If you spend any time talking to Tamarindo’s saltiest dogs, you’ll hear them commiserate about how this town has changed. “It used to be so much quieter.” “There used to be more trees and more wildlife.” It happens everywhere in the world. As we age we feel like the world has grown cold around us.
Anyone who’s been to Tamarindo can tell you, this place hasn’t lost any of its magic and it’s anything but cold in Tamarindo. If anything, time has only made this place better, warmer, more worthy of your time. No doubt we’re biased, but we think you’ll agree: Tamarindo is tops.
Families may find the excitement of Tamarindo too much after a few days, and may want to venture out. Good idea. See as much of Costa Rica as you can while you’re here. Today we are going to head pretty far off the beaten path… not so far as last time, but pretty far south, to Playa Sámara.
What you’re in for: 2-hours of driving
Ways to get there from Tamarindo: Bus or Car
What you can expect: A safe, secluded and quiet bay.
What you can do there: Swim, snorkel, kayak, SUP, and windsurf.
The locals in Sámara will tell you they like their town the way it is. Sámara isn’t trying to be Tamarindo. In fact, they don’t even have good waves. The bay of Sámara is sweeping, blocked by an island on one side, and marked by coral heads. This keeps the bay pretty calm. Unless you are just learning to surf, you will likely find Sámara waves tame.
Because the surf is mild and the water’s calm, many enjoy the snorkeling in Sámara, especially near the island of Choro. You can’t easily get onto the island, per the flora that grows there, but you can explore the coral heads off her shores. The big surprise to avid snorkelers is how rich the pacific waters of Costa Rica are with wildlife. On a good day, you will see rays, parrotfish, eels, puffers, and even the occasional whale. Whales make one trip down the coast, and one back north, so there are two times of year to spot them.
If being underwater puts you a little too close to Nemo, maybe you’d prefer exploring the fishies from topside on a kayak? You can rent kayaks on just about every beach of Costa Rica, but Sámara will provide an easier entry to the water and a better view. Rent a double and take someone with you to share the experience.
Off the water, and in town, you’ll find the pace of things slower than Tamarindo. The town is quietly spread out, offers restaurants, markets, tourism outfits, and even an art gallery. You would probably be wise to stay a night or two in Sámara. Let Horizon Pacific Vacations help you find a rental.
Getting to Sámara will either involve renting a car or booking a ride on one of the local tour companies, like Tamarindo Transfers and Tours or The Gray Line. There are others, but they will all likely need some advance notice to get the best rate. Most of them work on a flat fee that goes down the more people they have in the seats, but the buses are air-conditioned and comfortable. The operators are bilingual, as are the drivers normally. Some vehicles even offer WiFi if you get tired of all the raw beauty out the window. The other bus you can take is Alfaro, a full-sized commuter bus outfit. As of this writing, there are two big buses out of Tamarindo which connect thru Santa Cruz and continue on to Sámara. The station is near the parking lot for the boat launch and you will need to speak Spanish. Your other options are to charter a helicopter or plane. Nobody flies direct from Tama to Sáma.
One last thing, if you’re going to try and fly out of Sámara on Nature Air Flights Costa Rica or Sansa, be sure to give yourself one night in San Jose before you try to connect to your home flight. Weather can make connections a little stressful, so you’ll want some cushion in your plans. Consider it a great excuse to explore downtown San Jose and see the National Theatre before leaving Costa Rica.
Horizon Pacific Management & Rentals is located in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Horizon Pacific offers vacation rentals, property management, long-term rentals, as well as a complete concierge service. Providing you with a local contact during your stay, Horizon Pacific is a company you can trust, with the experience you need.