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Tamarindo Costa Rica: Your Complete “Pura Vida” Travel Guide

by | May 6, 2022 | Travel | 0 comments

Planning a trip to Costa Rica and wondering where you should stay, where to eat and what to do? 

Well, look no further!

This was my second trip to Costa Rica and surely won’t be my last. I went alone this time – my first solo trip ever – and I’d have to say it’s the PERFECT spot for a solo traveler!

It has beautiful beaches, lush tropical rainforest, DELICIOUS food and amazing people. Pura vida is their saying, which means “pure life” or “simple life” but it’s more than just a saying for them, it really is a way of life!

Make sure to read through to the end of this post to learn two extra pieces of advice to make sure you have the best trip to Costa Rica ever! 

Let’s dive in! (To this post of course, but also into the CR water as soon as you get there!)

Where to stay in Costa Rica

This was my second time to Costa Rica. My first was for a yoga retreat and we stayed in Playa Grande which was BEAUTIFUL, very quiet and relaxing. 

It’s more rural than where I stayed this time in Tamarindo. In Playa Grande, you have more privacy, more room and a more peaceful, quiet vibe. 

That being said, I think Tamarindo is really the place to be! It’s a popular beach town in the Guanacaste province with a bustling nightlife, cute shops with lots of local and handmade gifts, TONS of dining options and of course – gorgeous beaches. 

I stayed at an Airbnb a bit off the beaten path (appx 3-5 min drive to downtown Tamarindo) that allowed me to be close to all the action while feeling nestled into nature surrounded by lush tropical gardens, birds, and even monkeys! 

I would HIGHLY recommend this spot. My particular Airbnb had 2 bedrooms, a/c, a sofa bed in the living room, fully equipped kitchen, private garden patio with comfy seating, beach/pool towels provided, fast and efficient wifi, and a large pool with lounge chairs. 

There was even a gazebo and BBQ area if you wanted to cook out! The staff is super friendly, warm, welcoming, and eager to help you have the best stay possible. 

In talking with other travelers and locals, here were some of the popular places suggested to stay in Tamarindo, Costa Rica:

Mother Earth Vegan Hotel & Restaurant – best for plant based travelers or if you want a boutique hotel vibe.

Tamarindo Beach Resort – “This unique location invites you to explore the vibrant beach town life with all its restaurants, bars, and shopping, while also offering pure relaxation in our ocean front gardens or while enjoying 1.8 miles of white sand beach, just a few steps from your room.”

Jardin del Eden Boutique Hotel – best for couples or singles looking for a private, relaxing oasis since it’s kids-free.

Check out this round up of the 9 best hotels in Tamarindo for more ideas!

Where to eat in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

For me, I was traveling alone so I prioritized my time on the beach sprinkled with little food breaks throughout my trip. I never wanted to sit down for too long to eat so I mostly grabbed quicker food so I could maximize my beach/sunset/pool/relaxing time. 

My two favorite spots for this were…

Jardin Tamarindo Food Truck Park:

Great spot for tacos, some of the best VEGAN tacos i’ve ever had, Thai food, and more!

El Mercadito Tamarindo

Cute outdoor dining market scattered with TONS of options to tickle your fancy like pizza, sushi, tacos, acai bowls/smoothies, ice cream, poke bowls. Honestly anything you could ask for they have it!

A few other spots I loved are…

Falafel Bar

In the mood for some delish Meditteranean food? Look no further than Falafel Bar. Casual vibe with super cute interior including both indoor and outdoor seating and AMAZING service. 

Waffle Monkey

I mean waffles… On the beach… What more do I need to say?! They also have gluten free waffles and plenty of both sweet and savory options.

Take your waffles down to their beach seating and have yourself a day! 

I got the gluten free churro waffles with eggs one day and another time just a plain waffle and both were chef’s kiss x100. 

What to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

My NUMBER ONE suggestion for what to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica is watch the sunset!!! They are absolutely gorgeous and the best part is everyone else is out watching the sunset with you! 

It’s like a big, fun beach party with a bunch of strangers (aka new friends?!) Grab some drinks, a few snacks, a big beach blanket and head down for a great time. Oh and don’t forget your bug spray because the bugs are definitely out that time of night! 

You’ll likely see some fire shows too. Locals put on a great show where they literally juggle with fire!

BEACH

There’s a longggg stretch of beach in Tamarindo lined with plenty of lounge chairs (owned by the restaurants/hotels but you can use them) and even some cooler shaded tree areas. 

