Last updated on January 5, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Costa Rica

Where to stay in Tamarindo – Best 4 AREAS and hotels

If you are wondering where to stay in Tamarindo, the center of the town is a great place to start your search, especially if you are visiting for the first time.

It has an amazing beach with a fabulous sunset, great easy waves to surf, especially for beginners and intermediates, bars, restaurants, cafes, and fantastic nightlife.

There are however 3 other areas that may work better if traveling with kids or you want to have a quiet or even secluded vacation, or you are tight on the budget.

In this post, I talk about the 4 best places to stay in Tamarindo and nearby with all the pros and cons. I have also created a map and an easy table to compare the areas which will make your final decision so much easier.

But let’s dive into it

Where to stay in Tamarindo map
Where to stay in Tamarindo map

Where to stay in Tamarindo – Key Points

Here is the quick comparative table. Click on the area name to jump to the full description including all the pros, cons, and a few suggested hotels and accommodations.

On a mobile, swipe left or right to see all the columns.

Area/TownIdeal forProsConsAccessibilityRestaurantsFamiliesNightlifeMore on the area
Tamarindo Beach & TownFirst-time visitorsBeautiful beach, surfing, nightlife, diningExpensive, can be noisyEasyExcellentGoodExcellentVibrant, beachfront
Playa GrandeSeclusionQuiet, wild beach, cheaperLimited bars/restaurantsModerate
(ok boat, car complicated )
LimitedGoodLimitedWild, secluded
Playa LangostaNature lovers, familiesQuiet, natural pools, natureLimited beach during high tide, too quiet2 miles from the beach, busy road, no nightlifeLimitedExcellentLimitedNatural, quiet, scenic
VillarealBudget travelers, big groupsAffordable, countryside nature2 miles from beach, busy road, no nightlifeCar neededLimitedGoodNoneLocal, inland.

If you are in a hurry, here are my 3 suggested places to stay in Tamarindo and around.

Although I consider driving in Costa Rica very easygoing, you do not really need a car if staying in town, everything will be within walking distance and you can always join day tours to explore other destinations.

In saying that, renting a car in Costa Rica is going to be a game changer, you will be able to discover so many hidden beaches, beautiful waterfalls, and incredible rainforests, all at your own pace and most shared with just your partner and your family. One word: idyllic.

I usually rent my cars with DiscoverCars, a website that compares local and global rentals to provide the best price and service available. And with just $7/day you can full insurance your car in Costa Rica.

Tamarindo Beach & Town – Best place to stay for first-time visitors

If you are wondering where to stay in Tamarindo on your first visit, then look no further than the town itself which develops along a beautiful beach, very wide on low tide but quite narrow on high tide.

Honestly, the beach is picture-perfect, probably what you expect from Costa Rica, with plenty of palm trees and a fantastic vibe at sunset time, with music and drinks available everywhere.

What kind of activities can you do at the beach?

Obviously surfing, Tamarindo is the capital of beginner surfers because the waves are very forgiving and easy to ride, perfect to start this sport, and that’s what I did last December.

I have been practicing windsurfing for decades but I have been always struggling with surfing. So I took this opportunity to practice more and honestly, I felt a bit spoiled by the effortless surfing in Tamarindo, so easygoing, so predictable, and easy to do. A must-try for anyone.

The main beach gets very popular in Tamarindo on sunset time

Another positive thing is that there is a great choice of surf shops and schools. Expect to pay around US$40 for a 2 hours group lesson and US$10 for a day’s rent, which is a bargain. True, this is the bottom range of the price range, because most tend to charge a bit more than that, so you need to bargain around.

My experience with Matos Surf Shop was great. It seems closed permanently on Google Maps but I assure you that they operate. They even discounted the price to just US$6 for half-day surf rent, when most shops don’t even bother about short rentals.

Another very popular activity is horse riding at the beach, you will see a few of them going back and forward. Then there are 2 fields for volleyball and a beach field for soccer, so plenty of options if you feel energetic.

The best places to stay in Tamarindo are just behind the main beach. There is a great choice of accommodation and plenty of shopping, bars, restaurants, nightlife, and everything you need on your vacation.

