One of the best things about Costa Rica’s Gold Coast? The sheer variety of our Tamarindo daytrips! Tamarindo day trips take you to active volcanoes and turtle-nesting beaches, historic sites and wildlife refuges – to the depth and breadth of Costa Rica’s natural, cultural and historical offerings.

What to Do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica: 23 of the Best Activities

manta ray underwater

Costa Rica’s Catalinas Islands are one of the world’s top sights to spot giant manta rays. No wonder it makes our short list of what to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica!

So, you’re wondering what to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica? You’ve picked a good place to ask yourself that question: Tamarindo is one of Costa Rica’s beach hubs, offering a blend of urban convenience – and by urban, we mean a single mile(ish) of sandy road that borders the Pacific and dozens of excellent restaurants, bars, and activities – and Costa Rican charm.

This is the best of all worlds. So, it’s no wonder that we have 23 answers to what to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica .

  1. Go Surfing

Witchs rock surfing

Wondering what to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica? Surfing certainly tops the list of options.

Tamarindo may be known for many things, but we’d argue that spectacular surf is probably our greatest claim to fame. It’s also a point of pride, as our massive waves , huge breaks , and pounding surf  have tested, bested, and inspired surfers for decades. Surfers make pilgrimages to Tamarindo and our surrounds. Yeah, we’re that  good. So, that’s #1 on our list of what to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

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Our Favorite Tamarindo Tours on Land

Half Day ATV Tour

And now, you are here: On secluded Playa Fill-in-your-Favorite, inaccessible by road but accessible to your ATV. Thankfully! This is the perfect welcome to our favorite Tamarindo tours on land…

When you come to Costa Rica (and especially Tamarindo), you’re probably thinking about the beach, the ocean, and the sun. You’re probably not thinking about all the Tamarindo tours and things to do on land – away from the sand, the sea, and the sun.

But, here’s the thing: You should be. You should absolutely, positively be thinking about all the things that Costa Rica’s dry forests, savannah lands, mountains, and volcanoes have on offer. Because, we’re talking high-octane adventure and sunset horseback rides,wildlife explorations and breathtaking mountain biking. We’re talking Tamarindo tours that will stamp indelible memories onto your time in Costa Rica.

While we’re on the topic (and if you’re still in sand-sea-sun mode), check out our favorite Tamarindo water tours, volcano tours, and all our favorite things to do.

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Tamarindo Day Trip: Beach Hopping

Playa Conchal near Tamarindo

Playa Conchal is famous for its pink sands, which come courtesy of crushed seashells. And check out that turquoise water! No wonder it’s one of the most famous Tamarindo beaches…

There’s something special about doing nothing – or, almost nothing – when you’re on vacation. For at least a day. Live a little! Because you deserve the relaxation. The sand between your toes. And the joy of a day at the beach. Ten of them, actually. Beaches, not days, that is. Because we’re beach-hopping on another Tamarindo day trip!

We’ve mapped our favorite Tamarindo beaches from north to south, starting a little more than an hour north of downtown. Along the way, if you see any stretch of sand that calls to you, stop! Make it eleven, or twelve, or twenty beaches. And, be sure to bring your camera!

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Tamarindo Day Trip: Las Pumas Rescue Center

jaguar Panthera onca-min

Jaguars, Costa Rica’s biggest wildcats, are just one of the five big cat species you’ll find at Las Pumas Rescue Center

We like to say that in nature, there are no guarantees. What that means is that, while Costa Rica is an incredibly biodiverse country where more than 25% of all land is reserved for national parks, wildlife refuges, and reserves – habitats to some of the densest wild animal populations in the world – there’s no guarantee you’ll spot a specific animal. Especially if that animal is elusive. Enter Las Pumas Rescue Center, or El Centro de Rescate Las Pumas.

Las Pumas is a wildlife rescue center, taking in the injured, the orphaned, and the illegally captured. Their goal: To provide necessary medical care and rehabilitate these animals, hopefully for release back into their natural habitats. What this means for us: Guaranteed animal sightings and a feel-good, do-good kind of day, where you not only see some animals but put your tourism dollars toward a worthy nonprofit. 

Need to Know:

Location: About 2 hours east of Tamarindo and 4.5 miles outside of Cañas, on the Interamerican Highway en route to Liberia

Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday-Sunday

Cost: $8 children & students / $12 adults

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Spotlight on: Tamarindo Day Tours to Make the Most When Time is Short (Part 1)

Tamarindo day tour to Monteverde cloud forest

Welcome to a world very different from our own. Swap sand for epiphytes and sun for misty cloud forest in Monteverde, a favorite Tamarindo day tour!

You’ve made it. You’re in Costa Rica. You’ve arrived at Tamarindo. The sun is shining. The waves are crashing. Your feet are buried in sand. There’s probably a cold drink in your hand. Life feels pretty perfect.

And then, you overhear someone talking about that trip they took yesterday. You know – the one to the volcanic hot springs or the tropical cloud forest, to the roaring river or to hike on once-active lava flows, to an incredible waterfall or a birding paradise. And suddenly, the sun doesn’t feel so warm and the sand isn’t quite as pleasing.

FOMO, or fear of missing out, is a very real thing when you’re on vacation. After all, when you’ve traveled all the way to Costa Rica, you want to pack it all in. You want to see and experience all (or, at least most!) of this spectacular country. We get it. And, we’re here to help. Because, the last thing we want is for you to miss out. Don’t miss out. Do it all – or, all that you want – with these time-saving Tamarindo day tours. (Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!)

