Our comprehensive Tamarindo travel guide explores Costa Rica’s Gold Coast – an iconic travel wonderland of cerulean sea and golden sands, tropical dry forest and hidden waterfalls, beachfront restaurants and ocean-view nightlife. In other words, paradise.

From things to do and budget advice, to attraction information and places to stay, our travel guide to Tamarindo uncovers some of the world’s best surfing, most beautiful beaches, and most epic sunsets. Welcome!

Costa Rica Wellness: Start 2023 by Planning a Good-for-You Vacation

sunset surfing Tamarindo Costa Rica 16 9

Planning on Costa Rica 2023? Thinking about a retreat to Costa Rica wellness – whatever that means to you?

We may be biased, but that’s about as good as New Year’s resolutions get. After all, what better intention can we have, than to improve our lives, build happiness and joy into our year, and plan on something that will nurture our physical, emotional, and mental health?

Because science says, vacation is good for you! We have the proof.

Good for You: The Sun & The Sand & The Great Outdoors

Rincon de la Vieja Volcano hiking 16 9

If you don’t already know it, then you’ve likely intuited it: Getting outdoors has been proven to be good for your health. Really good.

Did you know that regular travel has been shown to significantly impact your overall health? So much so that women who travel twice a year or more have a statistically significant lower risk of heart attack, while men who vacationed at least annually had a reduced risk of death and especially of a heart attack.

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Visiting Tamarindo, Costa Rica: Hotels vs. Airbnb vs. Vacation Specialist

Playa Grande Costa Rica aerial view

As you begin planning your vacation, the question arises: should you be looking at Tamarindo, Costa Rica hotels? How about and Tamarindo, Costa Rica Airbnb Vrbo options? And is there any other option out there that you’re missing?

Spoiler alert: Yes, there is.

Because in Costa Rica, you also have the option of working with an expert vacation specialist, who can not only connect you to the accommodations of your choosing but also to transportation, tours and activities, private services, and more.

The question is, which option is right for you? Let’s break it down.

Comparing: The Basics

Decades ago, there were two basic options in travel: work with a travel agent or go it on your own. There were pros and cons to each – namely, that travel agents were expensive (and charged a hefty markup) but DIY travel was still very basic, with little more than a dogeared guidebook and a landline phone to help you through the process.

Luckily, the internet has changed – and dramatically elevated – your travel planning options.

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Things to Do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica: The BEST Times to Visit in 2023

Tamarindo Aerial View

Whether you’re here for the tropical sun or have specific wish-list items regarding things to do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, our tiny nation is forever serving up joy, surprise, natural beauty, and scenic wonder.

That said, there’s a season for every kind of trip and every type of traveler. The key is in knowing who you are and the trip you’d like to take. Are you a sunshine-and-beach kind of vacationer or a must-see-and-do-this-specific-thing family? Because Costa Rica’s here for you, if you’re only willing the plan a little.

Here’s the general rule of thumb: Don’t assume it’ll be the right season for XYZ when you’re here; instead, make sure you’re here during the right season for XYZ. And for everything else, there’s our wonderful, personable, and extremely knowledgeable concierge, Cris, who can help make your vacation dreams come true.

In the meantime, let’s start dreaming!

If You… Love the SUN!

Visit: December-April

Playa Grande Costa Rica aerial view

Costa Rica’s dry season would be better known as the sun season! From about mid-December through April – and, given specific climatic conditions, often into May – the entire country sees all-day, never-ending sun. We’re talking Mother Nature’s closest guarantee to warm, tropical, and sunrise-to-sunset sun.

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Our Top Costa Rica Family Vacation Rentals & Group Activities in Tamarindo

take an extended family vacation in Costa Rica

The family that plays together, enjoys vacation together!

When it comes to group and/or family vacations, success often boils down to balancing your group’s varied activity levels, interests, and travel styles. You’ll probably start by looking for Costa Rica family vacation rentals that meet at least your basic needs and hopefully fulfill many of your wishlist items. Then, you’ll transition into what you’ll do and where.

It’s a lot but it’s exciting. Quick reminder: We’re always here to help. (Concierge Cris is a literal pro at balancing everyone’s needs and would-love-to-haves!) But to get you started, here are a few of our favorite family and group-friendly activities (jump down for Costa Rica family vacation rentals!).

