Samara Costa Rica: Family-Friendly Beach Town Guide
Samara Costa Rica is a relaxed beach destination that is great for families or anyone looking for chilled out vibes
The Samara Costa Rica Vibes
Samara Costa Rica is a laid-back town and tranquil coastal paradise on the Pacific coast.
The downtown area has many restaurants and shops, but if you are looking for a more peaceful experience there is plenty of that as well.
Now on to the rest of the Samara Costa Rica travel guide.
Background Info About Samara Costa Rica
Nearest International Airport
Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia
Popular Things to Do
surfing, rent an ATV, snorkel or diving tours
Best Way to Get Around
Rental car, walking in the downtown area
Best Time of Year to Visit
Dry season is from late December until mid-April
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Thomas (the German) and Sarah (the US-er).
We met in Virginia, moved to Germany, and have called sunny Costa Rica home since 2016.
We are on a mission to help you plan the perfect Costa Rican vacation.
Map Of Samara Costa Rica
Samara is a small beach town located on the Northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica south of Nosara.
Why We Suggest Samara to Families
I’ll be honest, it took me several visits to really understand Samara. Originally, I heard it was popular with surfers and backpackers. So, when I first visited this beach town I went in with that mindset and just couldn’t understand it.
Nosara is just north of here and has much better surfing and more backpacker-ish town.
The second time we visited I felt like we ran out of things to do. But, I think a big part of that was that I am not big on hanging at the beach all day, the shore fishing wasn’t great (this is what Thomas lives for) and a lot of the activities involved tours (which I didn’t feel like taking).
So, we visited for a third time, for a longer stay. My goal was to figure out Samara. And in that third visit, I got it. This place is perfect for families!
The downtown area is condensed so you have a lot of hotels and restaurants in one walkable spot. The beach is long and very swimmable. There isn’t a big drop-off, you can easily walk out into the water and typically not worry about big waves.
Plus, there are some great family-friendly day tour options.
So, if you are flying into the Liberia airport and are looking for a family-friendly beach town that isn’t as hectic as Tamarindo or Playas del Coco, I would say that this is the place to go.
Flights to Costa Rica
The easiest way of getting to Samara is by flying into the Liberia International Airport.
From Liberia, it is about a two-hour drive to Samara. From the San Jose International Airport, it is about a five-hour drive.
That being said, we will go through how to get here from each airport to clear things up a bit.
If you haven’t booked your flight yet, we suggest using Skyscanner. We consistently find the best rates through their website.
Driving to Samara
San Jose to Samara Costa Rica
The drive to Samara is long, but fine. The first two hours of the drive are on a main toll highway (Route 27).
If you are a somewhat experienced driver you should have no trouble with this.
The tolls do not accept credit cards. They will take US dollars or colones.
You will then drive on a main road that can feel like it take forever (Route 1). A lot of big trucks drive this road and it is often hard to find a place to pass them.
However, construction has been ongoing for a few years now, so maybe you will visit and actually have a very smooth drive.
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Eventually, you will turn off on a smaller main road called Paso de Tampisque.
If you need to stop for a quick meal or bathroom, there is a small plaza with a Subway, Papa Johns, and Taco Bell located just before you make a left-hand turn on to Paso de Tampisque.
Other than that, there are not many quick food options along the way.
However, there are several gas stations if you need a bathroom break. Most of the gas station bathrooms are actually fairly decent.
From the turn on Paso de Tampisque, it is usually smooth sailing until you reach downtown Samara.
Just note that police tend to hang out in the first few miles of your turn onto Paso de Tampisque controlling speeding.
We suggest downloading the free app Waze for directions in Costa Rica. It is the best and often other drivers are really great about inputting where the police are hanging out.
In other words, this drive is doable. We’ve done it many many times. However, after a long flight, driving for five hours might be the last thing you want to do.
Liberia to Samara Costa Rica
The drive from Liberia Internation Airport to Samara is fairly easy to do. It will take about two hours and consists of mostly main roads the whole way.
The one part that gets a little hectic is driving through downtown Nicoya, but usually, it is not too bad.
Here is a Google Maps link so you can better visualize the route.
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Private Shuttle to Samara
If you are traveling with a group of family or friends, a private shuttle is the way to go.
You can sit back and enjoy the Pacific Coast scenery while a competent driver ensures you get to your destination safely.
We work exclusively with Adobe Transfer for private shuttles.
You can find out more and get a shuttle price quote here.
Public Bus to Samara Costa Rica
Check out the website The Bus Schedule for updated times.
From San Jose
There is a public bus that will take you to Samara. This trip will take about six hours.
This is by far the most affordable way to get to Samara, but definitely not the most comfortable.
