Thursday, September 6, 2007

Samara Beach.....Playa Samara

While many foreigners are buying up land and houses at the beach, my San Ramon friends always share their wisdom of living in San Ramon (the mountains) and vacationing at the beach. There is some special connection between Samara and San Ramon for many Ramonense (San Ramon folks). Many families from San Ramon also have houses at Samara and the standard joke is during Christmas or Semana Santa you can find more of your friends in Samara than at home in San Ramon. After experiencing over 50 Costa Rican beaches, Samara is still my favorite one to spend a few days.

While there's much more of a scene in Tamarindo and Jaco, I prefer vacationing in Samara.

The opening a few years back of a new bridge has shortened the ride and in 3-3.5 hours, I'm in a different world...a beautiful one. While development has overwhelmed many of the Pacific beaches, Samara retains much of it's magic even though you can see the development emerging on all the hillsides.

Luckily, we've made friends with locals who rent us a 1-BRM oceanfront apartment for a very reduced rate. This starts us off right with the constant sounds of the waves, a breeze, and a nice outside sitting area to eat drink and take in the expanse of the Pacific. Two hotels I'd recommend are Casa Valeria if you're on a budget and the new Treehouse Inn if you can splurge a little. They are both oceanfront which makes the time in Samara more dramatic and inspiring. A block from the beach the heat is intense and not the same sense of magic.

Samara is a beautiful crescent white sand beach, the perfect distance to walk it's entirety. If it's morning or afternoon stop at Restaurant Sheriff for breakfast or a refreshing smoothie. This simple beachfront spot is a great place to take in the scene and feels like the unofficial center of town.

The beach is filled with surfers, mostly beginners learning to ride. Beaches like Malpais/Santa Teresa at the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula seem to attract more experienced surfers, but it looked like a smiling group of learners. I prefer to just bounce up and down in the waves and ride them in when the right wave comes along. There is a natural joy playing in the reminds me of the carefree summer days at the Atlantic beaches of my Brooklyn youth.

Walking the beach at sunset is THE daily ritual that shapes my open schedule. There is a daily soccer/futbal game on the beach which is fun to check out. The SUN is strong in the middle of the day so be careful and make sure to use sunscreen and cover up ..... The middle of the day is a great time to get lost in a good book in a shady location with a cold drink.

Going out at night for dinner after sunset and maybe a drink at bar Las Olas afterwards completes my mellow days at the beach. Although most restaurants are much more expensive than my meals in San Ramon, I enjoy the variety and it's part of being at the beach. Many of the restaurants are on the street leading down to the beach. Shekina Restaurant is a new choice and a good one with enthusiastic owners, good food and a pleasant outdoor dining area. If you're looking for a change from Costa Rican fare try the Italian restaurant in Hotel Giada. The pizzas and pastas are very good and the Italian owners have done a good job here for many years.

I've taken my mother, sister, girlfriend and others to Samara and they all smile when they reflect on their experience. As we drive back to San Ramon, I feel satiated with sun and sea. When the first cooler breezes hit me as we near San Ramon, I feel grateful for my 3 days at the beach and happy to be returning to my home in San Ramon.

Go to the Samara Beach website for contact information and listings