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The 19 Best Things to Do in Samara, Costa Rica: 2024 Guide

Are you looking for all the best things to do in Samara, Costa Rica?

Samara is a small town with relaxed beach vibes on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. It is the perfect destination for families, but really everyone will enjoy a visit here. There are many fun activities to do in this area from water sports to exploring the dense hilly jungle nearby.

We love the Samara area and created this guide based on the best activities we have enjoyed in the past. Be sure to read until the end for some other must-know tips for visiting this area.

Alright, let’s get to all the fun things to do in Samara!

1. Watch the Sunset

samara cosa rica sunset

Playa Samara is a great place to enjoy the sunset in the early evenings. This is the main beach in Samara and is just a short walk from the downtown area.

The sun sets year-round between about 5:15 and 6:pm. We like to just walk the beach while this happens, but you can also opt to sit at a beachfront restaurant and enjoy dinner or cocktails with a view. For this, we suggest the Italian restaurant and beach bar called Gusto Beach.

2. Go Beach-Hopping

playa carillo costa rica

There are several nice white sand beaches near Samara that are worth exploring. Our favorites are:

  • Playa Carrillo: Located just south of Samara, this is a beautiful beach lined with palm trees. It is usually decently empty here. This beach is pictured above.
  • Playa Buena Vista: Another large and usually empty beach. There is a parking area. Just note that you will need to cross the river with your car. This will be no problem during the dry season, but during the rainy season it is best to go during low tide and only with an SUV with decent clearance. 
  • Playa Barrigona: Another remote beach just north of Playa Buena Vista. Again, you will need to cross the river to get here. While looking at this on Google Maps I noticed that just next to the beach is a point marked “Casa Mel Gibson” haha. I’m not sure if he actually has a house here, but keep an eye out for him.

3. Hike to a Secret Beach

secret beach samara view

There is a remote beach that you can hike to from just north of Samara. We tried this twice before we actually found it haha. So, here are the directions which hopefully you can figure out. 

  • Park along the road near Hotel Sámara Paraiso or walk from downtown.
  • Start at Hotel Sámara Paraiso and head south along the gravel road.
  • Avoid private property. You will come to a gate and will find an opening in the barbed wire fence on the left side.
  • Beware of medium-sized dogs on the trail; they may bark but typically don’t pose a threat.
  • Follow the right-hand trail through the forest.
  • After about 15 minutes you will find stone steps leading down to the beach.
  • Don’t miss the scenic lookout accessible via an uphill path midway to the secret beach (pictured above).

4. Take a Surf Lesson

The waves in Samara aren’t the best for more experienced surfers (head north towards Nosara for that). However, if you have never surfed before or only have a bit of experience, Samara is a great place for you to try surfing on the Pacific Ocean.

It is always possible to rent a board at one of the many surf shops in town, or you can opt to take a lesson.

We recommend taking your surf lessons with Tuanis Surf School CR located directly in downtown Samara. Your lesson will include 30 minutes of safety and basic instruction followed by 1.5 hours of actually trying to get up on the board and surf, with plenty of help from your instructor. 

Check Availability and Book Your Surf Lesson

5. Go Caving at Barra Honda National Park

Barra Honda is one of the most unique national parks in Costa Rica.

Here you can enjoy hiking and go caving!

We did this last year and it was mildly terrifying, (you have to climb down this crazy ladder to get into the caves) but so cool! And yes, that is me pictured above watching my life flash before my eyes.

Find out more in our guide to Barra Honda National Park

6. Go Zip Lining

The best place to go zip lining near Samara is at Wing Nuts Canopy Tours. Their adventure park features 9 cables and 2 rappels in the lush jungle.

Wing Nuts has several different combo packages, so check out their website for more info. 

Get More Info on Wing Nuts Canopy Tours

7. Take a Dolphin and Snorkeling Boat Trip

samara costa rica coastal view

We love taking a boat and snorkeling trip while on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. It is the perfect day trip experience. 

Here’s what you can look forward to on this tour:

  • Marine Life Sightings: Keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles, dolphins, stingrays, and even humback whales during migration season.
  • Dive into the crystal-clear waters near Isla Chora National Wildlife Refuge or the reef of Samara. All snorkel gear is provided. 
  • Refreshments are included
  • Enjoy hassle-free transportation with pickup and drop-off available in Samara and Carillo town.
  • Benefit from the expertise of your guide and professional driver.

Check Availability and Book Your Snorkeling Trip

8. Go on Gyro Copter Flight

The 19 Best Things to Do in Samara, Costa Rica: 2024 Guide

If you are looking for a thrilling experience with epic views, this is the activity for you!

