Travel on a Budget: 6 Tips to Save on Your Tamarindo Vacation

aerial view Playa Grande Costa Rica 16 9

At its best, traveling on a budget is an exhilarating challenge: a chance to explore the world a little longer, enjoy a little more, and squeeze in a little more authenticity. And if that sounds like your kind of Tamarindo, Costa Rica vacation, then we’re here to help you identify a few great ways to pinch your colones, discover Costa Rica, and choose the best things to do in Tamarindo for you.

Tip #1: Cook at “Home”

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Pictured: The kitchen at Ibis Condo #1

By far, one of the easiest ways to travel on a budget is to cook some of your own meals, rather than ordering in or dining at a restaurant. And that’s where your vacation home’s kitchen comes in clutch.

That said, let’s not forget that this is still a Tamarindo, Costa Rica vacation – and no one’s saying that food prep is among the best things to do in Tamarindo! We recommend preparing most of your breakfasts, as there’s a certain level of relaxation already built in to waking up late and preparing a lazy breakfast or brunch at home. Beyond that, go easy for lunch with easy-prep options, like sandwiches, pasta salad, fresh fruits, and other dishes you can prep in an instant.

Dinner is a great time to splurge on either a meal out or a meal in: You can find some incredible catch-of-the-day options, if you love seafood, as well as plenty of local and imported goods at our local grocery stores. Be sure to choose something that feels a little special; again, you’re on vacation! And vacation is a great time for special.

Tip #2: Book Last-Minute Tours

If you have your eye on a specific tour and didn’t book in advance, asking about last-minute availability and pricing is, in itself, one of the best things to do in Tamarindo. That’s because last-minute cancellations and empty spots can net you a decent discount, often in the neighborhood of 5-20%. (Note: Discounts won’t always be offered but when they are, they’re worth it! And it never hurts to ask.)

Tip #3: Ask for Group Rates

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If you’re traveling with a few people, last-minute bookings can a little harder to snag; after all, a tour might have one or two last-minute cancellations, but it’s unlikely that they’ll have space for eight of your nearest and dearest!

This is where group pricing comes into play: If you’re traveling as a group (usually, in the range of 6+ paying teens/adults), you may qualify for group rates. Depending on your desired tour, group rates may include a % discount, service upgrade, extras, or even a private tour! So, always ask what’s available.

Tip #4: Take Buses or Shared Transportation

Splashing out for a private driver – or even a rental 4×4, depending on the time of year – might be out of your budget. If that’s the case, then know that Costa Rica has good public transportation, as well as the budget-traveler’s all-time favorite: share shuttles!

Shared shuttles are essential ride-sharing for private transportation: Instead of reserving an entire vehicle, you reserve only your seat – usually, for about $40-$100 per way (depending on the route length, popularity, availability, stops, and more). If you’re a solo traveler or traveling as a couple, this can be an excellent budget option, pairing the comfort of private transportation with the budget of a much more affordable option. The route schedules are often more accommodating than public buses, too!

Tip #5: Enjoy Free Activities

natural beach tide pool

While so many online travel resources focus on paid activities as the best things to do in Tamarindo, the truth is that there is an entire world of free and nearly-free activities to enjoy here. Remember, this is the beach and what would a Tamarindo, Costa Rica vacation be without a beach day? Total cost: Free.

In addition to splashing in the waves, boogie boarding (boards supplied at some rentals!), cooling off in tide pools, and strolling the sand, Tamarindo has plenty of other fun to enjoy on a budget. From riding the estuary ferry and beach hopping to sea turtle watches and after-dark fire dancing on the beach, we have plenty of budget vacation favorites to fill your days and nights.

Tip #6: Shop the Markets

Costa Rica tropical fruits including mangosteen

Speaking of free by day and by night, a favorite way to while away the hours is at one of Tamarindo’s markets, easily one of the best things to do in Tamarindo for budget travelers!

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 want to tap into the true flavor of Tamarindo, Guanacaste then you can’t miss the Tamarindo Night Market. Open every Thursday from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., the area’s favorite after-dark market is part dining, part entertainment, and part market.

