The small village of Samara, Costa Rica in the Guanacaste province has been a long time favorite vacation spot for tourists, attracting visitors looking for a family friendly, fun and mellow beach town.
In this guide, we will help you plan your trip to Samara.
How to get to Samara by Driving
First, the best airport to fly into for Samara is Liberia International Airport, which is a 2 hour drive to Samara.
From Liberia, Tamarindo, Playas del Coco or anywhere from North Guanacaste, the road you should take is to Nicoya on Route 21 and then to Samara on Route 150. This is a completely paved road and very easy to drive.
We do not recommend taking Route 160 from Nosara because you have to cross a very big river (Rio Buena Vista). This route is completely unpaved and has lots of pot holes.
In rainy season, not even with a 4wd/4×4 we recommend to cross the river because the embankment is very muddy and slippery.
From San Jose International Airport, it is about a 4 hour drive. The route is via Route 27, 1, 18, 21 and 150. Make sure you go through Nicoya and then take Route 150 to Samara.
There are private and shared shuttles to Samara. From Liberia Airport, a private shuttle is around $137 USD total for 1-6 people. From San Jose, a private shuttle is around $290 USD for 1-6 people one way.
A shared with Interbus is around $59 USD per adult.
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.
From Nosara, you must take the bus from Nosara – Nicoya – Samara.
The town of Samara is quite small and you can easily walk to get around. Driving in Samara is not too bad but parking is very limited on the main street.
The roads are paved and you can find hotels, hostels, restaurants, shops, banks and everything in Samara.
How to Get Around Samara
You will find bike and ATV rentals, car rentals and golf cart rentals in Samara. There are many hotels and rentals right in town, a 5-10 minute walk to the beach.
Samara Vibe and Demographic
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. Samara has nightlife but it has a very healthy vibe, making it a favorite for families.
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.
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!
Weather in Samara, Costa Rica
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 90s (32-35 C) during the day and mid to high 70s (24 C) 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.
Playa Barrigona is a beautiful beach about 30 minutes away. This beach has literally nothing so it’s a nice escape from the crowds of Samara. Rainy season does require a 4×4.
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.
Plan Your Trip to Samara
Thanks to its laid back vibe, beautiful beach and healthy atmosphere, Samara is an excellent destination for families. If you want to visit Samara for your vacation, check out our Costa Rica itinerary for families that include Samara.
Read about other beach towns in Costa Rica below!