Whatever your reason for visiting Costa Rica, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself with a day in Tamarindo. Tamarindo is one of the most popular beach towns in the entire country, and its white sand beaches don’t disappoint. Whether you’re traveling the Pacific Coast line or taking a day off from a business trip in the Central Valley, Tamarindo will be the perfect place to spend the day.
Deciding how to spend your time in your one day in Tamarindo is actually quite difficult. There is so much to see and do that you could easily spend your entire vacation in this one small town. You’re near National Parks, amazing tour operators, and endless attractions, but designing the perfect 1-day itinerary is really more of a balancing act. The city of Tamarindo is pure beach bliss, and over cramming you itinerary so that you have no time left to simply sun bathe on the beach, watching the surfers, would be a huge shame. Learn about all Tamarindo has to offer and prepare your itinerary wisely, once you hit the town it might be very difficult to pull yourself away from the shore line.
The beach will be calling, but you’ll be best served by fitting the day’s big trip into your morning. There is so much to do in and near Tamarindo, so decide on your trip wisely. If you get an early start on the day and see all the town has to offer, you can spend the rest of your afternoon enjoying the beach and practicing some water sports.
Your morning trip should focus on exploring the surrounding wilderness. As gorgeous as the local beaches are, they’re only a small part of the region’s natural beauty. Further inland, you have forests, rocks, and parks to explore. For the active adventurers among you, start your day early and drive just one and a half hours to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. You will hike a difficult volcanic trail straight into the forest. The volcano and geography itself will be absolutely astonishing, but don’t forget to keep an eye out for wildlife as well. The forest is full of monkeys, tropical birds, and colorful insects of all kinds. It will be a difficult trek, but your way back to Tamarindo will be divided into small drives as you stop for the volcanic hot springs, mud baths, and an amazing local lunch.
For those of you who don’t want to spend too much energy on your morning trek, try a nearby sailing cruise. You’ll find plenty of options, from luxuries site-seeing cruises to more adventurous fishing trip expeditions. This could be the best way to see the entire region and talk to a knowledgeable guide about the region’s history and wildlife.
After your morning adventure, you’ll be free to spend the rest of your afternoon and evening on the beach. You can lounge under an umbrella, buying fresh fruit juices from nearby vendors, or participate in one of the countless watersports offered on the beach. Try a snorkeling tour, a surf lesson, or a jet ski rental to make your afternoon full of energy and excitement.
After your adventurous morning, you’re going to want to hit a fun, tropical lunch spot. Head the La Bodega. This open aired restaurant is creative, offers a festive atmosphere, and lists with great prices. You’ll find amazing breakfast and lunch options and leave with a full stomach. We suggest starting your meal with a big sandwich and a side of home fried plantain chips. Top it off with a fresh fruit smoothie and a lemon scone and you’ll be ready to hit the road.
After lunch, you’ll most likely spend the rest of your day under the hot sun, tanning on the beach or trying your hand at some local watersports. After a couple hours of beach fun, you’ll be ready for a cold shower, a fresh pair of clothes, and a more relaxing dinner. We suggest to make your way to Shrimp Hole. You’re on the beach and will need to try the local seafood. Shrimp Hole makes the most of the region’s resources, with fresh fish and shrimp, local herbs, and a creative blend of spices. Your meal will be tropical and refreshing, and there will be something on the menu for everyone. This restaurant takes local ingredients and traditional cooking methods and mixes them with creative, modern twists. You’ll find Asian influences, North American influences, and a few items on the menu you haven’t seen anywhere else.
Not one day can go by in Costa Rica without a cup of local coffee. You probably had one early morning with your hotel’s complimentary breakfast, but you’ll probably need on to go as you set out for your morning adventure. Swing by Nordico Coffee House. Grab an iced coffee to keep cool as you start your journey. The non-coffee-lovers in your group will grab a power smoothie or chia pudding for the road as well, so everyone will leave refreshed just in time for their adventure.
By the end of the day, you’ll be ready for something a bit harder than coffee. Luckily, you’re just in time for Tamarindo’s famous sunsets. You’ll need to go beachside and find somewhere to settle down. Try Nogui’s Bar. This bar dates back to before Tamarindo was the bustling town it now is, in fact, this bar dates back to before the area had running water or electricity. The bar has grown with the times though, and now it offers a two story, beachfront view of the evening sunset. You’ll find a cold beer, tropical cocktails, and local rum.
If you find yourself with time to spare, you may want to join in one of the region’s many cultural workshops. These can be a great and interactive way to learn about your new region in a short period of time. Try going first to Reina’s Chocolate. This visit will take about 3 hours in all, and you’ll learn all about the region’s chocolate history and the chocolate industry. You’ll also get hands-on experience. You’ll learn how to roast and shell a cacao pod, how to make home-made chocolate, and what to do with the rest of the cacao plant. You’ll have endless tastings and will bring home chocolate, cacao tea, and some incredible tropical fruits which match perfectly with your hand-made chocolate bar. You’ll learn a lot about the area and satisfy your travel group’s sweet tooth.
You’ll have endless options of ways to enjoy and experience Tamarindo. Make the most of your short stay in this tropical paradise, but be sure not to pack your itinerary too full. Laying on the beach will be addictive, and you deserve the well-earned relaxation. As evening comes, opportunities will present themselves for sunset cocktails and late-night salsa dancing, so it’s best if you can go with the flow. Tamarindo won’t be easy to leave in the morning, and you might find yourself stretching your day trip into an entire weekend!