The beautiful curved bay of light grey sand and gentle waters of Playa Samara has attracted vacationing Ticos and foreigners for years. Unlike the more hardcore surf destinations nearby, Samara has friendly little waves suitable for novice surfers, so a day of lessons taught by one of the locals is a must! Playa Carrillo, located just south of Samara, is one of the prettiest beaches and best kept secrets in Costa Rica. These two gems combine for a paradisicaloff-the-beaten-path beach destination, unlike any other in Costa Rica!
Free Vacation Planning
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most hotels in Samara are budget friendly. There are no luxury options. We highly recommend Montelaguna Boutique Hotel and Condominiums for a nice mid-range option with friendly owners. We recommend Samara Inn and Hotel Giada for budget options.
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. Having a rental car will allow you to stop by Playa Carrillo and get around easier in general.
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.