Samara, on Costa Rica‘s Nicoya Peninsula, may not be as famous as Tamarindo and Playa Flamingo, but it’s just as worthy of a visit. The beach is bright white, the restaurants authentic, and it’s bordered by acres of jungle. Here are a few of the leading places to stay in this lesser-known town – bookable on Culture Trip.
There’s a treehouse look to Cabañas Lamaite, a five-minute drive from the town centre. Almost everything is made of wood and bamboo, from the walls to the sun loungers by the pool. Pretty cushions, bright throws and art add colour, and there are wooden signs painted with heartwarming Spanish sayings. The hotel has its own little restaurant, serving a Costa Rican breakfast and dishes like tacos and nachos through the rest of the day.
Hotel Giada is less than five minutes’ walk from the pearly sands of Samara Beach. Rooms here are simple spaces with balconies – some of which overlook the pool and lounger-topped lawns. The Di Mare Di Vino restaurant, one of the best in the area, serves a combination of Costa Rican and Italian dishes, including a range of wood-fired pizzas that visitors adore.
The eight villas of Villas Verdes, near Samara Beach, are wrapped in gardens of mature palms and fruit trees. Guests can occasionally enjoy the produce of these trees – freshly picked mangoes are served at breakfast, and cashew fruits are squeezed into juices. The greenery often attracts wildlife, too. Sit in the rocking chair on your balcony and spot hummingbirds, muscly iguanas or even howler monkeys.
You’ll never lose sight of the sea when you stay at Nammbú Beachfront Bungalows. This collection of rooms is set on the edge of Carrillo Beach in the bay that neighbours Samara, and some of the rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the water. You can also see the ocean from the infinity pool and the terrace at the restaurant, where breakfast is served in the morning and an à la carte menu is available at night.
Hotel Leyenda is set in a quiet area of countryside five minutes’ drive from Carrillo Beach, Samara’s sister strip of sand. The hotel provides a shuttle bus to the beach, where there are chairs for its guests. The pool will tempt you to stay on-site, though – it’s a split-level number with a refreshing water fountain. The hotel restaurant is well-regarded and serves everything from fresh seafood platters to spaghetti.
Featuring whitewashed walls, tiled floors and wooden ceilings, the rooms at Samara Pacific Lodge sleep from two to eight people, making them a great choice for families and groups. The pool has a separate section where kids can splash about, too. When it comes to getting out and about, meanwhile, Samara Beach and its selection of bars and restaurants are a 10-minute walk away.
The word “hideaway” in the name refers to the fact that this hotel is in a quiet pocket of green countryside, home to howler monkeys and parakeets. It’s not remote, though. You can walk to both Samara or Carrillo beach in less than 10 minutes. For the days when you don’t feel like venturing out, the hotel has a pool and bar restaurant – visitors rave about the mango margaritas and home-made guacamole.
Around 500 acres (200ha) of forest engulfs Hacienda Barrigona, a 20-minute drive from Samara. There are just 10 rooms here, which adds to the sense of seclusion. During the day you can unwind by the pool, hike the trails that surround the property, paddleboard through the local mangroves, or walk down to Barrigona Beach and its 700m (2,300ft) of white sand. In the evening, you can sit down to a communal meal cooked with local ingredients.
This 18-room boutique hotel is within walking distance of two long, blonde beaches – Samara and Carrillo. If you’re planning on spending the day on the sand, you can order a picnic basket to take with you and even borrow a hammock to string up once you get there. If you’re sticking around the hotel instead, there’s a quiet pool and a waterside restaurant that serves lunch and dinner.
For more places to stay in Costa Rica, see the best villas and holiday apartments in the country now; they’re bookable via Culture Trip. Fill up your itinerary by finding how to spend 24 hours in Tortuguero: a wonderland of wildlife on the east coast.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
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