Editors Note: This article is a sequel to a previous article I wrote on Costa Rica called Backbacking on Local Buses in Costa Rica. Special thanks to Bob and Pauline Kyte for the pictures for these articles.
The main road leading in to Samara is flanked on both sides by small hotels, surf shops, bars, restaurants, gift shops and banks. As with most coastal towns in Costa Rica, the road ends at the beach which is located in a bay.
Our hotel, the Sol Samara, was located at one end of the beach but not directly on it, about a 40 minute walk from the centre. Generally, you will find that accommodations on the beach are significantly higher in price, and you may question the need to pay double the price in some cases for similar lodging.
The Sol Samara, only 200 metres from the beach, turned out to be an excellent hotel for our stay. At $80 per night including breakfast, this 3 year old, 12-room hotel provided for all of our needs for 7 days.
The hotel is cement construction on two levels, has an attractive bamboo roof, and a teak walkway around the building.
The tropical setting and the landscaping were lush and inviting. The gardens included: bamboo shoots, hibiscus, bougainvilleas, palm, mango and banana trees, plantanilla, ginger plants and much more. One bonus was that our morning fruit plate came from the hotel’s own gardens.
The staff treated us like we were long lost friends. They served us breakfast each morning in the open air lobby, and we chatted with Larry, the owner, numerous times. He was always present, directing the staff, helping clientele and managing the finances. He seemed to take a personal interest in his guests, and when we wanted to carry our plastic chairs to the nearby Samara Beach, he insisted that a staff member would take care of that.
Larry recommended that we visit Carrillo Beach for a day while we were there. We ended up spending two full days there, even though we do not consider ourselves to be “beach people.”
On Bob’s (our friend) birthday, we hopped aboard a tourist bus with Germans staying at the hotel. Another time, Larry got one of the gardeners to take us and a family of four in his pick-up truck, along with 8 chairs and a cooler of cold beer and wine. No seat belts, no fuss, standing room only in the back. Just hop in the truck and go. That’s “Pura Vida” as they say. Roughly translated it means: the good life.
Playa Carrillo, about 15 minutes by car from our hotel, took our breath away as we got close. It is a stretch of beach, mostly fine, white sand in a protected cove. It is a provincial, or state owned beach, and largely uninhabited.
The towering palm trees form a barrier between the road and the beach itself, so there was ample shade.
It was easy to find a quiet spot, alongside a cement table, four stools and a driftwood log for sitting. We relaxed, read, dozed and then walked the beach around 10:00 am and before the heat of midday.
You really feel like you’re in touch with nature when you walk this beach. There are no buildings to be seen, no hotels, no beach bars and no vendors- just a half mile stretch of virgin beach. It is intoxicating to simply walk along and listen to the waves.
The breakers at Carrillo get your attention right away. Every fourth or fifth wave is 6 footer with enough energy to topple a 200-pound man.
The water is not cold, and is clean so we decided to go for a swim. There is something about ocean water that is rejuvenating. The four of us ran in and waited for the waves, and felt their power as they hurled us towards the shore. We laugh hilariously, as we relax and let go and give in to the power of nature. You don’t ever forget this kind of experience.
At around noon, just like clockwork, the same pick-up truck pulled up beside the curb. The driver brought our lunch for us that had been ordered the previous night.
We were treated to a huge, fresh salad for 4 and individually wrapped chicken sandwiches, still warm from the oven. Our white wine was on ice and we huddled around our table, starting a game of Scrabble as we savoured our meal.
Time seemed to pass quickly, and in mid afternoon we met our pickup truck for the short ride back to the hotel.
It was a truly amazing experience to be at Carrillo, so much so that we repeated the experience another time.
On the day that we rode with the Germans we joined them again in the evening, for a BBQ on Samara Beach near the hotel. Around 6:00 pm, as is the case in the tropics, we watched the sun set and shortly thereafter the beach bonfire became our focal point.
A roaring fire held centre stage, surrounded by tables and chairs and a lot of hungry tourists. We enjoyed two huge brochettes, filled with chicken, beef, shrimps and sausage, served with cooked vegetables and a cold beer. Oil lamps surrounded our space on the beach. It was a very special evening.
One of the things that most impressed me about our trip to Samara was that it is an excellent place to get away from it all, to be close to nature and to appreciate Costa Rica in its full glory. Somehow, I think this kind of setting has a calming effect on the local people, since there seems to be no mad rush to do anything.
As always the Ticos make you welcome; they smile and they want you to have a good time. They become your friends away from home.