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Driving between Samara and Montezuma in July?

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Newport Beach, CA
Level Contributor
44 posts
22 reviews
Driving between Samara and Montezuma in July?

Hi, My husband and I and our two adult daughters are planning to rent a 4WD SUV and drive from SJO to Arenal, to Samara, Montezuma and then back to SJO July 10-20. We decided on this itinerary based on feedback from a friend who has traveled to CR often. But now I'm hearing from others that the trip between Samara to Montezuma may be very difficult to impossible during the green season. We aren't planning on going the coastal route. Can anyone tell me the best way to drive, and if it is as difficult and risky as I've been hearing? We really prefer not to drive longer than 4 hours if possible. Adventure is OK, but we don't want to spend too much time and anxiety on the road. If too tough, I may drop Montezuma and do Samara and Tamarindo instead. But I love the idea of the Ylang Ylang in Montezuma. Also, how long is the drive back from Montezuma to SJO via ferry? Thanks in advance for your comments!

Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
10,553 posts
59 reviews
1. Re: Driving between Samara and Montezuma in July?

There is a couple of rivers to be crossed if driving along the coastal road 160, Rio Bongo being the deepest. Any heavier rain can make those rivers impassable for at least a couple of hours. There are two other routes between Samara and Montezuma: return to PanAm and drive to Puntarenas to ferry across to Paquera; or driving road 160 till Playa Coyote then using road 162 inland and toward road 21, and road 21 to Paquera. soon after Playa Carillo is Rio Ora; you can just drive there a day or two earlier and check out for yourself how crossing a river is in real life. Be warned that all insurances are void if anything happens to your rental car while in the river, or having mechanical damages due to effects while crossing the river.

Any of the three above drives will be longer then 4 hours; the coastal route is the shortest, but might turn out to be the longest :(( ! Safe trails!

Dearborn, Michigan
Level Contributor
587 posts
9 reviews
2. Re: Driving between Samara and Montezuma in July?

If you want to stay on the peninsula, I'd stay on the east side of the peninsula and go from Montezuma to Paquera to Naranja to Nicoya to Samara. I've done this in April and something similar in late August (super super rainy) and it was pretty pretty crazy but doable.

The worst part of the ride is between Paquera and (somewhere south of) Nicoya in my experience; somewhere in the middle there is the change between the two provinces (Puntarenas and Guanacaste). But roads change and it's been a few years since I've done it.

Gas stations are few and far between so fill up often.

If you've got an iPhone (or iPad with GPS) get the free app Galileo and download the free Costa Rica maps in advance (no data if you do it in advance) and it'll put a dot on the map so you know where you are!

I really have no idea how long this would be because I stop and take photos and eat and probably explored Nicoya a bit both times I went that way.

Gary

Newport Beach, CA
Level Contributor
44 posts
22 reviews
3. Re: Driving between Samara and Montezuma in July?

Thank you both. Sorry garylapointe, I just realized that I responded to you via personal post already. xelas, which route would you take, east side of the penninsula or cross over via the ferry? Any estimate of how long it would take via each route, and is one longer than the other, or one an easier trip than the otehr? What if the car breaks down - is it tough to get help? We plan to rent the SVU from a company with offices in or close to our destinations. Thanks a million for your comments - it is so helpful for one who has never been there, but is excited go to!

Dinan, France
5 posts
4. Re: Driving between Samara and Montezuma in July?

I drove from montezuma to Samara in a 4x4 with my partner and two kids then aged 5 and 8 a few years ago. We did the trip in January (dry season) and we had to cross about 3 or 4 rivers, we judged the depth by wading in first. The drive was amazing, saw families of howler monkeys everywhere it was a real adventure. We had no problems atall but it was the dry season. Not sure what your taste in travel is but of all the places i visited in CR Samara was one of my least favourite, it has all the amenities, banks etc but isnt as exotic as the places on the caribbean coast. Travelling with kids we were in a minority but the local ticos appreciated that we were travelling as a family. Montezuma is absolutely beautiful but spoiled by ravers, in our 5 week trip to CR it was the only place wher we were offered drugs and this was done in front of my 8 year old daudgter but luckily she doesnt speak Spanish, we had a beautiful cabana right on the beach but were kept awake all night by revellers, so maybe try to get a cabin away from the main town, Montezuma is really beautiful, well worth the visit and safe, just slightly spoiled by inconsiderate party goers. Hope this helps

Newport Beach, CA
Level Contributor
44 posts
22 reviews
5. Re: Driving between Samara and Montezuma in July?

Thanks for your comments. I'm curious to hear more of your thoughts about Samara. We have to limit our trip, as we only have 10 days, and since it is rainy season, it will be drier on the Nicoya Penninsula, so we are going to save our visit to the Carribean until another time when it will be drier. We have thought of visiting Tamarindo, but that seems way too touristy. Many have suggested Samara as a laid back town with a nice tico feel. We plan to stay in the Samara Treehouse Inn on the beach right next to town. Do you suggest any other towns that should be visited instead? And what are you referring to when you say that it is less exotic? Thanks.

Dinan, France
5 posts
6. Re: Driving between Samara and Montezuma in July?

hi, its so difficult to give advice to people when you dont know what their tastes are. I spent 5 weeks in CR and visited both pacific and caribbean side, all i can say is that i definately preferred the caribbean side. It rains but the rain is warm and it doesnt rain for long and this is what makes the vegetation so lush. I saw a lot more wildlife on the carrib side, the carib side is just more tropical with garifuna population the pacific side is more spanish.

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
44,965 posts
28 reviews
7. Re: Driving between Samara and Montezuma in July?

IMO Samara is what you may be looking for...and about the driving...do it...driving by Nicoya then take the road all the way to Montezuma about 3 hours...good road most of the way...remmeber a wet car is consider sometimes as a total loss..

roadadvisor

Newport Beach, CA
Level Contributor
44 posts
22 reviews
8. Re: Driving between Samara and Montezuma in July?

Thank you for the advice. My husband is reluctant to do the driving (SJO, Arenal, Samara, Montezuma, SJO), so we'll be hiring private transfer for each leg. I really like what I've read about Samara, and thank you for the encouragement! One more question - the local airlines don't fly between Samara/Nosura and Tambor, do they? That would be a good leg to fly if we could.

Dearborn, Michigan
Level Contributor
587 posts
9 reviews
9. Re: Driving between Samara and Montezuma in July?

I've been really happy with Montezuma Expeditions for my shuttle services between towns. They do have both Samara and Montezuma on their shuttle services. And they go to Alajuela (SJO Airport) too.

Gary

Newport Beach, CA
Level Contributor
44 posts
22 reviews
10. Re: Driving between Samara and Montezuma in July?

Thanks Gary - I'll check them out.