11 Best Tours In Tamarindo Costa Rica

Tamarindo, Costa Rica, has some of the most enjoyable tours in the country. Among the top tours in Tamarindo are the Rio Celeste hiking tour, a volcano trek, a waterfall swim and hot springs combo, a sunset sailing catamaran adventure, a guided sunset boat tour spanning five hours, and the Tamarindo boat safari.

My husband and I visited Costa Rica last year and spent about 2 weeks in Tamarindo. There are some pretty enjoyable tours, and I had an enchanting experience. Before our trip, I extensively researched the best online tours and read numerous great reviews. However, upon experiencing them firsthand, I discovered that while some tours lived up to the hype, others fell short of expectations.

Key Takeaways

  • The Tamarindo estuary boat safari is one of the most affordable options but not the best for families with kids. You won’t enjoy the ride as much if you go as a couple or are a solo tourist. 
  • While the hiking tour of La Leona waterfall is a more affordable option, I would not recommend it if you are in top-notch physical shape. 
  • The 5-hour guided sunset boat tour was my favorite, and I would recommend this for couples seeking the best tour experience in Tamarindo. 

In the rest of this article, I’ll outline the top 10 tours in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, detailing their itineraries, approximate costs, and what each tour offers based on my personal experiences.

Rio Celeste Hiking, Llanos de Cortes Waterfall and Sloth Sanctuary Tour 

Meeting point: Multiple pickup locations, including JW Marriott, Tamarindo, Langosta, Grande, Conchal, Flamingo, RIU Guanacaste/Palace, Catalinas, Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa (Occidental, Villas Sol, Condovac), Playa Panama (Secrets Papagayo, Mangroove), Four Seasons, Andaz, Planet Hollywood, and Liberia.

Cost: From $135 per adult

Duration: 12 hours.

Contact: +1855 275 5071

This tour leads you to a secluded waterfall and a wildlife sanctuary, where you can observe sloths and other indigenous animals. Throughout the journey, your guide provides insights about the region and assists in spotting elusive wildlife.

If you have your own transportation, a self-drive option allows you to meet the group directly at either Llanos de Cortez Waterfall or Tenorio Volcano National Park, saving considerable time.

My husband and I took this tour, and this adventure led us through some of Costa Rica’s lesser-known treasures, starting with a pickup in northwest Costa Rica. We visited breathtaking spots like the Llanos de Cortez Waterfall, the mysterious Tenorio Volcano National Park, and the stunning blue Celeste River. 

Along the way, we stopped at a wildlife sanctuary where I saw sloths and frogs, which was a highlight for me. Although a bit of a trek from La Fortuna, the hike to the waterfall was absolutely worth it for the views. The guides were knowledgeable and shared fascinating insights about Costa Rica’s wildlife and culture throughout the tour. 

Unfortunately, we didn’t see as many animals as I had hoped during the hike; the sloth sanctuary, however, made up for it with adorable sightings. 

What I liked:

  • I enjoyed the wildlife sanctuary.
  • Swimming at Cortez Falls and seeing the beautiful views was fantastic.
  • Learning interesting facts about Costa Rica from the guides was great.
  • Being able to drive ourselves to the meeting point makes transportation easier and faster. 

What I didn’t like:

  • The walk to the waterfall from La Fortuna was quite long.
  • Sometimes, in popular spots like the waterfall, there were too many people.

Hiking Tour Of La Leona Waterfall With Lunch 

Meeting point: Multiple pick-up locations, including Hacienda Pinilla/JW Langosta/Tamarindo Hotels, Conchal, Brasilito, Flamingo, Potrero Hotels, RIU Hotels Main Gate, Playas del Coco Hotels, Playa Hermosa & Playa Panama Hotels, Liberia Peri Supermarket, Andaz, Four Seasons, Planet Hollywood, and Dreams Las Mareas

Cost: from $65 per adult

Duration: 8 hours. 

Age: 12–99 years

If you have a passion for hiking in nature, you’ll enjoy the journey through the canyons of Rincon de la Vieja Volcano to reach La Leona waterfall. A knowledgeable guide leads the tour, commencing with a convenient pickup.

