Grab your snorkel and get ready to play. Playa Samara is relatively unspoiled and a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Enjoy calmer waters and easier access than surrounding beaches.

Discover Playa Samara and Playa Carrillo: Your Costa Rican Paradise

Welcome to Playa Samara and its enchanting neighbor, Playa Carrillo, two of Costa Rica's best-kept secrets. Nestled on the country's Pacific coast, these idyllic beach towns offer travelers a taste of authentic Costa Rican life, abundant natural beauty, and a relaxed atmosphere that embodies the famous "Pura Vida" lifestyle. Let's explore what makes Playa Samara and Playa Carrillo such exceptional destinations.

Playa Samara Highlights:

Beautiful Beach: Playa Samara boasts a pristine, horseshoe-shaped beach with powdery white sand and gentle, turquoise waters. It's the perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, or taking leisurely walks along the shore.

Water Adventures: The calm waters of Samara Beach make it an excellent place for water sports. You can try your hand at kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing, and even snorkeling. The town's numerous operators offer scuba diving excursions and boat tours to nearby islands.

Wildlife Encounters: The surrounding area is teeming with wildlife. You might spot howler monkeys, iguanas, and colorful tropical birds. To witness nesting sea turtles, visit nearby Camaronal Wildlife Refuge during the nesting season.

Vibrant Local Culture: Playa Samara is a welcoming community where you can immerse yourself in Costa Rican culture. Stroll along the beachfront promenade to discover local art galleries, shops, and restaurants serving authentic cuisine.

Eco-Tourism: Explore the natural wonders of the Nicoya Peninsula by taking guided hikes through tropical dry forests or embarking on horseback riding adventures. The nearby Barra Honda National Park also offers opportunities for cave exploration.

The beautiful Playa Carrillo

Playa Carrillo: A Hidden Paradise:

Secluded Beach Bliss: Playa Carrillo is a tranquil, horseshoe-shaped bay known for its uncrowded shores and natural beauty. With fewer tourists, it's the ideal place to unwind in serenity.

Beachfront Serenity: The gentle waves and shallow waters of Carrillo Beach make it suitable for swimming and family outings. Its uncrowded ambiance makes it feel like your own private paradise.

Scenic Sunsets: The sunsets at Playa Carrillo are simply breathtaking. As the sun dips below the horizon, the sky transforms into a vibrant canvas of oranges and pinks, creating a magical atmosphere.

Marine Adventures: If you're a fishing enthusiast, Carrillo offers excellent opportunities for sportfishing. You can also explore the underwater world through snorkeling or scuba diving excursions.

A cowboy on the beach in Samara

Traveler's Tips:

Liberia Airport Access: Both Playa Samara and Playa Carrillo are easily accessible from Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in Liberia. The drive takes approximately 2-2.5 hours, making it a convenient option for travelers.

Weather: Costa Rica has a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The dry season, from late November to April, is ideal for sunny beach days. The wet season, from May to November, brings occasional rain showers but lush green landscapes. September and October are the rainiest months and at times, it can rain all day.

Accommodations: These beach towns offer a range of accommodations, from boutique hotels to beachfront resorts and vacation rentals. Accommodations are typically cozy and reflect the laid-back atmosphere of the region.

Explore Nearby: While in the area, consider day trips to explore nearby attractions such as the vibrant town of Nicoya, the wildlife-rich Ostional Wildlife Refuge, and the beautiful Rio Ora.

Pura Vida: In Playa Samara and Playa Carrillo, you'll experience the true essence of "Pura Vida." Embrace the unhurried pace, connect with friendly locals, and savor the simple joys of life.

Playa Samara and Playa Carrillo invite you to experience the magic of Costa Rica's Pacific coast. Whether you're seeking adventure in the ocean, relaxation on tranquil beaches, or the warmth of local culture, these hidden gems offer a slice of paradise that will leave you enchanted with the spirit of Pura Vida. Explore, unwind, and create unforgettable memories in these coastal havens.

Playa Samara

Planning a vacation to Samara

We recommend visiting Samara for 3 – 5 days.  As with most beach destinations, we do not recommend more days as you will likely regret missing out on other parts of the country. A 3 -5 day stay is just right mixed in with another destination or two.

As mentioned above, there are enough interesting activities for a few days stay. However, don’t forget to set aside time to visit nearby Playa Carrillo.  This is one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica and only takes 5 minutes to drive from Samara.

While one can easily get around with the local cab system, it is nice to have a rental car in Samara, and especially in Carrillo. 

Azura Beach Resort

The Best Hotels in Samara and Carrillo

Here are some of the best hotels in Samara and Carrillo, each offering a unique experience for travelers:

Azura Beach Resort (Samara): Azura Beach Resort is an adults-only, all-inclusive boutique resort located in Samara. This luxurious beachfront property is perfect for couples seeking a romantic getaway. The resort offers elegant suites with ocean, garden, or pool views, fine dining experiences, and a barefoot luxury ambiance. Guests can unwind at the spa or relax by the infinity pool while enjoying the stunning Pacific coastline.

Hotel Punta Islita (South of Carrillo): Hotel Punta Islita is a beautiful eco-friendly resort located south of Samara in the remote and serene Punta Islita region. This luxury resort combines sustainability with luxury, offering guests a secluded paradise with breathtaking ocean views, a golf course, an art gallery, and various adventure activities. It's an excellent choice for those looking for a tranquil and upscale retreat.

