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295km (183 miles) NW of San José; 73km (45 miles) SW of Liberia

Tamarindo is the biggest boomtown in Guanacaste, and many say the boom has gone too far, too fast. The main road into Tamarindo, sometimes featuring bumper-to-bumper traffic, is a helter-skelter jumble of strip malls, surf shops, hotels, and restaurants. Ongoing development is spreading up the hills inland from the beach and south to Playa Langosta. None of it is regulated or particularly well planned out.

Still, abundant accommodations and restaurants, and active nightlife, along with very dependable surf, have established Tamarindo as one of the most popular beaches on this coast. The beautiful beach here is a long, wide swath of white sand that curves from one rocky headland to another. Fishing boats bob at their moorings and brown pelicans skim the water’s surface just beyond the breakers. Tamarindo is very popular with surfers, who ply the break here or use the town as a jumping-off place for beach and point breaks at playas Grande, Langosta, Avellanas, and Negra.