Playa Tamarindo is a long, rocky beach, with excellent waves near the mouth of the estuary. Currents can be strong, especially on a falling tide. Tamarindo has two main breaks for advanced surfers: Pico Pequeño a rocky point in front of the Hotel Tamarindo Diriá and the excellent river mouth break across from Cabinas Tsunami called El Estero. The rest of the beach breaks are perfect for learning. The biggest waves can get up to 12 feet, although only during November and December.
Playa Grande beach is also where the Leatherback Turtle comes to lay its eggs. The leatherbacks take over the beach from November to April, digging their nests up to one meter deep, lay their eggs and cover the pit with sand, and return once again to the sea. After 60 to 90 days, the hatchlings emerge and immediately make their way to the water.
There is no road access from the town of Tamarindo to Playa Grande, as the two are separated by the Tamarindo River. However, there are small boats waiting to ferry people across the river at a modest fee. You can walk from the center of Tamarindo to the edge of the river along the wide beach.
There are other eco-friendly activities including watching turtles during their nesting season at night, diving, snorkeling, body surfing, zip-lining, estuary trips, horseback riding and fishing. During the December to April period when the water turbidity is low, fishing may be done from the shore.
The beaches in the area are generally clean and recent efforts by the government and local business organizations are proving themselves. However, the area has become a boon to developers who have cut corners and not installed proper infrastructure including black water treatment.
After leaving the totally off-the-grid experience at Finca Exotica, I was eager for some air conditioning and a hot shower. This lodging experience was booked through AirBnb and Julie was the super-responsive point of contact for this property and it was very affordable. Despite her recommendations to have a rental car, I opted to wait and determine my final interary in the Tamarindo/Guanacaste region. It turns out it was about 5 miles from Tamarindo Beach which would run about $8 each way so I was fiscally reluctant to venture into town at night. During the day the water was a fantastic temperature and I seemed to have missed some great waves by a few days. My first night at J&J, I met these friendly college girls from the UK and after I gave them all my remaining Swagman swag, we had a good laugh. Downtown Tamarindo was very touristy but tolerable and very PG. There was the occasional solicitation for drugs or working girls, but in general you were just beat down until you bought a macaw whistle or wrist bracelet. Once you got that over with you can just let them know – “I got mine already!”. LOL
On my second day I rented a poorly maintained bicycle to ride out to the peninsula and that was fun. There are some serious gillion-dollar custom homes being built on the peninsula and mainly by Americans.
On my last day I met this really cool couple who offer scuba tours and surfing photography. They were from Spain but totally earth people and bringing happiness to the world around them. Support your local photographers and please like them on Facebook!