The place I enjoy the most for food and drinks, which tend to be very fashionable at the moment, is El Mercadito de Tamarindo, This is essentially a very trendy food court where you can find 10 shops all offering different kinds of cuisine and a central bar offering extraordinary cocktails.

Walking around Tamarindo Town
Walking around Tamarindo Town

What are the drawbacks of staying in Tamarindo?

Unfortunately, this is the most expensive area to stay in Tamarindo. You can still find some great bargains but the number is very limited, especially in the high season, between Christmas and April.

This part of Tamarindo can be also quite noisy, especially if your hotel is close to the bar and restaurant areas, so be very careful about the accommodation you book. I have a few suggestions below that have been either tried and/or verified for a quiet night’s sleep, and they work perfectly if you are traveling with your partner or the entire family.

Here are 3 of the best accommodations in Tamarindo Town:

BoHo Tamarindo – Adults Only ($$$$): An exceptional boutique oasis in Tamarindo! Stylish, immaculate, and relaxing. Wonderful hosts, delicious breakfast, and close to the beach.

Tamarindo Blue ($$-$$$): 1BR and 2BR apartments, spacious, clean, great location, friendly staff, and beautiful surroundings

Hotel Boruca ($$): Great location, friendly staff, delicious breakfast, and comfortable rooms with excellent amenities, fantastic value for money

https://youtu.be/d2p8_dMzLwo

Playa Grande – Where to stay in Tamarindo for seclusion

Playa Grande is hands down the best place to stay in Tamarindo for a secluded vacation.

This is a long stretch of beach just a few hundred meters from Tamarindo, but, there is a little catch, a river that separates the two areas, and no bridges.

During the day, you can take a small boat for just two dollars that will take you to the other side of the stream, however, this operates only during day time.

At night you will need a car or a taxi to move between Tamarindo and Playa Grande and, unfortunately, the drive goes quite inland and takes a long time, around 40 minutes.

Playa Grande has a fabulous beach, much wilder and with fewer people, but it’s not as organized as Tamarindo, which means you won’t find as many bars or restaurants.

There is a bunch of surf shops/renters but, because the choice is limited, they tend to charge more for everything.

On the positive side, the price of accommodations tends to be cheaper and better value than in Tamarindo.

Ultimately, you want to stay in Play Grance if you are looking for a seclude and quiet time, with the possibility to access Tamarindo’s facilities, very easy during the day, and more complicated at night.

Here are 2 of the best accommodations in Playa Grande:

Villas Kalei ($$$$): Stunning eco-villas amidst nature, impeccable cleanliness, welcoming hosts, and a relaxing paradise.

Playa Grande Surf Camp ($$): Relaxing beachfront hostel and bungalows with friendly staff, good kitchen, and chilled-out vibes. Perfect for surfing

Short boat trip to Playa Grande
Short boat trip to Playa Grande

Playa Langosta – Best area to stay in Tamarindo for nature

Another great alternative, much less commercial than Tamarindo, is Playa Langosta, just three kilometers from the town center.

Playa Langosta is essentially a very quiet and fairly new vacation village immersed in nature, with lo-key houses and hotels, almost unnoticeable and hidden in a forest, really a stunning set.

This is the best place for a laid-back stay in the middle of nature. There’s even a national park at the end of Langosta Beach, Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas, which is a fabulous spot to have a walk along the coastline.

The beach itself has two lives. When it’s high tide you can’t really walk along it and you can’t swim in it because of many random sharp rocks. However, in low tide, you will find plenty of Natural Pools which are a great playground, especially for kids.

Playa Langosta is one of the best places to stay for families with small kids that want to enjoy a quiet time, the spectacular beach with the natural pools during the low tide, and the swimming pool of the resort during the high tide. The best of all worlds.

Here are 2 of the best accommodations for families in Playa Langosta:

Casa Tamar ($$$$): Exceptional villa with private pool, top location near the beach, modern amenities, perfect for families

Casa Coco de Mer ($$): Spacious, modern apartment, great pool, and helpful hosts. Peaceful location near the beach

Horse riding in Playa Langosta
Horse riding in Playa Langosta

Are you looking for a great Costa Rica Travel Guide? Here is the best FREE trip handbook dedicated to first-timers.

Villareal – Where to stay in Tamarindo on a budget

Villareal is a small local town just 2 miles (~3 km) inland of Tamarindo.

