Tamarindo is in a class all by itself — you could call it the “fun capital” of Guanacaste. With great surfing, shopping, restaurants and nightlife, this town of 8,000+ attracts more travelers than any other place in northwest Costa Rica. In fact, in all of Costa Rica it’s probably rivaled only by Jacó as the most visited beach town.
The surfing in this formerly sleepy fishing village was discovered by California surfers in the 1970s and ’80s, who often camped on the beach for want of better lodging. The seminal 1994 surfing movie “The Endless Summer II”
put it on the global surf map, featuring local legend and board shaper Robert August catching its legendary waves.
The city grew up around the surfers, as locals discovered that they could make far more money off the constant visitors than they could make any other way. The tourism infrastructure of Tamarindo today is second to none, with hotels, restaurants and adventures for every budget.
Tamarindo is definitely a party town, with legendary late-night revels and a New Year’s Eve party you’d have to see to believe. Yet it’s also a great town for families, with a beach where children can play in shallow water or take beginning surfing lessons farther out.
The main drag, parallel to the shore, is packed with beachfront restaurants offering food, drink and great people-watching. Standout eateries include the Pangas Beach Club, Nogui’s and the Mercadito food court. Hotels include the Diriá, Wyndham
, though good hotels are too numerous to name.
Sharky’s is the alpha sports bar and Los Altos de Eros the premier spa. Witch’s Rock Surf Camp
hosts legions of surfers at its two hotels, two restaurants and three bars, and of course it also offers surfing lessons, sales and rentals.
A great many expats have chosen to call Tamarindo home, and there’s no shortage of real estate for sale. Ocean-view villas in the hills behind town and nice condos a short walk from the beach are among the options.
Tamarindo is a town where it’s totally normal to see people strolling the sidewalks wearing bikinis or carrying surfboards. It’s also a highly walkable town where you don’t really need a car.