35km (22 miles) S of Nicoya; 245km (152 miles) W of San José

Playa Sámara is a long, broad beach on a gently curved horseshoe-shaped bay. Unlike most of the other beaches along this stretch of the Pacific coast, the water here is usually relatively calm and safe for swimming because an offshore island and rocky headlands break up most of the surf. That said, there are often gentle rollers, and you’ll find plenty of surf schools and lessons perfect for beginners. Playa Sámara is popular both with Tico families seeking a quick getaway and with young Ticos looking to do some serious beach partying. On weekends, in particular, it can get rowdy. Still, the calm waters and steep cliffs on the far side of the bay make this a very attractive spot, and the beach is so long that the crowds are usually well dispersed. Moreover, if you drive along the rugged coastal road in either direction, you’ll discover some truly spectacular and isolated beaches.