There are some places in Costa Rica that are easy to figure out. You turn off the highway and within minutes you sense the vibe of the destination, you feel its spirit all around you. Samara isn’t one of those places.
“Ah, we loved Sámara”, gushed Max’s grandma after spending a week in Samara, following our wedding. “It’s very quiet and lovely. But I don’t think it’s a place for young people”, she noted to us as we were researching Sámara for our upcoming trip.
“Ah, yes, I remember partying in Sámara in the 90s”, Max’s Mom reminisced in the meantime. “Fun little town”.
We were perplexed. So is it a party town? A sleepy village? Or something in between?
Sámara is not a town that often graces the pages of glossy magazines and travel sites. And it isn’t one frequently featured in typical Costa Rican travel itineraries. It is somewhat off-the-beaten-path, and as we soon found out, one that offers a laid-back vibe and beautiful beach setting appealing to just about anyone.
For us, Sámara was a perfect backdrop for an idyllic getaway. It wasn’t crowded, it wasn’t loud, it wasn’t in your face, but it had all the comforts that one might enjoy while on holidays. There was a good selection of restaurants (albeit somewhat overpriced even for Costa Rica), cute boutiques, yoga retreats, and no shortage of tours and activities. Despite it’s compact size and lack of big hotel chains, the town has been welcoming tourists and locals for what seemed like decades.
Despite the abundance of activity options to fill our days, we really didn’t do much in Sámara. For once, we really took the time to relax and unwind, spending our waking hours soaking up the sun, lazing in the palm tree shades, and splashing in the waves on Playa Sámara, Playa Buena Vista, and Playa Carillo.
We enjoyed delicious smoothies from the pop up organic market and stuffed ourselves with falafel wraps from the Falafel Cafe, and yummy organic burgers alongside a delicious yogi bowl from Luv Burger. But the highlight of our food escapades in Samara were the dinners we had at Lo Que Hay, a Mexican-inspired beach-side restaurant with killer cocktails (ask them for their Guaro special), great food, and a great atmosphere. We loved it there so much, we ate there more than once.
On our last night in Sámara, instead of going out and having yet another meal at Lo Que Hay (because let’s be serious we couldn’t get enough of the delicious food there), we decided to stay in and spend an evening with our Airbnb hosts at Villa Mariola. We were treated to a delicious home cooked meal and great company of fellow Canadian travelers and our lovely French hosts, Michele and Carine.
We planned on spending just 2 days in Sámara but after getting the feel for the vibe of this laid back town, we decided to extend our stay for another few days. And we were so happy that we did!
Essential Travel Info
Get in: Playa Sámara is located on the Nicoya Peninsula, in Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica. A taxi from Liberia Airport to Sámara will costs around $50 and should take roughly 2 hours. Those traveling on a budget can get to Sámara by bus from Liberia via Nicoya (3 hr hourney). Bus schedule can be found here.
Get around: Playa Samara is a small beach town, so the best way to get around is on foot. ATV rentals and taxi services are also available in town.
Where to stay: There is not a ton of accommodation options in town, so book in advance if you are traveling in high season. Booking.com has the most options for accommodation in the area. Airbnb is another great option and one that we ended up using for our stay.