20 Things You Should Know About Samara Costa Rica

Samara Town is a small beach town in Guanacaste Province. However, don’t dismiss it as a boring town just yet. Hiking, snorkeling, sports fishing, diving, watching marine animals, swimming, and boat touring are numerous activities both locals and tourists undertake in Samara. 

A friend recommended Samara, so why not visit this town with my family? We loved the town. My kids had a lot of fun, as there were many activities we could do together as a family. Samara town is not huge and has a laid-back atmosphere. 

In this article, I highlight 20 things about Samara town. 

Key Takeaways From This Article

Samara town offers activities for everyone. It’s the town to be, whether you prefer extreme or simple activities such as sunbathing on the beach. Here are a few key takeaways about Samara. 

  • Flying to Liberia International Airport is the fastest way to get to Samara. Rent a car, take a bus, or take a taxi to Samara. 
  • Playa Barrigona is to the north of Samara and Playa Carrillo to the south. 
  • If you only have one day to see Samara, use a gyrocopter to fly over the beach town. 

Where is Samara, Costa Rica?

Samara is a beach town in Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica. Guanacaste province is located along the Pacific Coast. Despite its modern hotels and restaurants, Samara has a small-town feel and is close to Liberia International Airport. 

After alighting at the airport, you take the road to Nicoya (route 60) before branching to Samara on route 150. Avoid taking the Nosara (Route 160) road as you must cross a large river, the Rio Buena Vista. Aside from that, the road to Nosara has many potholes, and the river banks are slippery during the rainy season. 

Alternatively, you can take a bus to Nicoya and then change to the one that goes to Samara. Nicoya to Samara by bus takes roughly 90 minutes. You can also rent a car from San Jose or Liberia and drive to Samara. 

Samara is popular with immigrants, expats, and tourists. The town is also becoming popular among digital nomads. Most foreigners who settle in Samara have an interest in surfing or yoga. 

You can learn a lot about the local culture from Samara’s friendly local community. Experience the local culture through local galleries and restaurants serving traditional foods. Samara has a very vibrant nightlife. My experience is that Samara is a safe town, but you still have to be mindful of your surroundings. 

Geographical and weather features in Samara

It’s a small town, and you don’t need a car, especially when exploring the town center. Samara has beautiful beaches, forests, mountains, and wildlife. Samara has several rivers, and the bridges are often one-way. Hence, ensure you have the right of way before driving through. 

Samara experiences a tropical climate, mostly sunny throughout the year. From December to April, Samara is usually very hot and dry. While September and October experience a lot of rainfall, the sun still comes out most mornings. 

However, if visiting Samara for a few weeks, avoid the months of September and October, as most places close down due to the rains. 

Samara’s coastal areas and beaches

The horse-shaped beach is what attracts most people to Samara. The beach has powdery white sand. It’s the main beach, and it’s more popular with tourists. Samara Beach has several amenities, such as restaurants and hotels, and its calmer water makes it suitable for a variety of water activities. 

You’ll likely find a few surf schools if you want a trainer for your surfing lessons. Samara is split between two small beaches. 

Playa Barrigona

The beach is not easily accessible without a car. But even with a car, there is a section that you cannot access when it rains. Playa Barrigona has clear blue waters; its sand is powdery, light, and bright white. During the rainy season, Barrigona waterfalls from the mountains provide fresh water to the beach. 

Playa Barrigona lacks amenities like restaurants, shops, and hotels. However, you can camp at the north end of Barrigona Beach. Mel Gibson (a famous Hollywood actor) has built a lovely resort in the mountains near Playa Barrigona. 

Playa Carrillo

Most locals frequent Carrillo, and they consider the beach to be their vacation spot south of Samara. However, it’s worth visiting the palm trees and light sand. The beach is also quieter than Samara and has the most beautiful sunsets. However, expect the beach to be packed with locals on weekends and holidays.

Puerto Carrillo, a small town on a hill in Playa Carrillo, is home to a few shops, vacation rental homes, and simple restaurants. The beach area is immaculate and has won the Blue Flag. You can set up on the concrete benches and tables along the beach. 

Carrillo waters are calmer and more suitable for swimming, especially if you have younger kids. You can also practice sport fishing or go diving or snorkeling.

Things to do in Samara, Costa Rica

Accommodation in Samara is readily available, and you can find a decent place to stay for a few days. Besides, the accommodation is also much cheaper than in most of the other beach towns. Samara also has excellent restaurants that offer both Costa Rican and international cuisines.

