Activities

Sunrise condominiums is located in the heart of the town of Tamarindo, one of Costa Rica’s best, and most popular, year round playgrounds.   Located in the Pacific North West of Costa Rica, minutes from   Las Baulas National Park, with day trips to Santa Rosa National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, Palo Verde National Park possible, just to name few.

Parts of this page are still under construction

As we learn more about the area and have time we update this site.

Within minutes you can be out the door and enjoying nature or sitting on the patio of some of Costa Rica’s best restaurants.

For someone looking for outdoor activities, beaches, a fair amount of sun, relaxation and some of the world’s best biodiversity this area has it all.

You do not need access to your own car to enjoy most of these activities as they are within walking distance from the unit, or you can walk to a local tour operator who will arrange transportation.  You can usually book a tour while in Tamarindo.  For example, if you check out a tour operator on the day you arrive they can likely work things out to get you on a tour the same week.  If you are in town for a short period (well under a week) and want to be sure to take in a specific activity then you are likely best to book ahead.

The 3rd party links on this page are constantly changing as web pages are moved, updated or go offline. Please report broken links here. I’ve tried to include some of the keywords (ex., the names of some of the near by parks, or areas used for a specific type of activity) so that you can perform your own search using some of the keywords I’ve provided.

Arts & Entertainment

There is a small art gallery, and local pottery shops.

If you are hoping for a metropolitan experience this isn’t the place.  While Tamarindo is likely the most populous town on the coast in the Pacific Northwest of Costa Rica.  Trying to track down the actual population showed varying results.  It appears that over 2000 people make the area their home and that at certain times of the year there may be close to 10,000 people in town when you count tourists.  As such the art and entertainment ‘scene’ is limited.  There are a number of bars in town, some of which have fairly active dance floors.  If you want sports the condo unit has a number of sports stations and so do a lot of the bars in town.

ATV Tours

Most tour operators will provide ATV tours through likely a combination of rain forest, and beaches.  Confirm up front how long the tour will be, what you will see, and what is included in the cost of the trip.

Beaches

If you wanted beaches, this is the right spot.

Tamarindo Beach (Playa Tamarindo) is well over 1 mile (2+ Km long). There are numerous other beaches within a 30 minute drive, Playa Grande and Playa Longasta can both be walked to if you are up for a nice walk along Tamarindo beach. Although you would have to cross the estuary to get to Playa Grande to the north. Playa Longosta is to the south. You can pretty much choose the color of sand, and how big you want the waves to be, then just head to the appropriate near by beach.

Click here for details on the beaches in the area and what they are known for.

Bicycle / Mountain Biking (Bike, Extreme Biking) Trips

You can rent beach bikes & mountain bikes in town. While the roads are improving in the area I wouldn’t hazard riding a ‘road bike’ on most streets. You can choose from just renting a bike to check out the town (there is bike rental shop immediately to the left of our condo complex) to full group, multi day excursions. Here is an example of a company that can help: http://www.bluetrailz.com/costa-rica-bike-rentals-repairs.phtml.

Bird Watching / Nature Study

You can occasionally spot green parrots, White Throated Magpie-Jays, Howler Monkeys, Gecko’s (you are bound to see some at night) right on the condominium complex grounds. For near by birding opportunities see Las Baulas National Park – it is very close by. You can talk to our property managers by e-mail or while onsite to book tours to any of the National Parks. You have a very good chance of seeing Howler Monkeys on the estuary tour (Las Baulas National Park).

More great bird watching opportunities can be found at Palo Verde and Rincon de la Vieja which are located within easy day trips of Tamarindo. The Monteverde cloud forest is another fantastic area to bird watch but is about a 3 hour drive each way. There are day trips from Tamarindo to Monteverde.

Canopy Tour

Casinos

Diving

Estuary Tours

See Las Baulas National Park

Horse Back Riding

Ride along the beach

Leatherback Turtles

We highly, highly recommend the Leatherback Turtle Tour if you like TV shows like Animal Planet, etc. It is very surreal to go trouping along the beach in the dark as your park guide leads you up to a 6′ plus turtle whose backside is eerily basking in a red glow from your guides flashlights. You can watch it dig a 2′+ hole in the ground, lays eggs, cover the hole and then pull itself bit by bit back in to the ocean.

A few words and tips about the Leather Back Turtle tour. You can sign up for the tour at a number of places in Tamarindo. You do not need to sign up in advance of your arrival in Tamarindo. In fact I’m not even sure if you really can sign up in advance, we recommend you sign up on your first day in Tamarindo. Your name is added to a register in the National Park and they don’t book any given day much in advance. They will arrange a ride slightly out of town to the ‘shack’ just outside of town at the Estuary. This is the same location that you take your Las Baulas (Tamarindo River) estuary tours from. You can sign up for the turtle tours directly at this location for $32.00 (as of January 2008) but then you need to find your way back to this location. This location is about 300 meters closer towards town then the Garden Plaza (Auto Mercado – large super market, Sukkha – restaurant, etc.).

