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Looking at Samara for our family

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Looking at Samara for our family

We are traveling to Costa Rica in June with our twin 8 mos old babies. We are looking at staying in Playa Samara possibly the Fenix hotel. I want to hang out at the beach/pool and maybe a few excursions. My questions are these:

1. Should we rent a car? Or how is transportation to/fro airport? Are local attractions walking distance?

2. How close are restaurants?

3. Any offshore fishing trips near by? (For my husband)

4. Are there any other areas we should consider staying in?

Any advice is greatly appreciated. We also looked at flamingo beach. Is this a better area? Thanks!

San Jose, Costa Rica
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1. Re: Looking at Samara for our family

I personally like the Flamingo Beach area better but I am sure you will have a great time at either place you choose. Samara is a great area as well. I would suggest to rent a car so that that you can explore the area, visit nearby beaches, try several restaurants etc. You can also do without the car rental, there are many taxis at the airport that can take you to your hotel.

Costa Rica
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2. Re: Looking at Samara for our family

Mike likes the Flamingo area because he always recommends one specific resort to stay at!

The beach area that includes Conchal, Brasilito, Flamingo and Potrero is fine -- nice beaches and an assortment of places to stay. That area is somewhat closer to many of the National Parks such as Rincon de la Vieja so can be a good choice.

Samara is closer to SJO and the Conchal area is closer to LIR.

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3. Re: Looking at Samara for our family

1.) That's really up to you. There are several options to get from either airport to Samara: Public bus, shuttle, private driver, taxi, rental car. I find it most convenient to have a car, though.

Just about everything in Samara is in walking distance since the town is very compact. However, if you want to explore a bit outside of the town limits, a car will be very helpful, especially if you are traveling with two small children.

The Fenix is also not right in town, meaning that you will have to walk along the beach to get there. It's not a particularly large distance, but it can be hot and tedious to do so for some people. Personally, I think it's an easy walk.

2.) There are a few small restaurants very close to the Fenix. Most others are in town. Again, it's not far and you can easily walk it. There are plenty of choices and quite a bit of variety to be had.

3.) Yes, you can either approach one of the local fishermen (I am sure the Fenix staff can help you with that) to take a panga out, or you can contact one of the people specializing in off-shore fishing who are mostly located in nearby Carrillo.

4.) Costa Rica has MANY beautiful areas where you could stay. With small children, you are making a good choice by looking at Samara, though. Much of it has to do with the outlying reef that make waves somewhat small in Samara bay. There are other beaches with small waves (such as Playa Hermosa farther north). However, I think you would be better off in Samara because of ease of access to infrastructure.

La Fortuna de San...
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4. Re: Looking at Samara for our family

The Fenix is an okay hotel, but a little worn. You may want to look into something a little closer to town. To answer your questions:

1) Getting to and from the airport is easy enough as private transfers are available. The Fenix is not located in town, so you would have to walk approximately 15 minutes in each direction to reach the town area. I would rather have a car so you can visit Carrillo Beach and be mobile on demand.

2) Other restaurants are going to be in town at around 15 minutes walk in each direction. Though Samara is a nice safe beach, you still should not walk that far in the dark. Better safe than sorry even if it is a small chance.

3) Your husband can pick up an offshore fishing charter from Carrillo, but it will cost $800+ for a full day. He could also pick up an inshore/reef trip from Samara for around $50 per person half day. One of the operators in town offers a combo tour that includes reef fishing, dolphin watching and snorkeling for around $65 per person.

4) I think the others covered Flamingo pretty well. I personally think Samara is a great destination for families or anybody that wants to get away from mainstream tourism and enjoy beautiful beaches, local flavor and just enough restaurants and shops to have a variety.

Sámara, Guanacaste...
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5. Re: Looking at Samara for our family

Hi, sounds like a great vacation.

1) I agree that the Fenix is a good choice, however, the walk may be something to think about with your twin children.

2) Lots of great restaurant choices in Samara and Carrillo, everything from sushi, Mexican, Thai, Vegetarian, meat lovers, pizza, Italian, etc.