Samara may be smaller than other beach towns such as Tamarindo, Nosara, and Flamingo, but it has many activity spots. It’s also cheaper. The best time to visit Samara is between December and April, when the weather is drier and more suitable for most activities. 

National Parks

Because it’s a small town, don’t be surprised to find wildlife on the hotel grounds. However, for natural wildlife viewing, you can visit various parks and reserves in or near Samara. 

National Park/Refuge/Reserve Features
Werner-Sauter Biological Reserve A private reserve where you learn how plants and animals thrive even with natural water scarcity in the area.
Hike (3 hours) through the reserve, learning more about the dry forest and native plants.
You can see various wild animals, such as monkeys, porcupines, bats, woodpeckers, morpho butterflies, and parakeets.
It’s essential to have a guide to learn more about the reserve.
Macaw Breeding Center The center is not a wildlife sanctuary.
It’s a program center for breeding superb green and scarlet macaw parrots.
The center frees the parrots, though most come back to feed.
Use a rental car or book a tour to reach the center.
Camaronal wildlife refuge It is located 15 kilometers from Samara on Playa Camaronal and is a haven for sea turtles nesting between May and January.
Its main activities, with the support of the Costa Rican government, are sea turtle conservation and forest ecosystem protection.
The fee is $12 per person, which goes towards supporting the center.
Barra Honda National Park The park, primarily a limestone hill, is 41 km from Samara.
Barra Honda has several hiking trails and unique cave formations.
Several waterfalls during the rainy season, 42 caves, and various hiking trails make Barra Honda an exciting place to visit.
In the forests, you will likely see some magpies, coyotes, white-tailed deer, and raccoons.
Ostional Wildlife Refuge Visit Ostional Wildlife Refuge (Ostional Beach), 22km from Samara.
The center started in 1984, and its main activity is the conservation of turtles.
At the right time of the year, you’ll see an arribada, a mass gathering of turtles.
The turtles bury their eggs in the volcanic black sand.

Outdoor Activities

Samara Beach has calm waters, and many water sports beginners find it more suitable to hire trainers. On the beach, you’ll find a few surf instructors. 

  • Surfing: My oldest son started his journey surfing the Playa Samara. The waves are calmer, and I was able to get a trainer. 
  • Diving: During the rainy season, you can dive to see sharks( hammerhead, bull, snapper, white-tip reef). Samara has an offshore coral reef that protects its bay, resulting in calmer waves. 
  • Snorkeling or kayaking: You can combine these two activities on Isla Chora, a smaller island on the edge of Samara. You can also go snorkeling or kayaking in Cangrejal or Isla Chorro. Starfish, reef fish, sea cucumber, jewel eel, and bottlenose are the most common marine life. 
  • Boat tours: To avoid joining a group tour, the best way to see dolphins is to book a private boat tour. I recommend the private tour if you visit Samara with the kids. 
  • Waterfalls: The Belen waterfall is only 20 minutes away from Samara. It’s very easy to miss the location of this waterfall, and I recommend visiting it only during the dry season. The main waterfall pool has a suction effect, and several people have drowned during the rainy season. La Roca is another waterfall in Samara. 
  • Horseback riding is the best way to visit various places in Samara.
  • If you want to see Samara in one day, a gyrocopter ride is the best option. Choose a 60-minute ride to fly over Samara and Carrillo Beach. 

Also be sure to check out my entry on Samara vs. Nosara, as these two towns attract people of similar interests.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Does it rain a lot in Samara, Costa Rica?

Samara has two seasons. The dry season falls between December and April. From May to November, Samara experiences the rainy season. 

While there is heavy rainfall in the afternoons and evenings, the town often experiences some sunny days in between.

  1. How do you get around Samara?

I recommend renting a car if you’re visiting Samara with the kids. However, Samara is a small town, and you can walk around. 

Take a bus to Carrillo or Barrigona. Taxis are another way to get around; you can find them near the soccer field. I recommend you always negotiate the fare before starting the journey, as most of them don’t have meters.


After a friend’s recommendation, visiting Samara, Costa Rica, with my family was the best idea. My kids loved marine watching, diving, learning to surf, and swimming in the calm Playa Samara waters. My husband enjoyed hiking and snorkeling the most. 

Have you ever visited Samara? Please share with us your favorite areas and which activities you loved the most. 

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Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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