Tamarindo is a veritable paradise of wildlife watching and nature tours – a place where saltwater jungles stretch for acres and mangrove forest feeds into a sparkling Pacific. A place where sea turtles nest on protected beach, monkeys frolic in the trees, whales breach off golden sands, and heron stand sentry.

Wildly Fun: Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge

Mangrove Kayaks

Take a kayak tour into the wilds of Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge

Saltwater jungles. Lumbering leatherback sea turtles. Otherworldly mangrove estuaries. Winding canals. Lizards, running on water. Behind-the-scenes boat tours. Yes, Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge is fascinating and often, a bit magical.

We admit it freely: We love our wildlife refuge! Even more so because it encompasses our entire coastline. Indeed, almost anywhere you walk on Tamarindo’s beaches, you’re walking through the Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge.

But it’s about a lot more than just the beach. Indeed, while – in wildlife refuge terms, at least! – the beaches serve as important sea turtle nesting sites, there’s more to see here. More, to the tune of incredible mangrove forests, connected through winding saltwater and brackish canals. It’s wildlife central and it’s right in our backyard, if only you know where to look.

Overview:

Location: Tamarindo

Size: 953 acres (385 hectares)

Altitude: Sea Level

Contact (Tempisque Conservation Area): 2686-4967 / 2686-4968

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9 Ways to Upgrade Your Tamarindo Vacation

Tamarindo vacation upgrade private sailing tour

This moment can be yours. All yours. Welcome to our favorite upgrades to your Tamarindo vacation!

So, you’ve done it. You’ve finally booked your trip to Costa Rica. You bought the airfare. You reserved your Tamarindo vacation rental. And you’re thisclose to your dream Tamarindo vacation.

You have just a few details to iron out. Well, maybe more than a few.

Because you have no idea what you want to do while you’re here. Or rather, you know exactly what you’d like to do. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough time to do it all. Well, not unless you’re here for six months.

So, what’s a traveler to do? Prioritize, that’s what. Because, as difficult as it may be to narrow down your Tamarindo vacation preferences, it’s an unfortunate necessity. Your trip (and your sanity) deserve it. (And don’t worry, whatever you can’t fit in now will be perfect for your next visit!)

Luckily, we’re here to help. We’re here, on the ground. We’re here, doing it all so you don’t have to. We work with delighted travelers every day. And so, we know – we know the best upgrades, must-book tours, and other activities you can’t miss on your Tamarindo vacation.

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Big Five: More Costa Rican Animals You Can’t Wait to Spot

Costa Rican animals: the keel-billed toucan

The keel-billed toucan is one of our favorite Costa Rican animals!

A promise is a promise! In our first overview of Costa Rica’s Big Five, we came clean and admitted we couldn’t narrow it down to just five Costa Rican animals.

After all, Costa Rica is home to a whopping 6% of the world’s total biodiversity, in space as small as just 0.3% of the Earth’s surface. That’s packing it pretty tight, in ratio terms. Pretty tight under any terms, really. Because, did you know? Costa Rica is home to an estimated 500,000 species (including 1,251 species of butterflies alone!).

Admittedly, that would be a lot to see while you’re here. In fact, it may be a tad over-optimistic to hope you’ll see them all. So, in our continuing mission to help you narrow it down, may we present our next round of our Big Five: 5 more Costa Rican animals to put on your must-see list:

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Off the Beaten Path in Costa Rica: Guide to Rincón de la Vieja

Rincon de la Vieja Volcano

Costa Rica’s Rincón de la Vieja National Park is a favorite!

Known as the park with a watery skin and a fiery heart, Rincón de la Vieja National Park is one of Costa Rica’s steamiest and coolest attractions, in every sense of the word. Here, still-active volcanoes and boiling mud pots meet cold-water cascades and misty cloud forest – a startling and striking combination of many natural wonders, conveniently distilled into one awesome national park.

And yet, for all its delights, Rincón de la Vieja National Park remains one of Guanacaste’s best-kept secrets. On any given day, you’re likely to meet only a few other tourists at the park. The reason? Access. Located a hop, skip, and more than a few bumps up rustic gravel roads, Rincón de la Vieja is not the easiest drive in Costa Rica. But is it worth it? You bet.

Rincon de la Vieja National Park Overview:

Location: 17 miles northeast of Liberia; 62 miles (2 hours) northeast of Tamarindo

Founded: May 10, 1974

Maximum Altitude: 6,286 feet above sea level

Area: 34,908 acres (divided into two sectors: Las Pailas and Santa Maria)

Hours: Las Pailas: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday; Santa Maria: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Sunday

Telephone: 2666-5051

Entrance Fee: $15 adults / $5 children

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A Guide to Costa Rica’s Active Volcanoes: They’re Dynamite!

