Travel tips for Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Tips for Tamarindo: best spots, flights, transport, food, drinks, money and more!

Hey friends, thought I’d share some tips with you that I’ve picked up over my last 2 weeks in Tamarindo, Costa Rica!

It’s my first time travelling alone, my first time in a hostel, and my first time to Costa Rica so this is all very new to me!

I’ve had some people ask me to share some more of my tips and experiences so let’s get into it.

Flights- if you’re also coming to Tamarindo or anywhere close by, fly into Liberia instead of San Jose. It’s way closer and I’ve heard from a few young female travellers that San Jose is not a very safe place, one of my friends even got scammed by a “taxi driver” so be careful of that.

Transportation- your best and safest option to get from the airport to your accommodations are by private shuttle. I booked one through the hostel I’m staying at, it was $30usd each way.

Hostels- the two best hostels in Tamarindo seem to be La Oveja and Selina from what I’ve heard from others!

Food- eating out can get expensive in Tamarindo. Restaurant prices are similar to those at a cheaper restaurant at home (Vancouver).

You can definitely save some money by buying some groceries and making yourself food- but if you’re staying at a hostel be careful cause people will take your food if you leave it in the kitchen.

I am a lazy bitch and don’t like to cook so I’ve been eating out the whole time I’ve been here. If that’s more your speed, try to look for cheaper options.

Usually the more local food is cheaper and is actually very good. A popular local dish here is called Casado, it has rice, beans, meat and comes with some sides. Look around for specials at restaurants too. I had a big steak and shrimp dinner the other night for $15 on special.

Drinks- getting drinks at bars and restaurants here is not cheap. Cocktails are the same prices as at home. Look for good happy hour menus, usually the beach spots have good happy hours, and the local beers are pretty cheap and very good!

As always, it’s always cheaper to buy booze at the store too.

Money- if you’re Canadian, don’t bring American cash, and if you’re using card, ask to be charged in the local currency (colones) not in USD. The conversion for us Canadians to usd is so shit. Don’t do it.

You can withdraw colones with your debit or credit card at the atm. A super easy conversion trick that a friend taught me is whatever the first number is in the price, you double it and get CAD.

For example: if something is 3,000 colones it’s about $6 CAD. It works out almost perfectly.

Almost everywhere accepts cards also which is really convenient.

Random- you cannot flush toilet paper anywhere I’ve been in Tamarindo so far, so be mindful of that when using the washroom.

Believe it or not you can actually drink the tap water here, so save yourself some money on buying water! I’ve been drinking it my whole trip with no problems and I usually have a very sensitive stomach.

Bring earplugs with you, the monkeys can be very loud at night!

Tamarindo has felt pretty safe to me so far, but as always be mindful of your stuff as there is quite a bit of theft here. Lock up your important stuff like your passport and electronics, don’t carry lots of money on you, and don’t leave your stuff unattended on the beach.

BUG SPRAY! If you’re someone who often gets attacked by mosquitoes like me, bug spray. All the time. All times of the day. They’re fucking ruthless here.

Best spots- Tamarindo is full of awesome little spots.

Food: the burger joint and el mercadito are my favs. El mercadito is like a food court with tons of options and the best vibes. There’s a little smoothie place right at the entrance of mercadito before the bakery I think it’s called the snow shack, great smoothie bowls.

Drinks: Portofino and el be on the beach are awesome sunset spots, picos, and oveja make good drinks too

Nightlife: basically there’s 3 main spots in town. Rumours (great cocktails and jungle house vibes), the Alley (often has ladies night with free drinks, is a great time if it’s busy), and Pacifico (most popular spot, great djs, gets very busy)

Recommendations- Sunset watching is like the thing to do here every day. Find some friends or go solo, find a spot on the beach either in the sand or at a restaurant and watch the beautiful sunsets every evening.

If you have some extra money to do some tours I recommend doing one to Rincón de la Vieja national park. It’s one of the active volcanos about 2.5 hrs from Tamarindo and if you go with a tour group you can do a bunch of activities there in the same day.

I booked mine through trip advisor and we did horseback riding, zip lines, hot springs and a water slide all in the same day, it was awesome and well worth the money.

Surfing is also a big thing here. If you’re into that, I recommend booking through a hostel surf camp or the Diría hotel on the beach for the best prices.

Travelling around Cost Rica- a lot of people I’ve met here are only in Tamarindo for a few days and then move on to the next spot. They’re all trying to see the whole country within a couple weeks.

That’s great if that’s how you want to spend your time here, but I’ve also heard from most of them that it’s exhausting and takes a big chunk of your time.

Travelling around in Costa Rica takes a lot of time. The public buses take forever, the roads aren’t very good, they’re not direct, it just takes forever. You’ll end up spending a lot of your time in transport. So keep that in mind when you’re planning what to do here and where to go.

Personally if I were to travel around Costa Rica I would give myself a couple months. I like to relax and settle in to the place I’m at and not be on the go all the time. Maybe give yourself extra time at each place if you’re wanting to travel the country!

I’ve only been here for 2 weeks and I’ve already completely fallen in love with Tamarindo. It’s such a vibe here, there’s just this energy here that’s feeding my soul. If you’re feeling pulled towards Costa Rica, make it happen. It really is a magical place.

Pura Vida

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Bailey Frey

Bailey Frey

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Eckhart Tolle by day, Megan Thee Stallion by night. IG @bailey.rising