Tamarindo is much more than just a surf spot. Tamarindo is a happening beach town full of shops, restaurants and bars. Add to that the mix of cultures, languages and people, and it is truly a special surfing destination. This is all part of the experience of surfing in Tamarindo — catching some waves out front while your non-surfing friends enjoy happy hour on the beach. Later, you go out to eat sushi and then enjoy some drinks at the bar. It’s all within walking distance of where you surfed just hours before.
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How to get there
Tamarindo can be accessed via paved road, and is about one hour from the international airport in Liberia by car or shuttle. There is also a small airport on the outskirts of town where you can catch flights to San José or Liberia, and from there to other parts of Costa Rica, Nicaragua or Panama.
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Where to surf
Tamarindo has over a half-dozen surfing peaks to enjoy, which does a decent job of spreading out the crowds. Starting on the north end of the beach, on the other side of the river mouth, you will find a spot called Casitas. Though it is technically at the far south end of Playa Grande, it’s considered a Tamarindo spot because of its proximity to town. This wave goes both left and right, and is mainly a beach break but there are rocks around as well. The river mouth can be one of the most epic waves in all of Tamarindo depending on the time of year, swell direction and composition of sandbars. It’s an always changing wave and can be a long, draining, barreling right, or a long, fast, shreddable left and anything in between. It can be non-existent for a few months at a time and then come back to life after a big storm.
The beach break in front of Witch’s Rock Surf Camp is considered surf lesson central, so ultimate care should be used around beginner surfers. For an advanced surfer, this wave can be fun but is normally not worth the crowds and risks involved with flying longboards everywhere.
Next up is Pico Grande and Pico Pequeño. Pico Grande is a rock pile that throws a sucky right and a normally fat and flat left. Pico Pequeño is the inside reform wave of Pico Grande, which can be super wedgie, fun, and most likely crowded.
Further south you will come to Henry’s, another area of beach break waves. Then at the very south end of the beach you will find Capitan Suizo. This is normally a beginner’s surf beach break paradise, with soft, fun and peaky waves. However, on huge swells at the right angle, Capitan Suizo can get head-high and incredibly fun for all levels of surfers.
The river mouth is always best at mid and low tides unless the swell is absolutely pumping, in which case high tide will be surfable as well. The beach break in front of Witch’s Rock loves mid and high tide, but can work at any time depending on the swell direction. Capitan Suizo is also a mid to high tide spot, as well as Casitas.
Tamarindo is full of local surf shops, tour companies, bars, restaurants, clothing stores, ice cream shops and more. You can find pretty much anything within five minutes of the beach.
One of the most popular surf establishments in town is Witch’s Rock Surf Camp, with its two restaurants, brewery, bars and beachfront restaurant. It’s a local hangout as well as a tourist trap, and a fun time can always be had drinking beers while watching the surfing right out front. Kelly’s Surf Shop is on the other side of the road and offers surfboard rentals, lessons and tours.