Deciding on a place to vacation internationally can be very serious business, especially because of the cost. Here is my review of Tamarindo, Costa Rica. I hope this helps you decide if Tamarindo is the vacation spot of your dreams!
Pros of Visiting Tamarindo
Tamarindo, Costa Rica is convenient for vacationers traveling from the U.S. and is cost effective in terms of airfare. You can fly from most major cities in the United States to San Jose, Costa Rica for around $300.00. You can then fly from San Jose to Tamarindo for about $50.00. Other options are to take a private shuttle (Greyline or Interbus) or take the public bus from San Jose to Tamarindo. Flying is is the most cost effective and quickest mode to get to Tamarindo, however, when I visited I opted to take a private shuttle which took around 5 hours.
In Tamarindo you will have the opportunity to see leatherback sea turtles nesting at Playa Grande. Leatherback sea turtles are the worlds largest sea turtle and Play Grande is apparently ‘the place’ to see them.
I surfed on the main beach. It is a good place for beginners who are hoping to learn. Since I’ve surfed before, I just rented a board from a guy on the beach for pretty cheap, but there are plenty of surf shops if you want to get lessons.
My friend and I were able to take a day tour to Nicaragua while in Tamarindo. We were picked up directly from our hostel at 4am and went on an all inclusive tour for the day. We were taken to an active volcano, a crater lake, Granada and Lake Nicaragua.
Proximity/Accessibility to the Rain Forest & Volcanoes
The same buses/shuttles mentioned above can take you to the rain forest. We visited the Arenal Volcano near La Fortuna where we trekked through the rain forest to see the volcano, hiked to a waterfall and zip-lined through the rain forest canopy. Zip-lining was terrifying and amazing at the same time. We opted to stay in La Fortuna for a few days so that we could have both the beach and rain forest experience. We were even able to see some monkeys, a sloth and a tarantula on one of our hikes!
Cons of Visiting Tamarindo
Cost Per Diem
Although getting to Tamarindo is relatively inexpensive, Costa Rica is quite expensive. Meals, excursions and accommodations do add up. I remember being unpleasantly surprised at the end of my trip when I checked my bank statements.
Tamarindo can get very touristy. This offers visitors lots of options for tours and excursions, but if you are looking for a more pristine, local feel where you can walk out the door and feel as though you are immersed in the culture, then this is not the place for you.
The water in Tamarindo cannot compete. The water is not as clear, not as blue and not as warm in Tamarindo compared to other tropical vacation spots. Also, the snorkeling was a bust. We saw one starfish and that is about it. Not to mention, the water was freezing!
As you can see there are many reasons to visit Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Tamarindo has a unique location as it is close to a rain forest and Nicaragua. It also is one of the only places to see the Leatherback sea turtles. But beware, Tamarindo is touristy, a bit expensive and the water is chilly!