Beach Town Travel Guide: Tamarindo, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

2019-01-31T16:41:04+00:00July 29, 2013   ||   Posted in: Costa Rica - ||   6 Comments

Tamarindo, on the Nicoya Peninsula, started out as Costa Rica’s down and dirty surfer travel secret but the ensuing years have brought a remarkable amount of chic to to this surf town as well. The result is a kind of seaside schizophrenia to suit all travel budgets playing out on one of the most gorgeous, sweeping, inviting beaches in Costa Rica.

Tamarindo Beach, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

Any way you look at it, Tamarindo Beach, on the Nicoya Peninsula, is one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica.

The surf side of Tamarindo

Joe Walsh, owner of Witch’s Rock Surf Camp, still pretty much looks like the 20-year-old Cali surfer that he was when he arrived in Tamarindo in a school bus in 2000. It’s fair to call Joe an early adopter, but Tamarindo wasn’t exactly undiscovered when he arrived. Some of the footage for the 1966 surf classic “The Endless Summer” was shot in Tamarindo.

Joe Walsh Witch's Rock Surf Camp & Volcano Brewing Company

Joe Walsh arrived in Tamarindo in 2000 in a converted school bus. Now he runs Witch’s Rock Surf Camp and recently started Volcano Brewing Company as well.

Even Witch’s Rock has chiced up over the years. Today, it’s a pretty swank (in a sandy kind of way) 18 room guest house with numerous boats, boards, and instructor plus a lively restaurant and bar.

Speaking of the bar…Did we mention the craft brewed beer? In 2011 Joe opened Volcano Brewing Company on the shores of Lake Arenal. The microbrewery makes pale ale and a nut brown ale (both delicious) and he sells every drop between the brewpub and restaurant on Lake Arenal and his bar in Tamarindo (US$3 for 12 ounces/30 ml).

Volcano Brewing Company Witch's Rock Pale Ale Tamarindo Costa Rica

Volcano Brewing Company craft-brewed beer for sale at Witch’s Rock Surf Camp in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

Learn more about Volcano Brewing Company and other good beer in our story abut Central American microbrews.

The chic side of Tamarindo

Like in many Costa Rican beach towns, condos and timeshares jockey for space among surfer flop houses, international chain hotels, and tour bus traveler crash pads in Tamarindo. To reach the real chic you have to go travel to nearby Langosta Beach. There you will find Cala Luna Hotel.

Pool Cala Luna Hotel, Nicoya Peninsula, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

The pool at the chic Cala Luna Hotel near Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

Back in the loving hands of the Pilurzu family which originally built the hotel, a recent renovation has instilled real understated elegance to its 21 rooms and 20 villas (some with private pools). Aesthetics aside, Cala Luna also features a huge new open-air yoga pavilion where free morning classes are offered to guests and an on-site organic garden which gives their new food and beverage manager plenty to work with.

Cala Luna Hotel, Langosta Beach Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Inside the Cala Luna Hotel, one of the chicest offerings near Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

Eating in Tamarindo

Tamarindo town is also dotted with dining options with stylish (and spendy) cafes rubbing shoulders with cheap falafel stands (don’t miss a tiny spot called Falafel Bar).

We couldn’t leave Tamarindo without meeting (and eating with) Chef Shlomy, a local culinary institution who now heads up Seasons by Shlomy restaurant. Israeli born Shlomy Koren opened Seasons in 2007 and he now turns out what he calls a “mélange of styles” of cuisine. We call it Med Rica.

Ninety percent of his ingredients are sourced locally and Shlomy, a Cordon Bleu trained chef, turns them into inventive dishes like sautéed octopus on tahini with chick peas, shrimp (14 of them!) and spinach over house-milled polenta that’s sweet and rich and nothing like the Cream-of-Wheat-esque packaged stuff. There’s also homemade ice cream and sorbet and even homemade bread.

Seasons by Shlomy - Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

This is what’s for dinner at Seasons by Shlomy restaurant in Tamarindo, Costa Rica: shrimp and spinach over sweet, rich house-milled polenta.

“Consistency is the name of the game,” says Chef Shlomy who cooks every entree himself (large appetizers from US$9, entrees from US$18, no credit cards). His US$28 prixe fixe including an entree, main, and dessert chosen from any item on the menu is a bargain.

Chef Shlomy Koren - Seasons by Shlomy, Tamarindo

Chef Shlomy at his restaurant in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

Here’s more about travel in Costa Rica



  1. Thomas July 29, 2013 at 9:05 pm - Reply

    We went to Tamarindo during our honeymoon in 1998…It seems to have ‘grown up’ some since then…

  2. Reg of The Spain Scoop July 30, 2013 at 9:35 am - Reply

    I was last in Costa Rica in 2001. This post made me want to return!

  3. Gina July 30, 2013 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    Costa Rica is so amazingly beautiful. I cannot wait until I can get this on my vacation itinerary! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Melissa July 31, 2013 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Ah, I miss Tamarindo! I was only there for a handful of nights last year but I loved it. I stayed at this cute, 8-room inn with a good breakfast and a beautiful pool. One of my favourite things to do was to have a drink at one of the beachside restaurants and watch the sun set over the Pacific. So peaceful.

  5. Jemma August 8, 2013 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    The place and the food are awesome. I’d love to swim on that pool. Now I’m feeling hungry ’cause shrimp is my favorite food!

  6. Tamarindo is one of the best destinations in Costa Rica for surfers , beach lovers and people who love really nice hotels. Some of the best restaurant of CR are in Tamarindo.

    In this destination snorkeling tours are really amazing.

    Wonderful information.

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