Are you on the hunt for the ideal spring break destination that is warm, tropical, exotic, exciting, and affordable all at once? Well, look no further because Tamarindo, Costa Rica is the place for you! Whether you are planning an epic trip with a group of friends or a mellow family vacay with the kids while they are off from school, there is something for everyone here in this beautiful paradise. Tamarindo is perfect because it is a very culturally unique and exotic location, while still being very friendly and easily accessible for travelers. You will get an immersion experience without the downsides of being in an unfamiliar place. There are plenty of friendly English speakers here so you will always have help when you need it or the chance to make new friends!
But how do you choose the best activities from the long list of fun choices with just a week to spend in this beautiful place? That’s where we come in. Read on for a sample itinerary of the perfect 5-day vacation so you can try all of the top things to do in Tamarindo and experience the absolute best of what this area has to offer.
Try Some Local Food, Hit the Waves & Check out the Town
You will arrive in Costa Rica, amazed from the first moment by the gorgeous views of the blue ocean contrasting sweeping white beaches from the plane. Take some time to settle in and relax. You will probably be hungry after traveling, so head out to dip your toes into some typical Costa Rican cuisine. Walking through town, you will see many restaurants that have the word “soda” in them. That is the name for a place with typical food, so head on in! They are a few located at the beginning of town right across the street from the beach among many surf shops, these joints are pretty popular with locals and visitors alike!
You can get a huge plate of Casado, which includes rice, beans, your choice of meat, salad, and some plantains for a pretty cheap price. It is beyond delicious and hands down the best meal to fill up and get a good bang for your buck. The places are very casual, so you can even just rock up in your swimsuit! Make sure you get a “fresco” or juice with it as well…the passionfruit or “maracuya” is delightful. The perfect tropical thirst quencher!
Go to the Beach and Try Surfing!
After you’ve fueled up and are feeling refreshed, why not spend the afternoon at the beach? If you are interested in trying surfing, Tamarindo is the perfect place to do so because the conditions are easy and great for beginners. There are many options for surf shops that offer lessons or board rentals depending on your ability level. So sign up for a lesson (private or group), bring some towels, sunscreen, and maybe a speaker, and set up for the afternoon. Make sure to take advantage of the people on the beach who will walk by offering to sell you fresh coconuts or even a coco loco (coconut with rum added)… it is hands down the best tropical and refreshing cocktail there is. Make sure you stay at the beach until the sun goes down, because the sunsets in Tamarindo are absolutely on another level.
After you have enjoyed your first full day either catch some sleep for your next day or if you are full of energy hit the town! Tamarindo at night has a variety of things to offer from restaurants, bars, shopping and more. There is usually live local bands playing, specials on drinks and food depending the night, and events going on! You will never get bored with the options of Tamarindo night life!
Enjoy A Local Breakfast & Hit the Open Waters
It makes sense that Tamarindo has a lot of good coffee shops, because Costa Rica is home to some of the best coffee in the world. To go along with the coffee, there are a ton of amazing restaurants and cafes to get your day started right (and cure your hangover). You can find a variety of beachfront cafes serving up excellent coffee and views to local favorites right off the main street with some of the best Gallo Pinto we have ever had (local rice and bean breakfast dish). There are several American breakfast locations that have the classic offerings to bakeries and more! You will not be disappointed.
Then head back to your hotel or vacation rental and get ready for a day adventure on the water! Tamarindo catamarans are one of the best things to do in Tamarindo. You get to enjoy most of you day on the open water and may even see some dolphins and/or whales.
The favorite amongst everyone in town is the Tamarindo Sunset Cruise! After breakfast, you will have enough time to head home and get changed into your swimsuits and prepare for the most amazing afternoon of your life! The Tamarindo sunset cruise leaves from the beach around 12:30pm to sail out to a nearby secluded cove with a beach to anchor for a couple of hours, and then sail back to town as the sun is setting so you can enjoy the incredible views from the water.
All afternoon you will enjoy an open bar and attentive service, a delicious buffet style lunch, the chance to snorkel and swim when the boat is parked, good tunes, even better company, and nonstop fun. When people ask, “what my favorite tour in Tamarindo is”, the sunset cruise is the answer every time without hesitation. Everyone has been too many times to count! Aboard the Dream Chaser, you will have an absolute blast and leave with new friends and amazing memories.
