Tamarindo is a popular beach town and holiday-makers’ destination on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.
Its 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.
If you’re visiting Tamarindo soon, you’ve come to the right place. After reading this guide, you’ll know which area to stay in, where to find the best restaurants and how to get around this popular beach town in Costa Rica.
Tamarindo has eearnt 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 aren’t really what you will find here anymore!
That being said, a lot of fun can be had in the little beach town. There are 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 a week there would be great.
If the purpose of your trip to Costa Rica is to travel around the country and 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 in 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.
Best places 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 three 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 with 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, and a reservation is often needed, which tells you all you need to know. The mouth-watering flavours, generous portions and friendly ambiance make people keep coming back to Dragonfly for more!
The extensive list of cocktails is 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.
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 in 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. Three 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 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.
Now that you’ve finished reading this guide, you’re almost ready for your adventure in Tamarindo. The next step is to create your personalised itinerary with our top picks of things to do in Tamarindo. Simply choose your favourite activities and places to visit, and you’re all set to make lasting memories in Tamarindo.
Our favourite places to stay in Tamarindo
Les Voiles Blanches – Treating yourself
Tamarindo is full of luxury resorts, and Les Voiles Blanches is one of the top. Hence the hefty price tag. Throughout the paradise hotel, there are a number of beautiful pools, so you’ll be able to find your own private oasis away from the high energy of Tamarindo.
The hotel offers both normal hotel rooms and tent-style rooms. Don’t worry, there’s no slumming it, the rooms are more like luxurious wooden cabins. Every room has its own terrace, but there’s also stunning communal areas to relax in.
Ten North Tamarindo Beach Hotel – Treating yourself
If Les Voiles Blanches is too far out of your price range, Ten North is another great option. It has a huge array of room options, ranging from double rooms to two bedroom apartments. The pool is a spectacular 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.
If you want to be close to the action of Tamarindo, but not too close, then Tee-K Lodge is a great solution. There’s so much nature and tropical gardens surrounding the hotel that you forget about the outside world. Especially when chilling in their lovely swimming pool!
The owners of the lodge will make your stay unforgettable. Going above and beyond to make sure that you’re happy and have the best time in Tamarindo. It’s so good that it’s not uncommon for guests to keep on extending their stay here.
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.
Kate is a writer, (ex)Management Consultant and avid traveller. She recently returned from a 2-year career break exploring the world and decided corporate life wasn’t for her. She’ll soon be testing life as a digital nomad. She’s visited over 40 countries and fell in love with Latin America in particular. Her travelling has inspired a passion for yoga, salsa, hiking and Spanish.
Aleksandra is a writer and editor who recently moved from Hong Kong to London. She’s worked and studied in four countries (and counting) and picked up a new hobby in each of them. She’s a big fan of long train journeys so you can count on her to take the scenic route, finding a few hidden gems along the way.