Once a quiet surf beach and fishing hamlet, Tamarindo has evolved to be the area’s most developed and accessible tourist town. Located on the central west coast of Guanacaste, Tamarindo offers visitors of every budget a chance to experience the region’s unspoiled beaches and incredible biodiversity in a range of accommodations. Despite the town’s recent and ongoing development, it retains the laid back vibe that is so characteristic of the region.
As a regional hub, Tamarindo offers a wide-range of extensive services to visitors including sport fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, and horseback riding. The Tamarindo airport offers visitors in the San José area a seamless method of travel to the area, and Liberia is a close 50 kilometers (31 mi) for visitors already bound on international flights to Nicoya.
Separated from Tamarindo by the Río Matapalo is Playa Grande, an uninspiring crop of pebble-rock seashore with the exception of numerous tide pools that are exposed at low tides. However, surfing along Playa Grande is ideal—regardless of skill level. The town hosts several international surf competitions, a testament to the quality of surf available. Visitors seeking luxurious accommodations can do so south of Playa Grande at Playa Langosta, a pristine white-sand beach near the Río San Francisco.
Perhaps Tamarindo’s greatest appeal is its proximity to the Tamarindo National Wildlife Refuge, which comprises 1,000 acres (400 ha) of dazzling protected forest, including abundant mangroves and estuaries. Tours of the fascinating plant and animal life can be arranged from Tamarindo, including canoe tours of costal habitats. Just north of town is the Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas, which offers visitors an opportunity to see the world’s largest reptile, the leatherback turtle, come ashore to lay eggs. Also close by is the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Ostional and Parque Nacional Barra Honda.
Tamarindo’s extensive development has imbued elements of affluent foreign culture from modernist cafés to chic restaurants into the fundamentally Tico culture, making for an appealing combination of both worlds. North Americans and Europeans in particular will enjoy the many elements of their own culture offered in Tamarindo along with the authenticity of local culture.