The Ultimate Guide to Tamarindo

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The Ultimate Guide to Tamarindo

Hola 👋 

Welcome to our Ultimate Guide to Tamarindo, Costa Rica. There’s a lot to think about when planning an international trip, so we’ve highlighted the helpful details for one of Costa Rica’s most visited beach towns. Below are many of the area’s popular restaurants, breweries, activities, and lodging. You’ll also find a guide map that visually displays the town and points of interest.

Tamarindo may be too hectic for some, but take a look and decide for yourself. Drop us a comment below with any questions you have, and we look forward to hearing about your adventure. Enjoy this guide and pura vida. 🤙

The Guide To Tamarindo
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A beautiful day in Tamarindo

Getting There

From Liberia Airport

Tamarindo is around 80-90 minutes driving from the Liberia International Airport (LIR), depending on the route. Taxis are normally available but we encourage renting a car. While the main highways are paved, dirt roads are a norm in Costa Rica. A 4×4 (or all-wheel drive) rental is recommended in the green season and extremely helpful in navigating the occasional washed out areas. Waze / Google Maps are the preferred navigation apps. Check your routes before departing and make sure your device is charged. I always bring a small wireless battery pack like this to stay juiced up because nav apps can drain your battery quickly.

Primary Route – Highway 21 to 155 to 152
This is the primary route into Tamarindo and takes around 80-90 Minutes in average traffic. It’s three turns on three highways, and you roll right into the Tamarindo.
View route here

From Everywhere Else

Flying into San Jose International Airport (SJO) only makes sense if you’re going to visit other areas on the way to Tamarindo, like La Fortuna or Monteverde. Otherwise it’s a 4-5 hour drive and not the best use of your vacation time. We’ve been told by many rental car employees that Waze is the best navigation app for driving in Costa Rica. We’ve had good experience with Waze, but Google Maps has always worked well too for an easy route like this. Apple Maps doesn’t navigate in Costa Rica, so be prepared with a different app if that’s your usual go-to.

Parking for a day trip

Another option for visiting Tamarindo is to stay in a neighboring area like Playa Flamingo, Brasilito, or Potrero, and take a day trip into town. If that’s the plan, parking with Joaquin at Rasta Parking will cost about ₡5000 for the day and he’ll watch your vehicle. You’ll find him right after Volcano Brewing when you’re entering town. You can also search for free parking in town away from the beach, but it can be a nightmare if it’s busy.

Entering Tamarindo
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Look for Joaquin at ‘Rasta Parking’


Rental Cars

If this section sounds a bit repetitive from other city guides you've read... it is. We've synchronized the rental car section in our destination posts to provide you with the most up-to-date changes when we have something to add here, and the info applies to any place you'll be visiting.

Rental cars are honestly the best way to get around Costa Rica, and Adobe Rent A Car is now our recommended company. Their fleet of cars is refreshed every two years, keeping them in good condition. Plus, they have 13 offices in most of the major towns in case you need help with the vehicle.

We used to roll with Economy Rent A Car and have always had a good experience with them. Unfortunately, we've received too many complaints and can no longer recommend their general booking site. We have a contact at Economy who still sets up many of our rentals. Shoot us a message through Facebook or Instagram if you want his contact.

Confusing insurance requirements are the most frequent complaint about rental cars in Costa Rica, so we really like how Adobe displays their additional insurance options at checkout. It’s pretty hard to be surprised when you get there.

Rental car insurance in Costa Rica is complicated and often leaves you feeling burned at the rental counter. There are various levels of undisclosed insurance. Check out our full guide to renting a car in Costa Rica here to avoid some major frustration later. Also be sure to use our booking link here to receive an exclusive discount at Adobe Rent A Car.


Private Driver – Bryan is our guy in the Tamarindo and Flamingo area. He’s picked up and dropped off our family and friends from the airport with 5-star service. Again, shoot us a message on Facebook if you want his WhatsApp info!

Taxi – Taxis are fairly easy to get in Tamarindo. If you don’t have a rental car, it’s best to arrange return transportation before you go out to Playa Flamingo, Potreto, or surrounding areas.

Shuttle – A shuttle could be an option for larger groups with a lot of luggage. We’ve used ILT Costa Rica for all of our shuttle needs when traveling with large groups. The drivers are prompt and professional.

Downtown Tamarindo
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Cruising downtown Tamarindo


There’s no shortage of lodging options in Tamarindo. As much as we’re big fans of vacation rentals, a hotel may be the way to go here. Most hotels are within the downtown area, and there are options ranging from cheap surf hostels to luxury boutique accommodations. We’ve never stayed in Tamarindo because we have a condo in nearby Playa Flamingo, so we’ve listed a few of the higher-rated options here, according to TripAdvisor.


