The lively surf hamlet of Tamarindo, in the north west region of Guanacaste, is home to some of the best nightlife and restaurants of Costa Rica, and with an assortment of scenic sun-kissed beaches and surf breaks in both directions from this bustling beach town, it’s a great spot for experiencing the pura vida lifestyle.
Home to an expat community from all over the world, Tamarindo offers international cuisine, boutique hotels for all budgets, and every amenity for the perfect relaxing getaway.
Here are a few of our favorite spots for eating, shopping, and relaxing from longterm residents.
Tamarindo has tons of boutiques selling everything from chi chi bikinis to overpriced souvenirs, but there are some great places for locally made finds as well. A few of our favorites are Dolores and Dolores Kids in Plaza Conchal, De Bajo la Escalera near Nogui's for awesome locally-made jewelry, and Bagus on the beach road for t-shirts and accessories. There are definitely some gems mixed in among the tourist traps. Also be sure to book an appointment at the Coco Beauty Spa on the main road through town. They're the best!
Tamarindo is home to some excellent restaurants. The first one you pass as you come into town is Panga's. Part restaurant, part fish market, and part beach club, Panga’s is the perfect place to wile away happy hour with a signature cocktail and fresh, artfully prepared seafood. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner from comfortable beachfront tables at the quiet northern end of Playa Tamarindo, Panga’s is a definite can’t miss dining experience during your visit.
Tucked away in a romantic hidden garden, Bamboo Sushi offers the perfect ambience for lunch or dinner. Just off the main road on a little side street is the always packed Patagonia. It's an Argentinian restaurant with some of the best food in town, especially the empanadas, steaks, and milanesa. Make reservations for dinner, or stop in for lunch when it's less crowded. For excellent homemade empanadas, pastas, and pizzas, stop into the little shop of Pasta Casera (look for the sandwich board on the street). Best empanadas in town. For great coffee and treats try Cafe Tico, and for lunch on the go, locally made dry goods, and ready-made sandwiches, pop into La Bodega.
One of our all time favorite spots to spend a relaxing morning with friends is at Sueño del Mar in Playa Langosta. It's the most intimate and lovely B&B, and they serve up a delicious three-course breakfast with the most gorgeous view.
About a 30 minute drive south of Tamarindo, but well worth the trip, Lola’s in Playa Avellanas is the place to spend a perfect day eating delicious food, catching waves, swinging in a hammock, getting a massage out in the jungle, listening to the howler monkeys in the trees, or just downing cocktails at sunset. Named after the owners’ old pet pig, Lola’s is the perfect daytrip out of town and should not be missed.
This guide is also available as a full-color pocket sized (4x6) book, including a map of all the shops and restaurants listed above. Perfect for including in welcome bags for guests at Tamarindo weddings! To preview the inside of the book, click here. (A minimum order of 10 books is required.)
All photos shot on Kodak Portra 400 film by Julie Comfort of Comfort Studio.