Traveling by highway, using the fastest route, will take less than two hours to get from Tamarindo to Sámara. It's 58 miles (94 km) from start to finish if you take Route 21/Route 150. Route 160 is a more direct byway that hugs the Pacific Coast, however, poor road conditions could add more time to your drive.
If you opt for the drive down Route 21/Route 150, you'll pass Diria National Park. It's a conservation area and wildlife refuge and worth adding to your itinerary. Once you reach Santa Cruz, drop down towards Arado and into the park. You'll be surrounded by plenty of options for hiking, bird-watching, or swimming.
While there are airports in nearby Nosara and Punta Islita, booking a flight is not an efficient or timely way to get to Sámara. Instead, your next best option is a taxi or bus. Taxis can be found all over Tamarindo and you may be able to negotiate your fare if traveling with other people. The local bus to Sámara has multiple stops so your ride will be close to four hours. If time is of the essence, consider booking a direct tourist shuttle instead.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 2-3 hours
It's an easy drive to Sámara, especially if you take the paved Route 21/Route 150 option. Most of the way will be major roads that are smooth, flat, and equipped with navigable signage. Taking the coastal route will mean slower travel but it could be a good way to check out the lovely towns and beaches between Tamarindo and Sámara. Either way, having a 4x4 vehicle is generally a good idea when it comes to driving the Nicoya Peninsula.
Duration: 2-3 hours
If you don't want to wait on a bus and want the freedom of a car, consider hailing a taxi out of Tamarindo. The center of town, Plaza Conchal, is a good place to start or your accommodations can call ahead for you. For safety and security, it's best to choose a metered and licensed cab. However, there are a lot of independent drivers willing to negotiate fares with customers. The ride should only take a few hours and you'll have the added bonus of a local driver who may be able to offer some good recommendations in Sámara.
Duration: 4-5 hours
For adventurous travelers with plenty of time, a local bus is a good option too. They run frequently but they don't operate on a direct route so you'll have to transfer lines. Look for buses heading out of Tamarindo towards Santa Cruz. Disembark there and catch another to Nicoya.
From Nicoya, you'll find buses heading straight into Sámara. You'll be dropped off in town where you'll have easy access to the beach and businesses. Several tour operators offer private shuttle service from Tamarindo so that may be worth looking into if you don't want to deal with crowds or wait times.