Budget Guide to Tamarindo: Tamarindo Rentals, Things to Do & Eats


When it comes to Tamarindo rentals, activities, restaurants, and more, there’s not always a lot of focus on budget options. And yet, plenty of travelers enjoy Tamarindo on a budget.

From the tightest budgets to more of a we-have-a-specific-budget approach to travel, Tamarindo is very accommodating. Because here, there are tons of free, almost free, and inexpensive things to do. Things you’ll love to do. There are lots of tips to lower your food costs (while still enjoying the heck out of your vacation eats). And there are plenty of Tamarindo condos for rent that invite you to enjoy the good life without spending a fortune.

Here are a few of our on-the-ground, we-have-budgets-too suggestions for enjoying Tamarindo on a budget:

Budget Things to See & Do in Tamarindo

surfing in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Tamarindo is a great choice for budget travelers! There are tons of free or nearly free things to do in this beachside community. Paired with some on-budget Tamarindo rentals (with kitchens, to lower food costs!) and some of our top budget eats (below), and you’ll be well on your way to a champagne vacation at beer-budget costs. Because why wouldn’t you, when you can?

Body Boarding / Boogie Boarding / Surfing

It’s no secret that Tamarindo is a world-renowned surf destination. It’s a little bit of a secret that you don’t need to splash out to splash into our waves.

If you want to go completely free, then try your hand at body boarding. Choose a beach with smallish waves – beginner Tamarindo surf spots are the best choice – and a sandy floor bottom, and you’ll be well on your way to a great day in the sand. Level it up and buy a $15 boogie board at almost any local grocery store or shop or, if you want to get the full experience, you can rent a surfboard starting around $20/day. 

Ride the Estuary Ferry

Tamarindo’s “estuary ferry” connects northern Tamarindo Beach to southern Playa Grande, right near Panga’s Restaurant. This iconic Tamarindo fun is just $1 to ride and, once you’re over on the Playa Grande side, you’re greeted with new surf waves, new beaches to explore, and new miles to walk.

Watch for Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles

Speaking of Playa Grande, did you know that Las Baulas National Marine Park (home to Playa Grande) is one of the world’s important leatherback sea turtle nesting sites? Nesting and egg-hatching can be hit-or-miss but ask around shortly before or while you’re in town; if the leatherbacks are here, locals will know! And it’s just $25 to access the national park for a night nesting tour.

Beach Sunsets + Fire Dancing

There’s nothing more “beach vacation” than simply claiming your spot on the sand, digging your toes in, and watching the sun make its fiery descent behind the horizon, setting the sky ablaze in a rainbow of pinks, peaches, oranges, and purples.

And there’s nothing more “Tamarindo beach vacation” than following up that toes-in-the-sand sunset with toes-in-the-sand fire dancing – fire dancing spectating, that is! TamaOnda (great food, by the way) is a favorite site for nightly fire dancing shows, hosted from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m. It’s going to be one of your favorite things!

Beach Hopping

beaches of Guanacaste Costa Rica

“Budget” is a relative term, but there are ways to beach-hop around Tamarindo without splashing out on a rental car. Yes, we’re talking Tamarindo rentals of a different stripe!

If you’re relatively intrepid and can stand the heat, consider a beach cruiser (banana) bike rental: For $15 per day, you can rent a cruiser that’ll take you to beaches as far as you can pedal. Level it up with an electric bike or scooter rental. Or, if you just want to sit back and enjoy the ride, consider hiring a local driver for a day; while the cost is higher (think $100+), you can get a lot of sightseeing in when you’re driving!

Tip: Be sure to check out all of our favorite Tamarindo-area beaches for a beach-hopping day.

Budget Eats in Tamarindo

restaurant service in Tamarindo

Don’t believe the hype: there are plenty of inexpensive places to eat and budget restaurants in Tamarindo. That said, we’re not going to name them here. (Things are always changing AND there are so many, they’d need their own post.)

What we will tell you is that, in addition to budget restaurants, there are tons of cheap things to eat in Tamarindo. Here are a few of our can’t-miss favorites:

Pipa (Fresh Coconut Water)

Spend just an hour on the beach and you’re likely to see one of Tamarindo’s “coconut guys” – enterprising Costa Ricans who collect fresh, young coconuts daily and sell them, ice cold. Buy one for about $1-$2 and the coconut guy will lop off the top with a machete, insert a straw, and hand you the tastiest coconut water you’ve ever had.

Costa Rican Sodas

No those sodas! In Costa Rica, soda refers to a homestyle eatery, similar to a diner only a lot smaller. (Think zero to four tables, typically. The bigger the soda, the more they’re marketing to the tourist crowd…) Find the right soda and you can dine on a typical Costa Rican feast – rice, beans, salad/veggies, sweet plantains, and your favorite protein (usually fish, chicken, beef, pork, or eggs) – for $5-$7.

Tamarindo Farmer’s Market

If you want to blend cultural attraction with cheap eats, then look no further than the Tamarindo farmer’s market, or fería, held Fridays in Playa Grande and Saturdays in Tamarindo. In addition to super inexpensive fruits and vegetables – grab a bunch to try! – you’ll also find inexpensive prepared foods, including stuffed empanadas, tortillas, and chorreadas (a corn-and-cheese tortilla, very filling!).

Tamarindo Night Market

If you didn’t make it to the Tamarindo farmer’s market, then don’t miss the Tamarindo Night Market, open Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m. In addition to lots of local artisan goods for sale, you’ll find food trucks and street food vendors serving everything from kebobs on a stick and cheesy pizza slices to pulled BBQ and traditional arepas.

Budget Tamarindo Rentals:

Ibis Condo 10

Playa Langosta | 3 Beds | 3 Baths | Sleeps 8

Ibis Condo pool affordable Tamarindo condo rentals

When do budget Tamarindo rentals feel like upscale Tamarindo rentals? When you stay at Ibis Condo #10, a gorgeous penthouse condo located across the street from the luxurious Langosta Beach Club and spectacular Playa Langosta.

Welcome to this lovely home-away-from-home, which is located in an exclusive, small, and gated community with just ten condos. In addition to airy interiors, gorgeous local woods, a gourmet kitchen, and other incredible amenities, you’ll also have free access to Langosta Beach Club, where you can swim, lounge, and dine.

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Monte Perla 10

Tamarindo | 2 Beds | 2 Baths | Sleeps 6

Monte Perla Condos Pool and View

Monte Perla #10 stands out as one of our top Tamarindo rentals for discerning travelers on a budget. Here, overlooking the sparkling Tamarindo Bay, this little corner of paradise offers all the luxury amenities of a palatial vacation home – including ocean views from every room!

Additionally, you’re located just a short walk to downtown Tamarindo and all its myriad attractions, amenities, and services. (Walking or taxi/Ubering is a great way to save on your transportation costs, too.) And yet, Monte Perla #10 is still a peaceful getaway and homey respite, with an outdoor patio and sitting area, custom granite countertops, custom local wood furnishings, a resort pool & sun plaza, and many other upscale details.

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Need More Budget Tamarindo Rentals, Things to Do & Place to Eat? Let’s Chat!

Whether you’re venturing off the beaten path or sticking firmly to it, we can help you make the most of your time here – even and especially if you’re traveling to Costa Rica on a budget. At Vacation Rentals of Tamarindo, our job and calling are to make you feel at home, everywhere and anywhere you find yourself adventuring.

We offer everything from cozy two-bedroom condos to well-priced family vacation rentals equipped with swimming pools, a fully equipped kitchen, and so much more. Search our inventory to find your perfect vacation home!