This is the perfect hangout beach, with plenty of shade, bars, and seafront restaurants to take refuge in from the sun. Its 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 without rip currents and 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. After years of hard work to clean up the beach, Sámara Beach now sports a Blue Flag. Those seeking solitude should head to the beach's western or eastern ends. Amenities: food and drink; water sports. Best for: snorkeling; surfing; swimming.
, Costa Rica