Playa Grande lies immediately north and west of Playa Tamarindo and is really the continuation of the same arcing beach. It is divided from Playa Tamarindo by the estuary of the Matapalo River, which can be forded on foot at times of low tide. Please be careful, as crocodiles do inhabit the river, but usually not near the ocean.
Even though Playa Grande is a short walk from Playa Tamarindo, it can be a 30 minute ride in a vehicle. The lack of any bridges over the river forces people to drive all the way back to Huacas (see our map) to move from one beach to the other by road.
Grande, as a town, has far fewer amenities that Tamarindo, but its feeling of remoteness is appealing to many vacationers. Currently, questions about development hang over Grande, because of the government’s active interest in preserving the shoreline and turtle nesting areas.
The Grande beach is where leatherback turtles come to lay their eggs. The leatherbacks take over the beach from November to April. They dig their nests one meter deep, lay their eggs and cover the pit with sand, returning once again to the sea. After 60 to 90 days, the hatchlings emerge and immediately make their way back to the water. Along the treacherous path, which measures only a few meters, they are easy pray for crabs, seabirds and various mammals, which means only a few of them are able to survive. Sometimes Pacific Ridley turtles also arrive to nest as they do at Santa Ana and Corcovado National Park.
This sea turtle can measure up to 2.5 meters and weigh around 700 kilos. Unlike other turtles, this species has no hard shell, but rather a black, leathery skin with ridges running lengthwise. It is the epitome of a nomad and its favorite food is the poisonous jellyfish. Like all other sea turtles, the leatherback spends its life in the warm, tropical seas, coming ashore only when the females nests.
Playa Ventanas lies just outside of the Las Baulas National Marine Park next to Playa Grande from where one can reach Ventanas beach as well as Playa Carbon. Nearby Cerro El Mono can be climbed being bordered by platforms and rocky cliffs, in which in low tide, it is possible to observe colorful small fishes.