Off The Beaten Path | Tamarindo Estuary Tour

Tamarindo EstuaryWe are in the heaviest part of the rainy season, or as some prefer to call it, the green season. It’s October. For those in the know, this is a great time to visit Tamarindo. Everything is inexpensive. Hotels are unbooked. Cars sit unrented. Attention is very personal this time of year. The question is, if it’s so slow, is everything open? Not everything, but there is one really cool thing you can do that is fun rain or shine: The Estuary Tour.

First, let’s lay down some definitions, then we can outline what you can expect to find on your tour, and how you can make it happen without problems. Ready to learn about estuaries?

Did you say “estuary?”

Tamarindo EstuaryAn estuary is a river of water which flows into the ocean. They are usually brackish; a mixture of salt and fresh water. Take it on upstream and it may lead to a body of water or a spring. Keep going up the Tamarindo estuary and the only thing you’ll find is the banks closing in on you until you simply can’t go any farther unless you plan to climb the mangroves. Most estuaries in Costa Rica are lined with mangrove trees. These expansive and resilient beasts do very well growing in water. They drop roots through the water like long skinny legs, pushing the banks of the shores to the point where you can no longer see Earth in most places. The shore is simply roots of the mangrove tree. At the end of the estuary, where it’s all mangrove roots, is where you will probably see some of the coolest things in the river.

What will I see?

Tamarindo EstuaryMost formal mangrove tours last about two and a half hours. What you see will depend on a combination of luck, patience, and how well you spot wildlife. What you can see includes flying fish, crocodiles, sharks, monkeys, and more birds than we have the space to identify in this blog. A few key birds for which you should seek out, are the Motmots and the Egrets. And, yes, you read crocodiles. Don’t worry. Unless you plan on swimming with them or feeding them, there is no danger to you in your vessel, whether it’s a kayak, or one of the larger touring boats. The crocs are looking for other food. That said, they will dine on anything that moves in the water, so let’s keep our toes inside, okay?

How do I do it?

Tamarindo EstuaryThe easiest way to complete this mission is to simply walk up to the boats parked in the Estuary. If you follow the bay north until it curves into the estuary, you will find a small cluster of boats and sailors. Most of them, if they’re not already booked, will be willing to take you on a tour. You can also approach from the roadside. There is a shack along the side of the road, operated by Acotam, where you can formally book a tour. The boat operators may send you there anyway. Alternatively to these options, you can book through a local tour outfit. This is a good idea for anyone who doesn’t want to flex his Spanish skills. Most tour guides speak enough English to get by, but Spanish is always key when making deals. Use a tour center to cut out any negotiation hassle and just book a boat.

The best part about all of this is it’s right here in Tamarindo. The estuary starts in Playa Grande, and is part of the Las Baulas National park, but the river mouth is Tamarindo. You can walk to the estuary from most hotels. Keep in mind that this time of year operators are getting very few people interested in taking tours. Don’t necessarily take the first price you are quoted. A good question to ask, always, is: “Is this the best price you can offer?” Never hurts to ask. The worst answer you can hear is “yes,’ which isn’t bad at all. Last thought: Go with the kayak option if you are able-bodied and active, and the motorized boat if you prefer to ride. In either case, wear mosquito repellent. Have fun!


Horizon Pacific Management & Rentals logoHorizon Pacific Management & Rentals is located in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Horizon Pacific offers vacation rentals, property management, long-term rentals, as well as a complete concierge service. Providing you with a local contact during your stay, Horizon Pacific is a company you can trust, with the experience you need.

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