Our first full day on the beach began with my first Tico style breakfast: eggs, rice and beans, cheese and tortillas. The meal was enjoyed in the lobby of our Playa Hermosa hotel, La Finisterra, and was complemented by views of the sparkling Pacific. We arrived in Playa Hermosa on the northern side of the Nicoya Peninsula (there are two Playa Hermosas in Costa Rica – don’t get confused) late the night before after a longer-than-expected ordeal that involved sitting in a huge traffic jam caused by a demonstration. Normally, I imagine the drive to the Peninsula is much smoother. Unfortunately, the slow-down only left us time to enjoy a post-journey beer on the hotel patio as the last bits of light disappeared from the sky. We found a local neighborhood joint for dinner and enjoyed our meal al-fresco, as the coastal evening air is much warmer than that of Monteverde.
The view from La Finisterra Hotel
After breakfast we checked out of our hotel and checked out the beach. Playa Hermosa is lovely, and by 9:30am the coastal air and sun were already hot enough for a swim, but there wasn’t much doing on the beach, and instead of settling there for the day we opted instead to head South toward our next destination, with the option of stopping at beaches along the way. The Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula is dotted with numerous beach areas, some more hopping than others. We were looking for a beach town vibe, as opposed to a quieter coastline with fewer activities, and we found it in Playa Sámara, which offered the perfect mix of beautiful, relatively empty beach and actual town, without seeming too overloaded with tourists. The ride to Sámara took about three hours coming from Playa Hermosa, and regrettably the road led inland, depriving us of coastline views along the way. No matter – getting to Sámara was worth it. Our first stop was lunch, at a great little market called Sámara Organics Market Café, where we feasted on veggie burgers and fruit. Then it was off to the beach!
Beautiful Playa Sámara boasted warm waters and almost no visitors – it was amazing how empty all the beaches were, in fact. After an hour or so on the beach and a walk back into town to get some ice cream, we headed on to our hotel, about 7km up the road in tranquil Playa Carrillo. The rest of the afternoon was spent at the hotel pool, which we had to ourselves, and for dinner we checked out a beachfront restaurant in Sámara called Tabanuco, which has prime real estate directly on the beach. With our table but inches from the sand and the crashing waves as background music, we enjoyed our meals in the warm Costa Rican evening.