- Activities: Bird & Wildlife Watching, Golfing, Snorkeling
- Landscape: Beaches, Rainforest
- Summary: Deserted golden-sand beach on the Nicoya Peninsula; peaceful getaway with upscale resorts.
- Caters to: Couples/Honeymooners, Luxury Travelers, Nature Lovers
- Attractions: Cabo Blanco Reserve, Curu Wildlife Refuge, Wildlife
- Quick Facts: Warm and sunny with temperate evenings ; 77-86°F ; 11 miles from Paquera; Nicoya Peninsula ; Sea level
Set against a backdrop of secluded golden sand, Tambor Beach is snuggled into Bahia Ballena, or Whale Bay, on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. Tambor is known as a gateway to the area’s biological diversity; the Nicoya Biological Corridor cradles the beach, which is also bordered by the ecological riches of Curu Wildlife Refuge.read more close
Tambor’s quiet setting and natural beauty make it an ideal destination for wildlife lovers and vacationers seeking a peaceful getaway. Shaded by sea almond trees, the picturesque beach fades into calm blue waters. The gentle Pacific Ocean provides excellent swimming conditions and shallow waters safe for children and beginner swimmers. At low tide, the beach is ideal for pickup soccer or a rousing game of beach volleyball.
The small town of Tambor serves as a jumping off point for many local attractions. Local tour companies offer snorkeling and scuba diving at scenic Isla Tortuga, hiking in Curu and Cabo Blanco Wildlife Preserves, horseback riding on nearby Santa Teresa Beach, ATV excursions, and many other exciting activities.
Several hotels line Tambor Beach and cater to mid and upscale travelers. Prices range from $75-$250 per night; a few cabins offer basic accommodations for about $30. Or treat yourself to total luxury at Costa Rica’s first large all-inclusive resort, on Tambor oceanfront. The resort offers spa services to both guests and walk-in clients. The town has a small selection of restaurants, including fresh seafood dining and typical food joints.
Tambor does not have an ATM, though some hotels may exchange dollars. Most upscale hotels and restaurants accept credit cards. Travelers looking for nightlife and additional amenities should head west to Mal Pais and Santa Teresa.
Cabo Blanco Absolute Reserve
This wildlife lover’s paradise is located just over an hour west of Playa Tambor. Cabo Blanco Absolute Reserve is home to incredible diversity: coatimundis, anteaters, howler monkeys, Baird’s tapir, raccoons, and agouti are just a few of the mammals regularly spotted. More than 39 species of bat live in the reserve, joined by various birds including the bare-throated tiger heron. Cabo Blanco offers one short path and one long, very challenging trail leading to the beach.
Curu Wildlife Refuge
Located on the border of Tambor, Curu Wildlife Refuge is considered one of Costa Rica’s most amazing and diverse parks. The refuge features 17 quiet trails that finger out into a variety of ecosystems; among them, tropical wet forest, mangrove swamp, and dry forest. Horseback riding, snorkeling, river and ATV tours are among the many exciting activities offered.
Bird and Wildlife Watching
Wildlife is plentiful in the Nicoya Biological Corridor, and especially so at Curu Wildlife Refuge and Cabo Blanco Reserve. Wildlife watchers may spot raccoon, coatimundi, whitetail deer, armadillo, white-lipped and collared peccary, puma, kinkajou, howler and spider monkeys, agouti, jaguarundis, and Baird’s tapir. Birdwatchers will also delight in the wide variety of avian species found in the refuges: parakeets, scarlet macaws, woodpeckers, osprey, common black hawks, brown pelicans, crested guan, frigate birds, gulls, pelicans, ospreys and herons are often seen. The best time for wildlife watching is early in the morning, between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and in the afternoon between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Try your hand at oceanside putting on Tango Mar Golf Club’s 9-hole course. Known for its challenging holes and incredible short game, the greens are ideal for practicing accuracy and fine-tuning skills. All holes are three or four-par, and the 2000-yard course is one of Costa Rica’s most picturesque and enjoyable. Full-day greens fees are $25.
Snorkeling and Diving
Day trips from Playa Tambor offer the opportunity to snorkel and dive some of Costa Rica’s most colorful and exciting underwater locations. PADI-certified instructors offer multi-day courses to aspiring divers, with a day-long “discovery session” for beginners. For a one-day jaunt, take a catamaran ride out to the Turtle Island, where snorkelers will explore the colorful sea life in the tame, sparkling waters. Angelfish, puffer fish, corals, blue spotted jacks, eels, octopi, lobsters, oysters, and needlefish are commonly spotted in the clear shallows.
Enjoy the Pacific’s delicious opportunities on an inshore or offshore sport fishing excursion. Comfortable 26 to 35 ft. boats leave port daily, with their experienced captains guiding guests to the best spots for big game fish. Common catches include yellow and black-fin tuna, red snapper, grouper, striped and black marlin, snook, and mahi mahi. Anglers have the option of sampling the freshest sushi in town, or saving their prize for later.
Air: During the high season months of December-April, Costa Rica’s regional airlines offer daily trips to Tambor from several major tourist destinations including San Jose, Arenal, Drake Bay, Manuel Antonio, and Tamarindo. Schedules are pared down during the green season, but there are still regular flights to/from Tambor.
Bus + Ferry: From San Jose to Cobano (stops in Tambor): $12 (includes ferry fee); 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.; 6 hours. Departs from the Coca Cola Bus station at Calle 12 and Avenida 5. 2642-0219.
Car: From San Jose, take the new Caldera Highway west to Puntarenas. Catch the ferry to Naranjo or Paquera, then follow signs leading southwest to Playa Tambor. The trip will take about two hours from Naranjo and one hour from Paquera.