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Globetrottergirls quick guide to Sámara Beach, Costa Rica

Globetrottergirls quick guide to Sámara Beach, Costa Rica

Last Updated on May 21, 2024

When we came to Samara, Costa Rica, the first time in February 2011, we had accidentally stumbled upon the little beach town on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula and had decided that we did not want to share it with anyone, begging you not to go to Sámara Beach. We had feared that too many visitors would turn Sámara into a second Tamarindo or Coco, where huge apartment complexes and hotels appeared faster than the little beaches could take. After returning to Sámara now though we were assured that there are strict building restrictions in place and the gorgeous long stretch of beach would not be littered with massive all-inclusive resorts any time soon. With many of the major North American airlines now flying straight into Liberia, just two hours north of Sámara, you can even skip San Jose altogether – I left my apartment in NYC at 6am, flew from JFK to Liberia, and was at the beach in Samara in the early afternoon – amazing! I created this Samara Beach travel guide to share the best things to do, places to eat at and hotels in Samara.

samara beach with palm trees

Samara Beach Travel Guide

Sámara is located in a wide, picturesque bay. A coral reef protects it from the strong waves that you have in nearby Santa Teresa or Nosara, making Sámara a perfect place to enjoy the ocean, but still attract surfers, especially beginners. Even though there are quite a few hotels and guesthouses along the beach, they are well hidden by the coconut palm trees  so that it retains the feel of a long stretch of undiscovered beach.

samara beach costa ricaThere is a range of restaurants and bars, and activities range from snorkeling and fishing tours to horseback riding along the beach and ATV tours. The town itself is tiny with only 400 residents, and is only three blocks wide and two blocks deep, and you can walk from one end of the beach to the other in an hour. Most hotels are only a short walk from the little town center with some shops, supermarkets, banks, galleries and restaurants.

Rainy season usually lasts from July to November, which makes December to June the perfect time to visit. It doesn’t always rain in the ‘green season’, either. During this time, mornings are nice with some showers in the afternoons.

samara beach travel guideWe have compiled a list of places to stay at in Sámara, where to eat and drink, and what to do in Sámara, but please note that these are only a few of many and that there are lots more for you to explore!

What to do in Samara Beach

Go horseback riding on the beach

Horseback riding on the beach is one of the most popular activities in Samara. You can book a horseback riding tour via Viator, directly with a local operator, or book a tour right on the beach in Samara, where you’ll see horse guides waiting for customers.

Relax on the beach

The gorgeous stretch of fine sand beach is the perfect place to kick back for a few days and do nothing. Swing in a hammock or lie out and just work on your tan with occasional dips in the ocean. In Sámara you will not feel guilty if you don’t do anything but relax for a while.

Snorkel and kayak trip

You can book a kayak trip to Isla Chora, a deserted island on the south end of the bay, where you can snorkel on a pristine beach with crystal clear water. The tour takes around three hours and is $40 per person.

Learn to surf, stand up paddle or scuba dive

There are a couple of surf schools in Sámara that offer hourly, daily and weekly surf courses. Try Choco’s Surf School or C&C, where you have the board for 7 days for free if you book surf lessons.

The shallow water is also perfect for stand up paddling and there are some great spots for scuba diving along the reef.

samara beach costa Rica

Visit Carrillo Beach

Carrillo Beach is a picture-perfect beach 6km south of Sámara. If you are looking for solitude and a paradise-like setting, you will love Carrillo Beach. There are only a couple of hotels and the beach is nearly deserted at all times.

Learn Spanish

The Intercultura Sámara Language School offers Spanish lessons in their class rooms overlooking the ocean. Could there be a better setting to learn Spanish in?! Spanish is taught in small, interactive groups and students can also take part in cultural activities such as Latin dance or tours around the area, and the school provides (optional) family home stays.

So much more to do…

There are plenty of other activities in Sámara – you can take a day trip to Ostional to see a turtle arribada, go on a fishing trip, take an ATV tour, go ziplining, take yoga classes, see the coast from above in a gyrocopter or go on a whitewater rafting trip.

samara beach kayaks

Where to eat in Samara

Ahora Si

Ahora Si is a vegetarian restaurant run by an Italian expat, Sabina, who cooks up a mix of Italian vegetarian fare and Asian rice dishes, soy burgers and fresh fruit shakes. Ahora Si takes pride in serving organic dishes with locally grown fruits and veggies.

