Le Leona Waterfall: Free, Cheap Things To Do In Tamarindo

Le Leona Waterfall is one of the most affordable things to do in Tamarindo. A guided tour starts at as low as $45. Other cheap things to do include beach hopping, learning to surf, or exploring the Tamarindo Night Market on Thursdays. 

The greatest culture shock I’ve experienced so far in Costa Rica was discovering how cheap activities can be in Tamarindo. 

Some of the best activities that locals recommend are either free or low-cost. Most of these activities involve beaches, surfing, markets, waterfalls, and turtle tours, which I totally don’t recommend. (More on this later.)

In this article, you will learn about some of the best activities you can engage in while you’re in Tamarindo, especially the free and cheap ones. 

I will emphasize Le Leona Waterfall since it is one of the area’s must-visit spots. We will then consider other options. 

Key Takeaways

In case you don’t have the time to read the entire article, here are the key takeaways from this guide: 

  • The best cheap things to do Tamarindo—LLa Leona Waterfall near Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park in Curubandé. Hire a guide to navigate the canyon safely. 
  • Free things to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica Go beach hopping, wander through the Tama Market, watch the sunset on the beach, and explore Tamarindo Night Market.
  • Things to do in Tamarindo at night: Tamarindo Night Market, held every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., offers live music, fire dancers, food stalls, artisan goods, and a skate park.
  • The best cheap eats in Tamarindo are Mercadito de Tamarindo (trendy food stalls with affordable food and clothing shops) and Bamboo Sushi Club for sushi. 
  • Best seafood, Tamarindo I greatly recommend Dragonfly Bar and Grill. They’re open nightly from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m..
  • What to do in Tamarindo when it rains: go to a coffee shop (Nordico Coffee Shop), visit Cosmic Sister Readings Shop, or go to Lydia Beech Art Boutique.

My Review of La Leona Waterfall: The Best Cheap Thing to Do in Tamarindo

  • Location: 15m east of Soda Curubanda, Provincia de Guanacaste, Curubandé, 50105, Costa Rica. Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park.
  • Guided Tour: Necessary
  • Cost: It depends on the price of the tour chosen. A self-drive private tour starts at $45 and goes up to $90.
  • Tour Duration: Between 3 and 4 hours. 
  • Best enjoyed in groups (a maximum of ten travelers are allowed per tour, so it’s best to book in advance).

The experience 

At La Leona Waterfall, the hike winds through forested hills. Crossing the rapids is easy with a rope, and water shoes are a must. 

Our small group of four strangers, plus us, had a great time. Riding in the back of a pickup truck was exciting, especially for our teenagers. 

The walk to the waterfall, the waterfall itself, and cliff jumping were all thrilling in such a stunning setting. 

Even though it was crowded and there were some wait times, our guide provided swim masks for the teenagers to explore underwater. Overall, it was a lot of fun in an exceptional place.

Available tours 

To see La Leona Waterfall affordably, drive to a tour office in Curubande, 2 hours from Tamarindo. You can book online or on-site. 

The length of the walk varies depending on the inclusions and the entrances used by different companies.

On the website, here are the options:

What to bring along

When visiting the La Leona waterfall, I recommend you bring comfortable clothes, bathing suits, a towel, good hiking shoes that can get wet, sunscreen, insect repellent, hats or sunglasses, and a camera. 

Other cheap things to do in Tamarindo

If you have little money to spend and want to have a fun time in Tamarindo, the Le Leona waterfall is not the only option to consider. Here are other things I’m sure you’d love to try on a little budget: 

1. Learn to surf.

Surfing is a popular activity here in Tamarindo. For as low as $50, you can experience a two-hour surfing lesson. You just have to find a trustworthy instructor. 

I totally recommend this Tamarindo Surf Lesson. Not just because it’s what I used, but also because many tourists rate it well (1,994 5-star ratings). 

I wrote a separate review on my experience surfing at Playa Grande and what you can expect to experience, too. 

If you’re already a pro at surfing, then surfing is entirely free. However, expect to pay around $10 per day if you don’t have your surfboard and need to rent one. 

2. Explore the Beach Area of Playa Grande

Just on the other side of the river, to the north of Tamarindo, there’s a famous beach called Playa Grande. Las Baulas National Marine Park is home to Playa Grande.

You don’t have to pay to go to the beach itself, but there’s a fee for parking. There’s a restaurant named Taco Star at the main parking area, but no other amenities such as public bathrooms or showers are available.

Playa Grande is a big beach with soft sand and clear blue water, but there is not much shade from trees. If you’re planning to spend the whole day there, it’s a good idea to bring your own umbrella because it gets really hot and there is no natural shade.

But it’s an excellent spot for surfing. 

The easiest way to get to Playa Grande is by renting a car. There aren’t any public buses there, and the area is spread out. 

3. Consider stand-up paddleboarding. 

Stand-up paddleboarding, also known as SUP, is another enjoyable and affordable activity in Tamarindo.

Tamarindo Beach is perfect for giving this sport a try. 

