Tamarindo is a mecca for Europeans and Americans (from Canada all the way to Chile) to vacation. It's not just for surfers ~ but anyone looking to relax near the beach. Millions of dollars have been spent on high-class developments, but the locals who live just out of town are still the friendliest in Central America. Visit soon, before concrete and pavement cover up the natural beauty of this region. And if you surf, the dry season (December to April) Papagayo winds blow offshore all day long.
From San Jose, drive west towards Orotina and then take the exit going to Liberia. Drive north on the Interamerican Highway (CR1) for about an hour and then make a left towards El Puente de Amistad (Bridge of Friendliness) which crosses the northern tip of the Gulf of Nicoya. The total trip takes about 4.5 hours as there is usually traffic on CR-1. Use this Google Map to guide you.
From Liberia, head west toward the coast and follow the signs to Belen. There are a couple of well marked turns and then a steep hill you drive over. Once in Belen, make a left to head towards Tamarindo, which is another 15 minutes to the turnoff to Tamarindo at the town of Villareal. The total drive is about an hour and twenty minutes. This Google Map has directions to Tamarindo.
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Here's our list of our favorite 10 Awesome Adventure Tours to do in Tamarindo
Try out surfing with an entry level surf lessons with ISA certified instructors that will share safety and surf etiquette tips, besides personalize the coaching to each participant. Special Fall break 10% off for the 3 days / 3 private-progressive surf lessons in Tamarindo, a value of US$ 120. You must mention you found this promo on CRSURF
Help Save the Monkeys! The group
SalveMonos Tamarindo is working to protect the howler monkeys and other species that live around Tamarindo and rest of the Nicoya Peninsula. They use donations for building rope bridges over roads and teaching locals about them.
Why schlep your longboard all the way to Tamarindo. Get a custom Robert August surfboard hand-shaped by the man himself! Email us to find out how.
Find out more about Las Tortugas and the role ecotourism plays in the conservation struggle on YouTube.
Catch the FULL VERSION of the Movie Fe de Agua - filmed in Tamarindo!!
For updated news of what's happening in Tamarindo, visit:
This right hand point break works best on low to mid tides. At high tide breaks really close to the beach, but it is still fun with southwest swells. Rides can go on for 400 meters and throw barrels. It is only accessible by boat, and you must pay an entry fee to the Santa Rosa National Park, $10 pp. Only a limited number of boats are allowed in the park so there will not be over 50 people, but that is a lot since there is only three sections to sit on. Without a swell the waves are only longboardable. Make sure your boat captain has permission to enter the park or you could lose the $250-350 you paid for the trip.
Witchs Rock, or Roca Bruja, is inside the Santa Rosa National Park. The wave is accessible by a 4wd vehicle for most of the year, with sparse camping - bring your own water and bug repellent. Lots of boats come in, make sure they are licensed to enter the park (cost $80 pp + $10 entrance fee). The waves are clean, with lots of offshore winds especially from December to April. Picks up swells from the SSW and SW and can throw barrels. Best wave size is chest high to two feet overhead, any bigger and it tends to close out. Best tide to surf it is mid to high tide. It is most crowded by the rock and rivermouth, but the whole beach has waves. Beware of crocs and a few sharks during turtle nesting season.
A sketchy right hander that breaks at lower tides when the rocks are exposed. Can throw a mean barrel and produce a workable shoulder for about 60 yards before it pounds shut on the rocks. Boat access only, make sure your captain is permitted to enter the Santa Rosa National Park.
A beachbreak that works best from chest high to 3 feet overhead. When it's big it tends to break way outside and then reform about 100 yards off the beach. Lots of barrels and fun sections to smack. Best tide is mid tide coming in. At dead high there's some backwash, low tide has mostly closeouts. The break can get most crowded from June-August and December to April, but there are empty peaks up and down the beach. Do not leave stuff in your car as there is a lot of theft. Best place to stay is Hotel Las Tortugas, right on the break with secure parking, great food, and a pool.
The rivermouth breaks better on lower tides, and the size can look smaller from the beach than what it really is. Dominated by longboarders and locals, the wave can shack up and give surfers 100 yard rights.
Right in front of Witchs Rock Surf Camp is the main beach in Tamarindo where the beginners learn to surf. It is usually small, knee to chest high, and when it is bigger closes out. It is best from mid to high tide.
