Costa Rica has been on our radar over the past few years, and with its pristine beaches, gorgeous sunsets, and great surf, it’s easy to see why it has become such a popular destination. If you’re based in the US, Costa Rica is less than a 6 hour flight from Los Angeles and just over 7 from New York – totally doable for a long weekend! So we asked our dear friend and sunset photographer extraordinaire, Kristen Brown, to share her recs for Tamarindo – the dreamy beach town she calls home. Read on below for her favorite places to stay, shop, and see plus a few pro tips when navigating the area.
From Kristen… If you’ve been dreaming of a trip to Costa Rica, you’ve definitely landed in the right place! Not too many moons ago, I retired from the hustle and bustle of the NYC corporate banking world, trading in my heels for a surfboard and camera in Costa Rica. This beautiful country is such a magical place to visit, especially the beach in Tamarindo where I just so happen to live! From the breathtaking sunsets, world class waves to surf, and pristine beaches to the tropical flora and fauna, you may just fall in love with Tamarindo, Costa Rica like I did! Whether you are escaping the big city for a long weekend escape in Tamarindo or adventuring through Costa Rica on a two week vacation, you definitely are going to want to check out my 72 Hours in Tamarindo, Costa Rica guide. You ready? Grab a cup of delicious Costa Rican coffee, and let’s rock!
Welcome to Tamarindo! The second largest beach town in Costa Rica and located about an hour away from Liberia International Airport (LIR), Tamarindo offers something for everyone. Surfing, yoga, nightlife, great restaurants, a plethora of hotels, amazing sunsets, and of course, a beautiful beach! The majority of the international flights arrive in the afternoon, so you’ll most likely make it to Tamarindo just in time to check in, change into your swimsuit, and head down to the beach for sunset drinks!
Never miss a sunset in Tamarindo – trust me. The sunsets in Costa Rica are beyond magical, especially during the rainy season when the clouds light up in some of the most vibrant, beautiful colors. I promise you that you will be blown away by Mother Nature’s beauty. In fact, I watch sunset every day on the beach with my chihuahua, Gidget. We hope to see you down on the beach!
After a long travel day, you most likely want an easy and fast dinner, so head to Little Lucha Taqueria after watching the sunset to grab some delicious tacos. The service is super fast and the tacos are sooooooo good!
Wake up with the sun and head down to the beach to surf or take a surf lesson. The early morning is the best time of day to surf as it is less crowded and the wind conditions are favorable. For surfboard rentals (both shops are open early), check out Witch’s Rock Surf Camp and Kelly’s Surf Shop. For surf lessons, Salty Sols is the best!
Post surf, refuel at Café Tico with a typical Costa Rican breakfast of “gallo pinto” (rice and beans) with eggs, and of course, a delicious cup of Costa Rican coffee.
Explore more of Costa Rica’s nature on an ATV, zipline (my favorite is Pura Aventura), or the Tamarindo Estuary tour. There are several ATV tour operators in town and plenty of Panga boats that do estuary tours – simply walk up to the boats parked in the Estuary! Who you should choose all depends on who is open!
After a day of surf and exploring, head down to the beach to Pangas Beach Club for sunset drinks and an amazing dinner. Advanced reservations are highly recommended.
If the tide is out in the morning, head down to the beach and walk around the point in Tamarindo to Playa Langosta. Make sure to wear your swimsuit to cool off in one of the pretty low tide pools! After your gorgeous morning walk, grab breakfast with a view at Nogui’s.
Spend the afternoon on a catamaran sailing, snorkeling, and swimming. The best part? Watching sunset on the water!
After an afternoon at sea, you’ll be famished, so head into town for dinner. Patagonia Argentinian Grill + Restaurant is a favorite!
The Bare Necessities: Since Tamarindo is a tourist town, if you forgot to pack something or need assistance, there is most likely someone in town that can help. Tamarindo has an American style supermarket (called Automercado) plus several other small food stores, a bookstore (Jaime Peligro), four pharmacies, several doctors’ offices, rental car agencies, hair salons, internet cafés, etc. BUT, since Tamarindo is a beach town, you will pay a premium for simple things like sunscreen and bug spray. Make sure to pack all you need and then some!
Let’s Talk Money: Don’t exchange money at the currency exchange at the airport! The bank ATMs in town will give you the best exchange rate. The best tip I offer to tourists is if the price is quoted in USD, pay USD. If it is Colones, pay Colones. Always ask the business what exchange rate it is using, especially since as of this guide’s writing, the exchange rate is favoring the USD. Finally, if you can pay with your credit card, use it!
Getting Around: Tamarindo is a very walkable town. There are several rental car agencies in town, as well as golf cart rentals. Taxis are also readily available.
Nordico Coffee House | La Bodega | Nogui’s | Pizzeria La Baula | Green Papaya | Patagonia Argentinian Grill + Restaurant | Shrimp Hole | Bamboo Sushi Club | Surf Shack Burgers and Wings | Tamarindo Food Court | Pangas Beach Club | Café Tico | Little Lucha Taqueria
Photography + Itinerary: Kristen M. Brown
Me llamo Kristen – that’s Español for “My name is Kristen.” 😉 Not too long ago, I retired from the hustle and bustle of the NYC corporate banking world, trading in my heels for a surfboard and camera in Costa Rica. When I am not dreaming under a palm tree, most days you can find me surfing beautiful Costa Rican waves, photographing a breathtaking sunset, or playing on the beach with my Chihuahua, Gidget. I’m a natural light lifestyle photographer, sunset chaser, and soul surfer. You can check out my brand and editorial work here, wedding and family photography work here, and bring a piece of paradise home with you via my sunset and beach prints at The Sunset Shop.