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Tamarindo in Costa Rica has a reputation for nightly parties and surfing, and it delivers with energetic enthusiasm. White sandy beaches and warm turquoise waters stretch as far as you can see, interrupted only by mangrove-lined estuaries, dense jungle and the umbrellas of sun-seekers. There are beaches for experienced and beginner surfers alike, and the town has both buzzing nightlife and some of the best restaurants in the country. In between marvelling at the native wildlife and relaxing by the waves, you can check out the local art galleries and boutique shops.
Hostels in Tamarindo are as characterful as the town itself. You can stay in a hostel made from recycled concrete pipes, a hacienda on the edge of the national park, or a glamping spot in the jungle. It's easy to find a Tamarindo hostel that doubles as a surf camp too. There are some with swimming pools, Jacuzzis and hammocks for ultimate indulgence. Some Tamarindo hostels have en-suite rooms, and others have female-only dorms.
The town of Tamarindo is the most developed in the area, both in terms of its infrastructure and its party scene. There are late-night bars, atmospheric restaurants and numerous discos where you can dance the night away after a day of surfing on Playa Tamarindo. For a quieter beach day, you can take a trip south to Playa Langosta. It's a great surfing beach, and has corals and tide pools for exploring. Or head north to Playa Grande to observe endangered Leatherback turtles laying their eggs at night.
The beaches and surf culture are the major Tamarindo attractions. Experienced surfers will have their pick of the waves, and beginners can take lessons at the local academies. Explore the mangrove estuary at Marino las Baulas National Park by kayak to spot native birds and monkeys, and if you're lucky, an ocelot or anteater. Here, you'll also be able to take a guided tour to see leatherback sea turtles after dark. For a taste of local life, head to Tamarindo Farmers Market for bright colours and tantalising smells, which takes place every Saturday morning.
Tamarindo Airport is a 10-minute drive from the town and is served by daily flights from the nearest international airports, Juan Santamaria (SJO) and Liberia International (LIR). The latter is just a 70-minute drive by car or 90-120 minutes in a shared shuttle. Getting around the town is easy on foot. To visit nearby beaches, it's a good idea to rent a bike or motorcycle for the trip.