North Pacific Coast: Places to Explore

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Sámara

This is the perfect hangout beach, with plenty of shade, bars, and seafront restaurants to take refuge in from the sun. Playa Sámara has miles of palm-shaded beach, safe swimming water, and an abundance of budget accommodations and seafront restaurants. This makes it especially popular with budget travelers, both Tico and foreign.

Sámara's wide sweep of light gray sand is framed by two forest-covered hills jutting out on either side. The waves break out on a reef that lines the entrance of the cove, several hundred yards offshore, which keeps the water calm enough for safe swimming but leaves enough surf to have fun in. The reef holds plenty of marine attractions for diving and snorkeling excursions. Isla Chora, at the south end of the bay, provides a sheltered area that is especially popular for kayakers and snorkelers—it even has a tiny beach at lower tides. This can be a lively place on weekends, with bars on the beaches and handicraft vendors set up on the main drag. Take care on a sandy roadway running through the coconut palms and Indian almond trees that line the beach, so be sure to look both ways when you move between the surf and Margaritaville.

Sámara isn't the cleanest of beaches (no Blue Flag), and those seeking solitude should head to the beach's western or eastern ends. Though it lacks the rip currents that make many Costa Rican beaches dangerous, Sámara is not the best beach for swimming from September to December, when daily rains flush plenty of things you wouldn't want to swim with into the sea.

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