Tamarindo is a good mix of fun, chill vibes, and surf culture. It’s a bit hectic compared to the surrounding beach towns, but worth a day trip to explore the area. Free parking is limited. We prefer to pay a few dollars and park right as we enter the town. Look for Volcano Brewing and shortly after, Rasta Joaquin will usually be there flagging you down to park with him. He looks after your rental car and has always taken care of us wit ha smile. He’ll even stop traffic in the road to help you back out when you’re leaving. Are you renting a car? Check out our guide to Renting a car in Costa Rica.
If you’re into surfing or just want to try it, Tamarindo is the place for mellow waves and tons of surf schools ready to help you with a lesson. Swimming is possible, but watch out for surfboards in the waves as beginners lose them often. Playa Grande may be a better option for a less crowded surf break if you’ve passed the beginner level.
There are tons of restaurants dishing up everything from fresh seafood and traditional Costa Rican food to sushi and Italian. There’s something for everyone. Once the sun goes down, Tamarindo comes to life. I’ve passed my all-night party days, but there are bars, clubs, and live music spots where you can dance or just chill with a drink in hand.
The town also has some great shops and boutiques where you can find souvenirs, local handicrafts, and beach essentials. Are you staying in Playa Flamingo? Check out our vacation rental which is stocked with all of the beach essentials. As you wander around Tamarindo, soak in the laid-back atmosphere and enjoy.
Mellow waves at Tamarindo Beach
Normally a 30-45 minute drive from Flamingo
Look for Joaquin at Rasta Parking
Visit La Leona Waterfall
La Leona Waterfall is a great day trip that you don’t want to miss if you’re in or around Playa Flamingo. The journey there takes about 1.5 hours by car, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort. The waterfall, which is accessible all year round, and the optional activities are an excellent way to spend a day away from the beach.
Some travelers suggest exploring this area independently, but that doesn’t seem to be an easy option. The waterfall is located in a gated property, and the easiest way to access it is through the La Leona Tour Company, which offers reasonable ticket prices. You can join a group tour with a guide or pay a small up-charge for a private tour. Fortunately, we were paired with only one other couple. It was almost like a private tour and we had an unforgettable time at the falls! They provided “waterproof bags,” but my phone still got completely soaked. I recommend picking up a waterproof phone case like this to make sure your device stays dry for the tour.
Additionally, you can also enjoy river tubing (which we did), hot springs (which we also did), and zip-lining. From what we could see, the zip-lining experience is relatively tame and might be better elsewhere. Nonetheless, this tour company does an excellent job, and we would gladly join them again in the future.
Our favorite sand-free travel towel
…and a little tubing after
Far for a day trip but worth it
If you’re looking for another stunning beach near Playa Flamingo, Playa Conchal is definitely worth a visit. It’s considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Costa Rica. The sand is made up of millions of crushed seashells, creating a coarse and textured surface on the beach. Plus, the crystal clear blue water is perfect for snorkeling against the cliffside.
Keep in mind that getting to this beach requires a bit of effort. You can park on the street in Brasilito town for free or pay around $3-5 USD for closer parking. Once you make it to the shore, it’s a half mile walk south to reach the entrance of Playa Conchal. Alternatively, you can stay at the W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal, or The Westin Reserva Conchal, for an all-inclusive experience that has private access to Playa Conchal.
On weekends, it’s best to arrive early to avoid the crowds in the main tourist area. You can find a shady spot or rent a canopy tent and chairs from a local beach vendor for around $20-40 USD (depending on your negotiation skills). We recommend bringing your own cooler, sunshade, and chairs to save money. Conchal stretches for a few miles along the coast, so there’s plenty of space to explore and relax. This is our favorite can koozie that keeps out beers frost cold all day.
The calm and clear waters of Conchal
Brews and sea shells
You’ll have to walk a bit
You’re visiting Play Flamingo to relax, but don’t miss out on exploring the surrounding areas. Tamarindo, La Leona Waterfall, and Playa Conchal are some of the best day trips from Playa Flamingo. Stay with us at The Flamingo Dream!