Costa Rica is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations for North American travelers looking for a tropical getaway close to home. The Central American country is accessible from Canada and the United States, plus it offers warm temperatures year-round (even in the rainy season). While the country has plenty to offer from volcanoes to cloud forests, many travelers choose the base themselves out of the coastal town of Tamarindo during their visits. Find out why so many people around the world are falling in love with Tamarindo, Costa Rica and why you should add it to your bucket list.

11 Playa Tamarindo

People come to Tamarindo mainly because of the beautiful white sand beaches and crystal blue waters. The most famous beach in the area is Playa Tamarindo, which is also the largest beach near the town of Tamarindo. Most of the beach is exposed to the sun with little shade, so while it’s not an ideal beach for sunbathing, it’s a fantastic spot for swimming, snorkeling, or learning to surf.

10 Excellent Surfing Conditions

Travelers who are surf enthusiasts should absolutely add Tamarindo to their tropical bucket lists because this coastal town is in proximity to plenty of beaches with massive waves. Besides Playa Tamarindo, surfers can spend time at Playa Langosta and Playa Grande. Pico Grande is a stretch of rock reef near Tamarindo that gets submerged at mid tide. For experienced surfers, this is hailed as one of the best spots to ride a wave in the area.

Related: Costa Rica Wildlife Guide: See Sloths (& Other Exotic Animals)

9 Endless Opportunities To Adventure

8 It’s no secret that Costa Rica is full of adventurous activities and the areas surrounding Tamarindo are no exception. Whether travelers are interested in ziplining over the rainforests, ATVing over unique terrain, or horseback riding at sunset, there’s a new and exciting opportunity awaiting every visitor to Tamarindo.

7 Water Sports For Non-Surfers

Tamarindo in Guanacaste Province is conveniently located close to the ocean, so travelers can get their fix of water sports while staying in this part of Costa Rica. Even for those who aren’t interested in surfing or learning to surf, there are plenty of fun ways to get out on the water. Visitors can rent kayaks or stand-up paddle boards (SUPs) at Playa Tamarindo and head out onto the ocean for a day of salt and sun.

6 Incredible Wildlife And Biodiversity

Costa Rica is an incredibly biodiverse country. Although it only takes up 0.03% of the earth’s surface, it accounts for almost 6% of the world’s biodiversity. Travelers can get a taste of the incredible wildlife in Costa Rica at the beaches near Tamarindo. Playa Grande is known for its population of leatherback sea turtles and was recently named one of the best beaches in the world for viewing wildlife. The 5km stretch of white sand beach boasts the second biggest leatherback turtle nesting site in the entire world. The nesting season for these beautiful creatures is from October to the end of February, so this is the best time for travelers to visit to catch a glimpse of these hatchlings heading for the sea.

5 Wide Range Of Restaurant Options

One of the reasons Tamarindo is a bucket list destination for travelers is because of the wide variety of restaurant options available. There’s no need to worry about getting bored with the cuisine even for those planning to stay for two-three months at a time. Try some delicious local seafood at the Shrimp Hole, tacos at Little Lucha, or Italian food at Antichi Sapori Tamarindo. Whatever you’re craving, you can be sure Tamarindo has it.

4 Great Value For Money

Prices in Costa Rica aren’t as affordable as they used to be, but the country’s cost of living is still 26.6% lower than the United States. In particular, dining in high-end restaurants in Tamarindo is more cost-effective than a night out of a similar caliber back in North America. In Costa Rica, travelers can stretch their dollars further when enjoying a night of food, and drinks than they could in a major city in the United States. While Airbnb and car rentals can be expensive, choosing to spend the majority of one’s time in Costa Rica at one accommodation in Tamarindo can help keep the trip expenses down.

Related: 10 Must-Do Activities In Costa Rica Only Known By Locals

3 Vibrant Nightlife

For travelers seeking a tropical destination that has plenty of outdoor adventure by day and a lively bar scene by night, there’s no need to look further than Tamarindo. Pacifico Bar and Crazy Monkey Bar are two popular spots for drinking and dancing the night away. For live music and the opportunity to sing karaoke, head to Sharky’s Sports Bar. Or, for a night of sipping cocktails in a casual setting, visit Nogui’s Bar.

2 Epic Sunsets

Costa Rica is a photographer’s (and Instagrammer’s) dream; the landscapes are gorgeous and the sunsets over the ocean paint the sky vivid shades of red and orange. One of the best spots to capture these moments is right in the heart of Tamarindo at Playa Tamarindo or Playa Grande. Settle down on the sand to watch the sun go down before heading over to the beach bars for a night of fun.

1 It’s One Of The Best Spots In The Country For Whale Watching

Taking a whale-watching tour from Tamarindo is one of the most memorable experiences a traveler can have in Costa Rica. The Pacific Ocean’s waters attract plenty of humpback whales to this area. The whale watching season is from July to December but the best time to see humpback whales near Tamarindo is in August or September. Travelers should always do their research and ensure they are booking with a responsible tour operator who is eco-conscious and focused on sustainability.