Tours leaves from the Turtle Shack (my name for it) with 30 people. This occurs just after sunset. There may be more than 1 group of 30 people. You walk along the beach in the dark. The only lights allowed are with the park guides and volunteers and they turn them on very rarely. When you do reach a turtle there will be about 3 guides with red colored flash lights illuminating the back side of the turtle. Your original group will be broken down in to two groups of 15. First one groups goes to see the turtle dig. Then the second group goes to see it dig and then start to lay its eggs. Then the first group comes back to see the eggs laid and the turtle start to fill the hole back in. Then the 2nd group comes back to see the hole filled. Then everyone can likely see the turtle slug it back to the ocean.

No cameras are allowed on the trip. Definitely no flashes. If you have a video camera with a night mode I don’t think that is even allowed since the screen could shed light. If you plan to rig up some kind of contraption that won’t shed any light make sure you talk to a guide or ranger to see if they will allow it. The official word when you leave for the tour is that no cameras are allowed.

Be prepared to get your feet wet. You need to cross the estuary and getting in to the boat you may get your feet wet.

Be prepared to wait once you cross the river. There is about a 5 to 10 minute hike in the dark and then you sign in and can wait at a lit location with chairs and a small snack bar. Your guide will call you when, and if there is a turtle spotted.

On our first time to see the turtles we were in the first group of 30 (there can be multiple groups leaving fairly late in to the night). Since we were the first group we had to do the furthest hike. We hike about 2.5 Km (close to a couple of miles along the beach in the dark) to get to our turtle. We passed by at least one turtle which a group who hit the wait location later than us would see. Our turtle tried digging its hole 3 times and every time it collapsed before it started laying its eggs. It seems that if they turtle tries 3 times and is unsuccessful at digging until its back flippers don’t touch sand anymore as it digs that the turtle calls it quits and heads back to ocean and will return another night.

We went at the end of January. It was quite warm, while we wore pants we didn’t need to and considering the slight wade to get in to the boat to take us to Playa Grande side of the estuary not having socks and pants may have been a bonus. As you have to hike from 500 meters (over 1500 feet) to up to 3Km (1.86 miles) make sure you have comfortable shoes or sandals.

I love nature, and I enjoyed this entire experience very, very much, even with only seeing the turtle dig the hole and not seeing it lay its eggs. I’ll be doing this tour again. Keep in mind that as with any natural event with a wild animal there is no guarantee that you will even see a turtle. My understanding is that if you don’t see a turtle you can keep you tour ticket and come back another night. For that reason I would suggest that if you want to go on this tour you do it at the beginning of your trip.

Mangrove Tours

See Las Baulas National Park

Monkeys

You can find Howler Monkeys in and around town, in fact some times they’ll be up in the trees of the condo complex so make sure to check the trees when you leave the complex in the morning. On day trips you can see white-faced monkeys and spider monkeys. For example, on our trips to Rincon de la Vieja National Park we often see both Capuchan (white faced) and Spider Monkeys. To see squirrel monkeys you need to be closer to Manual Antonio Park near Quapos.

National Parks:

These are the parks that you can do day trips to. Monteverde is about a 3.5 hour drive from Tamarindo. So while possible it starts to push the limits of a day trip. Other parks are from 1/2hr to a 2 hour drive away. Most tours provide an air conditioned tourist van to make the trips comfortable. We suggest trying to book on to tours where the driver, speaks English. This way you can turn the entire trip in to a tour. If you don’t ask for an English speaker driver you could spend the time driving seeing gorgeous scenery but not really knowing what it is.

Barra Honda National Park -  The park was set up to protect the Barra Honda Caves on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. A system of over 40 limestone caves, along with hiking trails. You need a guide to gain access to, and explore any of the caves. A great resource for more information is the Costa Rica Guide website

Guanacaste -a park that was set up to connect Santa Rosa National Park with the near by cloud forest. You can spot various birds and some monkeys here among other wildlife but this likely isn’t a park you would visit on your first trip to the area.

Las Baulas – On the north side of the Tamarindo, t his is the National Park that includes the Tamarindo Estuary (river) and the Playa Grande. This is where you can see the Leatherback Turtles lay there eggs from November through April.

You can also go on a 2 to 2.5 hour tour of the estuary (by boat) where you will very likely see various birds (Herons, Osprey, Eagles, King Fishers) as well as a short hike to likely see a local troop of Howler Monkeys.

