Tamarindo Day Tripping
By Adam Williams
Over the last 15 years, the Guanacaste coast has evolved into an international tourism Mecca. The northwestern Pacific coastline offers an endless stretch of white sand beaches and azure waters perfect for surfing, snorkeling, dolphin watching, sport fishing, and witnessing one of nature’s miracles - hundreds of leatherback turtles trekking ashore to lay their eggs before returning to sea.
Located on a small crescent cove with renowned surf, Tamarindo often serves as a base camp for visitors hoping to explore the area’s natural wonders. For the avid surfer, look no further than Tamarindo and neighboring beaches, such as Playa Grande, Avellanas, Playa Negra and Ollie’s Point. The breaks roll in wave after wave throughout the day. A few hours north by boat lies one of the country’s most celebrated surf break, Witch’s Rock, which annual holds an international surf tournament.
Las Baulas National Marine Park
Nature lovers swarm to the Tamarindo region for bird, dolphin and turtle watching. The famed Las Baulas National Marine Park is home to the largest collection of leatherback turtles in the country. From October to March, the giant turtles emerge from the water in the night, scuttle along the beach, and lay and cover dozens of eggs before returning to the sea. Tours are set up throughout the night to witness the amphibious creatures’ miracle of birth. Park rangers and guides direct the tours and, if you’re lucky, a giant turtle will deliver its eggs right before your eyes. An estimated 800 female turtles nest here each year.
Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge
This preserve is another natural wonderland that is protected and maintained to conserve Mother Nature’s gifts. At the mouth of the Río Matapalo, which runs into the Pacific, the brackish water is home to some of the most intricate networks of mangrove trees in all of Costa Rica. Mangrove trees have spider-like roots that grow out of the water and serve as a home for exotic birds, lizards, snakes and monkeys. Safari trips through the refuge are available throughout the year.
Guanacaste National Park
Inland, Guanacaste National Park is one of the area’s best locales for hiking and taking in Costa Rica’s flora and fauna. The dry rainforest regions, checkered with rolling hills and rich vegetation, are home to hundreds of bird, lizard, cat, snake, bats, monkeys, and insect species. It connects with Santa Rosa National Park to provide a corridor for migratory animals that move between the dry forest and cloud and rain forests that are further east. Park tours are available all year long though recommended during the December-May dry season.