A Tamarindo Sunset
Tamarindo is probably the second most visited surf beach town in Costa Rica, after Jaco. It was originally settled by Italian fisherman and later by California surfers. It has a variety of places to stay that range from bed and breakfast hotel to very upscale hotels. Prices, as well, vary widely but there is probably something for everyone.
Tamarindo is filled with places to eat, and party with a wide range of restaurants and bars and discos. There is a large number of really good eateries with great food. It is known as a party town. It is also, consequently, very much a tourist town and is filled with people from all over. English is widely spoken and sometimes it can feel as if you are somewhere other than Costa Rica, until you walk out to the beautiful beach.
Tamarindo has two main breaks and, although one can find uncrowded surf all along the beach, these spots can get pretty jammed. The primary breaks are;
* El Estereo, which is a sometimes excellent, depending on the sand at the time, rivermouth break where the Tamarindo Estuary meets the ocean. There are rights on the south side and lefts on the north side. It is on the north end of town by the Best Western hotel.
* Pico Pequeno is the other and it is a finger reefbreak made of lava rock. This wave get very near perfect with a southwest swell at mid to high tide. Low tide is shallow and sketchy. Pico Pequeno is located in the heart of town and when its working, everybody is there. There is only one real peak and the crowd can be seriously problematic and even dangerous.
The Tamarindo beachbreak is just OK and tends to closeout but is in the middle of town and is convenient. It is also full of beginners. The best tide for all spots in Tamarindo is mid to high tide. It works best with a south/southwest swell and an east wind. The bottom is sand/rock. It is at it's biggest during the summer, Costa Rica's winter, from May through October or November. This is also Costa Rica's rainy, or green season so you can expect some rain, but it is almost never a trip killer. There is a local crowd but the attitude is usually pretty easygoing and mellow.
You can find other good surf spots, like Playa Grande, Playa Langosta, Playa Avellanes, and Playa Negra close by and easily accessible by car. Check out their info pages on Costa Rica Surfzone.
You can get current Tamarindo surf info at: http://magicseaweed.com/Tamarindo-Surf-Report/444/