Casa Lagun

Casa Lagun is located right on the beach, a small restaurant that serves mainly fast food. You can all sorts of burgers here (including a veggie burger), club sandwiches, croque madame & croque monsier, quesadillas, tacos, salads and several rice dishes: with calamari, shrimp or chicken.

samara beach travel guide

La Casita de Mr. Warner

La Casita de Mr Warner offers a wide variety of dishes, including pastas, salads, rice dishes, tacos, fish, fajitas, and a vegan wrap. They also have breakfasts ranging from pancakes to huevos rancheros. And don’t leave without trying their homemade batidos (fruit smoothies).

Casa Esmeralda

Casa Esmeralda serves Tico cuisine, comparable to an upscale Soda where you can get Costa Rican casados and other meals, with excellent steaks, chicken, seafood and rice. If you are looking to try some good Costa Rican food, this is the place to go.

Gusto Beach Pizzeria

Gusto has creative Italian cuisine with a focus on pizza and focaccia. They are also open for breakfast and have dishes like avocado toast, yogurt parfait, omelettes, a classic American breakfast or a gallo pinto, the typical Costa Rican breakfast with rice, beans, plantains and eggs.

Where to drink in Samara

There are several bars lined up along the beach and the main road, where the surfer crowd likes to gather at after the sun sets. Among the popular bars are Limey’s Bar, Las Olas and the wine bar Vino Sin Vergüenza (“Shameless Wine”).

samara beach costa rica

Where to stay – the best hotels in Samara

The Treehouse Inn

The Treehouse Inn is located right on the beach in the center of Sámara, and consists of six luxury tree house style apartments. The wooden houses are all built on stilts and are set in a tropical garden with a little pool.

Price: $165 per night in high season / $120 per night in low season

Hotel Fenix

Hotel Fenix has six apartment-style rooms set around a little pool and is also located right on the beach. Each apartment comes with a fully equipped kitchen and the landscaped gardens have hammocks and sun chairs right on the beach.

Price: $110 per night in high season / $85 in low season / deluxe room $135 in high season / deluxe room $110 in low season / weekly and monthly rentals possible

Driftwood Beachfront Casitas (formerly Laz Divaz)

Driftwood Beachfront Casitas has three little cabins right on the beach. One of the cabins comes with a fully equipped kitchen, the other two cabins are more basic.

samara beach travel guidePrice: $110 per night in high season / $100 in low season / $120 at Christmas and Easter

Casa Valeria

Casa Valeria offers several bungalows right on the beach, set around a tropical garden with hammocks and sun chairs. There is a communal kitchen that can be used by guests and there is free coffee in the morning. The bungalows are great value for money.

Price: US$50 for a bungalow in high season / $35 for a smaller room (not a bungalow)

Hostel Las Mariposas

Las Mariposas is a hostel located in the town center, just a short walk from the beach. There are shared dorms as well as private rooms and a communal kitchen can be used. Free coffee in the mornings is included and guests can choose between three different kind of breakfasts, all for only US$4.00.

Price: US$11 dorm bed / US$37 double room (shared bathroom) / US$47 double room with private bathroom

Airbnb’s in Samara

There are plenty of Airbnb vacation rentals in Samara these days – around 300, to be precise! They range from spare rooms in private homes to lavish villas with private pools – so if you prefer a vacation rental over a hotel, check out the top-rated Airbnb’s in Samara here or click on the picture below.

How to get to Samara Beach

There is a daily direct bus to Sámara from San Jose takes about 4.5 hours and is 4000 Colones (US$8.00). Interbus runs shuttles (minivans) from San Jose to Sámara for US$45.00.

The easiest way to get to Sámara from North America, however, is by flying into Liberia, only about two hours north of Sámara and then either renting a car or driving from there. Taxis run US$70 from Liberia, while cars can be booked for  o $25 – $50 per day.

The flight schedule is more restricted into Liberia than San Jose, but Costa Rica’s own TACA Airlines offers cheap flights to Costa Rica from most U.S. and some Canadian airports.

samara beach travel guide

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