Playa Samara is one of the prettiest beaches in Costa Rica in our opinion. The beach town of Samara is more relaxed than Tamarindo and at the moment less developed although this may change. But still has a lively restaurant and bar scene. There is a much more local feel to Samara with a good mix of Costa Rican and foreign visitors. It's a good size - not too big, not too small and plenty to do. Something for everyone here.
Playa Carillo is just a couple of kms along the coast road from Samara. The beach is much quieter and all the hotels are at the south end, up a hill from the beach. There is not really a centre like in Samara. The beach itself, has no development on it, a line of palm trees separates the beach from the road. It is a bit of a shame that the road is so close to the beach as it can be rather offputting to be ogled by cars whizzing by while sunbathing! However, the beach itself is small, very pretty and you can often find yourself with the beach pretty much to yourself. A bit quiet for some but a welcome oasis of calm for others and with Samara so close by you can get the best of both worlds.