The hike itself is a perfect blend of challenge and enjoyment. You can encounter caves, climb, and navigate through various pools and waterfalls, making for an exciting journey. 

During my tour, our guide’s friendly demeanor and professionalism were evident from the start, and his expertise truly enhanced the experience. He even amazed us by catching the elusive Jesus Christ lizard along the way!

However, it’s worth noting that some group members found certain sections of the trail too difficult and opted to turn back. While I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure, it’s important to emphasize that this hike requires strong physical fitness. It may be more challenging than expected if you’re not in top-notch condition.

Overall, this tour provides an unforgettable experience for those seeking adventure and natural beauty. Just ensure you’re prepared for a physically demanding hike.

What I liked:

  • The canyons and waterfalls were stunning.
  • The guides are friendly and knowledgeable.
  • You can enjoy the personalized experience of a small-group tour.

What I didn’t like:

  • Some parts of the trail were too tough for some tourists.
  • I expected to see more wildlife.

Tamarindo Estuary Boat Safari 

Meeting point: All houses, condos, and hotels in the Tamarindo and Langosta areas

Cost: From $45 per adult

Duration: 2 hours.

Age: 0-99 years 

The Tamarindo estuary boat safari takes you on a cruise through the park’s huge mangrove forests on a boat ride. Your guide will help you spot animals like howler monkeys, crocodiles, and colorful birds that you might miss alone. Throughout the boat safari, they’ll continue to point out wildlife like crocodiles, howler monkeys, and tropical birds, while also sharing more about the plants and animals in the area.

Having taken this tour, I can say the journey through the park’s mangrove forests on a boat trip offered glimpses of wildlife like howler monkeys, crocodiles, and tropical birds, all expertly pointed out by our guide.

Our day began with a convenient pickup from our hotel in the Tamarindo area, followed by a smooth transfer to the Tamarindo Estuary. The two-hour boat tour provided a tranquil escape into nature, with clear skies and calm waters enhancing the experience.

The diverse wildlife and serene environment made it a perfect outing for couples and families seeking a peaceful adventure. The tour concludes when you return to Tamarindo.

However, I feel compelled to caution families with young children to consider this tour. While our group included children aged 8 and 5, the sightings of wildlife were minimal and challenging for them to spot. The two-hour duration felt lengthy, especially with young ones. I believe families might enjoy alternative activities, such as a free hike, where wildlife sightings may be more accessible. 

Overall, while the tour offered a relaxing and informative experience for adults, families with young children might want to consider alternative options to ensure an enjoyable outing for everyone.

What I liked:

  • It was a relaxing boat ride through mangrove forests.
  • Expert guides can spot wildlife such as monkeys and crocodiles.
  • Informative commentary about the estuary’s ecology.
  • One of the cheapest tours available

What I didn’t like:

  • Limited wildlife sightings.
  • It is not the best option for families with young children.

Guachipelin Adventure Volcano Zipline Horseback River Tubing Combo 

Meeting point: Multiple pick-up locations, including JW Marriott, Tamarindo, Langosta, Grande, Conchal, Flamingo, RIU Guanacaste/Palace, Ocotal, Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa/Panama (Occidental, Villas Sol, Condovac, Secrets Papagayo, Mangroove), Liberia, Four Seasons, Andaz, Planet Hollywood, and Dreams Las Mareas. 

Cost: From $135 per adult

Duration: 10 hours 

Age: 6–99 years

This tour begins with a pick-up from your hotel in Tamarindo, Playa Flamingo, or Playa Hermosa. The drive to Hacienda Guachipelin is scenic, offering beautiful views of Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Four thrilling activities greeted you upon arrival: a zipline canopy tour, horseback riding, river tubing, and a volcanic mud bath.

As someone who experienced this tour firsthand, I can say it was an exhilarating experience.

Each activity offered its own unique thrills, but I must admit, the river tubing was the highlight of the day for me. The safety measures were impressive, ensuring no one in our group suffered any injuries despite encountering rocks along the way.

The buffet lunch was surprisingly delicious, a pleasant surprise compared to the typical tour meals I’ve experienced. I appreciated the option to purchase photos from the photographer, who captured memorable moments from the day’s adventures for an additional fee.

