While Tamarindo offers the obvious batch of activities and tours that cater to locals and tourists alike, there are a some little-known “insider secrets” that are not so obvious to short-stay vacationers. Ask any tour company in the area what to do, and they’ll ramble off a list of volcano tours, zip lining treks, and all-day catamaran parties. Don’t get me wrong, all these activities are worthwhile and will stoke your sense of adventure, but if you’re looking to stay in town, save some green, and do what the locals do, this extensive blog should help maximize your time on vacation without breaking the bank.
I’ve broken this blog down into a few categories: free activities, almost free activities, and fun but affordable activities. Keep this list handy when the winds go onshore to keep the adventure going.
Hike Mirador Mountain
Located within the town of Tamarindo, Mirador mountain is one of the highest points in the local area and offers stunning sunset views for those willing to make the climb. From atop the mountain, spectators can see the entire bay of Tamarindo, Captain Island right off-shore, the Las Baulas National seashores of Playa Grande to the north, and the mountainous terrain plunging down towards the shore. Not to mention, this is a perfect place to see the building swells and corduroy line stacking on the horizon. From WRSC, reaching the outlook point takes between 20- 30 min on foot
Tip: Catch a taxi and ask them to take you to the “Mirador” next to the Wyndham hotel.
Lose Contact in Playa Grande
The long stretch of untouched beach directly to our north is Playa Grande. Aside from having possibly the most consistent waves in the country, Playa Grande has strict building regulations along the shoreline because of it’s national park status. The beach is large and expansive allowing you can walk miles through white sand without passing anyone. With Tamarindo comfortably in the shadows, this your opportunity to leave your phone behind, temporarily loose contact, and picture yourself as Tom Hanks in Cast Away for a few seconds. When the tide drains low and much of the hidden beach is exposed, seashells, driftwood, and all kinds of aquatic crustaceans are revealed. Bringing sea shells on the plane back home is prohibited, but if you can somehow transform your beach combing treasures into a stylish necklace or piece of jewelry before departure, you might get lucky.
Tip: Pay 1$ for a boat taxi to chauffeur you across the estuary.
The next beach down to the south from Tamarindo is the resort town of Playa Langosta. From Tamarindo, walk along the beach (at low tide) around the point, or follow the signs along the inland road. Langosta’s rocky shoreline is a great place to check out the sunset, splash around in a tide pool, and even catch some waves. Unlike Tamarindo, Langosta is fairly quiet and mostly caters to higher-end tourists looking for solitude from the Tamarindo energy. There are some great restaurants to grab a bite to eat in Langosta including the Surf Club Bar & Grill or Fish and Cheeses.
Tip: Rent a bike so you can enjoy the journey while getting some exercise. If you end up at the Surf Club Bar & Grill, get the Reuben.
Check Out the New Oneida Park
You know where the skate park / bowl is in Tamarindo? If you’ve passed by that area over the years, you probably didn’t think much of it, maybe you even thought it was kinda seedy… As a blessing to the community, ADI Tamarindo (Integral Development Association of Tamarindo) posed the simple, but important idea of transforming Oneida park into an attractive and clean space for the entire community. The 2000 square meter park now features a fresh section of concrete for street-skating, a half basketball court with updated hoops and plexi-glass backboards, a lovely jungle gym for kids over a large sandbox, and clean AstroTurf trim to fill the gaps and extra cushion for picnics and clumsy toddlers
If you’ve been to Tamarindo, then you most likely know (or at least have heard of) the Pipa Guy. Walking the Tamarindo streets everyday with his blue cooler filled with coconuts, the Pipa Guy attracts customers with his megaphonic voice that traverses the entire town. If you’ve never drank water straight from a fresh coconut, then you’re in for a pleasantly delicious surprise. Aside from the enjoyable flavor, studies suggest that coconut water has significant anti-ageing, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-thrombotic (anti-clot formation) effects. Check out his youtube video!
Tips: Really like the Pipa Guy? Witch’s Rock sells custom “Pipa Guy” T-shirts.
SUP / Kayak to Captain Island
Located right offshore of Tamarindo is the uninhabited Isla Capitan (Captain Island). While there are no establishments on this small island, it can offer a cheap adventure for those looking for some exercise, exploration and a little bit of danger… Located right in the center of the Tamarindo Bay, Isla Capitan offers a unique view of Tamarindo, Playa Grande, and our neighboring beach town, Langosta. Rent an SUP, a kayak, or even paddle out on a longboard. The journey takes about 25 min each way and will surely shape up your paddling skills.
Tip: Go out the the island when the tide is dropping close to dead low tide. Paddle back to the shore once the tide starts rising again. Paddling with the current is always easier. For example, if low tide is at 12:00 noon, start your journey to the Island at 11:00am and come back around 1:00pm when the tide starts rising.
