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.
Our Favorite for High Adventure: Tamarindo Zip-Line Tours
Well, two favorites, if you want to get picky about it. Because there are two canopy zip-line tours we highly recommend: one to the south and one to the north.
Let’s start in the south, near Playa Langosta: Located on a 150-year-old Costa Rican horse and cattle ranch, this tour flies you over 11 cables and platforms, one swinging bridge, one rappel, and a ton of adrenaline-pumping adventure. All told, it takes about two hours – but the memories are eternal!
The second of our favorite canopy tours resides about 35 minutes north of Tamarindo and offers two distinct options: family-friendly or high adrenaline; for a small additional fee, you can also add-on a visit to their monkey and reptile rescue center. You’ll fly like Superman, feel the thrill of the Tarzan swing, and rappel into the abyss – all safe, but all exhilarating!
Our Favorite Exploration: Tamarindo Tours via ATV
There’s nothing quite like the wind in your hair, the rugged road beneath your tires, and the landscape at your side. That’s why we love this incredible ATV tour, which begins on the off-roads of Guanacaste, climbing and descending through fields of local culture, cattle, and horses. Take a detour (or ten) to secluded, white-sand beaches and be sure to make time for a stop at Playa Minas, Playa Conchal, and Brasilito Beach. It’s exhilarating. It’s memorable. And it’s definitely a favorite!
Pro tip: For an additional $50pp, you can combine this ATV tour with a zip-lining tour.
Our Favorite Cultural Tour: Horseback Riding, Folklore & Beaches
Do you feel the need, the need for speed? Then, saddle up because our favorite horseback riding tour is all about galloping down the beach – you choose morning or afternoon – and explore the wilds of Tamarindo. Trot though the dry forest, where monkeys, birds, iguanas, and other wildlife reside. You’ll take to the pink-tinted, white sands of Playa Conchal. Dig your toes in. Step into the Pacific. Enjoy, then mount your steed to finalize your horseback riding adventure.
Pro tip: Book a morning tour for a demonstration of traditional Costa Rican tortillas and café chorreado, a typical (and favorite) pour-over method. If you reserve an afternoon tour, you’ll enjoy a spectacular beachfront sunset on horseback!
Our Favorite Challenging Tour: Mountain Biking
If you’re seeking a hands-on, physically challenging day, we think you’ll love our favorite mountain biking tour. It takes you in and through 13 kms of pastureland and dry forest, over wooden bridges and by scenic lookouts. Even better, while it does deliver a challenge, it’s not too much of a challenge: Expect about 3/4 downhill and 1/4 uphill – perfect for medium and advanced riders.
Psst! We can also help with Tamarindo bike rentals, if you’re looking to ride free and unfettered.
Our Favorite Once-in-a-Lifetime Tour: Sea Turtle Nesting
It seems like we’ve said it a hundred times, but we’ll happily say it a hundred more: If there’s one, single once-in-a-lifetime Tamarindo tour, then it’s this. Sea turtle nesting is just uncommon enough, just hard enough to access, and just endangered enough that most travelers will never see this site in their lives.
But when you’re n Tamarindo, you’re just a short drive to Ostional Wildlife Refugeand its famous nesting site. Throughout the year, tens of thousands of olive ridley turtles – with some pinch hitting from leatherback turtles and Pacific green turtles – arrive in arribadas, mass nesting events that are even bigger during the green months (July through November).
Our Favorite Wildlife Tour: Palo Verde National Park
We debate whether to call this a “land tour” but, at the end of the day, it’s a favorite and we’re calling the play in Palo Verde’s favor: Palo Verde National Park, located on the banks of the Rio Tempisque, offers one of the best wildlife and birdwatching sites in Costa Rica, if not the Americas.
One of the most important migrator bird sites of the Mesoamerican Pacific, here you’ll have a chance to spot everything from white-faced monkeys, peccaries, armadillos, coatis, and crocodiles, to more than 300 bird species, including the greatest concentration of shorebirds and waterfowl in Central America. In fact – and just imagine it! – up to 250,000 birds can be found here. That’s a quarter-million birds, all living in one national park.
Our Favorite Iconic Costa Rica Tour: Sloths, Frogs & Waterfalls
We admit – we’re big fans of frogs and sloths. Throw in a waterfall, and we’re practically sold.
Need a little more info? Okay, okay. How about this? Take this tour and you’ll experience a close encounter with sloths, frogs in their natural habitats, and all manner of toucans, butterflies, and other diversions. You’ll take a 90-minute hike, then stop at one of our favorite local waterfalls for a quick swim and relaxation. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
Our Favorite Big Cats Tours: Las Pumas Rescue Center (+ Llanos de Cortez Waterfall!)
We often say that in nature, there are no guarantees. In other words, if you want a guaranteed wildlife sighting, you can’t rely on nature alone.
Enter Las Pumas Rescue Center, or El Centro de Rescate Las Pumas, a wildlife rescue center that take in the injured, the orphaned, and the illegally captured. Their goal: To provide any medical care necessary to rescue and, hopefully, rehabilitate these animals. Your visit helps. What’s more, Las Pumas guarantees great animal sightings, plus a feel-good, do-good kind of day.
Afterward, you’ll visit Llanos de Cortez, a beautiful and hidden waterfalllocated a short drive from Las Pumas. Located within national parkland, this is a spectacular spot to visit, swim in a waterfall pool, and enjoy a relaxing time by cool water.
Our Favorite Foodie Tour: Coffee, Sugar Cane & Chocolate (+ Llanos de Cortez Waterfall!)
When we think of favorite foods and indulgences, our mind doesn’t stray far from thoughts of coffee, sugary goodness, and chocolate. Ohhhh yeahhhh.
And so, we welcome you to one of our favorite foodie tours: It begins with a coffee tour, during which you’ll sample some highland coffee – we source it from the slopes of Poás Volcano, one of the best sources for hard-bean Arabica coffee, thanks to a wealth of minerals and other nutrients in the volcanic soil. You’ll follow the coffee on its journey from bean to cup, before learning about sugarcane’s own journey. We finish up with cacao’s evolution from bean to bar, before making a stop at our beloved Llanos de Cortez waterfall, where you’ll stop for photos and a refreshing dip in the waterfall pool.
Our Favorite Blue River: Rio Celeste Hiking Tour
You’ve probably seen photos of Costa Rica’s Río Celeste, even if you hadn’t heard the name: Just imagine a startling blue river and waterfall – bluer than the bluest sky, the river is said to have been the water in which the gods washed their paintbrushes, when they first colored the sky. (The official reason has to do with minerals and their interactions.)
We’re visiting Río Celeste, where you can watch this magical event for yourself– where clear water turns deep jade, then aquamarine, then baby blue. Along your hike, keep your eyes peeled for tree frogs, toucans, howler monkeys, and other wildlife, before reaching a blue-tinged cascade that tumbles into a majestic pool below.
Our Favorite (Nearby) Volcano Tour: Rincón de la Vieja National Park
Costa Rica lies at the crossroads of the tectonic plates, nearly guaranteeing the birth of many volcanoes. One such volcano: Rincón de la Vieja, a 1-million-year-old andesitic complex volcano located about two hours from Tamarindo.
Named for a tragic local legend – the story of a young woman whose lover was thrown into the volcano’s crater (by her own father, no less!), hence the name Old Woman’s (Maiden’s) Corner– Rincón de la Vieja is arguably our favorite volcano in the country – and not just because it’s close. With just a couple of hours and (preferably) and eagle-eyed expert guide, you’re well on your way to staring into the mouth of a mini-volcano (volcancito), walking past boiling mud pots (or pailas, hence the trail name), and observing steaming fumaroles, where steamy volcanic gasses escape through cracks in the ground.
And still, it’s not just that! (Although that would be more than enough.) On our tours to Rincón de la Vieja, you can ride a wild waterslide, bathe in volcanic mud, luxuriate in natural hot springs, swim in waterfalls, tackling thrilling zip-line tours, and so much more. It’s truly an embarrassment of diversion, as only a volcano can deliver.
Okay, spill! Which of our favorite Tamarindo tours on land sounds most appealing?