Costa Rica Volcanoes

Of Costa Rica’s active volcanoes, Arenal Volcano is the most photogenic

Costa Rica is home to an impressive 200+ volcanic formations, some dating to more than 65 million years. That said, only half show any signs of activity at all, and just a handful are classified as active volcanoes.

But first, a general overview: Costa Rica’s volcanoes speckle the country’s three volcanic ranges: the Guanacaste Volcanic Range (home to the Rincón de la Vieja, Orosi, Miravalles, Tenorio, and Arenal Volcanoes, among others); the Central Volcanic Range (comprised of the Poás, Barva, Irazú, and Turrialba Volcanoes, among others); and the Talamanca Volcanic Range (home to El Viejo Volcano).

But, back to active volcanoes in Costa Rica. Of the 200 volcanic formations, just seven are considered historically active: Rincón de la Vieja, Poás, Arenal, Irazú, Turrialba, and Tenorio, plus the not-so-active Miravalles, which emitted just a puff of steam way back in 1946. The things a volcano will do to be classified as active…

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Costa Rican Wildlife Watching: The “Big Five”

Howler monkeys are iconic Costa Rican wildlife

Costa Rican wildlife is so varied, it’s impossible to narrow it down to the top 5!

Hey Africa, you may have the Big Five of safari wildlife, but Costa Rican wildlife is pretty impressive, too! From gargantuan reptiles, to startlingly-hued amphibians, to smiling sloths, our “Big Five” will delight your mind and dazzle your camera lens.

Admittedly, it’s difficult to narrow down Costa Rica’s animal species to the Top 5. Impossible, really. So much so, that we’re going to wimp out and call this a Big Five. The country’s wildlife is simply too diverse to narrow it down to just five must-see species. So, we’ll start with these. But, we guarantee, we won’t be able to stop here. More amazing animals, to come!

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Tamarindo Day Trip: Turtle Tour to Las Baulas National Marine Park

leatherback turtle at Las Baulas National Marine Park

An endangered leatherback sea turtle crawls toward the sea at Playa Grande in Las Baulas National Marine Park.

At a Glance

Location: Playa Grande, north of Tamarindo

Area: 901 terrestrial acres, 54,000 marine acres

Hours: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

Telephone: 2653-0470 / 2653-2233

Park Entrance Fee: $12 (Tour extra)

Las Baulas National Marine Park – one of the largest nesting sites in the world for the vulnerable/endangered leatherback turtle – sweeps north of Tamarindo, encompassing the beaches of Playa Grande, Playa Ventanas, and Playa Carbón, plus hundreds of acres of mangrove forest.

For nature lovers, a Las Baulas turtle tour to watch these gentle giants lay their eggs is, undoubtedly, a must-visit during your Tamarindo vacation. (Note: Turtle nesting is a rare occasion so, before you book a tour, be sure to verify current conditions.)

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Turtle Watching 101: Costa Rica Turtle Nesting – Where to Go & When

leatherback turtle in Costa Rica

An endangered leatherback sea turtle crawls toward the sea at Playa Grande on the Northwest coast of Costa Rica. Leatherback hatchling survival is closely tied to temperatures within the nest and a new study indicates that rising average temperatures over the course of the century could reduce hatching success by as much as 60 percent.

The official log may record about two million visitors to Costa Rica every year, but that number doesn’t include the additional tens of thousands of sea turtles that grace our beaches. Indeed – Costa Rica turtle nesting is a Big Deal here on the Rich Coast.

Year after year, five species of sea turtles – olive ridleys, leatherbacks, loggerheads, hawksbills, and green sea turtles – come to shore every year. These gentle sea giants, which are classified as vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered species, lay hundreds of thousands of eggs on Costa Rican beaches. Weeks later, their tiny hatchlings emerge from sandy nests, to make their way to the sea.

Whether you’re a fierce animal lover, a wildlife conservationist, or just your average tourist, sea turtle nesting is a must for your To Do list. The sight itself, not to mention the environmental significance, are not only incredible to witness but also deeply moving – something everyone should see for themselves, at least once.

Costa Rica turtle nesting happens year-round on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, although your chances of spotting turtles increase during the green season months of May through November. So, where and when should you book a turtle tour? We have all the info you need.

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