There’s also a shared kitchen if you want to cook your own food.
Offering both dorms and private rooms, you can pick the type of accommodation that suits your needs. As it’s classed as a hostel, you’ll find a fully-equipped shared kitchen, plus lots of places to hang out and meet people.
Hostel La Botella de Leche has its own swimming pool, outdoor lounge area, shared living room, library and plenty of hammocks. It’s also in a great location, only minutes from the beach.