Bahía Garza to Sámara
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The dirt road from Nosara leads south to Playa Sámara (26 km) via the horseshoe-shaped Bahía Garza (8 km south of Nosara), rimmed by a pebbly white-sand beach. Beyond Garza, the road cuts inland from the coast, which remains out of view the rest of the way.
At Barco Quebrado, about 15 kilometers south of Nosara and 11 kilometers north of Sámara, a road heads north uphill to Terciopelo, on the paved Sámara–Nicoya road (en route, you ford the Río Frío). Continuing south from Barco Quebrado on the unpaved coast road, you pass Playa Barrigona hidden from view (Mel Gibson has a property here) and pass through Esterones, where a side road leads two kilometers to Playa Buena Vista, in Bahía Montereyna. Meanwhile the “main” road divides, north for Terciopelo and south for Sámara (the direct coast road to Sámara requires fording the Río Buena Vista, which isn’t always possible; if impassable, take a one-kilometer detour on the Terciopelo road then turn right for Sámara). There are crocodiles in the river estuary.
Flying Crocodile Ultralight Flight
Fancy a flight in an ultralight plane? Then head to Playa Buena Vista and the Flying Crocodile Flying Center (tel./fax 506/2656-8048, www.flying-crocodile.com, $170–230 per hour instruction), where Guido Scheidt, a licensed commercial pilot, will take you up in one of his state-of-the-art fixed-wing or auto-gyro ultralights. Choose from 20-minute to three-day trips.
You’ll pay $110 for a 20-minute flight and $1,500 for a 10-hour flight that takes you as far afield as Liberia, Arenal, and even the Osa Peninsula. Guido and his expert licensed flight instructors also offer tuition.
Mis Amores Horse Rental (tel. 506/8846-3502, misamores [at] ice [dot] co [dot] cr), 400 meters north of Garza village, offers horseback rides. Montaña Verde (tel. 506/2682-0300, info [at] nosaratravel [dot] com), next door, rents ATVs and has tours.
You can try your hand at catching the big one with Reel Deal Sportfishing (tel. 506/2656-8029, www.reeldealcostarica.com), in Garza.
Hotels and Restaurants
Budgeting backpackers gravitate to El Castillo (tel. 506/8824-2822, http://hotel-without-windows.blogspot.com, $15 pp dorm, $20 s, $30 d rooms), at the river mouth at Playa Buena Vista. This German-run Moroccan-inspired free-form house made of river stones has eight rooms with private bathrooms. Campers share bathrooms and toilets in the garden. It has a communal kitchen and rainbow-hued bar.
You could fall in love with the German-run Flying Crocodile Lodge (tel./fax 506/2656-8048, www.flying-crocodile.com, $50–75 s or $60–85 d low season, $60–90 s or $75–100 d high season), between Esterones and Playa Buena Vista. This marvelous spot is an artistic vision with eight exquisite and eclectic cabins spaced well apart in beautifully maintained grounds. Each boasts walls splashed with lively murals, plus hardwood floors, curving concrete bench seats with cushions, a soothing mélange of Caribbean colors, and endearing bathrooms boasting black stone floors. The coup de grâce is the Oriental Apartment, with a uniquely creative Moorish motif and an imaginative skylit, free-form bathroom. It also has air-conditioned bungalows with kitchen. A pool has a water swing and slide, plus there are horses, mountain bikes, motorcycles, and 4WD vehicles.
Next door, Paraíso del Cocodrilo (tel./fax 506/2656-8055, www.travel-costarica.net, $50–85 s/d) is also German-run. This Spanish neocolonial–style hotel is set in wide lawns and has huge but uninspired rooms.
Yet another European hotel, this one perfect for yoga enthusiasts and “counterculture” types, is Alegría (tel. 506/8390-9026, www.alegria-cr.de, $35 s/d low season, $55 s/d high season), 400 meters toward the coast beyond Flying Crocodile. Specializing as a yoga retreat, it has eight cabin-tents made of bamboo, with woven palm floors, clear plastic A-frame roofs, and mosquito nets and mattresses. They’re accessed by a steep trail. It has an open-air kitchen-bar and terrace with astounding views over Playa Esterones. Guests cook for each other and share outdoor “rainforest” showers. The Belgian owner also rents a beautiful wooden home ($60 s/d nightly, $250 per week) with wraparound veranda and gorgeous bathroom. Rates include breakfast and lunch. It also hosts concerts.
La Cocina de Doña Ana (tel. 506/2656-8085, 8 A.M.–9:30 P.M. daily), atop Punta Garza, specializes in seafood; go for the fabulous setting between bays. It has WiFi.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition