Tamarindo is a small town on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, with everything within walking distance. It’s hard to imagine spending too much time there due to its small size, but this little town is packed with activities and experiences for the entire family. In the one week that we were there we certainly did a lot, but there is so much more!
Kayak & Snorkelling: You can’t be around clear waters without doing a little snorkelling! Unfortunately, we happened to be there following a big storm in the Pacific so the water was rough and a bit cloudy. We still made an attempt and got into some kayaks to get to the calmer, more secluded, Capitán Island. We got to see some cool fish while trying to navigate the waves!
You may also like 7 Things You Should Know Before Traveling to Costa Rica!
Crocodile Boat Tour: If you’re looking to see some wild animals, hop on these boats and they’ll take you to the nearby river separating Playa Tamarindo and Playa Grande to see crocodiles. They say you should also be able to see some monkeys and iguanas! We were quoted $20 USD per person for this tour.
ATV: After checking the reviews for local activities, it seemed that renting ATVs were quite popular. We opted for a tour so that we’d have someone guiding us around the different beaches and streets. It was very fun, going up to 60 km/hour with each our own ATV! We stopped at two separate beaches and grabbed a drink at a little beach side bar before returning home.
You will be driving on paved roads, dirt roads and sand, so make sure to wear something you won’t mind getting dirty!!
Fatbikes: If you're not familiar, this is a bicycle with thick tires which makes it good for riding off roads and on sand. You can rent them on your own or follow a tour guide who will take you in all the best trails and beaches!
Zip Lining: We decided to combine the ATV tour with the zip lining they offered. It was the best decision; the guys at the Black Stallion Eco Park & Estates were simply amazing! The drive up to the mountain is an experience in itself. Keeping safety in mind, we started the tour with a little debrief atop of the mountain, enjoying a gorgeous view. There are 10 zip lines to take you back almost all the way to the ranch. They are well positioned for optimal speed, and they even let us go upside down, Spiderman style, on a couple of the line for an extra bit of adrenaline!
Rock climbing & Repelling: We did a small tour near Liberia so that we could get some good views of the volcano Arenal which included some rock climbing and repelling. It looked awesome, but unfortunately we went there with our sandals only (not our smartest moment!) so we weren’t able to enjoy these activities as they don’t have shoes for rent. Learn from our mistake and go prepared!
White water rafting: What we did get to do on the Liberia tour though was the white water rafting. What an awesome experience! Since the river is small, the rafts were little two person boats which meant that you were guaranteed the best spot of being center front, with a guide behind you to steer. We saw monkeys, iguanas and spiders (don’t worry, they don’t jump!) along the way and enjoyed some class 2 and 3 rapids.
Horseback riding: Horseback riding through a combination of jungle and beaches has got to be amazing! Although we didn’t have time to fit it in our schedule, we saw a few small groups going around a few times. However, please do keep in mind the safety of the animal when taking such tours. Examine the state of the horse first to make sure he looks well taken care of and in good health. Also try going early mornings or evenings around sunset when the temperature is more comfortable for the horses.
Catamaran: You never go wrong with a good catamaran tour. We hopped on the Marlin del Rey for a great evening of cruising, swimming, snorkeling, SUP, finished off with a great view of the sunset. We even saw a pod of dolphins swimming and jumping around the boat!
Caving: Costa Rica has some pretty cool caves that are wonderful to explore and hike. You can find tours that will take you or rent a car and go on your own. The Venado caves are located near volcano Arenal, so it’s a bit of a drive from Tamarindo, but you will get gorgeous photo ops!
Surf & SUP: You will find surf shops everywhere in Tamarindo, and it’s no wonder with their mile long beaches and perfect waves! For $10 USD, you can rent a board and spend the entire day riding the waves. An instructor will cost you between $30 to $40 USD (usually for a two hour session), but is totally worth it if you are a beginner! Plus it includes your board rental. We recommend taking a couple of sessions with an instructor before heading out on your own.
They also have stand up paddle boards (SUP) for rent in a few shops, but check out the waves before you rent. You might be better off surfing if the tide happens to be strong and the waves are high!
Beaches: We obviously cannot forget the beaches. Whether you enjoy swimming, sun tanning or surfing, the Costa Rican beaches will more than satisfy! Playa Tamarindo is wonderful even with many tourists around as it’s gigantic. Lined with restaurants that have wonderful beach terrace, it’s a beach bum’s paradise!
Still not convinced? Read our 8 Reasons Why You Must Visit Costa Rica!
If you prefer solitude and tranquility, nearby beaches are very easy to access. To the north, Playa Grande is a $1 USD small boat ride away (you need to take the boat as there are crocodiles in the adjoining river) and is almost deserted. If you head south, Playa Langosta is also almost deserted. There are a lot of rocks however, so not a good swimming or surfing spot, but the sunsets are to die for!
Shopping: Although we found it quite expensive, Tamarindo had a good amount of cute little shops for women’s clothings, water equipment and accessories, and souvenirs. Handmade items and one of a kind clothings, we enjoyed window shopping quite a bit!
One week is not enough to take advantage of everything Tamarindo has to offer, but it definitely gave us enough of a taste to want to go back. And unless you are a bigger group, or are dead set on doing a specific tour on a specific day, we recommend waiting until you get there before making any tour reservations. We found that the prices were cheaper on site, than when we were looking online before leaving!
So now that you’re convinced, when are you planning to go?
Budget Travel Blog: Tips and tricks for affordable vacation planning. From cheap hotels to cheap flights and everything in between, prioritizing safety and comfort.
The Dime Travelers
It’s time to ditch your misconceptions about cheap travel and join us on our blog as we show you safe and comfortable ways to travel on a budget. We will guide you through the process of trip planning and share with you what we have learned from our own travels. Our advice and reviews come from personal experience and will offer easy to follow tips and tricks to make your vacation a positive experience you'll want to have again and again.
Let's make your travel dreams come true!