Skip to content

Things to Do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica Without Leaving Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Most guides to Tamarindo, Costa Rica tell you all about the attractions outside of town, all the things to do on day trips. But what if you don’t want to leave town? What if a short walk from your hotel is all you want after Costa Rican adventures elsewhere?

Let’s get one thing clear straight away. We’re big Tamarindo fans.

We say this, because often when you mention Tamarindo, Costa Rica, you’re greeted with derision. Tamarindo is “Tamagringo”. Too touristy, not “pure” enough.

Phooey to all that. Tamarindo is fantastic. It’s Costa Rica’s favorite surf town, set on a beautiful beach. What’s not to like about the place?

Now, that said, many come to Tamarindo to stay and end up doing a bunch of things outside of town. Which is cool. There’s a ton of stuff to do outside of town, from zip lining to national parks and volcanoes.

But if you don’t want to leave town at all, you needn’t. Maybe you just want to relax without taking a tour. You want to enjoy your time without getting into a car or minibus.

That’s fine. Tamarindo is one place in Costa Rica where you can hang out without leaving the place. It’s perfect for that.

So let’s look at what you need to do in Tamarindo without ever leaving Tamarindo.

First, find a Tamarindo hotel.

Tamarindo has plenty of places to crash, but you want to do more than just crash while here, don’t you? You want pampering in one of Tamarindo’s – no, one of Costa Rica’s – most exquisite boutique hotels.

Cala Luna is in Playa Langosta, a neighborhood just south of the main town. We’re talking a couple minutes in a car from the center, less than 10 minutes cycle ride, or about 15-20 minutes walk. Cala Luna is quiet and exclusive and perfect for staying in town without staying in town.

It’s been one of our favorite hotels for years. We’d say that, although you can stay in any of the myriad of hotels and rentals Tamarindo has to offer, nowhere else will enhance your time here more than Cala Luna.

The place comes with either rooms or villas, depending on your budget and what your dynamics are. For families or couples seeking absolute privacy, the two/three-bedroom villas work best. These units are massive, super-tastefully decorated, and best of all, come with their own private pools.

The rooms are great, too. Much better if you’re on a budget or traveling alone or as a couple. Those bathrooms are to die for! And don’t worry about the lack of a private pool either. The main pool at Cala Luna is perfect. You also have the beach, down a short trail, all white sands and cute rock pools to cool off in.

If you’re there at sunset, you’ll also get a free fruit cocktail to enjoy!

Watch the sunset at El Be.

And talking of Tamarindo sunsets, if you want a perfect place to check it out, go to El Be Club in the center of town, right on the beach.

I love this place. Every afternoon starting at around 5:00 PM, they have live music to go with the sunset. If you’re there when the Brazilian guy plays his bossa nova, you’re in for a treat!

Outside of the live tunes, El Be has eclectic tastes for music lovers of all flavors. I mean, what other bar in Costa Rica could you expect to hear proper Golden Age of Hip Hop tunes on a midweek afternoon? Walking past on the beach the other day and having Eric B and Rakim’s Move The Crowd entice me in could be a highlight of my many years in Costa Rica (I’m easily pleased).

They run a great happy hour each afternoon, and the bar food is delicious, too.

Hang out on southern end of beach and check out the crocodile.

If you’re coming into town from Playa Langosta, stop outside the Mono Loco hotel. Across the street you’ll find a little road taking you to the beach. This is the main access to the southern end of Tamarindo Beach, a lot more chilled than further up in town.

It’s less crowded here, and the waves are more mellow, making this end better for swimmers and families with kids.

And there’s a crocodile, too! That might seem contradictory to the whole “better for swimmers and families with kids” spiel, but the truth is crocodiles are all over Costa Rica. This one here seems placid enough, hanging out in his lagoon next to the parking lot.

Definitely worth a look and a few photos, anyway.

Then afterward, stroll down the beach towards the bars and restaurants.


Tamarindo is, for all intents and purposes, a surf town. Let’s scrap the middle bit. Tamarindo is a surf town. Tamarindo is the surf town.

It’s the surf that turned Tamarindo from an all-but-inaccessible fishing hamlet without electricity into the bustling beach town we see today.

Back then, in the 70s, Tamarindo was a true secret spot for surfers.

The hardy travelers who reached Tamarindo found empty waves of all shapes and sizes and conditions. They found gentle beach breaks on Tamarindo Beach itself, perfect for learners and novices. For lessons, speak to the guys at Iguana Surf. Speak to them about anything surfing-related in and around Tamarindo.

Tamarindo Beach accommodates surfers of all abilities. There’s another beach break at the estuary itself, a sweet right, suitable for more intermediate surfers. And then you have Pico Grande and Pico Pequeño in front of the Tamarindo Diria. Not advisable for newbies.

And all this on the same beach.

The southern end of Tamarindo Beach mellows out a little more and beginners can have fun here.

Elsewhere in the area, you have Playa Grande across the estuary with solid, consistent beach breaks. South, there’s Playa Langosta and its powerful, river mouth peaks.

Further afield you’ll find other great surfing beaches. But if you never leave the immediate vicinity of Tamarindo, arguably Costa Rica’s surfing capital, you won’t be disappointed.And if you don’t surf yourself, not to worry. Sit on the beach and check out the action in the late afternoon while waiting or one of Tamarindo’s classic sunsets.


