Costa Rica Itinerary: Tamarindo Family Vacation

surfing in Tamarindo with kids

Tamarindo is an excellent choice for your family vacation

If you’re traveling to Costa Rica with kids in tow, chances are someone has recommended a Tamarindo family vacation.

After all, we’re one of the most well-equipped towns in Costa Rica, with a wide selection of restaurants, tours, and attractions. And then, there are our incredible Tamarindo vacation rentals, which run the gamut from oceanview 2-bedrooms for small families to palatial 8-bedroom luxury villas, with every conceivable amenity to fuel memorable family reunions. Tamarindo is that perfect blend of services, amenities and natural beauty.

To help you plan your trip, we’ve pulled together a Tamarindo family vacation itinerary: some of our favorite family-friendly activities and experiences in the area. Make some memories!

Day 1: Arrival

Welcome to Costa Rica! We recommend flying into Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) in Liberia and booking a Tamarindo airport shuttle to ferry you the ~70 minutes to your vacation home. If you fly into San José International Airport (SJO), plan on a 4.5-hour shuttle ride. (Once in Tamarindo, you can have a rental car delivered to your vacation rental.)

When you arrive, relax. Take a dip in your private pool. Walk to the beach, kick off your shoes, and watch an incredible sunset. Then, tuck in for a meal at one of our area’s best restaurants. You’re here. In paradise. Your Tamarindo family vacation is going to be epic!

Day 2: Catch a Wave

Tamarindo (and our surrounding beaches) is renowned for epic surf, so we can’t think of a better way to jump into a Tamarindo family vacation, than with this area mainstay. There are plenty of excellent, kid-friendly surf lessons designed to get all ages up on the board and riding the surf. You’ll love the expression on your kids’ faces when they catch their very first wave!

If your kids (or you – we feel ya, parents!) aren’t quite ready to master Tamarindo’s surf, no problem; boogie boards offer a tamer but still exciting ride! You can rent a board in town for a budget-friendly $10-$15 a day, and it’s easy to find calmer spots along the beach to set up your umbrella and send the kids into the Pacific. (Tip: The super calm surf in front of Hotel Capitan Suizo is a favorite for brand-new boogie boarders and their nervous parents.)

Day 3: Sail, Snorkel ‘n’ Sunset

Take a sunset sail on your Tamarindo family vacation

A catamaran sunset sail is a must for your Tamarindo family vacation

If your kids fall into the 4-18 age range, then you absolutely must book a catamaran sail during your trip. Luxury catamarans set sail daily to explore our area’s favorite snorkeling destinations, where you can snag a patch of deserted beach, swim crystalline waters, and snorkel undersea wonders, including reefs and caves home to puffer fish, starfish, octopus, and manta rays. As afternoon fades to early evening, you’ll all board the boat to sail home with the backdrop of a beautiful Pacific sunset. Snacks, meals and booze are often included.

Day 4: Resting & Nesting

We’re firm believers in carving out some time to do nothing during vacation, and our favorite time to do nothing is always mid-trip. So, take a day. Or part of a day. Swim in your private pool. Lounge in the hot tub. Walk down the beach. Pop into souvenir shops. Or, just read a book under the palms. Whatever nothing you love to do, do it.

In the evening, give your kids memories of a lifetime, on one of Tamarindo’s turtle nesting tours. Don your darkest clothing and head to neighboring Las Baulas National Park with your guide: during nesting season (October through March), you’ll watch as massive, 1,500-pound leatherback turtles lumber up the beach, dig their nests, and lay their eggs. It’s incredibly cool and quite a touching experience, even for the littlest wildlife-watchers.

Day 5: Iconic Ziplines = Treetop Adrenaline

You may think that canopy tours are old hat, as far as Costa Rica is concerned – but you’d be wrong. Somehow, the country’s ziplines find new, fun ways to engage kids 4+, who will squeal with delight (and adrenaline) as they fly through the trees. And for the adults, you’ll love the great views you get from up on high. (Note that the littlest adventurers will zip-line in tandem with a guide.)

Day 6: Galloping Down the Beach

Has your family ever dreamed of riding horseback down the beach? Well, here’s your chance to grab hold of your equestrian fantasies, trot through the surf and climb mountains, the wind in your hair. Today, book a horseback ride for the whole family, and explore the countryside and beach the way our cowboys have for centuries!

Day 7: Kayaking the Estuary

Rent a kayak as soon as you’re all awake – the earlier, the better, as far as birdwatching is concerned – and hit the Tamarindo estuary for a bit of scenic paddling. Depending on the time of day (and your luck), you can spot birds, monkeys, crocodiles, and other exotic animals. And, even if wildlife is shy, the mangrove trees are impressive in and of themselves!

If your kids are too young for a full morning/afternoon of kayaking, you can still see the estuary! Head to the northern end of Tamarindo’s main beach – if you reach Panga’s Beach Club, you’re in the right place – and hop aboard the little lancha boats (a.k.a. the “estuary ferry”) that cross the estuary. The ride comes in at just $1 per person, per way, and often includes bird and animal sightings. Plus, Playa Grande sits at the other side. Beach day!

Day 8: Departure

Don’t think of it as a goodbye; make it a see-you-later! We hope you’ll visit us again in Tamarindo.

If you need any free planning help for your Tamarindo family vacation, get in touch with Cris, our in-house concierge. (You can also call her at 754-222-1884.) She knows all about planning a trip to Tamarindo with kids, and she has all the hookups. She knows what to do, when to do it, and how to keep your kids happy along the way. Plus, she’ll book anything you need, absolutely free of charge! And you can’t beat that.