Three kilometers south of Samara Beach is its sister beach, Carrillo. Similar to Samara, Carrillo is a laidback beach town, but on a much smaller scale than its larger neighbor. Here, visitors can indulge in some quality rest and relaxation as distractions are few and noise is minimal. This beach, which has stunning views and sunsets, is easily one of the best in Costa Rica. Instead of the development seen lining many of Costa Rica's most popular beaches, you'll see nothing but palm trees on Carrillo's empty shore.
Carrillo is a popular hot spot amongst foreigners and ticos, the latter of which literally invade the beach during the popular holidays. Like Sámara, Carrillo has been largely spared of the development afforded to many beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula. Although hotel, restaurant and nightlife options are limited in the small town of Carrillo, visitors can find more options by visiting Sámara.
Sport fishing is excellent off the coast, as is snorkeling and scuba diving in the stunning marine environments. Swimming conditions are also pleasant in the calm soothing bay, warmed year round by the blazing sun.
Transportation to Carrillo has been dramatically improved with the construction of the well-paved Road 150, which runs south from Nicoya to Sámara and Carrillo. Air travel is available via the small airstrip just outside of town. Planes usually fly to Nosara and then Carrillo from San José or Liberia. Buses run daily to and from Nicoya and San José.
Backpackers be wary, budget accommodations are sparse. Camping is great option for those looking to save a few bucks. Otherwise, hotels cater to visitors in the mid-range market.
"We took the local bus to Samara one day. We loved the beach. We saw horses roaming around. Busier and more dining/shopping options than Playa Carrillo. We took surfing lessons at Playa Carrillo. Beautiful beach as well. Easy to get around using the bus or walking."
– Mar 2016
"I thought the area might be bigger... so it seemed a little "scary that it was so natural" but we grew to feel quite comfortable in the area... just had to get used to it. the Hula Jungla restaurant has great food... close to hotel... mercados close by."
– Dec 2015
"Liked it a lot. Nice beaches and nice town of Samara close by. "
– Mar 2012
"Playa carrillo is a hidden gem. ! I felt extemely safe for a solo female traveler. Locals where fantastitic, beach wonderful and saw so much wild life!!!"
– Apr 2012
"We were there for a wedding. The beach was beautiful. We did a day in Samara and enjoyed that also. We did go to several small local sodas and hangouts. The people were very welcoming. We would return to Playa Carrillo and Samara with no hesitation."
– Feb 2011