Spotlight on: Tamarindo Day Tours to Make the Most When Time is Short (Part 1)
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!)
Tamarindo Day Tour (s): Rincón de la Vieja
The escape with a watery soul and fiery heart, Rincón de la Vieja National Parkis both steamy andcool – and one of our favorite Tamarindo day trips! Indeed, this is a place where active volcanoes join boiling mud pots and misty cloud forest tops refreshing waterfalls. It’s a startling combination of natural wonders and scenic beauty, conveniently – and closely – distilled into one single destination.
You can see why we love it. And so, it’s no surprise that we offer a few make-the-most-of-your-time day trips to this national park. Because, there’s a trip for every flavor and adventure style: chill and relaxing, if you’re here for that; thrilling and daring, if that’s more your speed. Here are a few of our favorite RdlV options:
Take the two-hour trip to Buena Vista Lodge, a cattle hacienda and mountain retreat. Located in the foothills of Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, the ranch is ideally located to the park’s lush-rain-forested slopes and panoramic views of Costa Rica’s Pacific northwest. The sight is breathtaking, sweeping up the coast and – on clear days – even into Nicaragua, to reveal its sister volcanic cones.
On this adventure, you’ll feel the exhilaration of a high-flying zipline canopy tour– a journey to the rainforest tree-tops, home to monkeys, sloths, and toucans. Then, trot along to a hacienda horseback ride, where you’ll drink in sweeping views of our province’s rolling lowlands. And, for the most adventurous among you, up the adrenaline quotient on the hacienda’s 400-meter waterslide, built into the mountain and… wait for it… powered by a flowing mountain stream.
After all the excitement, relax at Buena Vista’s thermal spring spa, lounging in restorative mineral waters fed (and warmed) by the neighboring volcano. In the sauna, indulge in a mineral mud bath. Then round out the adventure with a traditional Costa Rican lunch buffet, before we head home to Tamarindo.
Once a cattle farm and now a modern adventure center, Hacienda Guachipelin offers a full day of low-key adventures – beginning with a fascinating horseback ride: Welcome to the tropical dry forest, where you’ll spot a variety of mammal, bird, and reptile species. Keep your camera handy!
Next, it’s all aboard the inner tubes for a river adventure down the crystal-clear rapids of the Río Negro. Float, navigate, paddle, and relax in the refreshing water, while you watch the scenery unfold all around you. At the end of the river, a typical Costa Rican lunch awaits.
After lunch, the most exhilarating big: Hacienda Guachipelin’s famed zip-lining tour– one of our favorites in the country! You’ll tackle a spectacular river gorge, where you launch yourself over treetops, zip across the river, and explore an impressive river canyon that was formed, sculpted, and built by the volcano’s lava, millions of years ago. This thrilling-but-not-terrifying canopy tour packs in rappelling, rock climbing, Tarzan swings, via ferrata and hanging bridges.
Finally, it’s time to relax on a visit to natural hot springs and the hacienda’s mineral mud treatment center. Enjoy seven natural swimming holes, each fed by the volcano’s underground hot springs and thermal waters. Welcome to paradise!
Get to know Rincón de la Vieja via Cañon de la Vieja, an adventure center about 90 minutes from Tamarindo.
This high-octane adventure comes out swinging, welcoming you with a world-class zipline canopy tourthat includes rappelling, rock climbing, and swings through spectacular canyon (or cañon in Spanish, hence the name!), which was formed by lava flows during the last major eruption of Rincón de la Vieja (millions of years ago, if you were wondering!).
After you get your heart racing, calm it down with a tranquil horseback ride through neighboring farmland and deciduous forest, where – if luck’s on your side – you’ll spot birds, monkeys, and all manner of volcanic hillside wildlife.
By now, the heat of the sun is on the rise and you’re headed to the Colorado River, for a freshwater and adrenaline-filled tubing adventure on class II & III rapids. When you’re finished, a delicious Costa Rican-style lunch will help you refuel, as you look out over the river you just conquered.
The rest of the afternoon is yours, to lounge in hot springs and mineral pools, heated naturally by the therapeutic waters that run near the volcano. Or, if you’re up for more adventure (and a cooling-off), try hurdling into the nearby river – our jumping rock double-dares you!
If you dream of seeing something few have ever seen– if you hope to leave Costa Rica with memories you couldn’t make anywhere else – then we cannot recommend highly enough a visit to Rincón de la Vieja’s Las Pailas hiking trail.
