Driving to Samara

Coastal route from Santa Teresa to Samara

In rainy season the only reliabable road connection between the southern and northern Nicoya Peninsula is via Paquera – Nicoya. In dry season and with a good 4×4 vehicle you can take a shortcut through the countryside of the peninsula. Before heading off ask locals about the current road condition and fill up on gasoline. Both of the following routes lead through rolling hills with almost no settlements and you have to cross various rivers.

Road Map along the beach from Santa Teresa to Samara

Map of Coyote to SamaraMap of Santa TeresaCobanoSanta TeresaMontezumaPaquera to NaranjoRio Bongo
Nicoya Peninsula Country Road
Road to Rio Frio

Option 1 via Betel: From Manzanillo beach drive inland and up the hill until Betel, around 4 km from Manzanillo. There are 3 rivers to cross. The last one, Rio Bongo, is the biggest and can only be forded in dry season, Jan – April. When fording a river remember that most times the shallow part is a curve in a downriver direction. Check the best track by foot before you cross in the car, or wait until locals come and show you the way. Driving distance from Cobano to San Francisco de Coyote is 27 km, driving time almost an hour.

Costa Rica River Crossing
Crossing the Rio Bongo in dry season

Option 2 via Rio Frio: More reliable than the Betel route is the road from Cobano via Rio Frio. There are 5 rivers to cross but they aren’t too deep so it should be manageable from Nov – Aug. Across the majestic Rio Bongo is a concrete bridge. Driving distance from Cobano to San Francisco de Coyote is 36 km.
If you come from the opposite direction, from Coyote, don’t follow the road sign to Cobano in Rio Frio which points to the left (via Esperanza). Continue straight on!

Option 3 along the Beach: Is a No-Go. The shortest route, driving on the beach, is not only forbidden by Costa Rican law (and your car rental company), it is also environmentally irresponsible. The beach north of Manzanillo is a wildlife reserve for nesting sea turtles.

See also: » From San Francisco de Coyote to Samara (41 km)