Tag Archives: samara

samara beachOne of our favorite places for an icy cold beer in the afternoon has new owners.  Lo Que Hay (What It Is) on the beach east of the police station has a street entrance as well.  Pass the time in the shade of a wide Almendro tree and watch the surfers and all the beach activity – you’d expect no less from a beach bar in the Tropics. Inside the courtyard, you can keep your feet clean at a bistro table under an umbrella.  Or step into the shelter of the rancho where there is a wide-screen TV.- popular with locals for sports events.

costa rica beaches

restaurants costa ricaBrett, Bonnie, and Justin have created a new menu with southwest flair – check out Taco Tuesdays for bargain plates with a beer.  Eight of us snacked on Jalapeño Poppers – they’re wrapped in thick bacon – and a couple of pizzas.  Both were delicious.  (How do they keep the poppers so crisp and yet mild?)  The pizza is a thicker crust than you find in a lot of Samara pizzerias but the topping was excellent.  The taco plate includes a choice of three from the 6 available flavors.  For lunch, I enjoyed the beef fajitas, blackened fish, and mojo pork, which I loved – all great taco choices.  There’s a nice selection of better wines and beers.  But the best news is that the service is still excellent, driven by veteran waiter Alberto’s charm and experience.

samara beach
Lo Que Hay is dog-friendly (if leashed).

My uncle treated me to a helicopter ride last week. And I had the better view. He was med-evacuated from Samara to Hospital Clinica Biblica in San Jose, where we spent a week.  After surgery, he's home again and doing fine. But, let’s get back to the flight. We headed (a little north of) east from the football field in Samara, crossed the peninsula and the Gulf of Nicoya, skirting Puntarenas and then headed through the hills towards the Meseta Central. We veered a little south as we approached San Jose, crossing the new highway and hugging the hills above Santa Anna and Escazu. We then re-crossed the river to land at the airport in Pavas. Read More

Many of our guests ask about volunteer opportunites while they are on vacation here in Samara.  Here are some ideas.

1. Teach English – I volunteer one hour a week in the Escuela Santo Domingo, just 4 kilometers from my house.  It’s a pretty village of about 40 families.  Even though English is a required curriculum in Costa Rica, the government doesn’t always send a teacher to smaller schools.  It’s especially difficult  if the road is rough as in Santo Domingo or if there’s a river to cross as in Buena Vista.  Call me if you’d like to join me for a school visit.  There are also some volunteer organizations in Samara that will train you and set you up in a school, for a fee.

crear  crear       

2. CREAR – Creatividad, Arte, y Responsabilidad Social is mostly an after-school program for local kids.  Their mission is to provide supplemental educational, recreational, and career opportunities for community members, primarily youth with limited resources”.  They have computer classes, art and dance.  The program is varied and innovative, focusing on academic and artistic education, environmental consciousness, health, and socio-cultural development.  The opportunities for volunteering with CREAR are endless, and depending on your strengths, interests, experiences, and skill set they will find a place for you.

beach cleanup

3. Clean the beach – CASATUR (Samara Chamber of Tourism and Community Development) organizes frequent community beach cleanups to collect the detritus that comes in with the tide.  Watch the CASATUR blog for upcoming projects or contact them at

spay clinics4. Spay and neuter dogs and cats – CASATUR (see above) holds periodic castration/vaccination clinics to keep pets happy and healthy.  Visiting veterinarians provide the medical treatment but volunteers are always needed to lift the animals, provide transportation and help with post-op recuperation.  Watch the CASATUR blog for upcoming clinics or contact them at

turtle conservation5. Conserve Sea Turtles – Playa Buena Vista, just outside Samara, is home to The Sea Turtle Conservation Project.  Volunteers protect the female turtles which lay their eggs in the soft sand of the beach.  The eggs are then moved to an incubation nursery where they are protected from predators.  When the baby turtles hatch, they help them get to sea safely – this is the critical time of life for sea turtles.  Volunteers camp in cabins on the beach.