Difficult where to start when talking about eating in Tamarindo. El Mercadito, with its selection of different food stalls from around the world and live music in the evenings is awesome.

Another spot we love is the Falafel Bar in the heat of town, near Pacific Park. It does what it says on the tin and if you love Israeli and Eastern Mediterranean food, you’ll be happy here.

You’ll find great bar food go with your sunset-watching at El Vaquero. Check out the Surf Shack for an extensive selection of burgers and some solid cheese and bacon fries.

And for some good fine dining with a laid back, tropical twist, Cala Luna’s restaurant is perfect.

We could write thousands of words about Tamarindo’s restaurant scene and one day we will. It’s criminal to talk about eating out here in a couple of paragraphs. But if you’re a food enthusiast in this town, you’re in for an adventure!


Like eating out, Tamarindo’s bars need an article all to themselves. This is a party town with plenty of places to check out and enjoy some liquid rejuvenation.

Mellow places, crazy places, family places, late night places, Tamarindo has everything. We already mentioned El Be as a perfect surrounding to your sunset, but any place along the beach will do, from the places around the rotunda to El Vaquero and the Crazy Monkey Bar at the Best Western with its famous Ladies Night.

Sharky’s Sports Bar gets rammed most nights, as does La Oveja. You’ll even find a rooftop bar in Tamarindo, too. It’s called, imaginatively, The Roof. They do an awesome pizza to boot.

The craft beer scene in Costa Rica hasn’t escaped Tamarindo, either. The Volcano Brewing Company features dozens of different brews. Pale ales, brown ales, IPAs… whatever your tipple is. If you’re a beer enthusiast, you’ve come to the right place.

Again, so many places here we can’t even begin to crack into. Any of the eating places we mentioned are also good for drinking and vice versa. The best thing you can do is show up, have a look around, and find your spot.

Rent a golf cart.

If you’re hanging out in Tamarindo, you don’t need a car. Sure, one is fine if you’re planning on checking out surrounding beaches, but for staying in town, walking is fine.

But if you do want wheels, consider renting a golf cart. You’ll see them zipping around all over the place in high season and they look a lot of fun. And when it’s so hot your sweat sweats, you might be glad of a nice canopy to sit under.

Do the Ocaso Festival.

You need to be in Tamarindo during the first or second week of January each year to do the Ocaso Festival, but if you’re into your electronic music, there’s no better place on the planet to be at that time. We’re talking about good electronic music, the underground stuff for the purists of the genre here. We’re not talking the stuff you hear in any old club.

Ocaso swaps between different venues around Tamarindo during the festival, from outdoor jungle sets to beach venues to pool parties. They have a vibe for all tastes.

If you want to be part of Ocaso 2023 (and if you love this scene, you’ll want to be), get onto their mailing list for updates.


Do you like boutique beachwear? Sarongs, designer bikinis, board shorts, and all that stuff? If so, you’re in luck because just about every other store in Tamarindo will hook you up.

So what, you might say. Every beach town in Costa Rica, nay, Central America is the same. That’s true, yeah. But we always found Tamarindo’s boutiques to be a cut above the rest. Check out EK Art Jewelry or the Azul Profundo Boutique. Go visit Cheboards if you want a custom-designed surfboard.

In a town like Tamarindo it would be amazing if there wasn’t a place to buy homemade jam, artisan cheeses, and organic papayas from a guy with a beard. You know what we mean.

The Tamarindo Farmers Market takes place Saturday mornings and is a great place to grab breakfast and listen to live music while buying that cheese.

Check out the Tamarindo estuary.

The estuary separates Playa Tamarindo from Playa Grande and offers some cool tours and things to do.

At the very least, you can hire a guy to take you across to Playa Grande. You’ll find a bunch of boats hanging out all the time waiting to ferry people over or offer more in-depth tours of the mangroves.

These brackish waters host a whole range of wildlife from crocodiles to monkeys to more birds than you can poke with a stick (don’t poke birds with a stick, by the way).

If you’re feeling more energetic, take a kayak tour.

The Tamarindo estuary is perfect for getting close to nature while staying in town.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Monnie (@monnie_travels)

And finally… please quit with the “Tamagringo” thing.

This is more of a thing not to do than to do. Over the years, Tamarindo has grown. We understand that to many, Tamarindo isn’t what they’d call the “real Costa Rica”, whatever that is.

It’s become fashionable to deride Tamarindo as somehow not “pure”, not adventurous enough. Fashionable to sneer at Tamarindo and those who live, move, or travel there.

The haters call Tamarindo “Tamagringo” because it’s a tourist town. And they don’t say that as a compliment.

But to us, Tamarindo is as real Costa Rica as anywhere else. What does “real” mean, anyway?

Tamarindo is a great little town with a great vibe and friendly people, all on a beautiful beach. What’s not to love?

So if you’re living in Tamarindo, planning to live in Tamarindo, or simply traveling to Tamarindo, you’re lucky. Be proud of your town. And if you dislike and deride the place, don’t come. Or if you’re open-minded enough, come. We reckon you’ll be impressed in spite of yourself.

What else can you do in Tamarindo without leaving Tamarindo? What are your favorite stores, restaurants, hotels, and bars in Tamarindo?

James Dyde is the editor of He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.

James Dyde

James Dyde

James Dyde is a British immigrant to Costa Rica and the editor of this website. He has lived in Central America since 2000 and retains a deep love for the region. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.