Get a Trits
With all this heat, you need to cool off somehow..right? And what better way to do so than with this Costa Rican born ice-cream concoction known as “Trits”. Essentially, this melt-in-your-mouth treat is a generous portion of vanilla ice cream lovingly embraced between two sugary graham crackers with a small dollop of chocolate sauce thrown in for good measure. Calling it an ice-cream sandwich would be a cop out..
Tips: Sold as most convenient stores for about $2.
Play Frisbee Golf & Skate at Volcano Brewing Company
Frisbee golf is not just for frat boys in moccasins and upside-down visors anymore. It’s actually the perfect mix of challenging and fun that is hard to take seriously with a full pint in your other hand. In the green rolling fields across from Volcano Brewing Company‘s new warehouse site, we’ve set up an 9-hole Frisbee golf course. It’s a perfect outdoor activity for the family when the sun starts to set and temperatures are perfect for IPA drinking. Plus, there’s is a 16-foot wide mini-ramp which is completely shredable and not too intimidating. If you spend a whopping $10 at the bar, you are welcome to put on a show on the mini-ramp. Come check us out!
Casado Car Lady
Anywhere else, it would probably be illegal to sell food straight out of the trunk of your car, but not in Tamarindo! This locally famous Señora and her blue hatchback have established a reputation for some of the best Casados in Tamarindo at probably the most attractive price. What is a Casado you ask? It’s a delicious combination for rice, beans, salad, platano maduros, and a protein (beef, chicken, or fish). This lady even throws in a fresco which is basically a sweetened juice made from local fruits.
Tips: She parks on the corner across from Patagonia Grill
Fun and still affordable!
Located on the south side of the Tamarindo rotunda, Nogui’s beachfront restaurant is a popular option for grabbing a drink, relaxing with friends, or watching the sunset over Tamarindo Bay. Although there are other similar beachfront restaurants nearby, Nogui’s has one item that separates them from the rest, the pie… For about $4 a slice, you can choose from Banana, Coconut, Apple, or Chocolate pie that will surely put you in a flavor-induced comatose.
Tips: Try the Banana..
Play Some Mini-Golf
Looking for some G-rated family fun? Then look no further than Las Bolas Locas (Crazy Balls) Mini-Golf Course located behind the Banco Nacional right on the edge of Tamarindo. Having just celebrated their 5 year anniversary , Bolas Locas is a well-maintained, well managed course with a unique set-up and some cleverly designed holes. Follow the signs throughout Tamarindo that say “Mini-Golf.” It’s the only one in town. They also sell home-made ice cream here so you can kill two birds with one stone.
Tip: Sink a hole-in-one on hole #18 and receive a FREE round of golf!
Grab a Slice at La Baula Pizza
With a little bit of luck and adventure, you may stumble upon this authentic Italian restaurant gem. Located off the main drag of Tamarindo and up a sneaky left turn, La Baula Pizza has been serving some of the tastiest, thin-crust, pizza for over a decade. Cooked in a woodfire oven to perfection, La Baula offers a variety of pizzas sure to satisfy all members of the family. There is also an extensive play area for kids including a large slide, playa house with tables, and walking bridges.
Tip: If you don’t know where to go, get a cab, ask a local, or follow the Mini-Golf signs. The food is worth the search.
Zen out at Ser Om Shanti Yoga
Costa Rica and yoga go hand-in-hand. With the explosion of yoga enthusiasts visiting the country, you’ll find many quality studios with experienced teachers and charming spaces. If you’re staying in Tamarindo, the recommended (and most central) Yoga studio is Ser Om Shanti located upstairs at the main intersection of Tamarindo across the street from Sharky’s. There are multiple classes daily including: Vinyasa Flow, Restorative, Hatha, Yoga for athletes, and Pilates.
Tip: The studio is located right across the street from Sharky’s.
Enjoy a selection of the beautiful Flora and Fauna that Tamarindo’s tropical dry forest has to offer with a convenient estuary boat tour just 5 min walking from Witch’s Rock Surf Camp. Just walk down to the national park booth along the main road (the front desk will point you in the right direction) and enjoy a leisurely cruise into thee heart of the Tamarindo mangroves. Bring your camera because you’ll see exotic birds, monkeys, some jungle cats, and maybe even a crocodile or two. This tour costs about $35 per person.
Tip: Our surf shop can set this up for you. Be sure to go very early in the
With this list, you have no excuses for claiming cabin fever on your vacation. The surfing is world class in Tamarindo and the surrounding area, but there are so many other things to do and see. Don’t get suckered in with a high-roller tour that fails to deliver. Stay local and immerse yourself in the community with our favorite activities. If you’re looking to plan your next surf trip and would like to check dates & prices (or even just get free information) contact us directly at 1-888-318-7873.