View Surf Spots in Costa Rica in a larger map
Tamarindo is a sublime beach city located in Guanacaste Province on Nicoya Peninsula on the Northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Featuring splendid beaches, tropical jungles, serene and tourist friendly ambiance with a variety of options for sports and adventures, Tamarindo is a perfect example of Costa Rica’s natural beauty and brilliance. The town is mostly noted for its surf breaks, sportfishing ventures and eco tourism. Even though it has a fairly small population of approximately 3,525 people, the town gets somewhat crowded during the holiday season. Moreover, it offers all the comforts and nice facilities including banks, grocery stores, pharmacies, clinics, bars, internet cafes, surf camps, luxury and budget based accommodations and restaurants.
For eco tourism, sporty adventures and deluxe getaways, Tamarindo is the epitome of a perfect tropical holiday destination.
However, if you are expecting to see the real culture of Costa Rica, then you might be disappointed for the city is quite touristy and does not represent the Tico culture at all. Also, Tamarindo lost its Blue Flag Status due to recent commercial projects. Yet it is still tranquil and beautiful. The beaches are sparkling with sun drenched sand, the water bordering the shores is crystal clear and flourishing with species and the forests are forever blooming and dense with wildlife. It is readily accessible via an aircraft or a bus service and offer a good range of amenities to its guests. You can explore the town by either renting car, a scooter or taking a taxi.
The town’s famous beach is Playa Tamarindo boasting a three and half kilometer of shimmering silver sand bordered by lovely waters. It is well known for its large waves, lagoons, estuaries and strong tides. It has two awesome beach breaks for advanced surfers which were shown in the cult surf movie, Endless Summer II. It also makes up a part of a bay formed by Cabo Velas that serves as a protected nesting area for Leatherback turtles. When the turtles arrive to the beach to lay eggs, usually between October and March, amazing turtle tours can be held. The beach is sanctuary for sport fishermen as well. The water is rich with marvelous fish species all year round. The weather of Tamarindo stays sunny throughout the year with negligible amount of rainfall between May and October. For accommodations, many options are available ranging from small hostels, bed and breakfast services to private oceanfront houses, condos and resorts. It is a bit pricey as compared to other Costa Rican towns but don’t let that stop you. In short, for a luxurious, sporty and sunshine filled tropical respite, Tamarindo is a perfect point.
Surf Spots in Tamarindo
Playa Tamarindo features two main surf breaks, Pico Pequeno and El Estero.
El Estero is an exposed rivermouth presenting consistent surf all year round. It peels to both direction over a sandy bottom but
favors rights more lefts. El Estero collects offshore winds from the east and the best direction is from west and southwest. It receives offshore winds from the east and good wind direction is from southwest and west. Groundswells are much more common than windswells and the best swells gather from northwest and west that can hold up to 10 feet. Mid to high tide provides an ideal time to surf. The months of November and December bring large waves which can reach up to 12 feet. The waves used to be hollow but since the sandbars are constantly shifting, the waves keep changing as well. El Estero is great for all sorts of surfers. Few drawbacks include polluted water, crowding and sharks.
Pico Pequeno, also referred to as Little Peak, is a beach break that breaks to the right directly in front of a famous hotel named Diria Hotel. The break is found about 100 meters north to Tamarindo. The break is small featuring strong and powerful waves that break over a sandy bottom. Even though, the waves seem easy and gentle, they are actually quite dangerous and can rip you up if you are inexperienced. The spot is created by large offshore rock which you can see from the beach. The break is double meaning that first it breaks off the rock and then reshapes itself to break again. Initial surf is better to ride. Best time to surf is at a rising mid tide with swells rising from the west and northwest and wind from southeast. Pico Pequeno is splendid for advanced surfers looking for a new challenge. The break is jam-packed on weekends and weekdays alike.
Playa Langosta is found on the southern region of Tamarindo. The tiny beach town is deserted with a tranquil atmosphere to it. It features a fast and powerful rivermouth that goes left and right breaking over a sandy bottom. The spot is solely for veterans who will love to battle the strong waves of the rivermouth. The waves are fairly short with a range of 50 to 150 meters high. The break receives good swells from the west and southwest hemispheres. Watch out for the rocks, undertows, currents and rips.
Isla Capitan is a small island located just off Playa Tamarindo. It boasts an exposed reef that break to the lefts on the north side and to the right on the south over a reef rocky bottom. The break can be accessed via paddling or a boat ride within 40 minutes. The spot is recommended to only experienced surfers.
Capitan Suzia is a rather inconsistent beach break found nearby Playa Tamarindo. It is great for all levels of surfers especially for beginners and long boarders. The waves break over a sandy bottom to both directions and feature short and powerless waves. It is best to surf at a high tide. The break is mostly secluded.
Playa Grande is a beautiful beach on the northern end of Tamarindo. It boasts a beach break renowned for its barrel waves and long rides. The break is quite consistent and fast that peels to both directions and breaks over a sandy bottom. The ideal time to surf the break is at mid to high tide with swells coming from the west and northwest directions. The size of swells starts working at 3 feet and can hold up to 10 feet during rising and falling tides. Playa Grande is super crowded both on weekends and weekdays.
Surf Camps in Tamarindo
For a proper surf guide and lessons on your vacation, surf camps and schools will prove to be really helpful. Some of the renowned surfing camps in Tamarindo are:
Tamarindo Surf School
Tamarindo Surf School is the premier surf school in Tamarindo offering surfing lessons, full courses, packages, equipment, tennis lessons and reasonably priced accommodations. The staff is fully trained and skilled with decades of experience in the field. Tamarindo Surf School organizes surfing expeditions to Tamarindo and several other famous places such as Avellanas, Playa Grande and Playa Negra. For veteran surfers, surf trips are made to Roca Bruja “Witch Rock” and Ollie’s Point.
Banana Surf Club
Banana Surf Club is found in the heart of Tamarindo. The renowned school have earned a superb reputation due to its fantastic team of experienced surfers and amazing customer service. The school includes a surf shop that sells and rent out a large range of surf boards, accessories and beachwear. Their phone numbers are (506) 2653.0130 and (506) 2653-2463 and email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, check out their website.
Costa Rica Surf Club and Surf Camp
Surf Shops in Tamarindo
Banana Surf Shop
Iguana Surf Shop
Other Activities in Tamarindo
Tamarindo is a miniature tropical paradise that offer plenty of activities to its guests. Be it land activities such as canopy tours, zip lining, horseback riding or aquatic adventures like fishing, snorkeling and estuary tours, Tamarindo is a perfect destination for nature and adventure lovers.
Marino Las Baulas National Park
For more information on Tamarindo, please visit:
Tamarindo Beach: A Costa Rican Piece of Paradise – An article on Tamarindo on costaricajourneys.com
A Guide to Tamarindo’s Surf Spots – Everything you need to know about the breaks in Tamarindo on costaricasurfing.org
Tamarindo – All about the town on wikitravel.org