Playa Sámara is a somewhat quiet and underdeveloped beach town, and most folks are content to simply hang on the beach and swim in the gentle waves. If you’re looking for something more, there’s horseback riding either on the beach or through the bordering pastures and forests. There’s also sea kayaking in the calm waters off Playa Sámara, sportfishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, boat tours, mountain biking, and tours to Playa Ostional to see the nesting of olive ridley sea turtles.

You’ll find that the beach is nicer and cleaner down at the south end. Better yet, head about 8km (5 miles) south to Playa Carrillo ★★, a long crescent of soft, white sand. With almost no development here, the beach is nearly always deserted. Loads of palm trees provide shade. If you’ve got a good four-wheel-drive vehicle, ask for directions at your hotel and set off in search of the hidden gems of Playa Buena Vista and Playa Barrigona ★★, which are north of Sámara, less than a half-hour drive.

Canopy Tours -- Wingnuts Canopy Tours (tel. 2656-0153) offers zipline canopy tours. The 2.5-hour outing is a rather steep $95 per person or $80 for those under 12. If you want to repeat the adventure, Wingnuts offers a 25% discount on your second tour, but if you're going elsewhere in Costa Rica know that you can get this same type of adventure at a better price. The office is by the giant strangler fig tree, or matapalo, toward the southern end of the beach.

Sportfishing -- Almost every hotel in the area can arrange sportfishing trips, or you can contact Kingfisher ★ (tel. 800/783-3817 in U.S or 8358-9561 in Costa Rica). Rates run from $800 for a half day to $1,250 for a full day.

Surfing -- The waves hitting Playa Sámara are somewhat muffled by an offshore reef and headlands on each side. For some this makes it a great wave to learn on. For lessons or to rent a board, check in with C&C Surf Shop and School (tel. 5006-0369) or Choco’s Surf School (tel. 8937-5246). Surfboard rentals run around $15 per day. Private lessons cost $30 to $50 per hour.

Ultralight Flying -- For a bird’s-eye view of the area, go to the Auto Gyro America ★★ (tel. 8330-3923) in Playa Buena Vista. It offers flights in a two-seat (one for you, one for the pilot) Gyrocopter, the ultralight equivalent of a helicopter. Although it might feel like little more than a modified tricycle with a nylon wing and lawnmower motor, these winged wonders are very safe. A 20-minute flight runs $130, while an hour-long tour costs $260.

Wildlife Viewing -- Located near Barra Honda National Park, Rancho Humo ★★ (tel. 2105-5400) is a private wildlife reserve that offers fabulous bird-watching and wildlife viewing opportunities along the Tempisque River basin and surrounding wetlands. The area is rich in waterbird species, shore lizards, and crocodiles. A tour ($40) of the wetlands includes a river boat trip, a tour of the reeds and lowland forest in a motorized safari-style vehicle, while other tours explore the Tempisque River, a nearby cattle ranching operations, and the internal roads of the property via horseback. Transportation can be provided, and there's a nice hotel on property if you'd care to extend your visit.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.