With Fly With Us, you can take an exciting flight over lush green jungles and the pristine Pacific Coast in a gyrocopter with an experienced pilot.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Get More Info on Fly With Us

9. Go Horseback Riding on the Beach

horse samara costa rica

We love to take sunset horseback riding tours along the Samara beach. Sometimes you can just go to the beach and find locals with horses who will offer to give you a tour. This is usually the cheapest option. 

However, you can also book a tour ahead of time if you prefer a more comprehensive experience. We suggest Explore Samara Tours for this. The tour they offer takes you riding through the lush jungle and up a mountain. Here you can get a spectacular view of the Pacific Coast. After that, you’ll get the chance to gallop along pristine beaches with white sands. 

We like this tour because it also includes transportation from your Samara area hotel and is conducted by experienced guides. 

Check Availability and Book Your Horseback Riding Tour

10. Go Sport Fishing

fish samara

⭐️ RATING: 4.7/5 Stars on FishingBooker | ✅ Book it!

The Pacific Coast is the perfect place to enjoy an inshore or off shore fishing trip. We suggest booking your trip with Captain Simon of Gladiator Sportfishing.

You can book a half-day or full-day adventure on his 28’ Super Panga with room for 6 passengers. All equipment is provided and you can keep what you catch.

Some common fish in this area depending on the season are; Black Marlin, Wahoo, Jack Crevalle, Blue Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna, Cubera Snapper, Mahi Mahi, Striped Marlin, Sailfish, Roosterfish, Yellowtail Amberjack, and Grouper.

Check Availability and Book Your Sport Fishing Experience

11. Take an ATV Tour

atv samara

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars on Viator | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  3 hours | ✅ Book it!

Experience the thrill of riding your own ATV through the hills and jungles of Samara! On this tour you can take in stunning mountaintop vistas and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the landscape.

Along the way, you might spot wildlife with the help of your knowledgeable guide.

We like this tour because it is thrilling, but safety is always their number one priority. You will receive a thorough safety briefing and driver training before you start.

After your ATV ride, you will get the chance to cool off and unwind at a picturesque beach.

Check Availability and Book Your ATV Tour

12. Visit Werner Sauter Biological Reserve

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. 

Check Availability and Book Your Guided Hike

13. Go Ocean Kayaking

kayaks samara

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars on Viator | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  3 hours | ✅ Book it!

One of the (many) nice things about Samara is that the water is calm enough to go kayaking in.

We suggest booking an ocean kayaking trip with a guide to Chora Island. This trip will allow you to enjoy a peaceful paddle while exploring areas you otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to see.

Along the way, you might spot various fish and maybe even get lucky enough to see a turtle!

Check Availability and Book Your Ocean Kayaking Adventure

14. Get a Massage

Sometimes you just need to relax and feel pampered, especially during your Costa Rican tropical vacation!

There are several people who offer excellent massages in the Samara area, but my personal favorite is Sarah at True Blue Vue.

You can choose to have your message at a beachfront rancho, in her air-conditioned studio, or she can come to your vacation property.

She offers a variety of treatments including deep tissue massages and cupping. 

Check Availability and Book Your Massage

15. See Sea Turtles


⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars on Viator | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  3 hours 30 minutes | ✅ Book it!

Did you know there are a few beaches north of Samara that are common nesting spots for Olive Ridley turtles? Sometimes you can even see thousands of turtles at once (like we were able to experience at Playa Ostional in the picture above).

The best time to experience this is in September and October, which also happen to be the rainiest months in this area. 

The drive to the beaches where the turtles nest involves multiple river crossings, so we suggest booking a guided tour with transportation included. 

Our favorite tour for this is with Samara Adventures.

Here’s what’s included:

  • Expert guidance to prime turtle spotting locations
  • Insightful information about turtle life cycles and local wildlife
  • Convenient transportation with hotel pickup and drop-off
  • Refreshments including water, juices, and snacks
  • Admission ticket included for Playa Corozalito or alternate beaches if arribada occurs

Note: We suggest booking this somewhat last minute and asking the tour company ahead of time if turtle nesting is predicted during the dates you are visiting. It happens about once a month and I think this tour is really only worth it if you are decently sure you will see something. Again, this is best in September and October. 

Check Availability and Book Your Sea Turtle Experience

16. Visit a Farmer’s Market

The Samara farmers market is open every Saturday from 7:00am until 1:00pm.

I love this market because there is a wide variety of vendors and products sold here.

You can get fresh fruit and vegetables, artisan crafts (which make great souvenir gifts), cooked food such as empanadas, canned items such as fresh dips and jams, and so much more!