The water here is really calm, so it’s not hard to steer the paddleboard. 

Plus, the waves are small, so you’re less likely to tumble off! You can enjoy a couple of hours gliding along the water, paddling along the shoreline, and exploring the bay! I have always used Frijoles Locos Surf Shop to rent SUP boards and for lessons as well. 

4. Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Rincon de la Vieja is approximately 1.5 hours away from Tamarindo, making it the nearest national park. It’s a cool spot for hiking and other activities.

Inside the park, there are some trails to walk, waterfalls to check out, and the Rio Negro Hot Springs, where you can relax your tired muscles after a day of fun. 

I recommend this 12-hour tour for this activity. It combines a volcano hike, waterfall swim, and hot spring combo on Rincon de la Vieja, all for $125, depending on the group size. 

But without a guided tour, the park entrance fee costs just $17 for adults and $5.60 for children, which is very cheap. 

5. Go horseback riding.

Riding horses is a popular way to explore the quieter paths around Tamarindo and nearby places. You can find tours that last a few hours or even a whole day, and the prices are as low as $70. 

For a really great time, you can consider Casagua Horses Tours or Guti Tours in Playa Lagartillo/Playa Avellanas, which is about thirty minutes from Tamarindo. Andrei and his team grew up here, so they know all the best spots and have lots of remarkable stories to tell.

WHY I WOULDN’T RECOMMEND THE TURTLE TOUR

It costs as little as $47 to join this popular turtle nesting tour to the beaches near Playa Grande, where you can see Green Pacific turtles laying their eggs.

I only got to do this sea turtle nesting tour once and wouldn’t recommend it.

It was regrettable to see the mother turtles disturbed and the baby turtles placed in danger during their nesting process.

The way the guide handled things was just awful, and we felt ashamed that we had even booked the tour. 

We had hoped to sit quietly on the beach and watch from a distance, but instead, around 30 tourists were wandering around in the dark, and the guides seemed more interested in making sure people could take pictures.

Three people in our group have PhDs in biology, and they were horrified by what they saw.

Out of the way, let’s now go into things you can do in Tamarindo that are entirely free!

Top Free Things to Do in Tamarindo

  • Tamarindo Night Market: The Tamarindo Night Market happens every Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. There’s live music, fire dancers, clowns for kids, and a DJ for dancing, and it’s all family-friendly and free! There are also handmade souvenirs from Costa Rica and lots more to explore! It’s usually crowded but there’s generally a vibe. 
  • Enjoy the sunset at Playa Langosta. I love ending my vacation day by watching the sunset, and in Tamarindo, there are plenty of spots to do just that. Playa Grande, as I mentioned before, is a top choice for sunset views. Plus, Playa Langosta, which is less than a 10-minute drive from town, is also stunning at sunset.
  • Explore Tama Market: This market has more stalls than the Tamarindo night market. It’s a great place to buy local souvenirs to bring back for yourself and/or friends and family. It happens every Saturday. It doesn’t cost you anything to enjoy the sight of many vendors and locals selling and sharing the things they enjoy creating.

The Best Places to Stay in Tamarindo

In Tamarindo, there are many different types of places to stay, from budget-friendly hostels and cozy bed and breakfasts to middle-of-the-road hotels and fancy resorts. You’ve got plenty of options to pick from. Here are my top recommendations in case you’re planning your itinerary.

 

Hotels Location Recommendations
Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort C. Central, Provincia de Guanacaste, Tamarindo, 50309, Costa Rica For families with kids
Selina Tamarindo Hostel Calle Langosta, Tamarindo. Behind the Pacific Park building is Santa Cruz, Provincia de Guanacaste. Budget-friendly options for digital nomads and backpackers.
Jardin del Eden, Costa Rica Willams, Provincia de Guanacaste, Tamarindo, 50309, Costa Rica Best for an eco-friendly atmosphere

 

I have created a separate guide reviewing these hotels so you can know what to expect during your stay at any of these accommodation options. 

Wrapping Up

The list of free and cheap things to do in Tamarindo is endless. The article did not cover all the activities. However, I prefer to recommend only those that I’ve participated in. 

Above all, the Le Leona Waterfall was the highlight of my stay in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. It was the only place we didn’t spend so much but we gained the most fun and adventurous experience. 

Let me know which of these activities piques your interest more. 

FAQs

How much time should I spend in Tamarindo?

Plan to spend 2-3 days in Tamarindo if you genuinely want to take advantage of most of the cheap activities here. 

Can you walk around Tamarindo?

Tamarindo is a pretty small town, so it’s easy to walk or bike around. For example, if you’re staying at Occidental Tamarindo and want to go to the main area with bars and restaurants, it would take about 30 minutes to walk there. You can also rent a scooter or grab a taxi if you prefer.

Is Tamarindo Beach safe at night?

In busy touristy places like Playa Tamarindo, Playa Grande, and particularly the Night Market, pickpockets might be around, but that’s about the only safety concern you’d need to worry about. Overall, Tamarindo is a very safe place to visit and secure at night. 

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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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