Tamarindo Activities for Group & Family Vacations

As soon as you go down the rabbit hole of activities, adventures, attractions, and all other manner of things to do in Costa Rica, you’re almost immediately overwhelmed. The sheer variety – and then, the variety within the varieties – is staggering.

Don’t let yourself fall prey to FOMO (fear of missing out): It’s great to say “no” to the activities that won’t suit your family or group, whether due to travel style, interests, physical activity levels, or age (many high-adventure tours have lower age limits for kids). To help guide you in the right direction, here are eight of our favorite family-friendly activities that are high on fun but not too extreme to please the majority.

Catamaran Sailing

Tamarindo bar-restaurants offer excellent sunset views

There’s nothing quite like a Tamarindo sunset, and that’s why we know there’s nothing quite like our Tamarindo sunset tours. Don’t let your family miss out!

There’s almost no easier way to please your group or family than booking a catamaran sail. Available as private or standard cruises, in the morning or afternoon (sunset sail), these Tamarindo mainstays are popular for a reason: they’re a lot of fun!

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Best Days Trips from Tamarindo: 6 Ideas to Inspire Your Planning

One of the greatest (and yet, often unsung) advantages of staying on Guanacaste’s Gold Coast? There are dozens of incredible day trips from Tamarindo, many within just a two-hour drive.

From active volcanoes and their medicinal hot springs to Class III-V river rapids and some of Central America’s most incredible birdwatching, here are six of our favorite things to do near Tamarindo:

Day Trip Idea: Rincón de la Vieja National Park

Drive Time: 2 hours

Waterfall View at Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Yup, totally worth it. | Photo courtesy Miguel Vieira

As day trips from Tamarindo go, Rincón de la Vieja is one of the best. This ancient volcano, wreathed in legend, is as incredibly scenic as it is high adventure. And there are three ways to enjoy it!

Option #1: Buena Vista Lodge

This scenic cattle hacienda and mountain retreat is one of our favorite destinations in the foothills of Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. Here, within the thick foliage of rainforest-covered slopes, panoramic vistas unfold onto breathtaking views of Costa Rica’s northwest plains, rolling cattle country and, on a clear day, two sister volcanic cones – all the way in Nicaragua!

In shorthand, we like to think of this one as Option Adrenaline-Packed Fun: This is a great choice if you want to combine sightseeing with some seriously action-packed fun. It begins with a horseback ride or hike to a refreshing waterfall, followed by a 400-meter water slide built into the mountain and powered by a freshwater stream.

Then, relax in Rincón de la Vieja-heated thermal hot springs. Indulge in the sauna. And treat yourself to skin-pampering, therapeutic mineral mud.

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Why Costa Rica Should Be Your Pick for Travel in 2022 & 2023

Costa Rica spring break in TamarindoAs you begin to plan your upcoming travels, we have a few compelling reasons why they could (and even should) be trips to Costa Rica in 2022 or 2023. ¡Pura vida!

It’s not because Costa Rica deserves it. It’s because you deserve it.

You deserve to stroll, lounge, and fall in love with some of the world’s best beaches. You deserve a destination that fulfills your every sloth-loving, birdwatching, monkey-must wildlife dreams. You deserve a vacation where you can just relax. You deserve to go somewhere that exemplifies the values you hold most dear. And you deserve a place that takes only a few hours to reach and won’t make you jump through hoops.

You – yes, you – deserve Costa Rica. Welcome to the best decision for your 2022/2023 wanderings. You’re going to be so happy you came. And we’re going to be so happy you visited!

Reason #1: We Have Some of the Best Beaches in the World

pink sands of Playa Conchal

It’s no surprise that Playa Conchal, a beach famous for its pink sands, which come courtesy of crushed seashells, was voted the World’s Best Beach in 2022. Just check out that turquoise water!

A nation fortuitously placed between two oceans – the Pacific and the Atlantic/Caribbean – it’s no surprise that Costa Rica is home to at least 300 incredibly beautiful, incredibly diverse beaches. And, specifically, some of the planet’s most incredible, beautiful, and best beaches in the world.