Monteverde Cloud Forest – Over 3 hours each direction from Tamarindo. Monteverde is not a National Park but instead a non profit nature preserve. The location’s changing altitude (quite high in many areas), on the continental divide, along with a variable climate, and various streams and vast forest make this an area of great natural diversity. As such, it is known for fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities with over 100 types of mammels, 400+ bird species (including the Resplendent Quetzal), 1000′s of insects.

Palo Verde – great for bird watching as more than 300 types of birds swing through this area while migrating. You usually take an early day tour down the river by boat to see the various birds, monkeys (white faced and Howler), crocodiles, iguanas, etc.

Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal (Arenal Volcano National Park) – It is over a 3 hour drive each way from Tamarindo. It can be done in a day tour from Tamarindo but that may be a little daunting for some travelers. You can book excursions which provide an overnight stay before coming back to Tamarindo.

Many tourists travel to the park and have a fantastic time. It is one of the few places on earth that you can view a live volcano. You may even get to see it spewing forth lava. With that said we want you to be aware that the Volcano is active and has small eruptions fairly often. While this may be exciting to view from a distance, US and Canadian governments (and likely other International governments) list the volcano in their travel alerts for Costa Rica. It is recommended that you pay close attention to all warnings issued for any national park but specifically for the Arenal volcano area. Hiking in certain areas of the volcano is extremely dangerous so watch out for warning signs, hike with local guides who know the area and what to expect and how to stay safe.

Rincon de la Vieja – about 2 hours each way from Tamarindo and fairly close to Liberia. The roadway is good right up until the last stretch just outside Liberia when the road turns in to a washboard gravel road. There are some smaller hikes of 5Km (3 Miles) or less, but a few of the more popular hikes are 10Km (6 miles) or more. Keep in mind these hikes consist of a lot of ups and downs. Take lots of water and be prepared to spend a good few hours on the hikes if you do some of the longer ones. There is a nice waterfall at the Blue Lake Trail (ask at the guard hut for a free tourist map). There are a number of small rivers, mud pools, hot springs and other geothermal areas as the park is built around the volcano.

You can experience both wet and dry forest along the Blue Lake Trail hike.

This park is also good for bird watching but you have to be prepared to sit still and wait for the birds. If you just hike along the path you may not see many. The forest is very dense in spots so a scope, or binoculars are highly recommended if you want to bird watch. You can stop and get a guide at the tourist farm just outside the part. This is the place that may hit you up for $2.00 to pass through their gate. Locals who speak Spanish seem to make it through without paying the $2.00 but tourists who drive themselves in to the area should be prepared to pay the fee.

Santa Rosa National Park – This park was set up mainly because of its historical significance more than the nature it protects. It does however protect tropical dry forest which is relatively rare. The park also contains the Nancite and Naranjo turtle nesting beaches. The Pacific Ridley Sea Turtles use the Nancite beach as one of there nesting sites in late summer.

Tenorio National Park – Expect a 2.5+ hour drive if you wish to travel to this national park with 2 volcanos (considered dormant). You can do day tours to the area. You can hike beside the turquoise blue waters of the Rio Celeste (Celeste River).

Nightlife

Tamarindo nightlife changes from year to year (even month to month). Some general recommendations are to watch for flyers posted on the main streets. They will tip you off as to what bars/clubs are have special events on which nights. Since the town is made up of a lot of tourists they see the flyers and those are the places that tend to get busy. As is usually the case different bars are busier on different nights. Below are some of the bars the owners have been to. It is just a sampling of the places to head to, as I mentioned check with locals and watch out for flyers posted on electrical poles around town.

Babylon is somewhat hidden on the back side of Mambobar. You can get there through the Tamarindo Resort or go to the main circle (road) in town and walk along the top side of the beach for about 20 seconds and then head towards the music (if it is open that night). Known for Reggae on Thursday nights.

La Barra is somewhat hidden on the opposite side of the main road from the beach at Hotel Diria. The entrance is tucked in between some tourist shops. As of January 2008 its busier nights where Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Mambobar was right on the main circle, as of January 2008 it seems to have shut down.

Restaurants

There are over 40 restaurants in town. Ranging from small restaurants serving local Costa Rican foods to excellent sea food, steak, vegetarian, Italian, and the list goes on. Most restaurants in town are within walking distance of our condo unit. Restaurants open up and close down and chefs change restaurants so we recommend that you talk to Angie or Jonathan at our property managers office (just in front of our condo complex). They can fill you in on the current hot spots to eat.

Sailing

There are a number of choices you can sign up for once you arrive. Your cost will likely be between $60.00 to $110.00/person (2008 pricing) depending on the length of time and the size and amenities of the boat.

SCUBA Diving

Shopping

Snorkeling

Sport Fishing

I haven’t fished much since I turned 20 years ago but my brother and I went on a half day fishing trip for $375.00 US that we booked through our property manager. It was absolutely fantastic. We both caught fish that were 5′+ or bigger.

