Best Beaches near Tamarindo, Costa Rica

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Tamarindo, Costa Rica, beaches are for surfers & relaxation-seekers. But there are many to choose from. Read this to find your favorite beach

Snuggled against the shores of the Pacific, Tamarindo is a paradise for surfers and chill-seekers. Catch waves and chill on the best Tamarindo, Costa Rica, beaches. This enchanting town in the Guanacaste region is bordered by stunning beaches minutes from the downtown area.

Miles of soft, golden sand, crystal waters, kick-ass waves, and exuberant nightlife make for the perfect tropical hideaway. 

Plus, it’s just a one-hour drive from Liberia International Airport, making it popular with couples, families, and solo travelers. 

Read on to discover the best beaches in Tamarindo—the perfect break from the daily grind.

Tamarindo Beach

Best beach for having it all at your fingertips

Aerial view of Tamarindo Beach Costa Rica

Suitable for surfing, running, and long walks, Playa Tamarindo is a caramel-colored beach that stretches 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) from north to south. While Tamarindo Beach, Guanacaste, is always packed and lined with bars and restaurants, it’s picture-perfect. There isn’t much shade; spots to spread your towel are a rarity, so rent a recliner and umbrella to work on your tan.

The water is calm and clear during low tide, making it ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Due to manageable waves—except in the middle section—beginner surfers can take baby steps. Avoid the far north because there could be crocodiles at the inlet. And yes, they’re not shy.

Other things to do at Tamarindo Beach include beach volleyball, partying, eating, and beachside shopping. If you like to be in the center of the action, Playa Tamarindo is the spot to hit.

Beaches north of Tamarindo

Playa Conchal

Best beach for swimmers

Playa Conchal Shell beach in Costa Rica

Lacking the crazy waves you find on other beaches near Tamarindo, Costa Rica, Playa Conchal, or Shell Beach is a stunner. It’s a palm-fringed beach with gentle waves, clear waters, and rose-colored, crushed-shell sands. 

While not exactly deserted, the conditions here are ideal for swimming and kayaking. If snorkeling is what you’re after, no sweat, head for the rocks near the beach’s northern end. 

The four-kilometer-long (2.5 miles) crescent cove is a 45-minute drive from Tamarindo. Once your stomach rumbles, you can get fresh grilled seafood from the pop-up restaurant on the beach or check out the hotels that line the area.

Given the proximity to chain hotels on the beach, it’s no surprise that you can find plenty of activities here, like jet-ski and horseback riding. In addition, adventurous travelers can hop on a panga, or small boat, to join locals on lobster and fishing trips. 

Playa Grande

Ideal for endless beach lovers

Playa Grande, north of Tamarindo in Costa Rica

Playa Grande is a sheltered beach within Las Baulas National Marine Park. While the beach is only separated from Tamarindo Beach by a river, getting here can be a little tricky. It’s a 30-minute drive or a one-hour walk. Of course, you can cross the river but always hop on a lancha (motorboat) as hungry crocodiles lurk in the river. It will only set you back a dollar.

Because Playa Grande is one of the Tamarindo, Costa Rica, beaches in the national park, there are no structures on the beach, and it’s protected, making it ideal for leatherback turtles to use as a nesting site. 

Apart from riding waves for more advanced surfers, Playa Grande is made for long beach walks. As the name “Grande” suggests, it’s a long stretch of sand.

Facility-wise, there’s a tiny taco stand where you can get scrumptious tacos and snacks. And you can find a few board rental shops in the area. Other than that, it’s one of those Tamarindo, Costa Rica, beaches where it’s just you, the waves, the sunshine, and sand castles. Enjoy!

Playa Zapotilla/Minas

Best beach for view lovers

Playa Minas or Playa Zapotila aerial view in Costa Rica

Are you looking for jaw-dropping views? 

Forty minutes north of Tamarindo, you’ll find Playa Zapotilla/Minas, popular with locals as they’re the only ones who know how to get there, aside from a few intrepid travelers. Therefore, beach reviews on this one are a rarity. Don’t let that put you off; hike up to the viewpoint on the beach’s southern end, and you’ll be rewarded with rambling vistas.

Playa Flamingo

Ideal for nature lovers

Aerial view of Playa Flamingo near Tamarindo

Forty minutes north of Tamarindo, Playa Flamingo is loved because of its fine light sand, crystal-clear water, and lush flora that provides a backdrop to this dream beach. 

