Tamarindo is a beach town on Costa Rica's north Pacific – the world-famous Gold Coast, best known for its white-sand beaches and spectacularly azure Pacific waters. The question is, when you're surrounded by all this beachy beauty, where should you go? What are the best beaches in Tamarindo? The good news: There are several. Seven, in fact. Seven beaches where you can spend your time surfing or swimming, sunbathing or sandcastle-building. Spend your time doing whatever you please, however you please. Welcome to Tamarindo!
Note: As at any beach in any area of the world, the currents at our Tamarindo favorites can be strong. Always ask about current conditions, before wading in for a swim!
1. Tamarindo Beach
We can't help but start with our very own Tamarindo Beach, the beach that put our town on the map (literally!). Tamarindo stretches for several miles of soft, blonde sands and surf that swings from tame to monster. Playa Tamarindo may be lined with restaurants and shops, but it's still incredibly picturesque – absolutely one of the best beaches in Tamarindo. (Imagine that!) Expect lots of palm trees, great surfer-watching, and plenty of warm sunshine.
2. Playa Langosta
Just a mile south of Tamarindo, down a dusty dirt road, stretch the white sands and rocky outcroppings of Playa Langosta. Less developed and quieter than its big brother, Langosta Beach offers a chill atmosphere and sea almond- and Guanacaste tree-lined beachfront. Calm tidal pools make it a favorite among families, and everyone loves Langosta for its picturesque setting, jaw-dropping sunsets, and easy convenience (=5 minutes) to all the surf shops, restaurants, and other amenities you appreciate for a day at the beach.
3. Playa Grande
Just across the estuary, north of Tamarindo, Playa Grande is a beach that needs almost no introduction. Sheltered within the boundaries of Las Baulas National Marine Park, Playa Grande is an important nesting site for leatherback turtles, the world's largest marine turtle and a vulnerable species. What's more, this expansive beach is also a hotspot for intermediate and advanced surfers, as well as a favorite among beach-goers who seek simply a quiet place to stroll, sunbathe, and build sand castles.
Note: To get to Playa Grande, always drive or take the lancha (about $1) across the estuary. There are crocodiles in the river, and they aren't shy.
4. Playa Avellanas
Consistently chosen as one of the best beaches in Central America, and certainly one of the best beaches in Tamarindo, Hacienda Pinilla's Playa Avellanas is a haven for surfers and beach lovers alike. Swells come in from the north and south here, fathering waves that reach as tall as 18 feet during high surfing season. That said, Avellanas is also beautiful and quiet, offering powder-soft sands, clean waters, and total tranquility.
Bonus: Playa Avellanas plays host to the extremely popular (we could even say famous!) Lola's restaurant, an amazing place to hang out, one of the top beach bars in Costa Rica, and just an all-around great place to chill and enjoy the sun!
5. Sugar Beach / Playa Pan de Azúcar
While Playa Avellanas consistently tops official lists, Sugar Beach is the clear favorite among Tamarindo locals. Known in Spanish as Playa Pan de Azúcar, this pristine beach is a natural paradise known as much for its white sands and blue ocean, as it is for its hooting monkeys, iguanas, and birdsong. If you're lucky, you may even spot deer on the sand! Even better, Sugar Beach is located off Tamarindo's beaten path in nearby Potrero – about a 45-minute drive away – so often (and especially in green season, from May through November), you'll have the beach almost to yourself.
6. Playa Conchal
No list of Tamarindo's best beaches would be complete without mention of Playa Conchal, one of Costa Rica's most scenic. Though popular and therefore somewhat populous (and yet, nowhere near the crowds of Oahu, for example), Playa Conchal is Costa Rica's only pink-sand beach – although more rosé than roses. Calm waters are excellent for swimming and snorkeling, while the beach's palm-lined sands practically beg you to pull up a beach chair and bathe in the golden sun.
7. Pirate's Cove
Another off-the-beaten path, local secret is Pirate's Cove, aka Playa Piratas. This little-known, oft-deserted beach, is about 45 minutes from Tamarindo and just south of Playa Conchal. (If you're up for a walk, it's about an hour's stroll north of Playa Grande.) The quiet sands are scenic and isolated and, even better, open onto calm swimming waters and lovely views of small, rocky off islands.
There you have it: our pick for the best beaches in Tamarindo. Let us know if you discover any new beaches to add to our list!