Right behind the Tamarindo Diria the beach is thinner and there are a string of rocks that go out about 150 yards. Depending on the swell size and tide, a wave breaks off both sides of the rocks, producing lefts that go for about 200 meters or longer and rights about 10 meters. Watch out for rocks at lower tides and beginners at high tides. This spot is also localized, so respect the order in the lineup. Breaks best at head high to 2 feet overhead.
The waves break over a rocky shelf, with more sandy stretches to the south of the rivermouth. Watch for the boils at lower tides to find a hollow peak. Best size is chest high to 3 feet overhead, when it's bigger can close out. The main break is behind the Barcelo Langosta, but they have made it nearly impossible to park near there. You'll find a few spots to park about 200 meters north. The rights during a swell with a lot of west in it can go for over 200 meters. The crowds are a bit lighter here due to the poor access, but the Barcelo guests think they own the peak, and the locals don't give up many waves.
Avellanas - Little Hawaii
At the northern end of Playa Avellanas, well past the rivermouth, are a series of rock outcroppings that at the right tide produce some great lefthanders. It's best when many other spots are closing out because it is too big. Very remote so do not get injured, and don't leave your stuff unattended.
Avellanas - Beachbreak
When you pull up to the beach you will see a giant hog. She has been there for years greeting visitors and lying in the shade under the mangroves. There is semi-secure parking, but don't leave stuff in your car. To the south are a bunch of rock shelves, so be careful during all lower tides. To the north is the beachbreak, which works best at waist high to a foot overhead. Waves are easy to catch, have some fun sections, and sometimes throw a thin lip to duck under. When it is any bigger it usually closes out. The crowds thin out the farther north you walk, and the best tide to surf are higher tides. There is only one hotel here on the beach, Cabinas Las Olas, which has trails through the mangroves leading to the shore leaving the view unspoiled by development. Other small hotels are across from the the road, about 1/2 kilometer from the beach.
Negra is a mostly right breaking wave and my favorite tube ride on the Pacific. The water is a deep blue, and the barrels are formed perfectly when the tide and swell are right. It works best from head high to double overhead, any bigger and it closes out. A few lefts come through if it's smaller, but you end up in the rocks which at low tide is sketchy. Speaking of sketchy, don't leave stuff in your vehicle as theft is rampant. Best tide to surf for many is lower to mid tides, but at high tide can also be fun if there is some size.
A remote stretch of salt and pepper sand and empty waves south of Playa Negra and north of Marbella. It is not surfed a lot since the peaks come at different tides and disappear when the tide gets too high or too low. At lower tides you can see the rock ledges that make the waves break farther outside.
This beach has two main breaks. A beachbreak to the north that works best at mid to high tides and can break bigger when other spots are small. It also gets hollow and can provide some quick rights. The second break to the south is a left point break off a rock shelf that works best at lower tides. Waves can go for about 200 yards with a big shoulder for cutbacks, but not tuberides. The crowd is usually heavier at the beachbreak and there a lot of locals that surf it so give them respect.
Rentals: Y Lessons: Y 888-710-4746
Certification: CPR, Water Rescue, ISA
Description: Kelly's Surf Shop, Tamarindo, Costa Rica offers a wide range of services for the beginner or experienced surfer. Book ahead for a full surf camp vacation package or drop in at the surf shop for surf lessons, SUP lessons, surfboard rentals or sales, when in Tamarindo, Costa Rica and make this trip the one surfing adventure you will always remember. Kelly’s has a full-range of surfboards available for rental or as part of your surf package. They offer high-quality individual surf instruction. They give private lessons to individuals or small groups and schedule all lessons according to tides and ocean conditions.
Description: WAYRA Instituto de Español offers since 1996 Spanish classes to foreign students and residents. Our Swiss and Latin American managed school, operates in a pristine environment and offers an ideal setting for people that are interested in learning Spanish by following a full immersion program. Instituto Cervantes WAYRA Instituto de Español is approved by the Instituto de Cervantes as an official DELE examination Center and our courses are also accepted in different German provinces. Their popular Spanish & Surf program runs from 1-4 weeks and includes the use of a surfboard.
