Balling on a budget? No worries, we got you! Overall, Central America is a pretty affordable place where your money can often take you a long way. Costa Rica is one of the more expensive countries in Central America because of how much it has developed and their big tourist base, but there are still many ways to make your Tamarindo surf trip affordable and still incredible! Right here in Tamarindo, there are a number of options for free activities so that you can live the Pura Vida worry-free.
Go to Tamarindo beach!
This is kind of an obvious one, but it’s fantastic that one of the biggest reasons why people travel to visit Tamarindo is free for everyone to enjoy. Read a book, listen to music, bring some snacks, and spend the afternoon swimming and soaking up the rays. It is super fun to just hang out and watch the surfers ripping up the waves and learn by watching different techniques.
Tamarindo beach is long, so you will always be able to find a nice spot for yourself. It is a little over a mile to walk from the north end where the estuary is to the other end before you go around the point to Langosta Beach, it is perfect for a beach walk to get a little exercise. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.
Have a bonfire
There is no better activity after enjoying an incredible sunset than a bonfire on the beach with friends. It is usually pretty easy to scrounge up some dry wood from the beach and find an old newspaper to use to get it going. From there, take out your guitar, roast some marshmallows, or just share stories under the stars until it’s time to call it a night.
Hike to the mirador
There are a couple of different miradors (or lookouts, in English) that you can walk up to in Tamarindo. Although a steep walk, the views at the top are well worth the climb! One of the best routes is just down the road from Iguana Surf toward Villa Real. You will turn up a gravel road just before the steps up to the Best Western and Crazy Monkey and follow the winding road up until you reach the top. This is a great activity for early in the morning before it gets too hot and to get your day started with a little movement, or in the evening to enjoy a beer and watch the sunset. You can see all the way north to Playa Grande and south to Avellanas. It is truly breathtaking!
There has been a small skate park in Tamarindo for a long time, but it has been renovated and now it is almost complete and ready for action. It is going to be a lot nicer than it has been in the past, so if you skate or would like to learn, definitely check it out! Chances are, there will be some locals around who could show you the ropes or other visitors to make friends with. There is also a playground close by so kids and families are always around, making it a nice atmosphere and a great spot to enjoy an afternoon.
Pickup Soccer Games
Futbol and Futsal are both widely enjoyed sports in Costa Rica, and walking down the beach, you will pass random little games going on all the time. They are often a mix of locals and visitors alike who share a love of the sport or just want to get some exercise and have a little fun. Jump into a game on the beach if you pass one and try for yourself! There is also a turf soccer field in town that is home to many casual matches. If you ask around a little, you could likely jump into an organized match and then get your friends to come watch! Iguana Surf often organizes games for fun where the staff, surf campers, and friends all play together so ask around to see what is going on while you are in town!
Tamarindo Farmers Markets
There are two amazing markets in Tamarindo that you can’t miss. On Thursday nights you will find the Tamarindo Night Market. The market runs from 6-9pm and is located in a square behind the Tamarindo Gym. You will find food from all over the world, handmade jewelry and other goods, delicious drinks, live music, and often other fun pop up performances like a fire show or some magic. The night market is always a lively time and completely free to visit, but also a great stop for dinner or to get a few souvenirs if that is on your list.
The Saturday morning farmers market is just as incredible. A few of the same vendors will likely be there, but with more options for fresh produce, spices and oils, amazing coffee, more handmade goods, and even a smoothie bowl truck. There is nothing better than starting off your morning with some acai and a fresh coffee and maybe a pastry, and supporting what the amazing artists in the area are selling.
Langosta Beach or Playa Grande
The beaches just south and north of Tamarindo beach are easily accessible by a walk to spend the day in a new spot and swim in or surf some new waves! If you walk south down the beach, you will come to a rocky point that you can walk right around during low tide or there is a trail to head over if you are there during high tide. It is amazing how much the look of the beach changes so quickly, and it is an amazing place to look for shells or just enjoy a nap since it is much less populated than the beach in Tamarindo. Playa Grande to the north does involve a quick boat ride to get to (because crocodiles live in the estuary…) so it is worth the 500 colones (about $1) to get across. Once there, you can walk for as long as you would like until you find a nice spot to settle down. Bring a picnic and enjoy the sun! Grande is another fun surf spot if you want to bring boards along as well. Or if you just want to take a nice long walk, there is plenty to see and amazing views looking across the ocean back towards Tamarindo. This is a great place to catch the sunset as well! Just make sure you get on the last boat back across the estuary which leaves at 6pm.
Although this does not apply to everyone if you’re a girl and trying to get your money’s worthwhile going out in Tamarindo, hitting up the ladies’ nights is a must. It is ladies night somewhere almost every night, so you can really make it worth it if you want to! The drinks might not be incredible, but they will still do the job. Tuesday and Thursday are ladies night at Lizard, Wednesday is ladies night at Pacifico, on Fridays, there are free drinks for everyone at Crazy Monkey from 9-11, and Saturday is ladies night at Sharky’s! Sorry girls, there are no nights off in Tamarindo 😉
Live Music & Open Mic Nights
At various restaurants and bars around town, there is almost always some kind of music going on. The hostel and bar Oveja Negra has live music a few nights a week with a super fun and relaxed atmosphere, there are open mic nights at a few different spots if you want to take the stage and show off your skills, Bar Jolly Roger often has entertainment during dinner, and lots more. Check out the Swell Dealer, which is the local newspaper with info on all the happenings, while you are in town for an updated list of what is going on where!
At any given time of the year, there is bound to be some kind of fiesta going on around Tamarindo. That’s just how Ticos roll! There are often things like concerts, rodeos, or interesting pop-up markets that are always fun to check out. For example, the fiestas in Villa Real, the closest local town to Tamarindo, are completely free to attend and you will find food, drinks, dancing, carnival rides, a big bull ring, and much more. It is a blast for locals and tourists alike!
No matter what your budget might look like, you shouldn’t worry when planning your Tamarindo surf trip. There are plenty of ways to have an absolute blast without breaking the bank. We’ll see you at the beach!!