Destination Overview: Playa Flamingo Travel Guide
This mile-long, crescent-shaped strip of white-sand Playa Flamingo is the Costa Rica of postcards: shade-lined coast, pristine beaches, and turquoise water so clear, you can count the dots of the spotted rays that glide just beneath the ocean’s surface. Our Playa Flamingo travel guide lets you in on the secret.
Add in a convenient location (just an hour from the international airport), one of the country’s most important (and largest) marinas, record-breaking inshore and offshore sport fishing, an overflowing menu of water sports, lavish vacation rentals, and some truly spectacular scenery (with the wildlife to match), and it’s easy to see why Playa Flamingo is one of Costa Rica’s most popular “hidden” gems.
Playa Flamingo Overview:
Location: North-Pacific Costa Rica, aka The Gold Coast, about 15 miles (23 km) north of Tamarindo
Average Temperature: 75-96º F (23-36º C)
Landscape: Lots of tropical ocean, dry and wet forest, and desert-like landscapes (inland)
Closest Airport: Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) – about 65 minutes
Top Activities: Surfing, Catamaran Sailing, Snorkeling & Scuba Diving, Horseback Riding, Sports Fishing, Golf, and Swimming
Top Attractions: Beaches, Catalina Islands (scuba & snorkeling), Las Baulas National Marine Park
Great for: Couples & Honeymooners, Anglers, Families & Family Reunions, Destination Weddings, Nature Lovers
We Recommend: If you’ve ever dreamed of battling for an epic catch, you cannot miss out on Flamingo’s world-renowned and truly incredible sport fishing.
About Playa Flamingo:
Idyllic Playa Flamingo, aka Flamingo Beach (or just, “Flamingo”), carves out a white, sandy crescent from Guanacaste’s famed Gold Coast. Nearly a mile of powdery sands line this stretch of gentle water and even gentler beauty: seas so clear, you can see the rays and fish swimming beneath the surface, and forests so inviting that sloths, howler monkeys, and wild parrots are regular sightings.
Indeed, the curved bay of Playa Flamingo is almost impossibly striking, with its scattering of buttonwood trees, turquoise waters, and often near-deserted beaches. Add in one of Costa Rica’s largest marinas and a healthy dose of awesome sights and activities, including epic sport fishing, superb stand-up paddle boarding, and beachfront horseback riding, and you have a beach town that promises a lot more than a suntan.
But, let’s back up. Home to one of the country’s most important marinas and world-renowned sport fishing, one might assume that Flamingo would be booming. The truth is, however, that Playa Flamingo – a tranquil beach town just 15 miles north of Tamarindo, and thus often lumped into the umbrella “Tamarindo” region – feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle (and hopping nightlife) of its bigger, more cosmopolitan brother.
Indeed, Flamingo is a sleepier, sandier, and definitely quieter town where you have no choice but to relax and reset your internal clock to reflect the pace of the tropics. And yet, Playa Flamingo also sports excellent restaurants and luxurious vacation homes, unforgettable things to see and do and eclectic souvenir shopping – all this, packed into a compact town that measures less than a mile from north to south. Our Playa Flamingo travel guide takes you there.
Of course, Flamingo Beach is much more than powder-soft sands and good restaurants: surrounded by crystalline Pacific and a cacophony of wildlife, this beachfront paradise is a haven for adventure tours, leisure pursuits, ocean adventures, and nature-watching. We even have an oceanfront, world-class, 18-hole golf course at Hacienda Pinilla, and another championship course at nearby Reserva Conchal.
So, let’s start with the musts to add to your bucket list: the golden sun that demands you lounge, warm and clear waters perfect for swimming, and luxury yachts that beg for an afternoon jaunt. Add in leatherback turtle-watching, canopy tours, snorkeling and scuba diving, and that world-class sport fishing, and we’ve still just scratched the surface of this Playa Flamingo travel guide.