I marked the location on Google Maps for you here

17. Visit Belen Waterfall

The 19 Best Things to Do in Samara, Costa Rica: 2024 Guide

Belen Waterfall is located on the main road from Nicoya to Samara. This is definitely not the most impressive waterfall in Costa Rica, but it is still a nice spot to stop and check out if you have a rental car.

You can climb on the rocks and possibly swim under the cool water. During the rainy season, the water can get very muddy. 

It costs 1,000 colones per person to enter (but we have also been here and there has been nobody collecting money). 

Note: I have not heard of anything happening here, but this is a remote location and I don’t know how well they watch cars (if someone is collecting money for entrance). I suggest not leaving anything of value in your car if you visit. In other words, I don’t suggest stopping on your way to Samara with all your luggage in the car. 

Find Belen Waterfall on Google Maps here

18. Take a Wildlife Mangrove Kayak Tour

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars on Viator | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  3 hours | ✅ Book it!

A mangrove kayak tour is the perfect way to explore the waterways near Samara.

We suggest booking this trip with the company Samara Adventures.

This tour involves paddling along the Ora River through mangrove tunnels toward Camaronal Beach. It’s a really fun activity, especially if you enjoy peaceful nature. 

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Scenic paddling through mangrove tunnels
  • Birdwatching opportunities along the way
  • Refreshments and snack including water, juices, beer, and fresh fruit
  • Professional guidance and safety instructions
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off for select hotels

Just keep in mind that the tour time will fluctuate depending on the tides on that particular day.

Check Availability and Book Your Mangrove Kayak Tour

19. Explore the Downtown Area

downtown samara costa rica at sunset

The downtown area of Samara is filled with excellent restaurants and cute shops. It is a nice place to just walk around and explore.

Maybe you will find some nice souvenirs in the process!

Other Things to Know About Samara

The 19 Best Things to Do in Samara, Costa Rica: 2024 Guide

Here is some other must-know info about Samara before your visit.

The Vibe

Samara has an interesting mix of a relaxed yoga/ surfer feel and a family-friendly beach town feel. we like that it doesn’t typically feel overcrowded here, but there is still plenty to do.


The easiest way to get here is by flying into the Liberia International Airport rather than San Jose.

We think renting a car is the best way to get around in Samara because there are a lot of great day trip options nearby which are easier by rental car.

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However, we also suggested a lot of activities above with transportation included if you would prefer not to drive. If you stay in the downtown area of Samara you will have plenty of restaurants and the beach within walking distance.

In that case, you can opt for a private shuttle or shared shuttle from the Liberia Airport, San Jose Airport, or from any destination around the country.


The climate here follows the same pattern as most towns on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. You can expect to have dry sunny weather from December until late April. This is also high season and the town of Samara can fill up.

The start of the rainy season (May – July) means that you will likely experience brief afternoon rainstorms, but sunny and hot days.

From August until December, you will likely experience heavier rains.


There are plenty of great hotels in Samara. Our favorites are:


The best restaurants in town are:

For more info check out our complete Samara Visitors Guide

Conclusion: Things to Do in Samara

In conclusion, there are plenty of fun things to do in Samara, Costa Rica as day trips or to occupy a few hours. This is the perfect family-friendly beach town, but couples and solo travelers will love it as well.

If you have any questions about planning your trip to Samara don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out!

Costa Rica Travel Details: What You Need to Know

🚗 Should I rent a car in Costa Rica?

Having a rental car will give you the most flexibility when traveling in Costa Rica. This will also allow you to take fun day trips on your own.

🏄🏽 How can I book things to do?

We find that Viator tends to have the most comprehensive selection of activities with secure booking and good cancellation policies.

🍍 I’m overwhelmed with planning. Can you help?

Of course! I suggest joining our Facebook group for specific questions and head to our Start Here Page to get started planning.

✈️ What is the best way to book a flight?

Usually, we have the best luck finding great prices with Skyscanner. Check for flights to both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR).

🛏️ What is the best way to book my Costa Rica hotels?

We highly suggest Booking.com for hotel bookings and typically use VRBO for Costa Rica vacation rentals.

🗣️What is the main language in Costa Rica?

The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Most people working in tourism speak at least some English.

💰 What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón (CRC). However, the US dollar is widely accepted in most tourist areas

📞 What is the best way to stay connected?

An eSIM from Airalo is the easiest way to get 4G data while traveling in Costa Rica.

🌴 Is Costa Rica safe?

Generally, Costa Rica is considered safe for tourists. However, like any travel destination, it’s best to use caution and be aware of your surroundings.

🛂 Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica is its own country. You will need a passport to visit.