A few things to note. You can pay more money for a bigger boat, which should keep you dryer than the boat we were on. You can also pay less money at around $275.00 (as of January 2008) but that puts you in a fairly small boat, especially considering you are likely going to be 4 miles out from shore. I wouldn’t recommend a boat smaller than the one we were in which is called the Coyote. It could fit 4 people fairly comfortably plus the captian.

We got absolutely drenched. I recommend a bathing suit, a hat and lots of sun screen. I burn fairly easily so I had 50 sun screen on, I still burned slightly on being out on the water for about 4.5 hours. If you take a camera make sure it is in a dry bag, or wrapped in a rain jacket or something that can keep it dry. We went in late January, apparently the dry season is also windy out on the water. You may not get so wet at other times of the year but plan to get wet and you should be fine.

They provide all of the equipment. They even hook the fish and then you get the excitement of reeling in what could be a 6′+ Marlin. Your arms should be prepared for a good work out if you hook in to a big fish. We caught a number of smaller Yellow Fin Tuna, Black Tuna, Mackeral, Roosterfish (Pez Gallo in Spanish) about 5′ in length, and a Marlin that got off when the guide reefed on the line to haul it in the boat (it was to big to try and man handle it in to the boat).

Apparently bill fish (Marlin, Sailfish) are more abundant outside of the September to March months. They also recommend that you go for a full day to help ensure that you catch a bill fish. We managed to catch one 4 miles off of Tamarindo beach in late January. It is generally a catch and release program for bill fish. This helps to ensure the large population of these type of fish in the area. You can ask around for a place called Gray Taxidermy (we saw posters but no contact information) which can make a replica of your released trophy fish.

We had specifically asked to have an English speaking guide. We had one for about 10 minutes before he was hauled off to take care of an emergency on another boat. I wonder whether this is a scam or whether it was true. In any case even with our Spanish speaking guide (who didn’t know much English other than the name of the various fish we caught) we had a great time.

Without being able to communicate effectively with our guide it was hard to get details on what the normal practice is for keeping fish. Based off of our guide’s actions it would seem that they keep the tuna, release the marlins, and sail fish. The huge Roosterfish was also thrown back, with the word ‘garbage’ being the only thing we could understand. Although you may see Roosterfish (Pez Gallo) on some menus (we saw it at the airport in Liberia).

I would very highly recommend chartering a sport fishing excursion when in town if you’ve ever even thought that you may want to try it. It isn’t cheap but the rates are for the boat and you can split up the costs among a number of people depending on the size of the boat. It would make for an awesome men’s getaway week (or women’s who love fishing), to have a day or two trying to hook a huge sword fish. My wife came on our trip, she didn’t fish but still had a great time.

We recommend sea bands and sea sick pills (you will want to talk to your pharmacist or doctor but items like Bonamine, Bonine can be purchased fairly cheaply over the counter, or the Scopolamine patch, with a prescription, for those who really have trouble). I’ve experience slight nausea but took a Bonamine about an hour before heading out and had sea bands and I was good even though it was very choppy at points.

Sunset Cruises

There are a number of options. You can book when you arrive in town. Your cost will be around $50.00/person for a sunset cruise (2008 pricing).

Surfing

Swimming

Tamarindo beach is well over 1 mile (about 2+ Km long). Certain areas have a strong undertow and other areas are better for swimming. Make sure you check with a local before swimming out far from shore. According to the people we asked, the safest area for swimming is in front of Hotel Capitán Suizo. With a little bit of care you should be able to find a nice family safe spot to swim and enjoy Tamarindo beach.

There are numerous other beaches within a 15 minute drive. All range in how rough or smooth the water is for swimming. Potrero Beach (Playa Potrero) is known for its calm waters since the beach is situated in such a way to avoid large waves.

See also: Beaches

Tennis

The Tamarindo Tennis Club (506-653-0898 from North America add 011 in front) is right in beyond our condo complex. Take the El Jardin del Eden path right beside our condo to get back there. They have two outdoor courts, both with lights. Look to pay about $10.00/hour for use of the courts. They can provide tennis lessons with some advance notice.

Volcanoes

The area has several volcanoes within a 3 hour drive of the condo. Arenal (3+ hour drive each way), see Arenal Volcano National Park is the most famous. Rincon is the closest, see Rincon de la Vieja. Other volcanos in the area, for those who have already checked out Arenal and Rincon, are Miravalles, Giganta, Montezuma and Tenorio

Arenal

Miravalles

Arenal

White Water Rafting

Wildlife – see Bird Watching / Nature Study

Windsurfing

Make sure to confirm with a local what type of current/under tow, and rocks are in the area where you plan to windsurf. Then have fun!