Samara Costa Rica is a small seaside town on the Pacific coast with a bohemian vibe. It is a popular surfing destination.
The downtown area has plenty of restaurants and shops, but if you are looking for a more peaceful experience there is plenty of that as well.
Samara is a great jumping off point for other fun day trips. We highly suggest this spot if you are looking for a nice relaxed beach trip.
Now on to the rest of the Samara Costa Rica travel guide.
Tamarindo is located on Northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica in the Guanacaste Province.
The nearest big city is Liberia, which is about one and a half hours away.
Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia
surfing, rent an ATV, snorkel or diving tours
Rental car, walking in the downtown area
Dry season is from late December until mid-April
The easiest way of getting to Samara is by flying in to the Liberia International Airport. From Liberia, it is about a two hour drive to Samara. From San Jose, 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.
Renting a car and driving to Samara on your own is a great option if you would like to have a car for fun day trips.
The drive is on main roads the entire way and if you are a somewhat experienced driver you shouldn’t have any trouble.
We work exclusively with a local car rental company called Adobe for all our rental needs.
They are the best company and we could rave about them all day. Plus, they have given us a 10% discount and other great perks to pass on to you.
You can find out more and book your car here.
If you are traveling with a group of people and don’t plan on renting a car, a private shuttle is the way to go.
You can all 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.
To get to Samara from Liberia you will have to first take the bus to Nicoya and then switch buses to Samara.
In our opinion, this is just a total pain. However, it is doable if you are really trying to stick to a tight budget.
You can find out more with this bus schedule.
From San Jose it will take about five hours to drive to Samara.
The drive to Samara is long, but fine. The first two hours of the drive are on a main toll highway. If you are a somewhat experienced driver you should have no trouble with this.
The tolls do not accept credit cards. They will take dollars or colones.
You will then drive on a main road that can feel like it take foreverrrr. A lot of big trucks drive this road and it is often hard to find a place to pass them.
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 not 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.
A private shuttle is the most comfortable way to get to Samara.
Your shuttle driver will be waiting for you when you exit the airport and will take care of everything.
You and your group can just enjoy looking out the window. Your driver will be happy to stop for pictures or food along the way.
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.
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 which tend to be more pricey and don’t go to more off the beaten path places.
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.
Pro Tip: Rent a car with Adobe through our site and you will get a 10% discount! Score! You can find out more about it here.
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 before the rain rolls in..
From mid-August through mid-December you can expect the temperature to cool off a bit and more rain.
A lot of hotels close between August and December because there just isn’t enough demand. However, because of the lack of demand, you can also get tours and activities discounted because companies are so eager for business.
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 90 meters from the beach. There is an outdoor pool, fitness center, evening entertainment, and more!
Hotel Giada: For less than $60 a night you can get a double room with 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.
If you are traveling with a large group, renting a villa can be a great way to enjoy your vacation
Most villas are pricey and luxurious, but if you would like a more budget-friendly experience, we have included a few options for that as well.
Also, note that we tried to only include places with good cancellation policies.
Definitely pay close attention to the cancellation policy before you book anything.
Go surfing: There are plenty of places which offer surfing lessons rentals on Samara beach, but our personal favorite is Pato’s Surf School. They offer a good rate for lessons and with each lesson you get five days of board rentals for FREE! Plus, they are just an all around wonderful company.
They also offer amazing rates on SUP boards and kayaks. It is also possible to just rent a surfboard in Samara and do your own thing.
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.
However, Playa Samara is also really nice. It is very long and a great place for a long walk.
Go horseback riding: There are several companies in town that offer horseback riding tours along the beautiful beach.
Check out a waterfall: Near Samara is a waterfall called 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.
If you want more info check out the TripAdvisor page here.
Take a yoga class: We are big fans of yoga classes at Samara Massage because they are well done and are taught in the shade on the beach!
Classes are only $10 for a drop in and include use of a yoga mat. You can find out the class schedule and other details here.
Go snorkeling: 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.
Go sport fishing: There are plenty of companies which offer half and full day deep sea fishing tours from town. We suggest asking at your hotel to see if they have any suggestions. Often local hotels can hep to get you a good deal.
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.
If you plan on working while in Samara there are a few things you should know.
– In general the internet is usually decent, but it’s always a good idea to ask about the internet speed before booking a place.
– If you need a co-working space check out Loco Working co-working space in the downtown area.
Bug Spray – The second the sun goes down the mosquitos come out in full force. Don’t forget, aerosol cans are not allowed in luggage, so bring spray in a normal spray bottle.
Sun Protection – Costa Rica is not too far from the equator. The UV index here is high! We suggest bringing a wide brimmed hat, UV protecting shirts, and of course high SPF sunscreen.
A Rain Jacket – If traveling during rainy season you might have some rainy afternoons. We like to bring a lightweight jacket because even when it rains it stays hot!
Costa Rica all-inclusive resorts are located throughout the country and offer a variety of opinions based on your travel style. For example, it is possible