A Visit to Samara, Costa Rica – Destination Guide

We spent 6 days in Samara, located half way down the Nicoya Peninsula. It had a great chill vibe, and a funky beach town atmosphere!

I have noticed that the title “Travel Blogger” can have many different connotations.  Some travel blogs simply tell of the travellers experiences.  Some travel blogs tell people how to travel; ie. what to pack, how to secure medical insurance, what kind of currency to bring etc.  Some travel blogs tell people about locations and destinations, specifically how to get there, what to do, where to stay, and all the ins and outs of each spot.

As I do with how I live my life, I like to think that I don’t necessarily fall into any specific category.  My ultimate joy is to share my experiences, those that I feel are WORTH writing about.  They might be inspiring, they might make people laugh, they might bring insight into the places that I am visiting.  But above all, they are what make me WANT to write.  They give me great joy in sharing them with the world, which in turn inspires me to “put pen to paper” (I do try to still do that once in a while!), and to just get them down and out of my head.

However, I too realize that there is also great value in me sharing the things that I learn along the way. By sharing a few local statistics, information about where we stayed, what we did, and where we went, I may be helping those out there that are just getting started traveling, and who may need a nudge in the right direction.  Or I may be helping those that feel like my information helps to give them a little insight into a place, which will make them more comfortable with going there.  After all, there IS a reason that the website Tripadvisor is so popular.  It’s because people can either recommend places, or not.  In the grand scheme of things, all information that a person can gather before heading out, helps them to have the best trip possible.

But don’t forget one important thing!  Some of the best experiences do not come about from sitting in front of a computer, doing hours of research about a place.  They come from just TRYING it, from just DOING it, from just LEAVING your house, and heading out into the world!  The beautiful thing about travelling, is that it is absolutely impossible to plan for every eventuality that you may encounter.  That is the exciting part!  That is what makes it so much fun!  That is why we keep doing it over and over and over again.  We get away from our day to day, predictable lives, to places where anything can happen, at any time.  It sends our endorphins into overdrive, alerts our senses, and makes life adventurous.  Humans are adventurous by nature!  It is in our genetic make up that we want to see new places, explore different horizons, try new experiences.  We wouldn’t have spread ourselves all over this planet, in every nook and cranny, if we didn’t.

So, what are you waiting for?

Get out there, have fun and explore!


Samara is a very cute little Costa Rican town, located about half way down the Nicoya Peninsula (see map below.)  It’s home to about 1500 full time residents, but services about 4100 people that live in outlying areas.  After travelling around in Costa Rica for about a week.  We choose to make a visit to Samara, as I had heard some really good things about it, and because friends of mine from Canada, had just moved there last spring, after purchasing shares in an established bar.


If you would like to read about our bus adventure getting there, click here.

When we first arrived, we weren’t sure how long we were going to stay.  We promised the man at our hostel we would be there for 2 nights, and just left it at that.  However, he offered us such a great low season rate, and the town turned out to be just the chill vibe that we were looking for, that we decided to stay for the 6 nights we had left before we had to go down to Manuel Antonio to get ready for our house sitting gig.

Because we had friends there that are from Canada, as mentioned before, they were able to take us out of Samara for a day, to have a bit of an adventure at what Nicki said was a ‘secret beach’ nearby.  It was past Playa Carrillo, a vast beautiful white sand beach itself, south of town.  We brought their two new dogs, and they promised a Tico (Costa Rican) style bar-b-que on the beach.  The beach was spectacular as was the bar-b-que.  Eron brought an actual BBQ grill to place over the briquettes, but the Tico style is to weave barbed wire back and forth until you create a grill like surface for cooking on.  Although the cove was a bit rocky for swimming, it had a fabulous waterfall spilling onto the beach at one end.  A perfect place to rinse off after our sandy, beach day.

Notice the waterfall spilling down at the far end.
A standard Tico BBQ built with beach rocks, and briquettes to build a fire. Most Ticos use barbed wire woven in and out until they create a grill out of it.


Walter, one of Nikki and Eron’s Dogs wanted a rinse off as well!

We spent the next few days just bumming around Samara, not really doing that much.  We spent some time at the beach, but the weather actually got pretty nasty for our last couple days, and we spent much of our time there inside.  We were happy to just relax for a bit anyways.  The time before leaving Canada was hectic, to say the least, and we were still in recovery mode.

We did, however, take a walk out to the point at the far left hand side of the bay on one day.  It took 2-3 hours, round trip, but we didn’t hurry.  We dunked in some of the tidal pools, and found another cool spring dripping from the cliff walls.

We walked out to the point behind me in the background.
Tidal pool dunking!
A freshwater spring falling from the cliff
Looking to the island off the point. Apparently when the tide is right, it’s possible to swim there.

All in all, we were pretty happy that it was quite overcast, as it gave our pasty white Canadian skin time to acclimatize and not get completely fried on our first days.

We also spent some sunset evenings on the beach sipping tropical happy hour drinks.  And Chris got to tattoo one of the locals, which really helped him to streamline his portable process, and made him feel good about doing his first international tattoo!


