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Tamarindo is a seaside town on the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, where the Nicoya Peninsula curves into the ocean. It’s an easy-going place with sheltered beaches and gentle waves that roll up to wide-open stretches of sand. The hotels in Tamarindo provide ocean views, meandering pools and thatched palapas for relaxing in the shade. Nearby Langosta Beach is a tranquil spot that’s popular with surfers. Long, easy waves are perfect for beginners, who can take a couple of lessons to get started. Experienced surfers head for the shorter, faster waves found at the river’s mouth. Of course, beach goers don’t need a board to enjoy the waves. Swimming and body-surfing are popular, too. The calm water makes for excellent boating. Sailing on a catamaran as the sun sets is an experience not to be missed.

Activities and gastronomy in Tamarindo

Visitors revel in simple activities such as swimming, sunbathing, walking on the beach and chilling out under a palm tree with a drink. Vendors sell fresh coconut milk all along the shore. They open the coconut husk, put in a straw and it’s ready for sipping. A fun drink to sample is kombucha, an effervescent black or green tea said to have many health benefits. More energetic pastimes are available at the best hotels in Tamarindo, including beach volleyball, football and kayaking. Other options are giant chess, table tennis and open-air massage. Fine hotel dining specialities include lobster, prawns, Mexican tacos and Spanish paella. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always on the menu. Anyone craving yet more produce can visit Tamarindo Farmer’s Market, where local farmers sell their home-grown crops, and shoppers can pick up souvenirs from vendors of folk art and jewellery.

Extraordinary wildlife

Many visitors to Costa Rica expect encounters with its richly diverse wildlife. The best hotels in Tamarindo assist guests in finding day trips to nature parks teeming with flora and fauna. Just to the north, Las Baulas National Marine Park is a haven for leatherback turtles, the largest sea turtles in the world. Weighing up to 700 kg, they lumber ashore to lay their eggs in the sand. Anyone visiting during nesting season from October to March is nearly guaranteed to see them. Other species come ashore during the rest of the year. A float trip up the river estuary into the adjacent Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge reveals ocelots, spectacled caiman and howler monkeys that live in the dense mangrove swamps. To glimpse marine life underwater, visitors can try Snuba diving, a new sport in which divers breathe through an air hose attached to a raft at the surface. It’s easier than scuba diving, requires no certification, and even beginners see whales, eels and octopus in the calm sea off Tamarindo.