And that’s because Playa Flamingo is also close to just about everything: about 60 minutes to the newly expanded Daniel Odúber International Airport in Liberia, and even closer to nearby draws including Nosara and the Ostional Wildlife Refuge (more turtles!), Rincón de la Vieja National Park, Playas del Coco, Palo Verde National Park, and so much more.
With no shortage of things to see, places to explore, and great vacation homes to stay, this pristine town has options for every traveler, every adventurer, and every leisure pursuit. Our Playa Flamingo travel guide will get you up to speed.
When to Visit:
In Costa Rica, there are two seasons: the dry season (December-May) and the green/rainy season (June-November). But, Playa Flamingo is a little different.
Of course, there is a sunny “dry” season and a wetter “green” season, but the fishing is excellent all year. Beyond that, as far as tourism is concerned, Flamingo also has a high summer season and a mid-season. Here’s a quick overview:
- Dry Season (Dec through Easter): Sun galore! And an almost-zero percent chance of rain. As a result, the highest prices of the year.
- Mid-Season (Easter to mid-June): Also called shoulder season, this represents a great bang for your buck: a good chance of all-day sun but lower prices.
- Summer Season (mid-June through mid-August): A mid-year rise to prices just under those of the true high season.
- Green Season (mid-August through mid-Dec): Daily rains drop prices to their lowest point of the year.
When you visit will, of course, depend on your schedule. But, you should know that there’s something to love about Playa Flamingo, every month of the year.
Things to Do in Playa Flamingo:
Playa Flamingo may be low on crowds, but it’s packed with plenty to do, see, and experience. From world-record sport fishing, to unforgettable whale and turtle sightings, to heart-pounding canopy tours, our Playa Flamingo travel guide introduces you to some of the area’s most popular (and must-do) activities. Where’d you put that bucket list?
Sport Fishing: Flamingo’s deep-sea fishing is top-notch and we’ll hook you up with the BEST boat and the BEST crew ever! Both inshore and offshore sport fishing are available, with common catches including marlin, sailfish, yellow-fin tuna, roosterfish, and wahoo. Marlin fishing peaks December-February.
Surfing & SUP: Playa Flamingo isn’t quite the surf paradise that Tamarindo is, but it’s no slouch, either! The crescent’s waves are gentle – perfect for beginners. And, if you want to test your balance while you sightsee, rent a stand-up paddle board (SUP) by the hour or day, and get paddling out to sea.
Catamaran Sailing: Playa Flamingo’s luxurious yachts offer up half- and full-day sails, with your choice of snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, or dolphin & whale watching, followed by a beautiful Pacific sunset. Snacks, meals and sometimes booze are included.
Turtle Nesting: Just 10 miles (18 km) down the road from Playa Flamingo, neighboring Las Baulas National Park is an internationally renowned destination for nesting leatherbacks (the world’s largest sea turtle!). Time it right, and you can be there to see them lay their eggs and/or hatch.
Snorkeling & Scuba Diving: Flamingo is well known for its excellent snorkeling, especially during the rainier months of May through October, when visibility reaches up to 80 feet. Tours depart daily for the Catalina Islands, a small archipelago just a 20-minute boat ride from Flamingo; expect to see all manner of undersea life, including nurse, whale, and white-tipped reef sharks, as well as cow-nosed, devil, and spotted eagle rays.
Wildlife & Nature Tours: There’s no shortage of wildlife in Flamingo. From watching threatened leatherbacks lay their eggs, to the howlers that prowl the trees, to heading out onto the sea for whale and dolphin-watching, the town’s wildlife delights and inspires nature-lovers.
ATV Tours: Roar up the bumpiest of backroads and rainforest trails on an ATV tour around Flamingo!
Canopy / Zipline: Located on a 150-year-old Costa Rican horse and cattle ranch, our favorite area canopy tour offers 11 zip line cables, a swinging bridge, and a thrilling rappel.
Casinos: You may not expect to find casinos in the middle of a tropical paradise, but here they are! State-of-the-art facilities include electric roulette wheels, Vegas-style slot machines, poker tournaments, and more.
