Things You’ve Gotta do when Visiting Tamarindo

Last updated on October 13, 2023
Things to do in Tamarindo

Tamarindo may often feel like Spring Break run amok, but beneath its touristy veneer there’s a genuine gem of a town just begging to be discovered, and I’m here to give you the lowdown on…

Things to do in Tamarindo

When you find yourself waist-deep in Costa Rican surf, a cold Imperial in one hand, and your fifth attempt at a Tico-style tortilla in the other, it’s easy to forget that Tamarindo is more than a paradise for sunburned gringos and surfers who can’t string a sentence together without using “dude”. 

But the truth is…

There’s a whole lot more to Tamagringo as they call it. So let me tell you about things to do in Tamarindo. It’s a great spot for a home base while you’re exploring the Nicoya Peninsula. And let me tell you, there’s no shortage of amazing things to see and do. You’ve got waterfalls, sea turtles, caves, wetlands, and even an eco-adventure park. And that’s just scratching the surface. Lets jump right in.

Explore the Local Waterfalls

Take the Llanos de Cortés Waterfall, for example. This thing is a real beaut. You’ll hear it roaring as soon as you start your hike. And when you get there, oh man, you won’t be disappointed. A 40-foot-high, 49-foot-wide waterfall crashing into a natural pool? Sign me up.

Check out the Sea Turtles 

How about checking out the Olive Ridley Turtles at Ostional? These ladies swim hundreds, maybe even thousands of miles just to lay their eggs on the same beach they hatched on. And during the arribada, which happens between July and November, you can see hundreds of these bad boys lumbering onto the beach. And let me tell you, they’re not small. We’re talking over two feet long and nearly 100 pounds. That’s a big turtle, my friend.

Go Caving in Barra Honda National Park

Sure, it’s a bit of a hike to get there, but trust me, it’s worth it. The caves alone will blow your mind. Stalactites, stalagmites, the whole shebang. Just be warned, you need to be in decent shape and over the age of 10 to take the guided tour.

Grab a Surfboards and Hit the Waves

Now, Tamarindo may not be every surfer’s secret paradise, but there’s a reason every surf bum and their dog (literally) are drawn here like flies to honey. The waves at Tamarindo are a big part of Costa Rica’s surf scene – consistent, photogenic, and always in the spotlight. Carlos’ Surf Shop, a haven for novice wave riders, could make a surf prodigy out of a sloth. Here, a group lesson costs around as much as a decent steak dinner ($50, to be exact). You’ll ride a few waves, maybe wipe out, but hey, isn’t eating a mouthful of salt water part of the experience?

Explore the Tropics Underwater 

Ever wanted to face a shark while you’re still in your swim shorts? Head over to Flamingo marina, strap on a scuba tank and explore the underwater wonderland of the Las Catalinas islands. With a bit of luck, you’ll see everything from whitetip reef sharks to dolphins on your oceanic safari. And if you time it right, you could catch the humpback whales on their yearly commute.

Reeling in the Big One

The fishing scene in Tamarindo is as vibrant as a Costa Rican sunset. It’s the kind of place where you reel in your own sushi. Hop aboard with CR Fishing Charters or Bluefishing Tours and cast your line into the blue for a shot at the catch of the day, whether it be a mahi mahi or a wahoo. It’s catch and release, unless it’s dinner.

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding and Kayaking

For those that want to try their hand at something different, a bit of Stand Up Paddleboarding, or SUP as the cool kids call it, might be more your speed. The waves in Tamarindo can get a bit rough, so expect to perform an impromptu belly flop or two. And if the thought of that brings you out in hives, grab a kayak and explore the quieter waters of the estuary. Just remember, those log-like things you’ll see floating about? Yeah, they’re crocodiles.

Off-Roading in Paradise

Feel the need for a bit of adrenaline? Hop onto an ATV tour and power your way through rivers, up mountains, and to some of the best viewpoints around. Oveja Negra Hostel offers tours that combine nature with a nice bit of engine roar. Strap on your helmet, hold on tight, and prepare for a dust storm.

Horse Rides on the Beach in Tamarindo

The perfect end to a day of adventure is trotting along the beach on horseback as the sun dips beneath the horizon. Guided tours from Tamarindo to Conchal Beach give you a chance to see wildlife, explore the coastline, and indulge your inner cowboy or cowgirl. Snorkeling at Conchal Beach is optional but highly recommended unless you hate colorful fish and clear water.

Discover the Mangroves

Tamarindo isn’t all sand and surf. Take a break from bronzing and hop on a boat tour of the Marino Las Baulas National Park. Here, the birds sing, the monkeys howl, and if you’re lucky, you might just spot a crocodile slinking through the waters.

Living Life on the Zip-Line

Test your fear of heights (and possibly your lunch) on a zipline tour with Black Stallion Estates. If you’re up for an adrenaline boost with a view, Diamante Eco Adventure Park offers a superman zipline with an unbeatable ocean vista. The faint-hearted can opt for their botanical garden or cultural house, but where’s the fun in that?

Sunset Sailing: The Perfect Golden Hour

Take Instagram-envy to the next level and experience the magic of a Costa Rican sunset on the Pacific aboard a catamaran. Blue Dolphin and Marlin del Rey offer cruises where you could see dolphins, turtles, and even whales during migration season. And to top it all off, you get to dine on gourmet food as the sun slips beneath the waves. Who wouldn’t want that on their holiday to-do list?

Monkey Business

Got a soft spot for animals? Visit Monkey Park, a refuge for injured and sick wildlife, where your entry fee directly contributes to animal care. It’s not the typical zoo experience, but that’s what makes it all the more rewarding. Just remember to respect the residents, and no, you can’t take a monkey home.

Diamante Eco Adventure Park

And finally, there’s Diamante Eco Adventure Park. Yeah, it’s a bit commercial, but who cares? You’re in Costa Rica, baby! Get out there and zipline, ride a horse, or even hang out with some monkeys. You only live once, right?

The Night Market: Tamarindo’s Party Central

Come Thursday, when the sun sets, the Tamarindo Night Market comes alive. Here, you’ll find everything from local crafts to mouthwatering street food, live music, and an atmosphere that’s infectious. It’s a party in the streets, and everyone’s invited.

Wind down the Day with a Million-Dollar Sunset

What can top a day filled with adventures in Tamarindo? Witnessing one of its famous sunsets. It costs nothing but promises a spectacle that’s worth a million bucks. Grab your camera, plant your feet in the sand, and soak up the last of the day’s rays as the sky explodes in a riot of colors. And remember, only in Tamarindo can you wash down the day’s adventures with a sunset like that.

So there you have it, folks. Just a taste of things to do in Tamarindo.  And remember, no socks allowed.