Samara Costa Rica

Samara Costa Rica
Playa Samara Costa Rica

Samara is the perfect place to soak up sun and enjoy beach life in an unpretentious, laid-back atmosphere. The small village is nestled in a large crescent bay, boasting a broad sandy beach that stretches over than 7 km and is lined with swaying palm trees. An offshore coral reef protects the bay of Samara, creating calm waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

With its pleasant ‘Tico’ feel, Samara is also a popular vacation spot for Costa Rican tourists. However, in recent years, it has also been gaining popularity among a growing number of expats.

Beach Vacation in Samara
Beach Vacation in Samara

Hotels in Samara offer many good lodging options in the mid- and budget ranges, and the village is easily reached by a paved road from Nicoya. A daily bus connects to San Jose and other major towns in Costa Rica.

As the town center is very compact, there is no need for a private vehicle. Hotels, supermarkets, stores, and the beach are all within easy walking distance. Samara boasts a wide selection of restaurants and bars. You can enjoy the ocean breeze while lounging in a laid-back beach bar with a sandy floor, or explore the village center for even more cool venues and places to dine or party at night.

Street Vendor in Samara
Street vendor in Samara

The village center also hosts a couple of art galleries and cafes where you can find unique piece of artwork to bring home, reminding you of the easygoing Pura Vida in Costa Rica.

If you venture a bit out of town, you will discover beautiful uncrowded beaches to the north and south of Samara. To the north are the neighborhoods of Cangrejal and Cantarana, which are home to many locals and expats. From here, you can continue for another 2 km until you reach a river estuary and the pristine beach of Playa Buenavista.
Heading in the opposite direction, 8 km south of Samara, is Playa Carrillo, a picturesque palm-lined beach in a tranquil, scenic horseshoe bay.

Tours and Activities in Samara

Activities in Samara
Kayaking in the bay of Samara

For snorkeling, the best spot is in Cangrejal, at the northern end of the Samara bay. Here, the ring of coral reef connects to the shoreline, and during dry season, you enjoy crystal-clear waters with colorful fish, manta rays, and starfish within the submarine fauna.

Another great activity in Samara is a kayak tour, where you paddle to the 5-hectare islet of Isla Chora, at the southern end of the Samara Bay. Isla Chora is a wildlife reserve for maritime birds. The island sports a pink sand beach where you can have a rest before paddling back. Other kayak tours can take you along the coast and into the mangroves of nearby river estuaries.

Surfing and SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboarding) are easily available on the beach of Samara, where you can have surf lessons and rent a board. With chest-deep water and easygoing waves, the bay of Samara is perfect for beginners learning to surf. More challenging waves for experienced surfers can be found 12 km south of Samara, on Playa Camaronal.

Samara Beach
The calm waters of the bay are a main feature of Playa Samara

Sport fishing on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast is world-class. Professional fishing tours are offered from the nearby port of Carrillo, and sportfishers can catch mahi-mahi, marlin, giant tuna and sailfish, among others.

A popular tour by boat is dolphin-watching, where you might also see sea turtles or manta rays while enjoying views of the Samara coastline.

For activities on land, you can ride on horseback along the beach or to the Tobacco waterfalls, comprised of three cascades and natural swimming pools. Or, you can go on a Canopy Tour in Santo Domingo, three km inland from Samara.

Palm Beach in Samara
Pasture behind the beach of Cangrejal

Orchids and jungle lovers should consider a day tour to Montealto, a nature reserve in the mountains near Hojancha. You can explore the dense tropical forest on various trails, one of them festooned with a multitude of Costa Rican orchids on posts and trees.

Located right on the beach is the Samara Language School, where you can take Spanish classes to improve your language skills. The teachings are complemented with cultural immersion, and if desired, a homestay with a Costa Rican family.

Samara Nightlife:

Early EveningLo Q Hay Pub is a lounge with comfortable seating on the beach of Samara. It is nice for sunset and later with the colored lights on the trees and mellow music playing.
La Vela Latina on the beach is a relaxed hangout for sipping a cocktail at sunset and after. Friendly bartenders, snacks and American football when it’s the season.
Samara Pacific Lodge is a French restaurant, a 5 min drive to the north of Samara’s center. The menu changes daily and features fresh ingredients along with a great wine selection.
Micro Bar is a small, intimate place which specializes in beers from local breweries but also serves cocktails.
NightTabanuco is a beach restaurant with bar that often has reggae nights and other music events. It’s a stylish yet unpretentious place with a big tree in the middle of the dance floor.
Las Olas is a local’s favorite on the north end of the Samara beach. It offers Mexican food and pool tables in a rustic environment. (Don’t walk alone on the beach at night)
Late NightBar Arriba on Samara’s main drag is a sports bar with large screen TVs. At night it turns into a night club with DJs and special music events where you can dance and party in the tropical breeze.

Getting to Samara:

Samara can be reached quite easily through the 35 km paved road from Nicoya. If coming from the Tempisque bridge, you can alternatively take the road over the mountains via Hojancha and Carrillo. Daily direct buses connect to San José. However, the Samara airport no longer exists. The closest airstrip is in Nosara.