Golfing: Love the green? Then you’ll be love Flamingo, which offers easy access to Hacienda Pinilla’s incredible Mike Young golf course, as well as Reserva Conchal’s 18-hole, 72-par Garra de Leon golf course.
Horseback Riding: Flamingo is a particularly popular spot for horseback riding, in part due to the lovely coastline and gentle sea, which is often so clear you can glimpse tropical fish and spotted rays gliding beneath the waves.
These may be the highlights, but there’s so much more to Playa Flamingo than just these activities! Visitors also enjoy tubing/rafting, ocean kayaking, luxury spa days, and even day trips to Palo Verde National Park (wetlands and wildlife-watching) and Rincón de la Vieja National Park (hot springs, hiking, horseback riding and more!).
Note: We always recommend pre-booking all your activities, transportation, chef services, etc. before you arrive, so you don’t spend your vacation… well, planning your vacation. If you’d like any help, our in-house concierge, Cristina (send her an email), can recommend perfect activities for your group – and book them on your behalf, absolutely free!
Things to See in Playa Flamingo:
There is much to see in and around Flamingo – after all, you are googling for a Playa Flaming travel guide, right? – so you could easily fill your days perusing our powdery beaches and beautiful islands. But hey, if you just want to chill by the pool, we’ll be happy to point the way!
Beaches: Flamingo’s long, white crescent of soft sand is famed for its warm sun, shaded coast, gentle waves, and superb clarity. Dive in!
Las Baulas National Marine Park: Once-in-a-lifetime experience, coming right up! Las Baulas National Marine Park is home to one of the world’s most important leatherback turtle nesting sites. Time it well, and you can see either nesting mothers or their tiny hatchlings!
Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge: Just 15 miles south of Flamingo sits the wildlife-rich Tamarindo Estuary, a natural wildlife refuge where saltwater jungle seeps into mangroves and wetlands that house monkeys and coatis, waterfowl and basilisk lizards.
Catalina Islands: The beautiful Catalina Islands are Flamingo’s favorite spot for excellent scuba diving, especially during the rainy months. Keep your eyes open for starfish, living coral, reef sharks, manta rays, and so much more!
Where to Stay in Playa Flamingo:
We’ll admit it – we’re biased! Our favorite places to stay will usually be vacation rentals.
Why’s that? Because a Playa Flamingo vacation rental offers you the freedom and privacy of your very own home: plenty of space to spread out, relax, prepare a few meals, and even dive into your private pool. Add in amenities like panoramic views, tropical gardens, and oceanfront locations, and it’s easy to see why area vacation rentals are our pick for the best accommodations in Flamingo.
Of course, when you rent with us, you also have access to free concierge services – all the extras you’d expect of a five-star hotel, including full vacation planning, babysitter services, private chefs, and much more.
Getting There & Around:
For its blend of convenience, comfort, and minimal stress, our always-pick for the best way to get to Playa Flamingo is via airport shuttle: your driver will be waiting upon your arrival, ready to whisk you away to Playa Flamingo. There are no lines, no long waits for a shuttle to the rental car parking lot, no negotiating fares with Spanish-speaking taxi drivers, no interminable waits for buses or shared shuttles – none of the typical arrival hassles.
That said, if you’re driving to Playa Flamingo from the Liberia International Airport (LIR), your best bet is to download Waze, a free GPS app, to your smartphone. The basics: From the airport, take Route 21 south to Route 151 southwest, and then follow signs to Playa Flamingo.
If you opt for a shuttle, once in Flamingo you can have a rental car delivered to your vacation home. Or, skip the car in favor of walking, biking (beach cruisers are available for around $10 per day!), and taxiing to where you need to be. Private drivers are also available for daily or weekly hire.
And that, friends, wraps up our Playa Flamingo travel guide. If there’s anything, in particular, you’d like to know, please post a comment or get in touch!