Most of the accommodations are either apartments or villas and a couple of hotels too, which may work great if traveling in a big group or you are on a budget.

Besides the better value for money of the accommodations, you will find also a couple of supermarkets where the locals go, which means they sell goods at a cheaper price. I suggest stopping at Maxi Palí, my favorite for the week’s expenses. The choice is not as great as Auto Mercado, but the quality and price are unbeatable.

The drawback, of course, is that you are about 2 miles from the beach. I personally suggest renting a car in Costa Rica if you plan to stay inland. Public transportation is available but not as reliable.

One place you should visit in Villareal is the Black Stallion Eco Park where you can do some exciting zip lining or just enjoy horse riding through the amazing countryside nature.

For dinner, you will have better options in Tamarindo. There are only a few local restaurants and bars in Villareal that get shut in the early evening. No nightlife of course.

Also, the road from Tamarindo gets very very busy after three o’clock so the trip back from the beach to Villareal in the afternoon can take some time, around 30 minutes, even if it is a short 2 miles.

Having your own car helps, at least you are flexible with your time and you avoid waiting for the unreliable bus.

Here are 2 of the best accommodations in Villareal:

Casa Mar de Sueños ($): Perfect location, great facilities, and excellent service. Budget 2BR apartment with private pool and WiFi

Casa Tropical ($$): Excellent location, stunning 3BR house with a private pool, great for big families or groups (up to 9 people).

The local supermarket in Villareal
The local supermarket in Villareal

Conclusion

Overall, I would suggest staying in Tamarindo Town in one of the accommodations I suggested. If unavailable, make sure the hotels you plan to stay in are not close to bars and clubs.

The center is the best area to stay in Tamarindo for first-time visitors looking for great facilities, a beautiful beach, and some nightlife too.

The other three options are perfect for a quieter or more secluded stay. Playa Langosta is a great place to stay for families that want to have a mix of resort and safe beach time. Villareal is the best value option, which works great for long stays and digital nomads.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Tamarindo worth visiting in Costa Rica?

Yes, Tamarindo is known for its beautiful beaches, surfing, and vibrant nightlife, making it one of the most popular destinations to stay in Costa Rica.

What is the best part of Tamarindo beach?

The best part of Tamarindo Beach is its wide sandy stretch, perfect for sunbathing, surfing, and enjoying stunning sunsets.

Is Tamarindo a good place to stay?

Yes, Tamarindo offers a range of accommodations, dining options, and activities, making it a convenient and enjoyable place to stay.

Should I Go To Santa Teresa Or Tamarindo?

Santa Teresa VS Tamarindo is getting a popular question! Santa Teresa offers a laid-back surf vibe, while Tamarindo has more amenities and nightlife. Both have unique appeals.

How does it compare to Jaco?

I wrote extensively about Jaco and where to stay. In short, Jaco is more developed, with plenty of bars and restaurants and great nightlife.

How many days do you need in Tamarindo Costa Rica?

A stay of 3-5 days in Tamarindo allows enough time to enjoy the beach, local attractions, and nearby excursions. On my last trip, I spent 10 days there and I wished I booked for a longer vacation.

Is it safe to walk in Tamarindo at night?

Generally, Tamarindo is considered safe, but like many tourist areas, it’s wise to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings at night.

Can you swim in the ocean in Tamarindo?

Yes, the ocean in Tamarindo is suitable for swimming, though you should pay attention during high surf conditions.

What are the best months to visit Tamarindo?

The best months to visit Tamarindo are during the dry season, from December to April, for optimal weather.

What’s the typical temperature in Tamarindo?

This side of Costa Rica tends to have more sun than the rest of the country, and Tamarindo is no exception with temperatures between 73°F (23°C) and 80°F (27°C). On my last trip in December, I was in town for 10 days and I experienced only sunny days with a couple of storms lasting literally 5 minutes. 

What about some hiking in Costa Rica

Monteverde is an amazing place to experience the unique cloud forests. Arenal and La Fortuna are known for volcanic landscapes and hot springs, with La Fortuna serving as the main town for exploring Arenal.

Playa Langosta is famous for the natural pools in low tide
Playa Langosta is famous for the natural pools in low tide
Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

Leave a Comment