  • Jardin Del Eden Boutique Hotel – This upscale boutique hotel garners high praise for its value, with many travelers appreciating the inclusive breakfast and dinner. Its rooms boast stunning views and cleanliness.
  • Ten North Tamarindo Beach Hotel – This is a budget-friendly accommodation that boasts high reviews and incredible guest satisfaction.
  • Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort – This high-end beach resort is praised for its excellent beachfront location and inviting pools, yet some visitors express dissatisfaction with its value, citing overpricing in relation to the services and amenities provided.
  • Check out a full list of Tamarindo hotels.

Vacation Rentals

Tamarindo Guide Map

Take a look at our interactive map to start the inspiration. It isn’t an absolute list, but we’ve put together some of the most popular places to visit in Tamarindo, Costa rica.

Good To Know

It’s highly recommended that you book tours in advance if you’re visiting from December – April. Activities fill up quickly during the peak season. Check tours here.


A guide to Tamarindo wouldn’t be complete without some fun stuff. We have experienced many of these activities first-hand, but some have been recommended by our rental guests or friends and family.

  • Surf Lessons at Playa Tamarindo – Tamarindo is one of the best places to learn how to surf in Costa Rica. Take a lesson and you’ll stand up or your money back!
  • Snorkeling – So we haven’t found any good snorkel tour operators in Tamarindo. Drop us a comment if you have one! If you’re trying to snorkel, it’s worth the day trip up to Playa Flamingo. We’ve seen sea turtles, eagle rays, reef sharks, and tons of tropical fish. There are many great tours out there, but Life Is Better At Sea is an amazing company to go with. Jaume and his boat captain provide a 5-star experience, and this is a must-do activity if you’re visiting Playa Flamingo.
  • ATV Tours – There are a ton of great ATV Tour operators in the area. Here are a few highly rated options with nearly 100% smiles.
  • Tamarindo Estuary Tour – The Tamarindo Estuary is one of the largest in Costa Rica and home to 175+ species of birds, and other marine animals.
  • Zip Lining – Did you know that recreational zip lining started in Costa Rica? Monkey Jungle Tours offers zip-lining on its list of activities.
  • Scuba Diving – We love scuba diving! While we’ve only used dive shops in nearby Playa Flamingo, there are a few great operators in Tamarindo. Try Scuba Diving without certification
  • Sunset Sailing Tour – The Nicoya Peninsula is known for its world-class sunsets. Spend an evening on the ocean and watch the sun fade over the horizon. Pairs well with a cold Imperial Cerveza.
  • Visit Playa Flamingo
    Playa Flamingo is worth checking out if you want to enjoy a beautiful white sand beach. It’s quieter than Tamarindo, and don’t miss Gracia at Mar Vista for an amazing sunset dinner.
  • Visit Playa Conchal
    Playa Conchal is known as one of the most picturesque beaches in all of Costa Rica. The sand is made up of crushed seashells, and the water is often crystal clear. You’ll park in Brasalito town and walk about 10 minutes down the beach before driving to Conchal. Beach vendors rent sunshades and chairs and serve drinks at the main entry point.
  • La Leona Waterfall
    The La Leona Waterfall is a great full-day trip from the beach areas. You’ll drive back past the airport to Liberia, which takes around 1.5 hours each way. The waterfall is on private land so reservations are needed to secure a tour guide. You’ll also have the option to go tubing, zip lining, and soaking in pools of natural hot spring water.
  • Visit Las Baulas National Park
    Located across the estuary near Playa Grande, this National Park protects the main nesting beaches for the leatherback turtle of the Tropical Eastern Pacific.
El Mercadito de Tamarindo Food Market
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El Mercadito de Tamarindo Food Market

El Mercadito Drinks
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The central bar in El Mercadito

Don’t Miss Restaurants

  • Sodas – Local Costa Rican restaurants are called “Sodas.” There are tons around here, and they offer cheap local meals that shouldn’t be missed if you want to try the local flavors of Costa Rica.
  • El Mercadito de Tamarindo Food Market – This is a really cool collection of small eateries in the center of town. Tables are shared between businesses, and you can grab bites and drinks from various vendors in the area. They have everything from sushi to burgers to Venezuelan arepas.
  • Breaking Bread – A must try breakfast spot unless you’re there on Monday when they are closed. They have amazing bowls, toasts, and sweet breakfast plates.
  • Tama Onda Beachfront Restaurant – So we haven’t yet found an oceanfront restaurant in Tamarindo with high-quality food. The food here is average at best but it’s our favorite place to hang for a view. Did we miss another beachfront spot? Drop us a comment below and we’ll try it out next visit.
  • Waffle Monkey – A waffle-centric breakfast spot right at the beach. Stop by if you’re craving a savory or sweet treat.
  • Dragonfly Bar and Grill – A highly rated dinner restaurant that’s open daily from 5:30-10pm. Reservations are recommended during the busy season.
  • Zolu Taco Bar – A Mexican-style restaurant in the heart of Tamarindo. They are closed on Sunday, and open 12-9pm Monday-Saturday.
  • L’ Estanco El Jardin Escondido – Fusing Latin American and Mediterranean flavors, this eatery serves fresh ceviche, focaccia, and unique lamb dishes. Try the traditional porchetta in its vibrant setting.
  • La Oveja Surf House – Casual dining with a diverse menu highlighting seafood and meat options, including fish tacos and flank steak. Features live music, pool table, and a variety of healthy choices.
Volcano Brewing In Tamarindo
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Our first stop in Tamarindo