The tour began with a 45-minute horseback riding excursion along a trail. Unfortunately, we found ourselves in a large group of probably 40 or more people, resulting in crowded conditions with horses very close together. This part of the tour wasn’t particularly enjoyable for me. However, overall, it was still a great experience. The tour concluded with a convenient hotel drop-off.

What I liked:

  • Scenic drive with beautiful views.
  • There are exciting activities like ziplining and river tubing.
  • Safety measures were in place.
  • Delicious buffet lunch.
  • You can purchase photos.
  • Convenient hotel drop-off.

What I disliked:

  • The crowded horseback riding experience was a little disappointing.

5-Hour Guided Sunset Boat Tour

Meeting point: El Chiringuito, 75X4+4M9, Guanacaste Province, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Cost: Starts at $95 per adult. 

Age: 0-99 years 

Duration: 5 hours

Contact: +1855 275 5071

This tour starts at 1 p.m., but you must arrive at 12:45 p.m. for check-in. It lasts for a total of 5 hours. The boat takes you on a breathtaking journey along the coast to a secluded beach only accessible by boat. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to spot turtles, whales, and dolphins, which adds to the excitement of the trip. Once you arrive, you can choose to snorkel, paddleboard, or simply relax and enjoy the sun on the beach.

The buffet dinner and open bar on board are the highlights of the tour. It’s a great opportunity to mingle with other tourists and enjoy some delicious food and drinks.

The experience on the boat was fantastic for me, and it was easy to make new friends. The crew was delightful and kept the drinks flowing throughout the trip. We found a nice beach, perfect for swimming and relaxing, although snorkeling conditions were not ideal. Unfortunately, we encountered a broken sail winch, which was somewhat disappointing.

The staff were professional and friendly, and the captain ensured safety was always a top priority. They served delicious food and offered a wide variety of unlimited drinks.

Overall, if you’re considering a day-long cruise around Tamarindo, I highly recommend this one. Angela’s excellent customer service before the excursion, along with the amazing food and crew on the boat, made everything perfect. We met some wonderful people and enjoyed stunning views. 

What I liked:

  • There is an opportunity to spot wildlife like turtles, whales, and dolphins.
  • On board, there is a buffet dinner and an open bar.
  • The crew was delightful. 
  • Professional and friendly staff ensure safety.
  • I enjoyed mingling with other travelers and witnessing the sunset.

What I didn’t like:

  • Snorkeling conditions were not ideal.

Sunset Sailing Catamaran Tour

Meeting point: Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica, Guanacaste Province, Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

Cost: From $95 per adult

Duration: 5 hours

Contact: +1 855 275 5071

If you love watching the sunset over the ocean, you’ll appreciate this tour. Your cruise includes snacks and an open bar, and you’ll have access to snorkeling equipment, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. Plus, the boat is eco-friendly, avoiding single-use plastics.

Watching the sunset from the sailboat as it cruised along the Guanacaste coast was truly magical. You’ll also have time to visit a small beach where you can swim, kayak, or snorkel. They served delicious lunch on board, and the open bar offered nice drinks.

Overall, I had a great day. The crew kept us entertained, and the atmosphere was relaxed and enjoyable. Although there wasn’t much to see while snorkeling, the experience was still memorable.

While many people were on board, the free drinks, food, and refreshing breeze made it a wonderful experience. It wasn’t a wild party atmosphere, but it had good music and an open bar. The food was tasty, and we had plenty of time for water activities during the stop. 

Just note that you’ll need to take a small boat from the beach to the catamaran, and shoes aren’t allowed on board.

What I liked:

  • The sailboat provided an amazing view of the sunset.
  • Lunch served on board was delicious.
  • The crew kept us entertained.
  • The open bar and access to water activities were great.

What I didn’t like:

  • Snorkeling provided limited sightings.
  • The boat felt crowded.
  • The small boat transfer was inconvenient.
  • Shoes were uncomfortable and not permitted on board.

Rio Celeste Waterfall, Sloth And Butterfly Farm 

Meeting point: Multiple pickup locations are offered. You will know the driver’s name and the type of car for the pick-up at your hotel.

