One of the great aspects of Tamarindo Beach is the amount of activities in close proximity.
Within a fews hours of Tamarindo Beach & Ocean Estates is the colonial city of Leon, the beaches of Poneleya & Las Penitas, Juan Venado Nature Reserve and several fishing and marine environments.
Your first stop is the the city of Leon, the intellectual center of Nicaragua. Leon is much more than a day trip, as the city features movie theaters, live theater, a university, classical musical performances, parks, numerous fine dining and regional restaurants.
While you're there, take in the eighteen colonial churches; The biggest is the Leon Cathedral. This cathedral has a daily tour (8am-1pm) and is located at the Central Park.
Another museum to visit is the torture prison known as "21". It received its name from the year 1921 when the prison opened, and is a museum of Nicaraguan folklore and legends. During the Somosa dictatorship, it became notorious as a torture prison. The tourism students do an excellent job of guiding the tourists through the museum.
The Centro de Arte Fundacion Ortiz-Gurdian in Leon is another excellent museum to visit, as is the art gallery/musuem and the casa de cultura (next door).
Across the street from the Leon Cathedral is the "Park of Heroes & Martyrs". The murals on the wall are a descriptive pictorial history of Nicaragua. The mural begins with the native people and continues through the history of Nicaraguan struggles (William Walker, Somoza Family, Civil war, etc).
The clothing and craft shopping which line the streets around the Leon Cathedral & local markets are worth visiting. Leon's old train station was built in 1884 and burned down in 1956; It has since been converted into the Leon Market and provides an old world ambiance. The grandeur of the days of yore are still visible in the old building. The prices are very good and the market is active. It is a great place to purchase household goods such as plastic chairs, clothing, bikes, stereo, food, etc.
Twenty minutes north of Leon is the location of San Jacinto Aqua Caliente (hot springs). Traveling to the twelve volcanoes surrounding the city of Leon offer a series of adventurous day trips. On the volcanic slopes of Cierro Negro, an organized "snow" boarding excursion is available.
Poneloya & Las Penitas are the beaches located to the west of Leon. These beachfront hotels are a nice change of pace. Las Penitas, which means "small rocks", is a laid back fishing & hostel community and provides traveler style beachfront hotels. In April 2007, Las Penitas featured its first professional surf competition. This event was sponsored by our friends at Hotel Playa Roca (Las Penitas).
To the east of Leon, an interesting day trip exists to the Ruins of Leon (Ruinas de Leon). It is 45 minutes from Tamarindo Beach. It is the original site of Leon, but was abandoned in 1610, when the Momotombo volcano erupted. The site shows many structures that were covered by the volcanic debris. The Ruinas de Leon are run by the government of Nicaragua and are a worthwhile day trip. The Laguna Xilio is also very close to this site. It is a natural spring water lagoon. The laguna has a tourist centre and a picnic center on the warm waters edge.
Juan Venado (John Deer) island is a 22 km, 4600 hectare park. The reserve is accessible from Tamarindo Beach by boat (8 km by ocean) or by car from the north side at Las Penitas. The national reserve is home to nests of thousands of parrots and herrons - as well as crabs, mullusks and more than 50 species of mammals & reptiles. These beaches are also well known as turtle nesting grounds.
On the south side of Juan Venado island is "La Garita" (northern edge of fishing town of Salinas Grandes). "La Garita" is where the estuary meets the estuary/river systems and the Pacific Ocean. The south border of Salines Grandes is the north end of our island. The estuary system of "La Garita" is where one can take a boat trip up the estuary system to find crocodiles.
One of the best estuary systems in Nicaragua is the one behind the Tamarindo Beach project ....this estuary is teaming with fish and birdlife. The name of our estuary is "Ciego Estero" and is accessible from the south end of the island, it meets up with the River Tamarindo & River Izapa. It has deep & wide sections and smaller, narrow ones too. You have a birds eye view of the mangroves & associated wildlife and makes for a great day trip on a river boat or kayak.
The shrimp farming on the mainland contributes to the large fish numbers in our estuary. The red snapper (pargo rojo) are ready and waiting for your fishing line.
Open water trolling in the ocean is excellent. Or perhaps, you would prefer fishing while sitting on the rocks that are located at the south end of our island. The local fisherman from Puerto Sandino or Salinas Grandes will always point you in the right direction.
If you are simply looking for a fish, without the fishing, you can walk or ride your bike down the beach (4km) to Salinas Grandes and buy fresh fish for dinner ....for 20-40 cords (USD $1-2).