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Carrillo (Samara) Domestic Airport, Guanacaste

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Liberia is a good airport to fly into if you want to maximize your beach time, since the beaches are a quick and easy drive. San Jose airport is great if you want to spend some time in the city, or if you are going to take a domestic flight (since Liberia doesn’t offer them).

These major airports aren’t the only options once you are in Costa Rica, though. There are some domestic airports that you can use, like the Pavas International Airport (Tobías Bolaños). This smaller airport is nearby the San Jose airport and is able to handle domestic flights, international flights, and private chartered flights.
There is also Carrillo airport, in the Guanacaste province along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. This airport is domestic only, band while it doesn’t operate scheduled commercial flights, it does serve chartered flights. It is located about 3 miles to the east of the Samara village, between the two beautiful beaches of Playa Samara and Playa Carrillo. While Playa Samara has gained a reputation of being a fun loving town, Playa Carrillo is a more relaxed laidback beach with fewer crowds. As the airport is slightly closer to Playa Carrillo, it is often referred to as the Carrillo Airport.

Playa Carrillo is one of those amazing places that you’ll only find in Costa Rica. It’s a small town, but it is friendly and the beach atmosphere put everyone at ease while making them happy. There are under 500 people that call Playa Carrillo home full time, and those that do enjoy the village’s main activity: sport fishing. Since there is a small community that calls Playa Carrillo home, along with a decent tourist crowd, there are some accommodations for visitors, including hotels, restaurants, and even a few tour operators.
Playa Carrillo airport is small, and mostly caters to domestic flights that are operated by a few airlines, but even these don’t have regular, full time flights like the other, major, airports. Another resource this airport offers is chartered flights that are private and offering transportation within the country. If you were going to travel from San Jose to Carrillo airport, the flight would take less than an hour – about 40 minutes. The airport is also used by the Costa Rican government.

Since Carrillo isn’t a major airport, there isn’t too much to it. You won’t find long security lines, luxury shops, or club member lounges here; it’s basically a small shelter near a landing strip. The shelter – covered – is used to protect visitors from the elements in case of bad weather, and is also sometimes used to weigh the luggage of passengers. The landing strip is grass.

There are no amenities nearby either, so if you need a good meal, provisions, or supplies before your flight, or when you land, it is best to stock up before your flight. If you’re landing at this airport, you’ll have to wait until you reach Playa Carrillo or Playa Samara before you able to find any accommodations.
There are free shuttle services available to the nearby hotels and resorts, but if you want to use those then you should definitely book in advance. If you forget to book, you can always catch one of the many cabs that are always at the airport. Yes, the cabs line up even at the smaller airports.

The road that visitors use to travel to this area is called Road 150, and it now offers travel times of about four hours if you’re heading to or from San Jose airport, and only two hours if you’re heading from Liberia airport. The roads are also the reason that public transportation is so easy to access and use. There are even public buses that connect the Samara village with San Jose. Though these have limited runs – about two times a day during the week, and no weekends – it is still a great option for travelers.

Flying into Carrillo airport will put you very close to Nicoya which is a hub for the general region. It focuses on economics and administration, and is about 25 miles from Carrillo.
Carrillo (Samara) Domestic Airport, Guanacaste
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