Nammbu Bungalows (Carrillo): Nammbu Bungalows is a delightful hotel in Carrillo, offering easy beach access and comfortable and well-appointed bungalows surrounded by lush tropical gardens. Guests can enjoy the beautiful Carrillo Beach, dine at the hotel's restaurant, and relax by the pool. It's an ideal choice for couples and families alike.

Montelaguna Boutique Hotel (Samara): Montelaguna Boutique Hotel in Samara is known for its beautiful architecture and eco-conscious practices. Guests can stay in stylish rooms, walk 10 minutes to either Samara or Carrillo Beach, and explore the nearby attractions. The lush gardens and serene atmosphere make it a peaceful retreat.

Samara Pacific Lodge (Samara): Samara Pacific Lodge is a budget-friendly option in Samara, offering comfortable rooms surrounded by nature. It's a great choice for travelers looking to explore the area without splurging on accommodation. The lodge is within walking distance of Samara Beach and the town's amenities.

Samara Palm Lodge (Samara): Another budget-friendly option in Samara is Samara Palm Lodge. This cozy lodge offers a range of room types, including private cabins and dormitory-style accommodations. It's a relaxed and welcoming place for budget-conscious travelers.

These hotels in Samara and Carrillo cater to a variety of preferences, whether you're seeking a luxurious and romantic escape or a more budget-friendly stay while enjoying the natural beauty and attractions of this region in Costa Rica.

Nammbu Bungalows

The Best Restaurants in Samara and Carrillo

Gusto Beach Restaurant Pizzeria: Located right on the beach, Gusto Beach Restaurant Pizzeria is known for its relaxed atmosphere and delicious food. They serve a variety of dishes, including Italian, fresh seafood, and international cuisine. Guests can dine with their toes in the sand and enjoy beautiful ocean views.

El Lagarto Steak House & Sea Food: If you're in the mood for a hearty meal, El Lagarto Steak House & Sea Food is a great choice. This restaurant specializes in grilled meats and seafood. The menu features a selection of steaks, ribs, and fresh fish, all prepared to perfection. The rustic ambiance adds to the dining experience.

MamaGui: MamaGui is a charming restaurant in Samara known for its warm hospitality and delicious Italian foods, pasta, and pizza.

Kimbute Restaurant: Kimbute Restaurant is a hidden gem in Punta Islita, offering a unique blend of seafood, and local Costa Rican, and Caribbean flavors. The friendly staff and vibrant atmosphere make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Hotel El Colibri Bar/Restaurante y Steakhouse: Located in Carrillo, Hotel El Colibri's on-site restaurant and steakhouse is a delightful place to enjoy a meal. They are known for their succulent steaks, and the menu also includes a variety of seafood, pasta, and vegetarian options. The cozy ambiance and attentive service make it a great choice for a special evening.

Locanda Playa Samara: A delightful beachfront Italian restaurant and pizzeria located in the heart of Samara and directly on the beach. This charming eatery offers a delicious barefoot dining experience as waves crash in the background.

These restaurants in Samara offer diverse culinary experiences, from beachfront dining to cozy, family-run establishments. Whether you're in the mood for seafood, steak, or international flavors, you'll find something to satisfy your taste buds in this charming beach town.

Reasons to visit

  • It is an off the beaten path beach town with local flavor
  • Plenty of options for unique dining, including some of the best restaurants in Costa Rica
  • Good souvenir shopping
  • Unlike several of the other more popular beaches in Guanacaste, Samara has not been Americanized
  • Samara is a very scenic beach and nearby Playa Carrillo is unsurpassed in beauty on the Costa Rica Pacific coast
  • Despite being a smaller village, there actually is a pretty good nighlife scene

Reasons NOT to visit

  • There are no luxury hotels in Samara - edit - The new Azura Beach Hotel is both luxurious and highly recommended!
  • As this is an off the beaten path beach, the beaches are not groomed like in areas such as Tamarindo.  This means that there are coconuts, branches and other natural debris on the beach

How to get there

From San Jose: The shortest way to get to Samara is on Autopista del Sol to Caldera and keep driving to Puntarenas. When you pass Puntarenas turn left and follow signs to the Friendship Bridge (Puente de la Amistad in Spanish). Cross the bridge and follow the road signs to Nicoya. Cross straight through town until you see signs for Samara, the paved road there is well marked.

Weather and packing list

Like all the Northwest Pacific beaches of Costa Rica, Samara enjoys a dry, tropical climate, with stable year round temperatures averaging in the upper 80s to lower 90s. Nighttime lows are usually in the upper 70s. With precipitation levels that vary throughout the year, the nicest weather in Samara is usually between the months of November and August

When packing for your trip, remember to include a swimsuit, flip flops, a beach towel, shorts, t-shirts, rain gear, insect repellent, sunblock and aloe vera gel to soothe and moisturize your skin after sun exposure. 

Fun Fact: The reef that protects Playa Samara is an excellent place to snorkel on the inside or surf big waves on the outside.

Attractions In The Area

Camaronal30 km
Ostional Wildlife Refuge35 km
Barra Honda52 km
Las Baulas National Park115 km
Palo Verde177 km


Latitude: N 9° 52' 58.26"
Longitude: W 85° 31' 39.14"

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