I went during rainy season in April/May which means fewer crowds, as you can see! Rainy season really just means it tends to rain almost every afternoon/evening for an hour or so and then passes.

The waves are definitely not super chill which makes the beach here definitely kid friendly. 

The best part about how the beach is set up in Tamarindo is only a few steps away are all the shops and restaurants so when you need a beach break head on up! 

SHOPPING

Tamarindo is known for it’s beaches and nightlife of course, but also it’s shopping. Most of the shops specialize in their own local, handmade goodies.

One of my faves was an adorable succulent print backpack I snagged from a store called Buena Nena and the bags are specifically Dolores Bags made in Costa Rica. 

Another favorite boutique of mine is 2 Aves Cotton & More which specializes in beautiful made in Costa Rica beach blankets. I still have mine from my first trip to Costa Rica 6 years ago and it’s held up wonderfully! 

If you’re into jewelery, you MUST check out EK Art Jewelery. They have beautiful one of a kind jewelery inspired by nature. He finds unique gems, jewels and shells from all over the world and makes them into various types of jewelery. 

Every time i’ve gone there the owner/jeweler himself was working the shop so you get a personal experience and can ask any questions about where all the stones come from and how to best care for them. 

EXCURSIONS

I had an awful cold the whole time I was there (NOT covid, I took multiple tests) so I wasn’t super into going on any tours or excursions while I was there but in talking with other travelers and locals, here’s what I gathered in terms of the best ones to go on/things to do.

SURFING

The beach in Tamarindo is perfect for beginner surfers because the waves are just the right size to learn on. 

A group lesson is $45 USD for 2 hours per person, or if you prefer a private lesson it’s $80 USD. If you already know what you’re doing and just wanna rent a board you can do so for about $20 USD for 24 hours. 

Check out Iguana Surf for more info if this sounds up your alley! 

DIAMANTE ECO ADVENTURE PARK ZIPLINING AND MORE

If ziplining through the Costa Rican rainforest for literally a FULL mile is your idea of a good time, look no further than Diamante Eco Adventure Park. 

Here’s everything else they offer if ziplining isn’t necessarily YOUR thing:

  • Animal sanctuary
  • Butterfly observatory
  • Horseback riding
  • Botanical garden
  • ATV’ing
  • Beach with hammocks and shade

RAINFOREST SLOTH TOUR

Another blogger covered this sloth tour in AMAZING detail so rather than re-inventing the wheel, check out their post complete with a video showing the sloths! 

If I go back and i’m not sick again (knock on wood) this would DEFINITELY be high on my to-do list! 

LOS ALTOS DE EROS SPA

If a spa day vibe is more your speed then check out Los Altos De Eros Spa that offers rejuvenating, relaxing treatments complete with waterfront views and nestled right into the jungle. 

Honestly what more could you ask for? Check out their website or their full spa menu for more info. 

A one hour deep tissue massage goes for $100 or try their full spa day package that includes 3 spa treatments, lunch with dessert, a glass of wine, & local transportation for $275 USD per person. 

Other tips for traveling to Costa Rica

I have two last tips for traveling to Tamarindo, Costa Rica…

1.) Rent a golf cart or a car to explore. 

Although Tamarindo is extremely walkable and everything is within short distance of each other, I recommend renting either a golf cart or car to explore a bit more. Especially if you go during very hot times of the year because it gets SWEATY walking around under that hot sun! 

I’d recommend Alamo Tamarindo if you’d prefer a car vibe or Paradise Cart Rentals for a golf cart or ATV. 

2.) Check out this post that covers all you need to know about spending money in Costa Rica including conversion rates, how best to pay, and more.

I hope you have a great time on your trip to Costa Rica! You’ll have to let me know how it goes and any other fun things you saw or did that I didn’t mention here!

If you liked this post and have the travel bug big time like me, check out my post on Where to Stay, Dine, and What to Do on a 2 Week Island Hopping Dream Vacation in Greece.

It was probably my MOST favorite, epic trip EVER!

Safe travels!

Blog Lexy Penney Nutritionist Boston Intuitive Eating

Hi, I’m Lexy!

I’m a Registered Dietitian, yoga teacher, & body image coach.

I help women make peace with food and built trust with their bodies so they can live the lives they desire and deserve.

Hop on my email list for your weekly dose of food freedom, body liberation and self-care!

Lexy Penney Nutritionist Boston Intuitive Eating

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