Welcome to Playa Grande
Just north of Tamarindo, Playa Grande is a top surfing spot and a protected nesting beach for leatherback sea turtles.
It’s part of Las Baulas (“the leatherbacks”) Marine National Park, a 65-square-mile stretch, mostly in the ocean, that protects four beaches (Carbón, Ventanas, Grande and Langosta), and three estuaries backed by wildlife-rich mangrove swamps.
You can actually paddle a surfboard from Tamarindo to Grande but watch out for the crocodiles that hunt in the Tamarindo Estuary. You can also cross the estuary in a boat in five minutes, though it’s a 40-minute drive from Tamarindo. By road, Grande is closer to Huacas (15 minutes), Brasilito (25 minutes) and Flamingo (30 minutes).
There are plenty of restaurants, hotels, vacation rentals and shops along the road to Playa Grande, though there’s not much of a town there.
Grande was once a major nesting ground for leatherbacks, the largest of all sea turtles and the only one lacking a hard shell. Unfortunately, the number of turtles that come ashore to lay eggs here has crashed in recent years. Globally, the conservation status of the leatherback is listed as vulnerable but not endangered.
If you go, stop by the Ripjack Inn, a boutique hotel with an excellent restaurant in the treetops. Further south and closer to the estuary, the Grateful Hotel (formerly Bula Bula) also offers good lodging, food and drink. For surfing sales or rentals, visit the Frijoles Locos (“crazy beans”) Surf Shop.
The Store (known by the locals as “Wil*Mart”) is a large grocery store that also offers a restaurant, bar, and stage for live music.