“Where are all the tourists?”
It’s a question I asked myself throughout my stay in Samara, Costa Rica. Being accustomed to busy beach towns of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, the peace and quiet struck me as strangely odd. What’s more, we were smack dab in the middle of their busy season!
Laid back and carefree, Playa Samara in Costa Rica is a peaceful retreat from the busyness so many of us get caught up with back home in North America. It’s a place to spend a day swimming in the warm Pacific ocean, relaxing in the shade of a palm tree, or sitting at one of the handful of beach digs for a cool drink.
Located a two hour drive from Liberia airport, Playa Samara is located in the dry forest area of the Nicoya peninsula, in Guanacaste province. It is a great location for singles seeking solitude, couples seeking to re-connect, and families looking to spend quality time together taking advantage of the many excursions available – from kayaking, snorkeling, jungle hikes and tours, to yoga retreats and surf school. Just don’t expect crowds of tourists, and don’t be shocked when vendors don’t aggressively pursue you to buy their wares – you just won’t find that there.
Playa Samara is free of all-inclusive hotels, so if you prefer big mega resorts with all-day buffets and swim-up bars, this is probably not the beach town for you. There are a number of small, basic hotels located close to or right on Samara’s main street to choose from, but we split our stay between Casa del Halcon (a house rental) located about a 20-30 minute walk from the main street in town, and the Samara Pacific Lodge, located about a 10-15 minute walk from town. What we enjoyed about the house rental was spending the mornings sitting on the front patio, enjoying the sights and sounds of the jungle, and the cold water pool – especially refreshing after a hot day at the beach. It’s the perfect hideaway from our busy world and ideal for families (there are 2 bedrooms and a kitchen) who want to do some cooking at home, and maybe have a rental car to get around (I should mention that bikes are available for guests). What we loved about the Samara Pacific Lodge was the large, warm salt water pool, the onsite restaurant with a different dinner menu each night (and a full breakfast included with the room rate), and the closer proximity to town. We also enjoyed being around others who were experiencing Costa Rica for the first time along with us!
One of the perks of visiting Costa Rica was the rare opportunity to see wildlife during our day-to-day comings and goings. There really is a sense of man and nature co-existing respectfully and in harmony. I know things are never perfect when man encroaches on wildlife space, but Costa Rica seems to be doing a pretty good job of managing this delicate balance. On our first day in Samara, we saw howler monkeys moving through the tree tops above us, and constantly heard them throughout our stay, even if we couldn’t see them. We experienced wild horses roaming the beach and trotting down the main road carefree. One day the owner of the Samara Pacific Lodge took me behind the building to see a Fiery-Billed Aracari that was perched in a tree!
Our trip to Costa Rica was wonderful, and a great bonding time for my 12 year old and I. However, if you plan to go, schedule at least 10 days there. Our only regret was that our time was too short.