Cost: $215 per adult.

Duration: 7–11 hours

Age: 1-100 years

This tour allows you to explore Costa Rica’s hidden natural wonders on the Rio Celeste and Llanos de Cortes waterfall tours, which are perfect if you love nature.

Your day begins with pickup at selected locations in northwest Costa Rica. Alternatively, if you have transportation, you can meet the group at Llanos de Cortez Waterfall or Tenorio Volcano National Park, which saves time in transit.

The first stop is Llanos de Cortez Waterfall, where you’ll have an hour to swim and marvel at the beautiful scenery. Then, you’ll embark on a moderate 2-hour hike at Tenorio Volcano National Park, following the stunning blue Celeste River and enjoying another opportunity to swim.

Afterward, you’ll visit a sloth and frog sanctuary on an organic farm, where you’ll enjoy a delicious farm lunch featuring fresh Costa Rican flavors. However, I must admit that the tour’s highlight was the return transfer to our pickup location, where we could reflect on the day’s adventures.

Seeing the vibrant blue water of the waterfall was truly awe-inspiring. The hike was a bit challenging, with steep terrain, but it provided a good workout. I would caution those who aren’t in great shape to reconsider, as the hike may be too strenuous.

Our driver and guide were friendly and knowledgeable, providing plenty of water and information throughout the journey. However, I was slightly disappointed with the sloth sanctuary. While the guides were excellent, we only spotted seven sloths, which were quite far away. Overall, it was a day filled with stunning scenery.

What I liked:

  • The Llanos de Cortez Waterfall’s stunning blue water was breathtaking.
  • The farm lunch with fresh Costa Rican flavors was delicious and satisfying.
  • The guide was friendly and knowledgeable, providing valuable insights throughout the tour.

What I didn’t like:

  • The sloth sanctuary was a bit underwhelming, as we only spotted a few sloths from a distance.
  • Some parts of the hike were challenging, especially for those who weren’t in great shape.
  • More expensive than most other tours. 

Tamarindo Snorkel and Sunset Cruise with Lunch.

Meeting point: Calle Cruz

Cruz, Provincia de Guanacaste, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Cost: From $110 per adult

Duration: 4 hours, 30 minutes 

Contact: (702) 648-5873

Google map

I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon at sea on this snorkeling cruise from Tamarindo aboard a catamaran, and it was quite an experience. 

The catamaran provided life vests, pool noodles, snorkel equipment, and stand-up paddleboards, which added to the enjoyment of the excursion. We enjoyed a late lunch of local fare, accompanied by alcohol and soft drinks, after our water activities.

Relaxing with drinks while watching the wildlife in the ocean was truly enjoyable. The crew was extremely kind and knowledgeable. 

However, there were a few downsides to the experience. The cruise was well organized but started late. Given the diverse group of passengers, we could have improved the repetitive and loud music playing on board. Furthermore, the snorkeling experience was disappointing due to the lack of a safety briefing and the limited visibility of marine life.

The boat was overcrowded, with about 70 people on board, making it difficult to find seating and resulting in some passengers being stuck inside the cabin area. The quality of the food was average, with those at the end of the line receiving cold food. Despite these issues, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

While combining snorkeling with a sunset cruise seemed perfect, the actual snorkeling experience fell short of expectations. 

Although the crew was friendly and we appreciated the unlimited alcoholic beverages, I would advise anyone considering this trip primarily for snorkeling to reconsider. I would not recommend this tour; you would probably get your money’s worth from a different experience. 

What I liked:

  • I appreciated the opportunity to sunbathe and take in the views.
  • The crew members were friendly and helpful.

What I didn’t like:

  • The cruise started late, which was a bit inconvenient.
  • There was no safety briefing before water activities.
  • The snorkeling experience was disappointing, with minimal marine life.
  • The boat felt overcrowded, and the food was not very good.

Public Blue Dolphin Sailing Adventure

El Chiringuito is the meeting place.

75X4+4M9, Guanacaste Province, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Cost: From $99 per adult

Duration: 5 hours

Contact: (702) 648-5873

Google map

The Blue Dolphin, a 40-foot catamaran with a fully stocked bar, paddleboards, and kayaks, allows you to explore the waters off Guanacaste. The tour starts on Tamarindo Beach, where you’ll board the catamaran for a scenic cruise along the coast.