Volcano Brewing
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A brew with a view


We love craft beer, and I know we’re not the only ones. There are only a few in the region, so they all make our cut as our favorites.

  • Volcano Brewing – It’s hard to miss this brewery when you’re entering Tamarindo. It’s been a long travel day. Stop, and grab a nice cold brew. Pura Vida.
  • Potrero Brewing – One of the two main breweries in the Playa Flamingo and Potrero area. The owner / brewer TJ is a master of the craft and his beers pair perfectly with the on-site food stands. They play many of the sports games and are family friendly. Don’t miss if you’re searching for craft beer.
  • Brothers Of Ale – This is one of our favorite breweries in all of Costa Rica. Owner / brewer Alaks is a blast and has crafted some delicious food and beer. They also have misters to cool you down after a day at the beach. Don’t miss their hilarious Instagram videos.
  • Las Olas Brewing – The sleepy surf town Playa Grande is a great spot for a day at the beach, and Las Olas is the perfect spot for a beer afterward.
  • Papagayo Brewing – Located in Las Catalinas, this Papagayo tasting room is worth a visit if you’re in the area. Otherwise I’d check out any of the breweries above first. There’s also a location in the Solarium near the Liberia Airport.
  • Monkey Head Brewing – Monkey Head Brewing is one of our go-to breweries by the Liberia Airport. We stop here on the way to and from LIR so it makes the cut here.

Check out our Ultimate Guide To Craft Beer In Costa Rica for a full brewery guide map and.

The Guide To Tamarindo, Costa rica
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Looking southbound 


  • Pura Vida Super Market
    A small local market in the middle of downtown Tamarindo. Slightly higher prices than supermarkets on the outside of town.
  • Maxi Palí
    A large chain market on the edge of town that’s great for bigger shops.
  • Thursday Night Market
    A fun pop-up market in the heart of town. It’s normally open from 6pm to 9pm on Thursdays, but double-check if you’re heading over.


Ideally, you won’t need any of these, but we’ve listed them here just in case. Depending on the type of trip you’re booking, trip insurance could be a helpful peace of mind. We’ve used Safety Wing Travel Insurance. It’s affordable and covers most activities you’ll encounter on your trip to Costa Rica. Check their coverage here and see if it’s right for your trip.


  • Guanacaste Medical Center – A small local hospital nearby. It’s okay for minor injuries but anything major may require transportation to a larger hospital in San Jose.


  • Tamarindo Dentist – Located near the edge of town. There are a few dental offices, but this one has the best reviews.
  • Dental Clinic Solside – A small dental office located in the heart of town.


  • Farmacia Fischel – A highly rated pharmacy with the essentials.

Don’t Forget

You can buy almost anything you need in the area, but the prices of some items may surprise you. Sunscreen can cost upwards of $20 USD for a normal size tube at the local market. Some of our don’t forget items are listed below.

Sunscreen – Reapply all day when you’re outside. The sun is no joke here!
Bug Spray – Bugs are minimal in the day but mosquitoes often come out in the evening.
Quick-dry towel – These quick-dry towels are also sand free.
Waterproof hat – I like this floating hat, but anything works.
Polarized sunglasses – They don’t have to break the bank. Check out these polarized sunglasses by Blenders.
Waterproof phone case – Great if you’re going to be on the ocean.

Let’s Go

You’re going on vacation and it’s a lot to take in. Hopefully, this list is a helpful resource in planning your epic trip to Tamarindo. If you think Tamarindo may be too hectic for your home base, you can always stay in Playa Flamingo or Potrero and take a day trip here. Drop us a comment below if you have any questions!

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Cody & Anna

Cody and Anna Traxler

We’re Cody and Anna, and we’ve fallen in love with Costa Rica over the past decade. We’re not experts in every part of the country, but our countless adventures have inspired us to create this travel guide. Our goal is to share our experiences and help you jet off on your own unforgettable journey. Enjoy Ultimate Pura Vida and start planning here 🤙

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