It’s not just palm trees that line the sun-bleached coastline of Samara beach; this town-on-the-sea is home to beachfront restaurants, a little nightlife, and many other amenities for a quiet beach town. Our Samara travel guide takes you to the family-friendly white sands of this one-stop-shop for all things vacation, and one of the most sought-after destinations in Costa Rica.
- Area: Nicoya
- Average Temperature: 71 to 92° F (22 to 33º C)
- Closest Airport: Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR), 2 hours; Nosara Regional Airport, 1 hour
- Can’t-Miss Attractions: Beaches, Ostional National Wildlife Refuge (turtle nesting), Guatil Indigenous Community (traditional pottery), Barra Honda National Park (caving/spelunking), and Palo Verde National Park (wetlands & wildlife)
- Hot Activities: Surfing, Snorkeling, Swimming, Sport Fishing, Zip Lining, Sea Kayaking, Horseback Riding, Ultralight Flights, Learning Spanish
Great for: Families, Couples & Honeymooners, Budget Travelers, Solo Travelers, and Surfers
The Hidden Gem of Nicoya Peninsula
Samara is a vibrant fishing village offering local unforgettable adventure for backpackers and comfort seeking travelers. Compared to other beach towns like Tamarindo and Jaco, Samara is a place still relatively untouched by mass tourism, which certainly would give additional flavor to your experience.
Our Samara travel guide takes you to the best beaches, most epic surf, and greatest hotels, restaurants, and bars in Samara and Carrillo.
If you need a laid back vacation or some chill out time before or after exploring the other parts of Costa Rica, Samara is the answer.
What to do in Samara
The golden sand beach, which stretches all across the bay, is great for walking or horseback riding. You can arrange a horseback riding tour with Samara locals.
Swimming at Playa Samara is relaxing. The aquamarine ocean surrounded by outer reef provides calmer waters making it one of the few beaches in Costa Rica where you can swim without navigating through waves. As always, use caution when swimming in the ocean.
Snorkeling is possible in the vicinity of the beach, but be aware of the tides. You might carry your own snorkeling gear or rent from some of the local shops.
Surfing is great for beginners. The waves are mellow and fun. There are a few surf schools where you could rent surfboards or take surf-lessons. For more experienced surfers, there are spots nearby that work during high tide.
Samara Travel Guide to Bars and Restaurants
Gusto Beach is a beach bar and restaurant. With white stylish interior, in combination with the blue sky and ocean waters, it offers the ultimate experience. It is a bit pricey but it is definitely worthwhile. They serve various tasty dishes, including Italian style pizza and salads. If you are an espresso lover, it is also a great place to get a caffeine boost, while you contemplate the ocean and the spectacular sunset. This beach bar and restaurant even works at night, with live music, nice cocktails and a wine selection. It has a central beach front location, accessible from the road and the sand.
Samara’s Cultural Center is a place that unites art, culture and food. Here you may find a few alternative and soulful cafés/restaurants serving diverse food (for lunch or brunch) and a selection of coffees.
Falafel Café with fresh Middle East cuisine is my favorite. This quick, budget friendly option has excellent reviews and is the perfect stop after a morning on the beach.
Note: some of the cafés sell arty souvenirs as well. Near the beach there is also a local souvenir market that runs daily and has typical colorful Costa Rican souvenirs.
La Perla offers local food and a selection of Casados, the typical Costa Rican dish. This “soda” (the name for a traditional Costa Rican restaurant) is located on the west end of the bay.
Samara Travel Guide to Hotels
There are various hotels, some more luxurious, and others more basic.
Hotel el Pequeño Gecko Verde is one of the most cozy, and expensive, with superb services. It is located just a few minutes from the beach. Surrounded by amazing tropical flora, it offers a variety of amazing facilities for full enjoyment.
Hotel Belvedere is only a five-minute walk from the beach. It is a nice and pleasant hotel of mid-range price. For the facilities and services offered it is the best value hotel.
For those with a tighter budget, there are several hostels and private rooms.
Las Olas is at the west end of the beach, near the police station. It is popular among backpackers and young travelers. The prices vary from 15 USD to higher, depending of the type of room.
Hostel Mariposa, near “Intercultura” on the east end of Samara, is the most popular place among younger travelers. It is a bit more pricey but very well run, colorful and clean.
My preferеnce was staying with a host family, in the vicinity of the Samara Cultural Center. The rooms are tidy, and you can have your typical breakfast while immersed by tropics, allowing for the ultimate local experience. The prices vary from 12 to 15 USD.
Last but not least don’t forget to enjoy fully the “Pura Vida” adventure. Unleash your imagination to the maximum for unforgettable experiences of a lifetime!
Samara is located at the Western shore of the Nicoya Peninsula. The road to Samara is relatively good; it would not require four wheel drive. However, if you travel to Nosara and Monteverde as well, you will definitely need it. From the city of Nicoya the road is narrow and curvy, so extra caution is required. Liberia airport is at the north and is about 100 miles away. If you are traveling from either Guanacaste or directly from Liberia airport, Samara is reachable in two to two and half hours depending on the traffic. From San Jose it would take around five hours, again, depending on the traffic. You should definitely consider it, especially if you are coming from San Jose, and visiting Nosara, Tamarindo, Playa Grande and others (Guanacaste province) or plan on going to Monteverde.
The climate is tropical, with a dry and a wet season. The dry season starts at the end of December and lasts until the end of April. In the dry season, especially March/April, it is quite hot throughout Costa Rica. If hot, humid weather is difficult for you, consider traveling during November or December. Either way, the sun shines hot, so find a nice shady spot under a palm tree with fresh coconut water to cool down between activity in the tropical sun. High protection sunscreen is a must in the dry season.
The rainy season begins in May and ends in the middle of December. Usually in Samara, it is not that rainy throughout the year because the surrounding mountains prevent storms from reaching the beach. During the wet season you might have sunny days and rainy nights. Temperatures drop a bit, making it slightly cooler, and the landscape becomes intensely green.