Due to the mountains tumbling into the sea, you can find a broad selection of hidden lagoons around Playa Flamingo. If that’s not enough, you can go sailing, fishing, surfing, snorkeling, and diving there. 

Playa Danta (Las Catalinas)

Great for history buffs

Las Catalinas town overlooking the beach

Overlooking Playa Danta, Las Catalinas is a cute little town with cobbled streets and Spanish architecture. 

It’s a 55-minute car drive from Tamarindo and well worth the trip, not just because of the historic atmosphere. Aside from renting paddleboards, mountain bikes, and sailboats, you can just wind down and bake in the sun, enjoying the beach weather. You don’t need to bring supplies as you can find a restaurant on the beach.

Isla Caracas

Best beach for nudists

Three people under a tree bough at sunset on a beach in Costa Rica

Are you into nude beaches? 

Situated just north of Las Catalinas, Playa Grande on Isla Caracas is one of those few beaches for naturists. 

It’s not easy to get here; while it’s a 70-minute drive from Tamarindo, the last five kilometers (three miles) from Playa Danta require some driving skills as you travel on a dirt track. A 4×4 does wonders. The upside is you’ll have the beach almost to yourself.

Like many beaches for nudists, Playa Grande is pretty quiet, as is Isla Caracas. Aside from meeting the odd naked human, you can see fish jumping and swimming in the crystal sea as you walk along the water’s edge. 

Isla Caracas is for you if you like peace and quiet.

Playa Casitas

Great for surfers

Surfer's silhouette at sunset

Separated only by an inlet and part of Playa Grande, Playa Casitas is within spitting distance of Playa Tamarindo. 

Yet don’t be fooled into thinking you can swim across it. The two dollars for the boat ride is money well spent; there are hungry crocs in the river. Look for the two tiny houses after the river hop. Once you’re there, you’ll know you’ve reached Playa Casitas. 

Less crowded than Tamarindo, it’s an excellent place to read a book, watch surfers, or catch waves.

Pirates Cove/Playa Piratas

Ideal for chill-seekers

Pirate's Cove in Costa Rica

Pirates Cove is off the well-trodden tourist trail. Also known as Playa Piratas, the little-known beach is a 40-minute drive from Tamarindo. 

Enjoy the quiet atmosphere in this remote location and soak up the views of the nearby rocky islands. You can listen to the water lapping ashore or go for a swim. The sea is calm in this secret cove.

Sugar Beach/Playa Pan de Azúcar

Ideal for nature lovers

Howler Monkey in a tree

Playa Pan de Azúcar, or Sugar Beach, is 55 minutes north of Tamarindo and boasts wildlife galore. 

Sugar Beach is a paradise for nature lovers—howling monkeys, exotic birds, and hungry iguanas will watch you from afar. You may even spot deer on the white, fluffy sands if you get lucky. Visit in the green season from May to November, and you’ll be virtually alone.

Beaches south of Tamarindo

Playa Langosta 

Best beach for chill-seekers

Playa Langosta near Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica

Playa Langosta’s pale beach and rocky outcroppings are only a mile south of Tamarindo, down a sandy dirt road. While that sounds hard to reach, it’s pretty easy to get there on foot, by car, or by bus. It’s a five-minute drive from downtown Tamarindo and will take you 15 minutes if you walk.

Langosta Beach has a laid-back vibe, and it’s less developed and quieter than its bigger brother—Tamarindo Beach. Yet, it’s only a few minutes to all the surf shops, restaurants, and other amenities for a day on the beach. 

Playa Langosta is suitable for swimming. The water is so clear you can still see your feet if you wade out in the sea for 100 meters.

Surfers of all levels come here, too. During high tide, the waves won’t barrel in and are manageable. However, some of the ocean floor is rocky, and there is coral, so if you can’t stay on your surfboard, learn elsewhere.

Facility-wise, there are volleyball courts sometimes, and beach vendors sell beers and coconuts. 

Playa Avellana

Best beach for surfers

Surfers and sailboats in Costa Rica

Thirty minutes south of Tamarindo, Playa Avellana is well worth the journey if you like wild waves for surfing.

El Estero de Avellanas, situated in front of the river mouth, is one of Costa Rica’s top surfing spots. But it’s not for newbies. The waves can get as high as 18 feet (5.5 meters).

Aside from being a surfer’s paradise, Playa Avellanas is one of the best beaches in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, because of its crystal water and white, powder-puff sands. Since fewer people come here, it’s also an excellent place to enjoy peace and quiet. 