The bus departs from downtown San Jose twice daily at 6:30am and again at 12:00pm.
There is not direct public bus route from Liberia to Samara. You will need to take the bus to the town of Nicoya and then switch to another bus.
This can be a bit stressful because if you miss the connection you might be waiting several hours until the next one arrives.
Domestic Flights to Samara
There is a domestic airport located in Nosara. It is possible to take a domestic flight from San Jose here.
From Nosara, you can get a taxi to Samara. It is about an hour’s drive (so it might be a pricey taxi journey).
Just keep in mind that this is a more pricey option and if you are scared of small planes this might not be the best for you.
The pro is that this is a super fast transportation option and the views are amazing.
Transportation In Samara
Samara is a very walkable town. If you plan on mostly just spending your time within the town and on the beach, you really don’t need a car.
If you plan on doing more exploring in the area we definitely suggest renting a car. If you don’t have a car you will have to depend on day tours.
Keep in mind that although the roads to Samara are paved, many other roads around are unpaved and involve river crossings.
We definitely suggest getting a car with 4-wheel drive if you plan on checking out activities nearby.
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Samara Costa Rica Weather
The most popular time to visit Samara Costa Rica is between the end of December through early May.
This is dry season in Samara. You can expect extremely hot weather and no rain.
We like to visit this area between May through mid-August. At that time of year, you will likely have a daily afternoon thunderstorm that lasts for about an hour, but there are fewer tourists. We just make a point of getting up early and really enjoying the day at Playa Samara before the rain rolls in.
From mid-August through mid-December you can expect the temperature to cool off a bit and more rain.
Some hotels close between August and November because there just isn’t enough demand.
– The temperature usually ranges between 77°F to 86°F
– The sun rises all year round between about 5:15am and 5:45am
– The sun sets between 5:30pm and 6:00pm
Things to Do in Samara Costa Rica
Explore Nearby Beaches
There are several white sand beaches nearby to check out. Our personal favorite is Playa Carrillo because we love how it is lined with palm trees and it is almost always empty.
Go Horseback Riding
Enjoy a leisurely ride along the beaches and through the jungle on horseback with an experienced guide.
This is a great way to visit the more off the beaten path spots in the Samara area.
Check out a Waterfall
Near Samara is a waterfall called Catarata Belen. It is pretty difficult to find and you will need a 4×4 to get there, but it is a fun off the beaten-path adventure.
Every time we have visited there has been nobody else there.
Just be careful swimming, especially during the rainy season because flash floods can happen.
Want to visit a biological reserve and potentially see tons of wildlife? We suggest a guided hiking tour through the Werner Sauter Biological Reserve. You will be accompanied by an informative guide who will share insights about the region’s wildlife and the rich history of its indigenous inhabitants.
This tour includes transportation from Samara area hotels.
Rent a Kayak
Directly on the beach in Samara there are often people renting kayaks. You can just walk up and rent one out for a few hours to enjoy a nice paddle.
From Samara, it is possible to take a kayak and snorkeling tour out to Isla Chora. This is a super fun way to check out some of the nearby coral reefs.
We suggest doing this as a combo kayaking/ snorkeling adventure tour
If you prefer taking a boat, we suggest this fun whale watching and snorkeling tour on a catamaran.
See Wildlife While Mangrove Kayaking
Take a mangrove kayak tour with an experienced guide and you are sure to see tons of wildlife while enjoying a relaxing paddle.
See Sea Turtles
Take a sea turtle tour to Playa Ostional to spot potentially thousands of sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime events that I highly recommend.
The best time to experience this is in the fall (September and October). I don’t suggest booking this tour at other times of the year because you most likely won’t see anything.
It is also possible to drive to Ostional on your own and get a tour once there (you can only access the beach with a tour for the turtle’s protection). However, this trip involves river crossings, so it is really best to do it as part of a day tour if possible.
If you want to learn more, check our complete Ostional Turtle Guide.
Go Sport Fishing
There are plenty of companies that offer half and full-day deep-sea fishing tours from town. We don’t know of any amazing companies in Samara, but you can always ask at your hotel.
However, we really like See Saw Tours out of the nearby town of Nosara. Captain Juri provides in-shore and off-shore trips for half and full day.
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Bouticafe Bohemia – The vibe here is great plus the food is on point. We suggest going here for breakfast or lunch to get a healthy and tasty meal.
Mamaguia – A great spot for dinner. The cook everything perfectly but I highly recommend seafood or meat here.
Sweeties by Celia – The best way to describe this place is that everything is made with such love. This is a food truck and doesn’t look like much, but you will be blown away. I feel like it is impossible to eat here and not leave in the best mood ever.