A couple of weeks ago, I introduced many of my readers to the spanish word “arribada” when I referred to the arrival of Costa Rican tourists from San Jose to the beach.   That was tongue in cheek, but this week we have the real thing: Olive Ridley Turtles nesting at Playa Camaronal.
Steve and I drove down in the afternoon – the new culvert/bridge over the Rio Oro makes Playa Camaronal just 26 minutes from our house.  We hit the beach an hour before dusk, giving us time to explore this beautiful, often deserted piece of sand.  That day there were a lot of surfers because Camaronal is one of the major breaks in the area.  Consequently, it's not a great beach for swimming but there were lots of people hanging out, waiting for the turtles.  Read More

INBio new species 2011Everyone who’s traveled to Costa Rica knows we have a lot of bugs.  But did you know that we have new bugs?  This week, INBio (the National Institute of Biodiversity) announced that in 2011 they found 26 new species of insects, along with 8 fungii, and 19 plants for a total of 53 living things never before identified by science.  Costa Rica already boasts over 500,000 species – it’s one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet – and 75% of them are insects.   All life forms are important to the balance of nature.  One of the new discoveries is a genus of wasps with 8 species.  But, maybe the most vital finding of 2011 is a fly associated with fruit crops – it could have real economic importance in Costa Rica.

White-nosed Coati, nasua narica Steve and I try to embrace biodiversity.  In our travels around the country, we’ve seen a lot of species new to us: monkeys, jaguarundis, tapirs, and coatis.  We keep notes in our bird book, the dates and location where we’ve spotted them.  It surprises me how many we’ve seen right here at our house and that we spot them on the same date each year.  (It’s probably more than obvious that I’m not a biologist.)  I enjoy the beauty of moths and butterflies that hang on my window screens, fully aware that their caterpillars eat my basil and pepper plants.  The paper wasps, that never bother humans, eat those caterpillars.

IRinged Kingfisher, Ceryle torquataf you want to enjoy some of this biodiversity when you visit Costa Rica, get out of the car.  We advise our guests to walk whenever possible, take time, and be observant.  It’s amazing what you’ll see on the road between our house and Samara beach.  You might make the next big discovery.   Then, you can name it after your wife.

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If you walk west on Samara Beach –  it’s only accessible from the beach – just 100 meters from the police station you will discover one of our favorite places for beach dining. Tabanuco‘s raised floor provides one of the best views of surfers in the afternoon.  You can survey the entire bay, from Isla Chora to Punta Samara, with a frosty cocktail …

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My Tico friends tell me that a Tope, which always accompanies the holidays, is about the horses.  but I'm not so sure.  My Spanish dictionary says tope means a collision or encounter.  To me, it looks like a really great party.

A tope in Costa Rica is a country party hosted by a ranch on a summer Sunday afternoon, inviting ranchers and cowboys from all over the province of Guanacaste.  It’s an opportunity to collide with your neighbors and encounter people you don’t see so often.  It’s an occasion to eat and drink.  The only thing served is barbecued beef – no side dishes, no salads.  And two beverages are offered:  Imperial beer and Johnny Walker Red. Read More

If you’ve had the good fortune to visit Costa Rica, you probably know the term Arribada – it roughly means arrival - describing the flotillas of hundreds female turtles that return to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs in the sand.  It's an amazing phenomenon that you should try to experience.  The turtles arrive in flotillas, spend an hour or two digging a perfect hole, lay their eggs, and then leave on an outgoing tide. beach trafficThis week, between Christmas and New Year’s, we have another kind of Arribada in Samara.  At the beginning of the Costa Rican summer, it is every Josefino’s (someone who live in San Jose) unrelenting urge to get to the beach.  The cars and busses begin arriving mid-morning and by noon it’s hard to find a place to park.  The vehicles come loaded with hammocks, sunshades, and barbecues.   Each family stakes out a piece of sand in the shade of the palms and sets up to spend the day.  There is food grilling, music playing, and footbal partidos  Everyone stays, including babies, grandmothers and dogs, just until the sun sets behind the point.  Then they pack up and leave the beach as quiet and deserted as it was at dawn. Read More