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Off the Beaten Path: A Visit to Guaitil, the Pottery Capital of Costa Rica

Guaitil, cradle of Chorotega pottery

Guaitil, the cradle of Chorotega culture and pottery, is lined with samples of the craft | Photo courtesy of Lydia Chow

Guaitil – pronounced, more or less, wy-teel – is the Costa Rica you’ve probably never heard of. And yet, you should have. Everyone should have. Because Guaitil is one of those special kinds of places that you cannot experience anywhere else.

This is your invitation to step back into a thousand years of tradition, to experience the Costa Rica of another millennia – before the conquistadors, before modernization, before Costa Rica even was Costa Rica. Guaitil is living, breathing history.

Guaitil is a Chorotega indigenous village, named for the dye-giving Guaitil tree and situated in Guanacaste and less than an hour from Tamarindo. It is a complete escape from the norm and exploration of tradition – a dusty, rugged town known best for its pottery. And, in our opinion, just as deservingly for its food. But we’ll get there in a moment.

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Tamarindo Overnight Trip: Explosive Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano is Costa Rica’s most famous volcano – and one of our favorite day trips (even better: overnight trips!) from Tamarindo.

On slopes where once flowed destructive red-hot lava, now grows an explosion of rainforest riches: soaring palms, dense foliage, and jewel-toned tropical blooms. And, lest you forget its origins, the occasional (yet tamer) belch from a mostly-sleeping-sometimes-rumbling active volcano.

Indeed, while a nightly lava show used to draw visitors to the region, today Arenal Volcano relies on much more than Mother Nature’s red-hot fireworks. This is a town dedicated to diversion, relaxation, and a full suite of adventure: soaring canopy ziplines, exhilarating waterfall rappelling, frothing white-water rafting, volcanic hot springs, shadowy cave spelunking, and so much more.

Oh, so very much more.

Because, this is Arenal Volcano. And this is one of our most popular overnight tours from Tamarindo. Trust us, it’s worth the drive.

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Costa Rica Turtle Watching: Ostional Wildlife Refuge

Costa Rica turtle watching at Ostional

Looking for the best Costa Rica turtle watching tour? There’s no better place than Ostional Wildlife Refuge.

When was the last time you visited one of the world’s most important anythings? Welcome to Ostional Wildlife Refuge which, according to the World Wildlife Fund, is “one of the two most important areas in the world for nesting of the olive ridley turtle.” Indeed, this is the place for nearly guaranteed Costa Rica turtle watching. The place in the world, specifically.

Every year, millions of sea turtles lumber onto the beaches of Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. Every year, millions of sea turtles are born on the beaches of Ostional Wildlife Refuge. And every year, thousands of lucky visitors come to these beaches to witness this spectacular event.

And it’s not just that. While olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) are most common at Ostional – up to 150,000 (yes, you read that right!) can come ashore during a single nesting event – leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) and Pacific green turtles (Chelonia mydas agassizii) are also known to nest here.

Alert, alert! As of this post (September 2018), it’s high turtle season and we’re experiencing one of the largest arribadas of the year.

So, who’s ready for some Costa Rica turtle watching?

Ostional Wildlife Refuge At-A-Glance: 

Location: 65 miles south of Tamarindo

Founded: 1982 (declared a protected area) and 1984 (refuge formed)

Maximum Altitude: Sea level

Area: 180 acres; the refuge is part of the greater Tempisque Conservation Area (= tens of thousands of protected acres)

Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Telephone: 2682-0470

Entrance Fee: $15 adults / $5 children

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Looking for a Major Adrenaline Rush? Don’t Miss this Combo Tamarindo ATV Tour + Canopy Zipline!

Tamarindo ATV tour to secluded beaches

You are here: On the best Tamarindo ATV tour, roaring through dusty backroads, carving out your own secret passage to three of Costa Rica’s most beautiful and secluded beaches. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Imagine this: You’re clinging to the side of a mountain, racing up a country background. The wind’s in your hair and the ocean’s at your back. A cloud of dust billows out behind you, a puff of earth to trace your progress up the bumpy dirt road.

Or this: You’re teetering who-knows-how-high above the jungle floor, your toes curled over the edge of a treetop platform. Behind you, your guide chants, “One, two, three – JUMP!” Suddenly, you’re flying.

Or this: You’re speeding through arid countryside, cutting a swath through scrub and sand. It’s your own secret passage – an off-the-road shortcut to a no-road-access nearly deserted beach.

Welcome to the world’s best adrenaline rush, as only Costa Rica can offer it!

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Tamarindo Day Trip: Guide to Diria National Park

Howler Monkey

How about a howler monkey welcome to Diria National Park?

Guanacaste is home to eight national parks, each known for their vast habitats, natural beauty, and varied wildlife. You’ve probably heard of many of them: from leatherback turtle beaches at our own Las Baulas National Marine Park to the canals of Palo Verde National Park, Guanacaste is famous for its parks. Except one. One that flies decidedly under the radar.

Welcome to Guanacaste’s best-kept secret. Kick off your flip-flops and get out your hiking shoes. We’re going to Diria National Park!

Here, what was once a protected area is now a national park – an upgrade courtesy of Diria National Park’s varied ecosystems, strong conservation efforts, and entertainment value. That’s right, Diria is not only beautiful but also a fun place to visit: Filled with crystal-clear river waters, a majestic waterfall, interwoven trails, and an abundance of birds, mammals, and other animal species.

Diria National Park Overview: 

Location: 10 miles south of Santa Cruz

Founded: 1991 (became a national park in 2004)

Maximum Altitude: 5,905 feet (1,800 meters) above sea level

Area: 13,410 acres

Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Telephone: 2686-4968 / 2686-4970

Entrance Fee: $6 adults / $5 children

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