Boats on the northern end of the beach can be hired to cross the estuary for daytime visits to the beach at Playa Grande. The ride is roughly US$1.25 per person, depending on the number of people.
Many visitors arrive in rental cars. If you get here by air or bus, you can rent bicycles and dirt bikes in town. There’s no gas station, but you can buy expensive gas from drums at the hardware store near the entrance to town. (It’s cheaper to fill up in Santa Cruz or at the station in Huacas.) Cars can be rented from:
Alamo (653 0727)
Economy Rent-a-Car (653 0752)
PLAYAS AVELLANA & Negra
These popular surfing beaches have some of the best, most consistent waves in the area, made famous in the surf classic Endless Summer II (one of the breaks off Avellana is known as ‘Pequeño Hawaii’). The beaches begin 15km south of Tamarindo and are reached by a dismal dirt road requiring 4WD most times of the year (in the wet season there are three rivers to cross). The difficult access keeps the area refreshingly uncrowded, though the recent boom in Tamarindo is likely to spread here in the years to come (there are plans to build a pedestrian promenade along the waterfront, and much of the area is already residentially zoned).
Avellana is a long stretch of white sand, and Negra, a few kilometers further south, is a darker beach broken up by rocky outcrops. At Avellana, Little Hawaii is a powerful and open-faced right at medium tide, while Beach Break barrels at low tide (though the surfing is good anytime of day). Negra has a world-class right that barrels, especially with a moderate offshore wind.
If you’re not coming from Tamarindo, head west on the paved highway from Santa Cruz, through 27 de Abril to Paraíso, then follow signs or ask locals (this is a confusing area to drive through as there’s just a scattering of accommodations here instead of an actual town).
While you are on the beach, be absolutely certain that nothing is left visible in your car as professional thieves operate in this area, and they will remove your window even for a broken flip-flop or moldy sarong.
Café Playa Negra has a laundry service (per load US$6), Internet access (per hour US$2) and a small book exchange.