The small village of Samara in Guanacaste has been a long time favorite vacation spot for tourists, attracting visitors looking for a mellow beach town that is family friendly, fun and safe. Samara is on one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica inside a long crescent shaped bay. Known for its breathtaking sunsets, great surfing waves and healthy atmosphere, it’s the ideal place to go for a low key beach getaway.
In this guide, you will find out how to get to Samara, things to do, hotels and more. Click the section below to skip to it.
Location and Directions
Samara Costa Rica map
How to get to Samara
Driving: From San Jose, it is about a 4 hour drive. Drive out of the city onto Route 27 and head west towards Puntarenas. Go up the coast on Route 1 and turn left towards the Taiwan Friendship Bridge. After the bridge, take the left when you reach Nicoya towards Samara. There are a lot of signs.
From Liberia, head down south towards Filadelfia and Santa Cruz. From Santa Cruz, go to Nicoya and stay on the road towards Samara. It is about a 2 hour drive.
If you stay on the main road from Nicoya, it is all paved and a 4×4 or high car is not needed.
Shuttle: You can take private or shared shuttles to Samara.
Bus: There is a bus from San Jose to Samara at 12 PM every day that takes 5 hours. During high season (December – April), there is a second bus at 5 PM.
From Liberia, you will first need to take a bus to Nicoya (3:30 AM – 7 PM every 30 minutes, 8:30 PM and 9 PM) which takes 2 hours. Then take the bus from Nicoya to Samara (5 AM, 5:45, 8, 10, 11, 12, 1 PM, 2 PM, 3 PM, 4:30 PM, 6:30 PM, 8 PM and 9:45 PM). This bus costs 1250 colones one way, is in service Monday to Saturday and takes about 1 hour.
The town is quite small and you can easily walk to get around. Driving in Samara is not too bad but parking was very limited when we visited (but it was not as bad as Montezuma). The roads are paved and you can find hotels, hostels, restaurants, shops, banks and everything in Samara.
Samara is a popular expat and immigrant beach town in Guanacaste and you can find people from all over the world. Many of the people who move to Samara are into yoga, surfing and vegan/vegetarianism.
The Intercultura Spanish School and Costa Rica TEFL have a branch in Samara so it’s also a popular place for foreigners who want to get their TEFL certification or learn Spanish. There are also a few digital nomads and expats in Samara but since it’s quite far from the international airports, there aren’t as many as other beach towns in Costa Rica. Most of the foreigners in Samara are immigrants, calling this laid back beach town home.
Samara beach is perfect for a leisurely stroll, relaxing and swimming. The west end has better waves for surfing and the east end is a bit calmer.
Since the west end of the beach is where the center of town is, it’s much busier. You’ll find restaurants, surf lessons, beach lounges, massages stands, bars and tour operators on the beach.
When we visited in February, the beach was packed. Although Samara doesn’t have tall buildings or high rise towers, it is fairly touristic.
The beach is undeniably beautiful and I witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets here!
Samara experiences typical tropical weather with a distinct dry and rainy season. Dry is from beginning of December – end of April and rainy is beginning of May to end of November approximately. The average temperature in Samara is around low 90’s during the day and high 70’s at night. so visitors can enjoy sunny days for most of the year.
The rainiest month are generally September and October and the typical rainy day is that it will be sunny and hot in the mornings, start getting cloudy in the afternoon and then rain in the late afternoon/evenings.
There are all sorts of hotels in Samara. You can find hostels, all-inclusive resorts, vacation rentals and more. Here are our recommendations.
Hideaway Hotel Samara
This is a cute boutique hotel with a pool on the road towards Carrillo. It’s in a very quiet area of the beach so it’s perfect for those who don’t want to be in the middle of town. They have 12 spacious rooms and a penthouse. Check Hideaway Hotel rates here.
Hotel Samara Beach
If you want to be near the beach, this is a good hotel. It’s only 50 meters from the beach and right in town. They have standard hotel rooms. Check Samara Beach Hotels here.
This hotel has 6 villas which are independent structures of one another and offers the utmost privacy. The property has a garden and large pool with a waterfall and Jacuzzi. Check Kalimba rates here.
This hotel is near the east end of the beach and has 11 standard hotel rooms and a family suite. Good place to be in a quieter area of Samara and have standard hotel amenities. Check Hotel Sol rates here.
Hotel Villas Playa Samara
If you want an all-inclusive resort, Hotel Villas Playa Samara is the only one in the area. They’re right on the beach and has a spa, restaurant, pool and bungalows and villas. Check Villas Playa Samara rates here.
There are a decent amount of restaurants in Samara and is a great place if you’re gluten free, vegan or vegetarian traveling in Costa Rica. Here are our recommended restaurants.
- LuvBurger: Awesome vegan and vegetarian restaurant. Right on the beach.
- Falafel Cafe: Decent place for Mediterranean and Lebanese food.
- Roots Bakery: Nice little bakery.
- Ahora Si Veggie Restaurant: Another good veggie restaurant.
- El Lagarto: Seafood, steak and barbecue.
- Soda Colochos: Good place for Costa Rican food.
- Di Mare Di Vino: Upscale Italian dining.
- The Flying Taco: Mexican restaurant
Things to do in Samara Costa Rica
There are a lot of fun things to do in Samara. Here are some recommendations.
Take a horseback ride around Samara and go up the mountains or ride on the beach. They normally are around 2-3 hours and go to different beaches and view points.
Go on an ATV tour to ride around the mountains of Samara up to beautiful viewpoints.
Surfing and SUP
Take a surf lesson or rent a SUP board. Samara is a great beach to learn how to surf.
Go off shore or inshore fishing from Samara. It’s a great place to go fishing in Costa Rica.
Kayaking Isla Chorro
Not far from Samara is Isla Chorro You can take a boat ride out there but we recommend kayaking. We did the kayak and snorkel tour to Isla Chorro which was really fun.
The best place for snorkeling in Samara is Isla Chorro or the Cangrejal, which is at the western end of Samara. The coral reef there is home to many tropical fish and other creatures.
Go on a beginner zipline with Wingnuts in Samara.
Camaronal Wildlife Refuge
This wildlife refuge was created to protect Camaronal beach, where many turtles in Costa Rica nest. The best time to visit is rainy season and you can take a night time turtle watching tour.
See Samara from a birds eye view on a gyrocopter flight.
You can book all these tours with the Samara Info Center in town.
Day Trips from Samara
You can use Samara as a home base for your Costa Rica vacation however most people stay for just a few nights during their trip.
Carrillo and Barrigona Beach
Playa Carrillo is a stunning beach right next to Samara so it’s is easily accessible via car or biking. Since this beach isn’t developed, it’s much quieter than Samara.
Playa Barrigona is a beautiful 4×4 only beach about 30 minutes away. This beach has literally nothing so it’s a nice escape from the crowds of Samara.
Ostional Wildlife Refuge
Ostional is one of two places in the world where an arribada (mass gathering of turtles) occur. If you are there the right time of year, you can see tens of thousands of turtles on the beach at one time! It is a 1 hour drive.
This national park is a 1 hour drive. Go for a hike or take the cave exploring tour. Caves are rare in Costa Rica so it’s a very unique activity in Costa Rica.
Palo Verde National Park
Take a boat ride down the Rio Tempisque to see caimans, monkeys, iguanas and other wildlife in Palo Verde National Park. The river houses the rare dry tropical forest, therefore it is one of the most important reserves in Costa Rica.
Lo Que Hay is great for happy hour and Bar Arriba turns into a night club at night with music and dancing.
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