Once the site of a quiet fishing village, Tamarindo Beach has grown in popularity to become one of Costa Rica's best known stretches of golden sand. Perhaps more so than any other group, surfers travel from across the globe to ride Tamarindo's waves—though spots nearby are calm enough for first-time wave riders to learn.
The beach has become one of the most developed oceanside areas on the Nicoya Peninsula, leading purists to say the popular Pacific beach town has lost its authentic charm and other travelers to welcome the modern restaurants, nightlife and familiar, first-world comforts.
Still, if relaxation is your goal, the mile-long, crescent-shaped beach offers magnificent views of the bay and plenty of space to sunbathe. Shallow, calm waters make for good swimming conditions, while sailing, kayaking, fishing and of course surfing are all fitting activities offshore. Waves are said to be best close to the estuary, but the beach is beautiful to behold from wherever you stand.
Set on Costa Rica's northern Pacific Coast, Tamarindo Beach is five hours from San José by car and only one hour from the international airport in Liberia. Although the temperature is mild, high season is November through April when days are warm and sunny, while the summer months of June through September often see torrential amounts of rain. There are many facilities and accommodation options in the adjacent town of Tamarindo. For a bit more quiet, head across the river to Playa Grande.