Tamarindo, Costa Rica was my second stop along the way traveling down south from San Juan del Sur this past March.
After crossing the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, I took the TicaBus from Peñas Blancas and had them drop me off in Liberia. There, a taxi driver kept convincing me to take ride from him for $80 to Tamarindo. Too expensive, I said. I kept walking somewhere, and the driver actually kept following me around. Okay, I give to you $40, he says. Still too expensive.
Luckily, I found the local bus stop, and the 2.5 hour ride cost around $2.75 (the bus does stop by Liberia Airport, for those looking for alternative to taxi’s).
What is Tamarindo like?
Prior to my arrival in Tamarindo, many of the backpackers I met especially from Europe, would say that this beach town is very tourist-y and full of Americans. Well, it is in a way.
But honestly, it didn’t bother me that much. I still had a great time. I still interacted with the locals that lived in and around the town. It really depends on how you decide to spend your time in Tamarindo.
The town is definitely developed compared to other beach towns across Central America.
You’ll find that the prices when eating out is somewhat comparable to the U.S. And compared to neighboring Nicaragua and Panama, grabbing alcoholic drinks is much more expensive. Majority of travelers that come by Tamarindo are short-term vacationers, and the typical backpackers that do come by this town, don’t stay too long due to higher costs.
That being said, I do like that everything in Tamarindo is within walking distance to shops, supermarkets, bars, and of course, the beach.
For those looking to surf, beach breaks are within walking distance. You can surf Pico Grande/Pequeño (the rocks that sit in front of Playa Tamarindo), or surf at the rivermouth. Note that the rivermouth may have crocodiles. Luckily when I was surfing around there, didn’t encounter one.
If you are looking to surf neighboring beaches, Playa Grande is close by to the north, and Playa Avellanas and Playa Negra are to the south.
What types of establishments are in Tamarindo?
I stayed at Blue Trailz hostel, which I recommend. However, there are many other hostels in the area including Pura Vida, La Oveja Negra, La Botella de Leche, and Tamarindo Backpackers.
If you’re not a hostel type, there are the more upscale hotels including Hotel Tamarindo Diria to accommodations that run surf packages like Witch’s Rock Surf Camp.
If you are looking for market type or small town Costa Rican food, there aren’t many options at all in Tamarindo. The one exception is the old woman who comes by in her station wagon and sells varying meat casados for $2 to $3. Otherwise, the one place I do recommend is getting a fruit shake at the shack within the outdoor food court area. It’s super delicious.
As for nightlife, if you’re a girl, basically, you’ll get drinks for free as ladies night happens pretty much every night. The bars or clubs that people go to rotate depending on the night. Favorites include Pacifico, Sharky’s, and Monkey Bar.
Photos In & Around Tamarindo
To the Friends I Encountered:
Having stayed at Blue Trailz for 3 weeks, I saw people come and go. Just realized, I never took a group photo with the cool surf staff at Blue Trailz (oops … always will love you guys!).
Luckily, some I’ve met up back in New York City who either live and work in the city or came by to visit. Hope to see you all around somewhere in the world!
What appeals to you about beach towns?
Would you consider visiting Tamarindo, Costa Rica?
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