Walk in and you’ll find dozens of local artisan vendors, who sell everything from handcrafted jewelry to glass-bottled kombucha. There are fire dancers and DJs and traditional Costa Rican dancing, as well as other forms of entertainment, which pair very well with the market’s onsite restaurants and food vendors, who serve up everything from cheesy pizza and pork BBQ to empanadas and vegan options. Enjoy!

Where to Stay for Your Tamarindo, Costa Rica Vacation

One of the best things to do in Tamarindo begins before you even arrive: Rent a vacation home! Not only do vacation rentals add an extra layer of privacy and space to your time in Costa Rica, but they help you both save money (hi there, full kitchen and more!) and build in vacation extras (ex. a resort pool, beach gear, and more) that you’d have to pay for, anywhere else.

With that in mind, here are four recommendations to consider for your upcoming vacation:

Crystal Sands Penthouse 504

Playa Langosta | 3 Beds | 3 Baths | Sleeps 12

Crystal Sands Penthouse 504 rental Tamarindo Costa Rica 16 9

Look, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that sometimes, you just need your own penthouse. And when “sometimes” becomes “for this vacation,” Crystal Sands 504 delivers with a gorgeous penthouse, a spectacular Langosta Beach location, and Pacific Ocean views that stretch for as far as your eyes can see. Good thing you have that private balcony

When you can drag yourself indoors – and, we admit, it can be a challenge, when you’re here! – you’ll love your penthouse’s private hot tub (on the balcony!), breezy interiors, and gourmet kitchen. Don’t want to cook? That’s what the full-sized gas grill is for! (Grilling isn’t cooking, right??). And everywhere – even from the bedrooms – you’ll be able to enjoy your private ocean panoramas. Welcome to paradise! 

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Sunrise 3

3 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms | Sleeps 6

Sunrise 3 rental Sunrise Condos Tamarindo 16 9

Known as the “Bella Vida” – the beautiful life – Sunrise 3 embodies the idea of cozy with a side of upscale flavor: comfort and convenience, located across from the beach and just a few seconds’ walk to sand, sea, and your next favorite sunset or exhilarating surf lesson. Without a doubt, this is a great choice for anyone who loves to relax to the sound of crashing waves, walk with sand between their toes, and stroll the beach whenever the mood strikes.

There’s so much to love about Sunrise 3, beginning with its breezy interiors and outdoor dining, granite countertops and spacious bedrooms. And then, there’s the condo’s oversized resort pool and tropical vistas, your lovely private balcony and a location within walking distance to restaurants, bars, shops, and nightlife.

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Ibis Penthouse #10

3 Beds | 3 Baths | Sleeps 8

Ibis vacation rental 10 at Ibis Condos Tamarindo 16 9

Who wouldn’t want to stay right across from the beach? You might even call that a Tamarindo, Costa Rica vacation must! And who doesn’t crave the amenities of a larger resort, or the option for peace, quiet, and tranquility? For all of you who do, look no further than Ibis Condo #10.

Home to seasonal ocean views from the great room and grand deck, this luxurious penthouse condo is all about the ocean. Steps away, it’s always calling to you – a harmony of crashing surf and the sound of happy beachgoers. Feel free to join them, because world-famous Langosta Beach and Tamarindo Beach are just steps away!

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Casa Limoncillo

2 Beds | 2 Baths | Sleeps 10

Casa Limoncillo Tamarindo vacation rental

Newly built and eminently modern, Casa Limoncillo is also one of the newer additions to our offerings. We’re so excited to share! Because this welcoming home is dedicated to outdoor living and leisure, and offers an incredible setting for family and friends.

Here, the joy is in the details: It’s the saltwater pool and adjoining shaded rancho with outdoor seating. It’s the outdoor firepit, where you can roast marshmallows, sit beneath the stars, and let the crackle and pop lull you into vacation bliss. It’s the playground of children’s dreams, complete with a rock-climbing wall. It’s the quiet surrounds, populated by exotic birds and wildlife. It’s even the on-property chickens, who lay eggs for your breakfast.

It’s everything, really. And we think you’re going to love it!

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Wondering About Budget Activities & the Best Things to Do in Tamarindo?

Seeking a little planning know-how? Looking for a great deal? Can’t decide on which of our rental homes is right for you?

Get in touch! We love to chat Tamarindo, getaways, and vacation rentals. We readily share our experiences and advice. And we promise, we’re friendly, to boot. We look forward to hearing from you!