Playa Grande is a small town popular with surfers and was our next stop following La Fortuna. While we thoroughly enjoyed our time here, we did notice that in general, costs (restaurants for example) are a bit higher than Monteverde and La Fortuna

How to get to Playa Grande from La Fortuna

Direct shuttles from La Fortuna normally stop at Tamarindo, but in our case, we paid an extra $10 each to get to Playa Grande instead for a total cost of $55 each.

We purchased our tickets from Claro Tours office in La Fortuna town.

Shuttle from La Fortuna (pick up from hotel) to Playa Grande (drop off at hotel) took around 5 hours. 

Day 1

Plan for our first day was to visit Playa Grande and surrounding beaches. On our way to Playa Grande, we spotted multiple Mantled Howler Monkeys. We saw them relatively up close and man are they loud (they’re the loudest land animals on earth). 

We visited and did some snorkeling in Playa Cabron, Playa Ventanas and Playa Grande. None of which were super snorkeling friendly in our opinion. They’re mainly sandy beaches except for Playa Cabron, but even then, visibility wasn’t too good.

Is Playa Grande good for beginner surfing?

Later on, we rented a surfboard for 2-4 hours from Taco Star for $10. It seems that most people also purchase surf lessons to go with that board but we were presumptuous enough to think that we can surf by just looking at one YouTube video. After a good number of wipeouts, we did manage to stand up and resemble something close to surfing. 

Playa Grande is a great beach to learn surfing. You’ll find great beach breaks and not many people.

Playa Grande surfing

Day 2

Apparently when you surf, you’re using muscles which you wouldn’t otherwise use if not surfing. We figured this out on our second day. We could barely move.

How to get from Playa Grande to Playa Conchal

We spent our morning relaxing at our hotel and visited Playa Conchal in the afternoon. Uber in Playa Grande isn’t really a thing so when a car became available, we immediately booked it. The drive from Playa Grande to Playa Conchal took around 20 minutes and cost us ₡7,300. The beach is not directly accessible by car so we were dropped off 45 minutes away on foot. Playa Conchal is famous for its seashells. Pictures on the net make this beach look more beautiful than it really is. We enjoyed it but didn’t think too much of it.

Playa Conchal

Day 3

Our third day was pretty much relaxing at Playa Grande and more surfing. We rented a surfboard for $10 from Taco Star again. One thing to note here is that there aren’t any deckchairs or umbrellas for rent and there’s only one shady area under palm trees. We noticed people showing up quite early in the day to “reserve” their spot.

Where to eat in Playa Grande 

Restaurants which offered vegetarian options and we thoroughly enjoyed were RipJack Inn and Pots & Bowls.

How to get from Playa Grande to Tamarindo

This doesn’t really deserve much explanation since Playa Grande and Tamarindo are so close. People mostly catch a taxi from Playa Grande to Tamarindo (should cost around $20) but we instead decided to walk along Playa Grande and catch a boat taxi to Tamarindo. 

Walking the entirety of Playa Grande took around 1 hour until we arrived at where the boat taxis were located. We stopped along the way for a swim since it does get hot quickly walking on a beach in the sun with backpacks. 

Playa Grande - Tamarindo backpacking

After agreeing on a price with the boat taxi driver for ₡1,000, we boarded the small boat and got comfortable thinking that the ride would last at least 20 minutes. Before we could even double check with the driver and confirm that we’re heading to Tamarindo, we were told that we arrived in Tamarindo. The ride literally took 20 seconds! We couldn’t help but burst out laughing and looked around to see if we could have actually walked across. We must admit that it wouldn’t have been easy to cross on foot (if at all possible).

Playa Grande - Tamarindo
The short distance between Playa Grande and Tamarindo

Now that we were in Tamarindo, we walked for another 20 minutes to get to our hostel. This hostel was a cool, clean place, but if you’re planning on getting any sleep before 22:00, then you’re going to be disappointed. There’s a bar right next to the hostel which blasts the crappiest EDM ever.

What to do in Tamarindo

We only spent around a day and a half in Tamarindo. We certainly enjoyed it but preferred the less busy, less touristic neighbor Playa Grande. The below is what we were up to during our stay in Tamarindo:

  • Swam and watched sunset on the beach
  • Strolled around town
  • Ate at the Falafel Bar and El Mercado de Tamarindo Food and Cocktail Market. The latter is hidden away in a side street and easy to miss but we really recommend giving this place a look. 
Tamarindo sunset

Check out our next stop in Manuel Antonio.

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