The best Costa Rica beach is Playa Samara in Guanacaste.


Why Playa Samara in Costa Rica?

Looking for the "Desafio Feeling" at our favorite Costa Rica Beach

by Christine Krishnan, Community Collaborator at Desafio

With a name like "Costa Rica," one would have to imagine that our beautiful country would be lined with "Rich Coasts." Well, it's true! Costa Rica has some of the most impressive beaches in the world and over the years, we have set out to explore a lot of them and we have come up with our favorite beach in Costa Rica. We set out to find the best beach close to Arenal Costa Rica.

We have visited the lush, bohemian Costa Rica beaches of Puerto Viejo and although we love the food and the people of the Caribbean Coast, we figured it is a little too far from our headquarters in Arenal Costa Rica to really keep an eye on business. Plus, we thought we would get very distracted by all of the fun things to do in Puerto Viejo and wouldn't get much work done. But we still like to visit there as often as we can.

Manuel Antonio is another really beautiful beach and blessed with a really amazing Costa Rica national park and plenty of wildlife, but the secret has gotten out about Manuel Antonio and there is quite a lot of development there. Hundreds of North Americans have made Manuel Antonio their home and it feels rather cosmopolitan with the adjoining town of Quepos and the newly-added harbor. Manuel Antonio has a lot of hotel options, restaurants and good infrastructure, plus it is fairly close to the capital city San José. It is no wonder why Manuel Antonio is so popular for tourists for their trips to Costa Rica.

The Osa Peninsula also has a lot of incredible, hidden beaches, and is unparalleled in its biodiversity. You are always bound to see some fascinating bird life and other forest-dwelling creatures, as well as amazing marine life like whales and dolphins. But the Osa Peninsula is very remote and even further from the Epicenter of Adventure in Arenal Costa Rica. The Osa Peninsula is what we like to consider the last wild frontier of Costa Rica and if you've ever been to Costa Rica before and you haven't seen the Osa Peninsula like Drake Bay and Corcovado National Park, you should add Osa to your next itinerary.

We have also explored the golden beaches of Guanacaste all the way from the North at La Cruz and Salinas Bay touching the Nicaraguan border, passing by the luxurious resorts like XXX at Papagayo, continuing on to Playas del Coco, Hermosa Beach, Flamingo, Conchal and all the way down to Playa Avellana and Playa Negra. All are undeniably beautiful.

Of course the Costa Rica beach that stands out the most on the Guanacaste coast is Playa Tamarindo. Tamarindo is definitely a classic beach with Costa Rica's most awe-inspiring sunsets. When you drive into the center of the town of Tamarindo, you'll be struck by the Western or "hip" feel of this Costa Rica beach town. You'll understand why Tamarindo is referred to as "Tamagringo." There is a strong influence of expats from the United States, as well as Europe. Tamarindo is an eclectic, high-end destination with modern facilities and a long, inviting coastline. It some ways, the Costa Rica beach of Tamarindo reminds me a little of Mexico's posh Playa del Carmen, but about 20 years ago. We certainly like Tamarindo, but it is not someplace we feel comfortable calling home.

The beaches on the Southern tip of Nicoya like Santa Teresa, Malpais, Tambor and Montezuma have their own, special vibe. Surfers swarm to the consistent swells and challenging surf breaks. Where there are surfers, there are yoga-enthusiasts, so this part of Costa Rica has become the hotbed of health and wellness getaways. And this area has more-sightings of Hollywood A-Listers than anywhere else in Costa Rica. Even Jamie Oliver was hanging out there recently doing an episode of his famous cooking show about the Blue Zones of the world. Nicoya happens to have some of the people who live the longest in the world, largely due to the healthy amounts of sunlight, natural way of living and working and back-to-basics food the multi-genarians consume in Nicoya.

So that might be part of the reason we like Playa Samara on the Northern part of Nicoya so much. For us, Playa Samara is the best beach close to Arenal.

Playa Samara falls under the jurisdiction of the Nicoya municipality and still has that old-fishing village feel. There are still a lot of local Costa Rican home owners and Costa Rican business owners. It is a low-key, friendly beach with some of the most family-friendly warm waves and soft, yellow sand. Parents can fell comfortable with their young kids wading out into the waist-high surf. There are no undertows or dangerous swift currents and the whole Samara Bay is protected by a coral reef that extends along the edges.

The whole community in Playa Samara tends to be very ecologically and socially-aware and several non-profit organizations do routine beach clean-ups, organize athletic events like bike races and other adventure races, plus the restaurants and local shops offer a variety of healthy and organic options.

We were lucky enough to find a local family who was interested in helping us extend the "Desafio Feeling" to the beach. Many of our clients book trips to Costa Rica and fly into San José or Liberia international airports. They then find their way to Arenal Costa Rica and often do fun and exciting Desafio adventures with us out of La Fortuna. Some of the clients continue on to Monteverde and are treated to the same high-quality tours and service through our Desafío Monteverde office.

However, when our clients would add a beach destination to their trips to Costa Rica, they would complain to us that they didn't get the same Desafío treatment as they did at the other destinations. We felt the need to standardize our service offerings and work on building the Desafio culture at the beach and David and Lesdy Ortega of Samara Adventure Company office embody the "Desafio Feeling."

We are proud to be partners with David and Lesdy who have worked hard to build their business and provide unique tours and services such as Stand Up Paddling or sea kayaking to Isla Chora, just off the coast of the Bay of Samara, as well as Dolphin and Snorkeling from their specialized catamaran boat. Several months out of the year you can even go whale watching with Samara Adventure Company. And you won't want to miss out on watching turtles come up on the beach or hatch on the nearby National Park beaches of Ostional or Camaronal during turtle season.

In addition, David and Lesdy of Samara Adventure Company work closely with our partners at Tenorio Adventure Company for one-day tours to go rafting from Playa Samara and Adventure Connections from Arenal to Guanacaste and Playa Samara. We now feel comfortable sending people to our favorite beach because we know they will be well-taken-care-of at Playa Samara. The motto of Samara Adventure Company is "Fun & Safe for the Whole Family" and we guarantee that you, too, will feel safe and have a lot of fun at Playa Samara and find out why it is our favorite beach in Costa Rica!


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