Check out their video showcasing their surf program here - LINK
Description: Children's Spanish, Art and Sports Camp – This is the only children’s Spanish camp of its kind in Latin America. Each day, Monday through Friday in July, they combine two hours of fun and interactive, age appropriate Spanish language classes with lunch, games at the beach, soccer games with local children and a number of adventure activities. The six hours that the students are in the program from 8am to 2pm are designed to expose children to the Spanish language and the culture of Costa Rica. Their goal is to have the kids learn Spanish while having fun on the beach in Costa Rica. The camp is available to children ages 6 to 12.
Tamarindo & Dominical 1-800-897-0025 firstname.lastname@example.org
Blue Trailz Surf Camp
Description: Blue Trailz Hostel & Surf Camp has all you need for an amazing tropical vacation in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Stay at their hostel, join one of their surf lessons for all ages and levels or rent a surf board. They also offer budget friendly surf camp packages to learn to surf in Tamarindo with a Beginner Surf Camp or Yoga Surf Camp or improve your surfing skills and surf nearby breaks with their Advanced Surf Camp.
In addition, they offer luxury surf vacation packages. The all-inclusive luxury surf packages include airport transportation, board rental, lessons or trips, an excursion and a wide selection of accommodation options. Choose from a family friendly high-end beach resort, the most exclusive adults-only boutique hotel in town or modern luxury with spectacular hilltop views. Only add food and drinks from the many bars and restaurants in town and you have your perfect Tamarindo surf vacation. Certification: n/a
Tamarindo 506-2653-1705 email@example.com
Witchs Rock Surf Camp
Description: Beachfront location with one of the world's absolute best learn-to-surf waves directly in front of them.
Tamarindo 1-888-318-SURF or 2653-1262 (mention CRsurf) firstname.lastname@example.org
Banana Surf School
Certification: n/a - Bilingual
Tamarindo 2653-2463 email@example.com
Use the map above to book directly or Contact Us to help you plan a customized trip.
Description: At Vista Villas they have all the right ingredients for an all around great Costa Rica vacation. Whether you are here to relax, have fun, surf, or explore some of Costa Rica’s natural wonders, they take pride in calling ourselves a great - and affordable - Tamarindo hotel! Their family-run establishment is one of the three original hotels in Tamarindo and has a rich history of superb hospitality and amazing memories. Often times, large hotels lose that warm, "home" feel to them. Their English-speaking staff will not only serve you, but will make you feel like you are part of the family. We have single rooms to multi family suites with a view of the surf break at the Tamarindo Rivermouth. Plus there is a large pool and restaurant/bar servings meals throughout the day and night, and a long-running Friday Night Salsa Dance party.
Tamarindo 506-2653-0114 US 800-536-3241 firstname.lastname@example.org $49 - $179+
Description: The RipJack Inn has eight individually decorated rooms nestled among lush foliage that includes banana, palm, and almond trees, tropical flowers and much more. Our cabinas are located in a separate building just steps away from the pool. Cabinas have a queen size bed, a single bed, private bath with hot water, air conditioning, and ceiling fan. Cabinas are equipped with in room safes, coffee makers, mini-fridge and cable television. The hotel features Upstairs @ the RipJack that boasts a panoramic ocean view and some of the finest cuisine in all of Costa Rica. During your stay, take advantage of our onsite yoga, massage and surf lessons.
* Current special! Rooms are only $50 through September 21st!
Playa Grande 2653-0480 Fax: 2652-9272 email@example.com $70-$250*
Description: Hotel Las Tortugas is perfectly positioned in the center of Playa Grande, just steps from the main peak which is one of Costa Rica's most consistent surf breaks. Guests revel in the luxury of staying at the only beachfront hotel in the area with a pool, jacuzzi, garden with hammocks, and open-air restaurant and bar all just steps from the water's edge. Eleven rooms all have AC and private hotwater bathrooms. Economy rancho rooms on the property for the traveler on a budget. The rancho rooms all have their own private hotwater baths and air-conditioning.
Playa Grande 2653-0458 firstname.lastname@example.org $25+$130
Cabinas Las Olas
Description: Hotel Cabinas Olas has 24 hrs of security, parking lot, maid service, as well as ten spacious and beautiful cabinas. All cabinas offer a terrace and hammock, double and single orthopedic beds, safety box, ceiling fans, private bathroom with hot water. The Restaurant/Bar serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, specializing in international and typical Costa Rican food; including vegetarian options.
Avellanas 2652-9315 Fax: 2652-9331 email@example.com $80-130
Laguna del Cocodrilo
Tamarindo 2653-0255 $45+