3) There re lots of options for Deep Sea or Near Shore Fishing. There are tours that go for $50/person but there is a 4 person minimum. On average, you can get a tour for $200/boat with a minimum of 1 person and a max of 5. The $200 is split between the number of passengers. There are combo tours that include dolphin watching, fishing and snorkeling but the feedback that we have always gotten is that the fishing is not very good. This is because to find and see the dolphins, the boat has to go fast and to fish it is best to go slower so the two have never combined very well so what has become more popular is the Dolphin and Snorkeling trips.

4) Samara is a great destination for families and Samara and Carrillo have one of the nicest beaches in the area. The town is developed enough that you dot get bored but still small enough where you feel the true Costa Rica culture and the locals and foreigners interact very well.

Have a great vacation!

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6. Re: Looking at Samara for our family

We stayed at the Fenix with our 2 kids. We LOVED LOVED LOVED the large shady sandy area between the rooms/pool and the beach.

The walk into town for dinner was no problem for our kids aged 6 & 10. The restaurants closer to the hotel are... ok. We liked the ones in town better. We didn't have a car but I'd say with babies you'd need a car at the Fenix.

Local attractions nearby... depends what you mean by attraction! The beach is right there, and you're in the middle of local Tico homes. But if you mean the wildlife refuge, Carillo beach, etc. no they are not walking distance. Nor is the town in the heat of the sun with babies.

My final thoughts... the sun is REALLY REALLY hot during the day, like 9-4. During that time you will need shade and /or AC for those babies so choose your hotels carefully.

Samara is a cute little town. Good luck with your decisions!

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7. Re: Looking at Samara for our family

First of all, good for you for traveling with 8 month old twins!

Are you bringing carseats? On our last trip there (with 3 kids) we had a driver pick us up at the Liberia airport. We had been traveling for quite a while and it was nice to not have to think about where we were going. He was kind enough to stop at the big supermarket in Nicoya to let us buy supplies. On our way home we decided to rent a car. Its a 24 hour rental which allowed us to drive around the area the day before we had to drive to the airport. It worked out really nice to do different modes of transportation each way.

As for the Fenix, I agree with the others in that I would probably want to be a little closer to town with babies. Also, you will be there in the rainy season. If you are caught in a storm while in town, you may have to wait it out somewhere or get drenched getting back to your hotel. Adults, no biggie, but maybe not ideal with babies? I don't know. I don't think it would be the end of the word to be down the beach either.

What excursions or activities do you have in mind? I'm not sure what you can do with 2 8-month olds in tow unless you take turns caring for them. (For example: ziplining, horseback riding, surfing, kayaking, etc.) I'm picturing lots of beach and pool time for you...which sounds great in my book.

I'll be there in June too. I'll probably see you at the beach!

Edited: 12:01 am, April 25, 2012
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8. Re: Looking at Samara for our family

Also, have you considered Villas Kalimba? They are really great little villas across the road from the beach in town, perfect for families. 5 or 6 little 2-bedroom villas surrounding a pool. Nice little kitchens with everything you would need and the grocery store is just a couple doors down.

Just thought I'd throw out another place that I think would meet your needs well.

boston, ma
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9. Re: Looking at Samara for our family

My wife and I came to Samara with our 18 month old twins back in 2006 and stayed at Kalimbas (and have been back every year since). The Villas have 2 bedrooms, so you can get some time to yourselves as well. Personally, I prefer to be in town - with the young kids at the time it was invaluable, as the beach, grocery stores, restaurants, etc where all a stones through away. It felt less arduous backing up and heading to the beach w- it was right across the street. If one of the kids melted down or needed a nap "oh well" back to the Villa for a nap, and mom and dad could dunk in the pool. All the restaurants will pack food take-out style, so if the evening meal doesn't work out - again, and easy trip back to the place. Lastly, I haven't rented a car in Samara in 7 trips there (we get one in advance for Arenal, Monteverde, etc but dump it when we get to town). In terms of exploring, the main things around are other beaches - might not be worth packing up babies and travelling over bumpy dirt roads, when you have a gorgous beach right out the front door, If you really get curious, you can always rent by the day from the 2-3 agencies in town.

10. Re: Looking at Samara for our family

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