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!
Create Your Perfect Vacation
Over the years, Samara town has developed a somewhat swank facade, but it is home to a variety of restaurants, shops, bars, and grocery stores catering to all tastes and budgets. This destination is perfect for couples, families, surfers, backpackers and because it is a favorite among Ticos, you will notice that it fills up on weekends.
Apart from small wave surfing, Samara has plenty of activities and tours to choose from. Water adventures include snorkeling, scuba diving trips with a variety of PADI authorized dive centers in town, kayaking, sport fishing, and boat excursions. A tour to Isla Chora, a tiny, deserted island that juts out of the water about a mile off the Samara coastline, is a magnificent way to spend your morning. You may kayak there or take a boat across, and have the time of your life snorkeling over a stunning coral reef filled with flitting multi-colored tropical fish and other underwater marvels.
Playa Carrillo, located about eight kilometers south of Samara, is one of the prettiest and best kept secrets in Costa Rica. This stunning stretch of white sand beach speckled with palm trees, allows you to escape the crowds and pretend that you are shipwrecked in paradise.
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
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
Reasons NOT to visit
There are no luxury hotels in Samara
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
There are no all inclusive resorts in Samara
There really is not a mentionable nightlife
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.