Sunset from Chicos at Happy Hour!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the main drag of Samara, but it’s lined with many little shops and restaurants and leads all the way to the beach.  We enjoyed hassle free travelling here as there were no hawkers or anyone trying to sell us anything.  Not sure if that is a low season thing, or if it is the norm, but it was nice!  The beach stretches a really long way in both directions, and is wide and expansive.  The swimming is safe and there were no rip currents or undertows to note.

All in all, I highly recommend a visit to Samara if you are looking to experience a more laid back, funky little beach town.  There is good surfing in the bay, and you can ride horses and do tours from there as well.  It’s cheaper, overall, then places like Tamarindo and points south such as Santa Teresa and Mal Pais.

Accomodation – We stayed at El Dorado Hostel.  We really lucked out with this place as the only reason that we chose it was because it was the closest hostel to where our bus dropped us off.  It was located off the main drag, making it less noisy at night, and we had a quick and easy walk to the beach from here.  Larry, one of the locals, was living at the hostel when we were there, and he speaks good English, and gives surf lessons if you are interested in that.  We paid $20/night ($45 in high season) for our own private room with a little bar fridge, and a personal, locked bathroom just down the hall.  The kitchen is good, with more fridge space, and the common area is nice with a big table where you can meet new people and make new friends.  The owner is Italian (with a Tico wife), and they live right across the street and are easily accessible if there are any problems.  Highly recommended.

The road from our Hostel to the beach.  A five minute walk at most.  


Bar Arriba – This is the bar that our friends have bought shares in.  It is located on the main strip, and is on the second story.  There is a great sitting area against the railings, and you can look down on the town, people watch, and witness the world go by all day if you want.  Tip:  The Mojitos are large and to die for!  We were told that this place is the top night club scene after 10:00 (much too late for us, and it sounds as though every patron at that time is half our age!). It also doubles as a sports bar and is THE place to be on game day!  Although we didn’t eat there, we were told that they also have an extensive pub type menu, and do specials for different occasions of the year.

Flying Taco – We went here one night for happy hour from 5-7 and enjoyed 2 for 1 drinks.  We also had some appy’s that were half price for happy hour.  Unfortunately, we were the only people in the place, but I think that was more of a low season thing, then a problem with the establishment.  The service was good and the food was good.  We also noticed that even outside of happy hour, the prices were very reasonable compared to other places in town.  There was a stage and a ping pong table, I’m sure both would be hopping in the high season.

Gusto Beach – This was a great spot to sit and relax at the end of the day.  We spent 3 evenings here for happy hour, enjoying an extensive menu of tropical favourites for only 1990 Colones.  It was great to just sit and watch the surfers in the bay as the sunset started to form behind them.  As it got darker, the fireflies would start to flit about, and the ambience became very romantic.  We didn’t eat there, or look at the menu, but I can imagine the food would be pretty good, as they have put a lot of time and attention into the ambience and decor of the place.

Coco’s Mexican Restaurant – We went to Coco’s on our first night, as we didn’t know where else to go, and it is located on the main drag.  It was my birthday so we splurged a bit, but even with a pitcher of Margaritas, the bill only came to about $55 USD.  The food was good, and they had an extensive menu.  There was a cat that seemed friendly at first and just wanted to be pet, but after we didn’t feed it, it bit me! (It didn’t break the skin, but it was a bite none-the-less.)  Be careful!

Supplies & Shopping – Samara is well supplied with anything that you may need.  There is a large, well stocked PALI grocery store (which was almost right across the street from our hostel) and some pharmacies and hardware stores.  There are many little boutique shops and a strip by the beach where local artisans sell their goodies every day.

Getting There and Away – 

We arrived to Samara by bus coming from Liberia.  If you do this route, be forewarned that you will have to catch 2 buses, the first to Nicoya, and the second from Nicoya to Samara.  The first bus is more like a city bus, and left the Liberia station every hour or so.  There is no place to store luggage, so you must bring it inside, and it stops at what felt like, every km or so.  It is very busy but very cheap.  I think it was about 2000 colones for both of us.  To connect to Samara, you will need to walk about 5 blocks to another bus station.  This bus is less frequent, and you will just have to ask when the next one is.  It was a direct route with minimal stops, had storage under the bus for luggage and was air conditioned!  A much more comfortable ride than the previous bus.  This one also was about 2000 colones for both of us.  Alternatively, there are many taxi drivers at the Liberia station offering a direct ride for $80USD.

To leave, we had to prepay on a bus that goes directly to San Jose, a 7 hour ride, for about $9 USD each.  (Read about that post here if you like.). We were only taking it to Punteranas, but it cost the same regardless.  There is a ticket booth at the entrance of town, and we had to make sure that we bought our tickets in advance, on a specific bus.  Any hostel or hotel front desk will tell you how to do this.  Coming from San Jose, I can imagine that it is the same bus, but I have no idea where to get it from.

Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!

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To learn about where I have previously traveled, click here.

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To email me directly, please do so at jillamatt@me.com.


Author: jillamatt

Basically born a traveler, I long to see every corner of the world. In 2017, my partner and I sold all of our posessions, to pursue a life of travel, wanderlust and a yearning for more; More knowledge, more experiences and more joy. Join us in our explorations of this beautiful planet, we promise to not disappoint! The world is a giant book, and I intend to read every chapter that I can. I promise to whisk you away with me, as you yourself travel the world, without ever leaving your house.

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