If you have properly taken advantage of the open bar on the catamaran, you will probably be in the mood to go out once you get back to Tamarindo. So head home to rinse off and change, and then take to the always lively streets! No matter the day of the week, there is always something going on in Tamarindo.
Ride some ATV’s & Enjoy A Sunset Horseback Ride!
Take it easy in the morning and wake up at your own pace. There is plenty of time to try some more of the top things to do in Tamarindo today! Head out when you are ready for the ATV ride of a lifetime. The guide will lead you through the rainforest, along a few different beaches, and up to an amazing lookout. The whole ride is about two hours and it is an absolute blast. This is a great tour for groups too because everyone can have an ATV of their own but still drive together in a big posse. There is nothing like mobbing through paradise with your friends! It is a great way to see some sights and have an exhilarating adventure at the same time!
Try a Sunset Horseback Ride!
After some lounge time and lunch on the beach, a horseback ride at sunset is the perfect way to end the day. The horses are calm and friendly, and the guides will lead you on a forested trail and then along the beach for a beautiful sunset view. This tour takes place at a nearby beach so it is another great way to see something new outside of Tamarindo while also experiencing a new activity and taking in some incredible views.
Go Snorkeling, Surf & Enjoy Happy Hour/Sunset!
Have you ever started your day off by snorkeling? Probably not, but you definitely should. Most of the snorkeling tours leave in the morning and will take you out to the Catalina Islands, one of Costa Rica’s best snorkel spots rich in rock formations and marine life. They are located out of Playa Brasilito, which is further from the hustle and bustle so you will be able to see a lot more wildlife than you would in Tamarindo. With the help of expert guides, you will have the chance to see all sorts of incredible fish, turtles, manta rays, and maybe even some small sharks. If you want to get a little more extreme, you can even do a scuba dive! Transportation, all of the gear, and some snacks and water are provided. Snorkeling is definitely something you can’t miss out on while in Costa Rica!
Surf and Hit up Happy Hour!
You will return back to Tamarindo in the early afternoon from snorkeling, and after eating some lunch and having a little down time on the beach, it will be the perfect chance for a sunset surf. Grab some boards and take in the sunset in the most Pura Vida way possible! After you get out of the water, head to the nearest happy hour (there are plenty of amazing beachfront spots to choose from) to relax from the day’s activities and enjoy time with those you love.
Soak up the Sun, Shop & Party the Night Away!
Somehow, it is already your last day in Tamarindo! You know what they say… time flies when you are having fun. Make sure to soak up your last rays of the Costa Rican sun by spending ample time at the beach. Grab your sunscreen and a cold beverage, and set up camp for a little while! Get a nice tan, maybe buy a coconut, and watch people surf or play soccer.
Don’t forget to hit the town to grab gifts for your family, friends or yourself. Tamarindo offers great souvenirs, clothes from around the world, locally made items, amazing soaps and more.
Plan an amazing dinner and last night out with whoever you are traveling with and maybe even some of the new friends you have met along the way! For being a fairly small town, Tamarindo is home to a bunch of high quality restaurants with cuisine from all over the world. Try Green Papaya for delicious Mexican flavors, margaritas, and fun swinging chairs. Check out Bamboo Sushi for amazing fresh poke, rolls, and noodle dishes. Patagonia is an incredible Argentinian grill, with quality meats and sandwiches. Or to get your pizza on, head to La Baula for the best pie in town made from authentic Italian recipes. There is almost too much delicious food to choose from! If its Thursday night don’t miss out on the Tamarindo Night Market.
After dinner, start with a few drinks at one of the chill bars like La Oveja Negra or El Chiringuito. Once it is time to go out, dance the night away at Pacifico, Sharky’s, or Lizard and have the time of your life!
If you still aren’t convinced that Tamarindo is the ultimate spring break destination, I am sure that after looking into the options, it will be clear that this is about as good as it gets. With the long list of fun things to do, perfect weather, incredible food, and exciting nightlife, it truly has everything you could ask for in a vacation destination while still being affordable and accessible!
So what are you waiting for? Book that ticket and stock up on sunscreen, and we will see you aboard the Dream Chaser!