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 DiriáWyndham and Pasatiempo, 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.
Playa Langosta, a few minutes west of Tamarindo, is a high-end neighborhood known for its luxury hotels, top-notch restaurants, and million-dollar homes.
The Capitán Suizo, Cala Luna, and all-inclusive Occidental are the best-known hotels. All offer fine dining, as does the Langosta Beach Club and other spots.
Playa Langosta (“lobster”) is a long beach separated from the Tamarindo beach by a cape called Punta San Francisco. The southern part of town ends at an estuary that’s part of Las Baulas Marine National Park, where no development is allowed. This makes Langosta the “end of the road,” with no through traffic heading anywhere else.
Popular activities here include swimming, surfing, and excursions into the estuary by tour boat or kayak. If you’re looking to buy real estate here, you’ll need a fat bank account! For those who can afford it, Langosta offers luxury, exclusivity, and tranquility. Yet it’s a short drive to Tamarindo, where you can do your shopping for much lower prices, and where you can enjoy the hustle and bustle without living there.
Head to Tamarindo for the rowdy nightlife, but in Langosta you’ll have a perfect sanctuary to come home to, far from the crowds, the revelry, and the noise.

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