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Costa Rica Group Travel: 9 Tips for Planning the Perfect Vacation

Golfing - Things to do in Tamarindo Costa Rica

Group travel – be it a family reunion, friend groups, couples, or multiple families traveling together – can be an incredibly enjoyable, unforgettable experience. It can also be a tad (sarcasm alert!) tricky to plan. Luckily, we’ve pulled together the 9 expert tips for your Costa Rica group travel planning:

Tip #1: Give Yourselves Time to Plan

To minimize planning stress and maximize your available options, ideally, you’ll begin planning your Costa Rica group trip at least a year in advance.

We know – someone, somewhere, is reading this and saying, “but I’ve planned a group trip just three months out!” And, you’re right: Given the right circumstances, the right conditions, and just a bit of luck, you can plan group travel on a tight timeframe. We just wouldn’t recommend it.

The benefits of planning in advance are several, but they mostly revolve around your stress levels and getting everything you want: The narrower the timeframe, the harder it is for your entire group to plan for time off of work or other commitments, the fewer group-sized vacation villas are available, the more booked are your desired tours and excursions, the higher the airfare (typically), and so on. And with all that on your plate, you’re more likely to feel pressured than excited. And you want to feel excited!

So, if you can, start planning group travel 9-18 months (preferably 12+ months) in advance.

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Post-COVID – How Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica is Thriving

fire dancers on Tamarindo beach

Every night when the sun goes down, Playa Tamarindo lights up with markets, nightlife, and fire dancing

It was a long haul. But we’ve made it from there to here and today, Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica is thriving in our post-COVID world. From new restaurants and newer entertainment to memorable moments and returns of old favorites, our vibrant beach town is once again ready to party. And boy, are we ready.

Since we’re here on the ground, living in the Tamarindo area and soaking up every chance to thrive, enjoy, and have a blast, we thought we’d fill you in on all the fun that awaits in 2022. To start, know this:

April 1, 2022: Costa Rica Drops COVID Entry Requirements

As of April 1, 2022, Costa Rica has eliminated its COVID travel requirements. Tourists are no longer required to take a COVID test before entry, or show proof of vaccination, or purchase COVID health/quarantine insurance, or fill out the Costa Rican Health Pass. Entry to Costa Rica is exactly as it was pre-pandemic: Show your passport, get your entry stamp, and enjoy!

(Note that, depending on your country of residence or return, you may be required to take a COVID test before your flight home. Please check your home and/or transit country’s COVID requirements!)

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Top Tamarindo Instagram Must-Visits & Must-Stays

Soul House

When it comes down to it, your Tamarindo Instagram must-visits should be about your priorities, your vacation style, and however you define “perfect”

When it comes down to it, your Tamarindo Instagram must-visits should be about your priorities, your vacation style, and your however you define “perfect”

There’s something so very appealing about framing a perfect photo or snapping a shot at just the right moment. It’s more than a rush; it’s the kind of vacation alchemy that imprints on your soul, forever tying this one perfect moment to that one perfect photo. And that’s where our favorite Tamarindo Instagram spots and vacation rentals come in.

Because these are the kind of places where alchemy sizzles in the air. They’re almost begging for you to shoot your shot, in both the literal and figurative senses. So, give yourself over to the feeling. Be a little daring. Wade into the water and kayak out toward the horizon. Chase that next photo, not for the ‘gram but for the moment, the memory, and the feeling that you’ll then immortalize through your Instagram.

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What You Can Expect From Your Tamarindo Vacation with Stay in Tamarindo

aerial view of Playa Avellanas

The internet is full of Big Promises: Best-of this and once-in-a-lifetime thats – so many superlatives that they lose their meaning. So, by the time we say that we offer some of the best Tamarindo vacation rentals and that we are dedicated to the highest quality everything, you’re already numb.

What does “best” mean when it comes to vacation rentals? What does high quality even refer to? We’re glad you asked.

Because, truly, this is important to us. For years, Stay in Tamarindo has worked to not only create high traveler expectations, but to fulfill them. We really are best-in-class, and we have the non-superlative, long(ish) answers to explain it all:

Quality of Service

At Stay in Tamarindo, we are dedicated to the highest quality of service. This is the beating heart of what we do: In all things, our services – your experience, joy, and satisfaction – are always our top priority.

It’s a complicated promise to summarize, because “quality of service” infuses absolutely everything that we do. Here’s what we mean:

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