There are a few places to grab a bite, sip a cold one, and chill in a hammock. Playa Avellanas is a great place to soak up the laid-back atmosphere, have a picnic, or participate in a pickup beach soccer game once the sun sets.

Pro tip: If you have a car, parking is easy. There is a large parking lot in front of the main entrance. 

Playa Negra

Best beach for movie enthusiasts

Playa Negra near Tamarindo Costa Rica

Play Negra is a small surf town with a market and a few restaurants, a 45-minute-drive south of Tamarindo. 

It’s a movie location; “The Endless Summer” was filmed here in 1994. The long flat beach in a rocky area makes for monster waves. Therefore, it’s a surf classic for advanced surfers.

As a newbie, you can still enjoy this black sand beach, watching the pros battling the waves during high tide or playing volleyball.

Playa Callejones

Ideal for adventure lovers

girl surfing

A stone’s throw from Playa Negra and yet a little-known spot, Playa Callejones is for skilled surfers. 

It’s a rocky beach with large waves barreling in. Some adventurous travelers stay here overnight; you can find a campground on site. 

Getting here isn’t hassle-free. Tackling the dirt roads is best done using a 4×4.

Playa Blanca Sunset Point

Best beach for Instagrammers

Playa Blanca Sunset Point Costa Rica

Just south of Playa Callejones, Playa Blanca Sunset Point isn’t easy to reach either. But if you rent a bike, it’s an excellent place to visit and take plenty of pictures you can share on social media. 

Overlooking the Pacific, the viewpoint isn’t just great for enjoying incredible sunsets; you’ll also see the seabed and small pools that form during low tide.

Playa Junquillal

Best beach for tranquility seekers

Playa Junquiillal beach

A 50-minute drive south, Playa Junquillal is one of the most remote Tamarindo, Costa Rica, beaches. The upside is you’ll have the beach almost to yourself. 

That might change once the private resorts on the beach have been completed. However, at the moment, there are no water sports or tourist-oriented activities. Even shade is hard to find. Nevertheless, you can enjoy beach walks, swim in clear water, and spot turtles at night. 

In a nutshell, Playa Junquillal is unspoiled nature away from the crowds.

Playa del Ostional

Best beach for turtle lovers

baby turtle

Playa del Ostional is another beach for turtle fans. Unfortunately, it’s even further south and a 1.5-hour drive from Tamarindo. 

Leatherback and green turtles come here in droves and lay their eggs, even during the day. However, the best time to spot them is at sunset during the new moon phase from May to December. Picture thousands of simultaneously hatching turtles; it’s a sight worth seeing. 

Weather in Tamarindo

surfers walking on the beach at golden hour

The short story is there are two main seasons in Costa Rica: the wet season from May to November and the dry season from November to May. 

May and June are months when you can expect clear skies in the morning and showers in the afternoon. Two months of generally rain-free afternoons follow during Costa Rica’s El Veranillo de San Juan, a mini-summer between July and August. 

Like everywhere, crowds thin out in the off-season, but that’s when hotels are cheaper. 

Do you prefer pleasant weather throughout the day? Visit between December and April. The skies are clear throughout the day, and the offshore winds help groom the approaching waves.

Packing list essentials for Tamarindo

Pura vida written in sand

Here’s an overview of what to pack and what to wear when you hit Tamarindo’s beaches:

  • Breathable polyester or polycotton tops
  • loose-fitting shorts
  • waterproof sandals 
  • sunscreen (SPF 50 and SPF 30)
  • reusable water bottle with a filter 
  • sunglasses
  • bug spray
  • swimwear
  • beach towels
  • mask, snorkel, and fins
  • a waterproof bag for your phone and other valuables
  • a poncho, waterproof pants, and boots


Can you swim at Tamarindo Beach?

Oh yes, you can! The long and wide coastline makes Tamarindo Beach ideal for swimming.

Are the beaches in Tamarindo nice?

Calling them nice would be an understatement. The coastal town of Tamarindo is renowned for its white-sand beaches and the Pacific’s swimming pool-colored waters.

Posted October 5, 2022
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Philipp Meier
Philipp Meier is a Phuket-based travel writer passionate about Thai culture and wandering off Thailand’s well-trodden tourist trail. His work has been published on the Nat Geo Traveller India, South China Morning Post, Culture Trip, BootsnAll, GoNOMAD, and elsewhere. You can find him at Writer Philipp Meier and LinkedIn.
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