Learning to Surf in Tamarindo & Tamarindo Tips

Tamarindo is famous for learning to surf – surf shops and instructors are everywhere!

When is the best time to visit Tamarindo?

High season is Mid-December until April, it’s the best time to visit for the weather, but you pay a premium for the rooms, and it’s going to be crowded. We visited in November If you like deals as it’s the tail-end of rainy, I mean GREEN season. It rains a little every day, but the weather is usually good; that being said, it can also rain for 5 straight days. There are fewer crowds, and you get the best hotel prices. Tamarindo is a huge tourist destination. It is packed with people from December until August. Even in November, it’s crowded, though the locals will say how quiet it is.

Best way to get there?

While the hotels and everyone else will recommend a transfer, we found that TamarindoShuttle.com was the most affordable professional service. The hotels double the cost of the shuttle. We were quoted $45 by Tamarindo Shuttle to go to Playa Conchal, but it was $80 with the hotel.

How do I find an instructor?

We took the advice of a local and got private lessons from a surf shop, our instructor was fabulous, and it was $45pp for two people for 2 hours. We thought this was a good deal as it was the same price as the group lessons elsewhere.

No habla Español – No problemo!!!

Even if you speak Spanish, they respond in English. The town is full of Gringos or American tourists.. everyone we met spoke English. So if you are concerned about language barriers, this is your destination!!!

When should I book my lesson?

Google “High Tide” and book your lesson either two hours before high tide or 2 hours after high tide. Of course, I would recommend talking to the instructors at the surf shop as they can also look at currents and conditions,

How warm is the water?

The water is AMAZING- so warm!! We came in November and the water was 83 degrees Fahrenheit

Shopping is expensive, massages are NOT

The beachwear is fabulous everywhere, but it’s pricey. Most bathing suits we saw were $80-$150. Coverups were $45, but boy, were the coverups CUTE.

Best Massages in Tamarindo for the price?

We had massages every day somewhere different. We did not do the beach massages as we were told it was more of a back rub than what you would get from a trained masseuse. Our favorite indoor massage was Coco Spa, clean, classy, and great massages – a bit more pricey. Our favorite outdoor massage was at the “Hotel Villa Amarillo with Miss Maribals Magic Hands” (of course, our massage therapists had different names.)

What about …. sharks and crocodiles?

Do NOT let your fear stop you from living. – it’s sooooo rare to see either while in Tamarindo. Everywhere we live, there are dangers; we hike where there may be bears or foxes, and yet we never see them, we live where there maybe be snakes, but for some reason, we hike in the rainforest even if there are poisonous frogs and spiders. You are more likely to die in a car if you drive in cars….if you do not live by the ocean, it’s natural to be afraid of sharks or any swimming animal, but it is not different than hopping in a car.

Well – it’s been over 10 years since the last shark attack in Costa Rica; it’s very, very, very rare!! But what about the crocodiles? During the height of the rainy season in September and October, after or during hard rains, the water can become very muddy. Our instructor informed us he would not surf then and that sometimes the crocodiles would leave the river to cross to the other river. Our instructor said he was afraid of crocodiles and would not be in the water teaching every day if he thought he would see one. He intentionally kept us away from the mouth of the river for that purpose. I felt very safe. He said it was rare to see crocodiles. He saw one once, but it just swam right past him, and he quietly went to shore.

Best Restaurants in Tamarindo?

Highly recommend L’Estanco for dinner

Are you a foodie with no budget? Try El Mundo de Noam – currently $220 per person. Our friend went there and highly recommended it. We chose L’Estanco, the Hidden Garden. The bartenders are mixologists, and the drinks were amazing! They bake bread on the premises, and the food is foodie quality! We tried eating on the beach and the food is good, but go off the beaten path, and you’ll find food that is not fried and is more uniquely crafted

Agua Salada

North of town you will find Pangas and Agua Salada, both are excellent restaurants. Agua Salada has a small but well put together menu and beautiful ambiance. The seafood casserole appetizer is amazing.

Sparkling or Still (or tap) … Is it safe to drink the water in Tamarindo?

I’m frugal, so I don’t like paying for water, but I also don’t want to risk stomach problems. As it is known to be safe to drink water in most parts of Costa Rica, I took a chance and drank water every day from the tap, and I had no issues. When the waiters ask, “sparkling or still,” it makes you pause. Do I need to pay for bottled water… no it’s just an upsell. Ask for tap, and they are happy to oblige.

Where to stay in Tamarindo?

If you want to be in town and are traveling with kids, then Tamarindo Diria is a great spot. We chose the sister hotel, Jarden del Eden (adults only). Our $300/special green season rate included a beautiful large apartment-like room with a patio and private freshwater hot tub PLUS an incredible breakfast buffet custom made omelets and eggs and mimosas as well as three-course meal for two! It was an incredible deal. The staff is amazing, and even the maintenance person came every 2 days to empty and refill our hot tub! The hotel is across the street from the ocean but has a plot of land with a splash pool and beach bar with canopied beds and lounge chairs for guests. The description says “private” for your deck, even though were located right off a path, and the hot tub was next to a parking lot, it was still quite private. The hotel does a great job with the gardens so that we felt surrounded by greenery, but I would not say it was completely private.

Tamarindo or Manuel Antonio for Surfing Lessons?

I’ve had lessons both in Tamarindo and in Manuel Antonio. Although Tamarindo is FAMOUS for surfing due to the 1960s surfing movie Endless Summer and is known as THE place to learn to surf… I think it may just be why I prefer Manuel Antonio. In Tamarindo, even off-season, it was so crowded, during the perfect time to surf, there are surfers every 6 feet. I was nervous that we would run into someone. I found that unnerving as it can be dangerous. I had a different personalized experience in Manuel Antonio with Dante’s Water Sports. Also, where we surfed with Dante, there were no nearby river outlets.

What are those funny animals with long tails?

Most likely you are seeing a coati which is part of the raccoon family.


I am not paid for writing this blog. I write it out of love for travel. Though I did do work for Dante’s Water Sports as I fell in love with the business and how it was run. Though this is not paid.