Las Pailas Trail is the park’s most visited, and for good reason. This 2.2-mile (3.5-km) trail weaves through a startling contrast of rainforest and dry savannah, crossing rivers and brushing against waterfalls, before leading to the real show – likely, the closest you’ll ever be to volcanic activity! Here, you can literally look into the roaring face of a volcancito (mini-crater), hear the pop-pop of boiling mud pots, smell the sulfuric stink of fumaroles, and feel the heat of volcano-fed hot springs. It’s truly a wonder of Mother Nature.
We won’t stop there, either. Sweeten your volcanic adventures with a dip in a waterfall pool. Refresh, relax, and swim to your heart’s content. Then, take a short hike to the Colorado River and the beauty of 82-foot Oropendola Waterfall, where we’ll relax for an hour, swim in crystal-clear waters, jump into the abyss, and otherwise enjoy the idyllic location.
After a delicious Costa Rican lunch, we’ll wind out the day at natural hot springs, located nearby along the Caño Negro River. Surrounded by almost magical beauty and the wonder of nature, you’ll lather up with volcanic mud, sink into its medicinal properties, and rest assured you’ve made a perfect decision on your Tamarindo day tour.
Tamarindo Day Tour: Monteverde Cloud Forest
After the spectacular Costa Rican beach, Monteverde is, hands down, one of our top picks for must-see spots. After all, how could you come this far, only to miss the mystical and mythical cloud forest, where mists hang low and almost every surface is covered in flowering epiphytes (including many orchid species!) and emerald-hued mosses, ferns, and bromeliads. It’s an ethereal ecosystem and you just have to see it.
That said, if you don’t have enough time in Costa Rica to squeeze in a few days at Monteverde, then our day trip will help you make the most of your timein the tropical cloud forest. Just four hours from Tamarindo, Monteverde was first settled by the indigenous, then small numbers of Costa Ricans and finally, and most famously, by Quakers in the 1950s.
Today, the town is best known for its eponymous cheese (and ice cream!) and undeniably lush countryside: misty cloud forest, dense vegetation, flowering fields, and massive trees, all home to incredible ecosystems as mysterious as they are bucket list-worthy.
The day begins with a thrilling canopy tour, considered one of the best in Costa Rica. Follow it up with a hike through the cloud forest, where you’ll observe the grandeur of Mother Nature via a system of hanging suspension bridges, which overlook the surrounding mountains and the forest.
By now, you’ve worked up quite an appetite, so we’ll stop for a hearty lunch, before heading out to explore hummingbird and butterfly gardens. Keep your eyes peeled for the blue morpho, a startling metallic blue specimen and one of Costa Rica’s most famous butterflies! Finally, round out the day with a visit to a local coffee farm: Follow the journey from bean to cup and of course, sample the fruits of the farmers’ labors!
Tamarindo Day Tour: Arenal Volcano
Costa Rica’s most iconic volcano – indeed, one of the most iconic in the world, thanks to its near-perfect cone – Arenal Volcano definitely tops the list of must-visit destinations in Costa Rica. That said, Arenal is a bit off the beaten beach path, so if you don’t have time for a few days at the foot of the volcano, then welcome to a favorite Tamarindo day tour.
The day begins with a scenic drive around Lake Arenal, the largest lake in Costa Rica and one of the country’s most important water and energy sources. (Hydroelectric power fuels much of Costa Rica.) As lovely mountains and sun-dappled countryside emerges, the shimmering lake by your side, look to the far side of the water’s edge to spot the looming cone of Arenal Volcano.
You’ll get to know this lovely scenery on a volcano hike, which wends and winds along old lava flows at the base of the active volcano. In 1968, the ground on which you’re walking bore witness to red-hot lava and pyroclastic flow, which transformed the landscape – and leveled some areas – and helped create some truly spectacular views: lush primary and secondary forests, little civilization, and wildlife galore.
After your hike through the jungle, you’ll retreat to Arenal’s most famous sight of all: thermal hot springs, where therapeutic mineral waters are said to melt away stress, soothe skin, and treat everything from muscle tension to arthritis.
If you’d like help making the most of your time in Costa Rica, please get in touch with our concierge, Cris! Her services are free and we promise, she’ll hook you up with the best option to match your day-touring, make-the-most-of-it adventure style.