Samara Organics – Not a restaurant, more of an organic store, but they serve delicious smoothies. They also have great organic products you can take with you as snacks.
L’Authentique – Our go-to dinner date place in Samara. They have great cheese and meat platters.
Falafel Cafe – If you are into Mediterranean food, head here. The prices are extremely fair and the food is absolutely delicious!
Soda la Perla – Great typical Costa Rican food at an affordable price.
Samara Costa Rica Hotels
Nambu Beach Front Bungalows– The views from this hotel are amazing! Enjoy the beautiful pool and modern rooms.
Azura Beach Resort (All Inclusive)– Modern adults-only hotel located in front of Samara Beach. There is an outdoor pool, fitness center, evening entertainment, and more!
Hotel Giada: For a fair rate per night you can get a double room with Costa Rican breakfast included. There is also a nice pool on site for guests to use.
Yoga Salt Life Lodge– All stays include a free yoga class. This hotel is 300 meters from the beach.
Good Life Lodge– Located in downtown Samara (300 meters from the beach) this hotel offers free bikes for guests to use, air-conditioned rooms, and a small pool.
Hotel Leyenda– Perfect for those who want to relax, this hotel is located 2km from the beach. There is a pool and restaurant on-site.
Hostel Samara- Located about 40 meters from the beach, this hostel offers dorms and private rooms. There is a restaurant and shared kitchen on -site.
Sunset Chill Out Bed and Breakfast-Relaxed hotel located on the beach. All rooms are private but have shared bathrooms.
Airbnb and VRBO in Samara
We always love renting a home or villa for our vacation in Costa Rica. This gives you more privacy and allows you the flexibility to cook your own meals.
Note: We try to only ever suggest places with good cancellation policies, but always double-check before booking.
Alta Vista – A two bedroom condo that sleeps 6 guests. What really makes this place stand out is the dedicated service and care that the owner and his employees bring to maintaining the property and ensuring every guest has a great experience.
Ocean View Condo – A two bedroom condo that can sleep up to 5 guests. We love the floor to ceiling glass windows and the large balcony.
VILLA LIBÉLULA – A three bedroom villa that sleeps 6 guests. The home has a really nice outdoor area with pool, lawn, and outdoor dining area.
Casa Colibri – This home has a nice pool and outdoor area with grill. It boasts stunning views of the Pacific ocean and can sleep 7 guests in 4 bedrooms.
Casa Pacifica – A 6 bedroom home that can sleep up to 14 guests. This listing is actually two homes next to each other. There is a private pool.
Group Tours to the Samara Area
Take the planning, stress, and guess work out of traveling by booking a multi-day tour with an experienced guide.
For more tour ideas check out Tour Radar.
Eco Adventure in Costa Rica
Get ready for adventures like zip lining and white water rafting. This tour goes to Monteverde, Samara, La Fortuna, and more fun spots.
Samara Travel Tips
– We have gotten a lot of questions asking if Nosara or Samara is better to visit on the Nicoya Peninsula (since they are close and have a somewhat similar vibe).
If you are looking for a really small town (more like a village), head to Nosara. If you want a bit more going on, but still cute, go to Samara.
– Don’t swim in any of the small rivers in Samara. There are crocodiles in some of them.
Packing for Samara Costa Rica
Samara is a relaxed beach town that has a bit of a surfer/ hippie vibe to it. We usually wear lightweight breathable fabrics that protect us from the sun.
You can dress very casual here unless you plan on visiting nice restaurants.
Don’t forget your rain gear if visiting during green season.
Check out our Samara Packing List on Amazon for all the essentials.
Samara Costa Rica FAQ
Is Samara Costa Rica touristy?
Samara is a popular tourist destination. However, compared to some of the other beach towns in Costa Rica it is much more relaxed.
Can you swim in Samara Costa Rica?
The main beach in Samara has a very gradual incline into the water and usually, the water is calm, making it a good place to enjoy the ocean. However, check for red flags and always ask someone about the current conditions before swimming.
How long to stay in Samara Costa Rica?
To enjoy what Samara has to offer, three nights is enough time. However, you could also spend longer here to just relax.
Is Samara Costa Rica safe?
In general, Samara is safe. Please keep an eye on your belongings though. Petty theft does sometimes happen.
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You Might Also Like Visiting
Montezuma: A small beach town with tons of fun things to do
Paquera: A small but bustling Nicoya beach town where the ferry lands
Nosara: A relaxed yoga and surfing town that is popular with backpackers
….if none of those appeal to you, check out our Guide to the Nicoya Peninsula for more ideas of places to visit in this area.