Reasons Why You Should Visit Tamarindo Over San Jose

Famous sunsets | © Brenden Wenzel/Flickr
Famous sunsets | © Brenden Wenzel/Flickr
Photo of Jenn Parker
11 May 2017

Tamarindo and San Jose couldn’t be more different. San Jose is the very large and congested capital city in the central part of Costa Rica, and Tamarindo is the most popular beach town in the country, on the northern Pacific coast. Which destination is right for you depends on what you’re looking for from your vacation. Tamarindo is an amazing beach town, and the majority of visitors love it here; find out why it might be the place for you.

Surfing and the Beach

Tamarindo is well known for its surf and beautiful beach. There are several different breaks along Playa Tamarindo and many others within driving distance. Tamarindo is the perfect beach for beginners. There’s a ton a surf shops and surf schools where you can get everything you need to surf, and find the perfect instructor. The beach is quite picturesque and is even more spectacular at sunset. Playa Tamarindo an excellent place to spend the day in the sand, sun, and surf.

You can always find a wave | © Jenn Parker

A Great Starting Point

Tamarindo is an ideal location to head out on a wide variety of tours, such as zip lining, horseback riding, waterfall hiking, riding ATVs or paddle boarding. You can also take rainforest excursions, view volcanoes, take estuary and mangrove boat tours, go on catamaran trips, and more. Tamarindo’s prime location makes it an easy starting point for a day adventure. There are countless tour offices dotted around town where you can set up almost any type of adventure tour. From here it’s very easy to get to Arenal, Monteverde, and Rincon de la Vieja. Tamarindo is only 50 minutes from the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia and a five-minute drive from the Tamarindo Airport where you can catch Nature Air and Sansa flights.

Take a tour to a magical river | © Jenn Parker

Divine Dining

There are over 100 restaurants in Tamarindo! If you’re craving something, it is almost guaranteed that you will be able to find it. There are also a handful of exceptional restaurants that are some of the best in the entire country. For quick bites there are plenty of cute cafes, sandwich shops, and coffee shops. Your tastebuds will definitely be stimulated while you are staying in Tamarindo. Our top recommendations are Pangas, Seasons, Bamboo Sushi Club, Wok and Roll, Matty’s Cafe, and La Esquina.

Dinner and music | © Carive Productions

Always a Party

Tamarindo has a very happening nightlife. There is always something going on, whether it’s a ladies’ night, live music, karaoke, a DJ, or a full-moon party. Almost every place on the beach has some sort of happy hour special to start off your evening, and then you just have to decide what type of fiesta you’re in the mood for. Bars such as Aqua, Sharky’s, and Pacifico stay open until at least 2 a.m. on happening nights. Don’t forget to have a shot of guaro, Costa Rica’s national liquor, somewhere along the way.

Yoga and Wellness

If partying isn’t your thing, or you partied so much that you are in need of some yoga or a spa treatment to balance yourself out, Tamarindo has plenty of options. The best yoga studio in town is Mermaid and Sailors. They offer a variety of classes throughout the day, every day of the week. The yoga studio also has an incredible boutique. Wellness treatments such as massages, facials, manicures, and pedicures are available at Coco Spa and Revive Wellness Center. If you really want to treat yourself, just outside of town is the most incredible day spa, Los Altos de Eros.

Get your yoga on | © Mermaids and Sailors

Community Events

Tamarindo is home to a sizeable expat and family community, and a lof of community events, open to everyone, take place through the year. There’s always something going on, from theater productions, fundraisers, food and beer festivals, to marathons, beach clean-ups, and live music performances. Events are advertised through flyers and posters and in the Swell Dealer, a local newspaper you can find at supermarkets around town. You can also find out what’s happening by asking your hotel concierge.


For such a small town, there are a lot of stores. You can find great souvenir shops, surf shops, bikini shops, boutique stores, jewelry shores, and speciality markets just by wondering around the main street. Most of the stores carry high-quality, unique, and really awesome stuff. Tamarindo is actually an amazing place to spend the day shopping. You are bound to find special gifts, the perfect bikini, your next surfboard, a new vacation outfit, or a locally made and beautiful piece of jewelry that will remind you of your incredible stay here.

Talk a walk | © Takashi Hososhima/Flickr


It’s good to have a car to be able to explore some of the surrounding areas or to get around at night if you are staying away from the main strip; but if you don’t mind walking, you can walk everywhere here. Especially during the day, parking can be difficult, so walking is recommended. All restaurants, bars, and shops are within walking distance of each other and of the beach. Walking through Tamarindo is pleasant, and is the best way to experience this lively beach town. There are also golf cart and bike rentals, private shuttles and taxis, if walking’s not your thing.

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