Okey so you are still not sure if Costa Rica is the place for you? Maybe it is too expensive? Well yes it is more expensive than most countries in Central America but I am going to list the top 7 things you can do right here in Tamarindo that will not cost you a dollar. We get it, A Costa Rica Surf Camp or Tamarindo Surf Lessons can seem like quite expensive but no worries, there is a ton of things to do in Tamarindo without spending all of your money so you can still jump on that surf board.
1. Beach – The number one (and maybe a bit obvious) thing is: Go to the beach! The beach is awesome for many things, you can go swimming in the ocean in water that I promise you is warmer than most places in the world and you are getting a workout at the same time that is sooo much nicer than the gym back home. Even if you don not want to swim, please go into the water and enjoy, I can promise you that a swim in the water feels amazing and can cure even the worst hangover after a night of partying.
Another thing you can do on the beach is get yourself a tan by laying in the sun and at the same time, you can take a nap if the heat isn’t too much for you, or maybe read a book, or listen to some good reggaeton. Just remember: sunscreen! It is so easy to get burned here in a country so close to the equator. If you are a person that burns easily and don’t want to spend money on sunscreen or on a beach chair, just sit down under one of the trees and you’ll be fine (tough again, I really recommend sunscreen!).
My favorite thing to do on the beach is finding a good spot and just look at the people surfing because that really never gets boring. It does not matter if they are beginners or more experienced surfers, you can always learn something or get some inspiration by watching other surfers in the water. Also, you can laugh at everyone who falls if you are having a bad day (like that’s possible when you are in Costa Rica?).
Another thing I like to do on the beach is to just be there during the evening/night and just watch the sky that is full of stars. It is truly beautiful and the sounds of the waves and the stars combine makes you realize just how lucky you are and what a great time it is to be alive. Anyways, the beach is absolutely awesome to do many things on your vacation!
- Local Events – In Tamarindo and in the nearby villages there is always something going on like a festival, a rodeo or a concert. Most of these things are usually completely free to participate in, for example last weekend we had Tamarindo Art Festival where you could see a lot of paintings and other artsy things and also dance to the music that was playing by a band or a DJ on the stage. If you do not know what is going on, just come by Iguana Surf Shop and ask us, we are more than happy to help you out, or ask anyone local and he or she will probably know what is going on in town.
If you want to go to another town, taxi is quite cheap but colectivo is even cheaper, to go to Villa Real which is the next town after Tamarindo, you only have to pay 1 dollar per person (I know this isn’t free but I’m just letting you know).
If you’re unlucky and there is literally NOTHING going on (maybe it is a Monday?) I promise you there is at least one bar in town that has live music playing and then you can just take it easy, chill and enjoy the good music. There is also a few places that have open mic night where you can listen to different musicians sing whatever they want to sing. It is usually a really cozy atmosphere . Two places that have open mic night is Oveja Negra on Mondays and just outside the food court right next to the restaurant called Wild Panda on Wednesdays. So, just walk around in town and you will easily see what is going on.
- Langosta Beach – Another 100% free thing to do is walk to Langosta for the sunset and have a picnic. Sure, food is not free but you have to eat right? Why not do it by a beautiful beach watching the sunset.
Langosta beach is just a 15-20 minute walk from Tamarindo, you can choose if you want to walk along the beach and by the cliffs which is the way I prefer because it is so beautiful and the view is outstanding. If you are a person who wants to take an easier road without rocks and bushes, just follow the main road in town past Selina’s and continue for 15 minutes turning right down to the beach. Tamarindo is a beautiful beach but Langosta is often much more quiet since there is not as many people living close by. This is also the place where a lot of locals and more experienced surfers go when they want bigger better waves than the ones in Tamarindo. The sunset is even more beautiful in Langosta because it is straight in front of the beach so the sun seems even more yellow and bigger than it does in Tamarindo. While you are at Langosta you can also just walk around town and view the luxurious houses, vacations homes and resorts. Langosta is the Malibu of Los Angles and the houses are absolutely stunning and worth it to see!
- Ladies Night – The fourth thing on my list only applies to half the population because it is Ladies Night! Almost every bar has their own ladies night where you basically get free alcohol. There are often a few things to choose from and everything tastes extra good since it is for free or is that just me? For example, Pacifico has an entrance fee but most of them like Lizard or Sharky’s are free to get in to and have as many free drinks you want during a specific period of time, usually it is around 2-3 hours.
- Outdoor Sport Venues – Go to the playground, the skatepark and the soccer field. Tamarindo has a playground that is great for kids with a brand new basketball hoop. The skatepark is where all the locals go to skate because the streets of Tamarindo are not that safe to skate on since the traffic can be a little crazy and unpredictable. Bring a speaker and play some good music, chill on a bench and watch the skaters if you do not skate yourself. Talk to each other and enjoy a sky full of stars. If you do not skate but still want to be active and play around with your friends, why not go to the soccer field? The only thing you need is a ball and a few people to play with and you are up for an awesome night with a lot of laughter mixed with the competitive feelings we all have inside us.
6. Playa Grande – Take the boat to Playa Grande! Here I am cheating a little because to take the boat to cross the river costs you 500 colones (or 1 dollar) so I would say it is almost free or at least it is really cheap. Playa Grande is the beach right next to Tamarindo beach and the river mount is the thing that is separating the two beaches. (Side note: Do NOT swim or paddle on your surfboard across the river, there are crocodiles and last year there was a guy who lost his leg to the crocs so be careful.) The last boat back to Tamarindo is at 4 pm so make sure not to be late if you don’t want to spend the night or take a expensive and long taxi ride back to Tamarindo.
Playa Grande has bigger waves than Tamarindo, it is a bigger beach and perfect for a super hot hike if you are up for that, a big cliff point with an awesome view; less people (except for all the competitive surfers out in the water) and more. This is the perfect beach for some alone time away from everyone else, just make sure to bring a lot of water and some food if your going for the hike in the middle of the day.
- Walk Around – Walk, walk, and walk as far up as you can and you will have a beautiful view of all of Tamarindo, Playa Grande and the ocean. It takes quite some time and the best thing is probably to use a scooter or an ATV but if that is not possible it is just awesome to walk because then you feel extra good and enjoy the view even more once you are up there. For this activity, I strongly recommend tennis shoes because you are going to walk longer than you think. This is also something you can do to watch the sunset from a beautiful place but just make sure that you find your way back in the dark because it can be quite tricky.
That was my best tips for free things to do in Tamarindo but nope, I am not done yet because I am also going to give you a few tips on how to save money by choosing the cheaper option.
First of all, you can actually drink the tap water! It might taste a bit different but it is truly safe to drink. A lot of places also have a machine with filtered water where you are able to refill your own water bottle.
Another thing you can do in Tamarindo is to buy your food from “the car lady” as me and my friends call her and her crew. On the main road in town there is two ladies that every day come with their car, open up the back truck and have these huge pots and pans filled with typical Costa Rican food. The food is called casado and it is basically a mix of rice beans, salad and beef/chicken/fish, it is super yummy and super cheap! A big portion for only 2000 colones or 4 dollars. Of course you can buy the same type of food all around town and it is kind of cheap but this is definitely the cheapest food you can get in town and healthy and rich in calories.
That is all of my best tips regarding how to save money here in Tamarindo. Save money with these tips and make sure to try a Tamarindo Surf Lesson. Have a great day and hopefully we will see you in Costa Rica soon!