You’ll receive kayaks, snorkeling gear, stand-up paddleboards, and pool noodles for water activities. Swim and snorkel in the beautiful waters during the cruise, and enjoy a stunning sunset on the return trip to Tamarindo. However, be prepared for some swelling if you’re prone to motion sickness.

The crew on board was friendly and welcoming, and swimming and snorkeling around the boat was a lot of fun. While the food onboard was decent, the boat’s crowded atmosphere occasionally made the trip uncomfortable. It was challenging to find a seat in the shade due to the high number of people on board.

There wasn’t much focus on nature during the tour. If you’re looking for a nature-exploring tour, you may want to consider other options. However, my group did have a dance party on the way back to shore, where we enjoyed watching the beautiful Tamarindo sunset. 

What I liked:

  • There were swimming and snorkeling opportunities.
  • Witnessing the stunning sunset on the way back was satisfying.

What I didn’t like:

  • The boat felt crowded, making it hard to find a comfy seat.
  • The food was decent but not particularly good.
  • The tour lacked focus on nature.

Turtle-watching tours 

Meeting point: Discover Tamarindo Travel Agency

Guanacaste Province, Tamarindo, 50309, Costa Rica

Cost: Starts at $75 per adult.

Contact: (702) 648-5873

Google map

While visiting Tamarindo, my husband and I were eager to witness the sea turtles and their nesting grounds, as Costa Rica is renowned for its sea turtle observation opportunities. 

At 5:45 pm, you met your naturalist expert turtle guide at the designated pick-up location or your hotel, and your transportation took you to the turtle beach approximately 40 minutes north of Tamarindo.

Throughout the tour, your guide demonstrated extensive knowledge and ensured that you respected the wildlife while experiencing the turtle activity.

Learning about the turtles’ nesting habits and survival rates was enjoyable and enlightening.

Despite the tour’s advertised 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. schedule, we didn’t initially see turtles on the first two beaches we visited.

I wouldn’t recommend this trip for young children or those solely seeking a quick photo opportunity with a turtle, as it requires patience and a genuine passion for sea turtles. However, if you’re willing to invest time and effort, this tour offers a rewarding experience.

Despite the tour lasting until midnight, the insights gained and the opportunity to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat made it worth every penny.

What I liked:

  • I liked learning from the knowledgeable turtle guide.
  • Witnessing sea turtles in their habitat was fascinating.

What I didn’t: 

  • Not recommended for young children.
  • The tour duration until midnight was inconvenient.

Monkey Jungle Zipline from Tamarindo

Meeting point: 762P76WP+GGW, 76WP+GGW The meeting point is located in the Provincia de Guanacaste, Santa Cruz, Costa Rica.

Cost: From $65 per adult

Duration: 1-2 hours 

Contact: +1855 275 5071

If ziplining is your thing, then you’ll love this tour! You get to carry on zipping through the tropical forest in Tamarindo. Your guide will point out wildlife like monkeys, birds, reptiles, and more that you might not notice alone. We will provide all your safety gear for you.

It was a fun experience to have in Costa Rica! It took about 40 minutes to complete all seven ziplines. However, it would have been even better if it was just my group of six instead of sharing the experience with around 20 others. 

The multiple ziplines through beautiful forests provided a memorable experience, especially when I saw howler monkeys beside one of the ziplines. The guides were professional yet fun and personable. I would recommend this tour to others.

What I liked:

  • I loved the exhilarating ziplining through Tamarindo’s tropical forest.
  • Spotting monkeys and birds during the tour was thrilling.

What I didn’t like:

  • I wish the group size was smaller to provide a more intimate experience.

Final Thoughts 

Exploring Tamarindo, Costa Rica, offers various exciting tours and adventures, each offering unique experiences and challenges.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Tamarindo, research and choose the tours that best align with your interests and preferences for an unforgettable adventure in this tropical paradise. Of course, if you have anything to add to guide intending tourists, share it in the comments section. 

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About 

Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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