Like a little slice of Southern California transplanted to Costa Rica, Nosara is one of the world's greatest surfing destinations. But it has attractions Malibu could never match, including verdant rainforests that teem with colorful creatures.
Life in Nosara revolves around beaches and boards. Rent a board for virtually nothing at Playa Guiones and dive straight into six-feet-high breakers or take some lessons to master the art of riding the waves.
If you don't fancy humiliating yourself in front of the surfers, Nosara's beaches are a great place to relax - particularly Playa Guiones, which stretches for three blissful miles.
The hills around Nosara are covered in rainforest, where you can hike and birdwatch, but it's worthwhile venturing further afield to tropical reserves like the Werner Sauter Biological Reserve, where you'll see dazzling birds and plenty of curious primates.
Nosara is studded with yoga clinics, where visitors can purify their minds and work their muscles, easing the stresses of home and achieving total relaxation.
Above all else, people head to Nosara to get away from it all. Soak up the sunshine at beach bars like Bar Olgas, sip organic smoothies next to the sea, and enjoy the slow pace of life in a beautiful resort.
Visit the SIBU Sanctuary where Costa Rica's orphaned and displaced wild animals are rehabilitated prior to being released back into the wild. As you stroll the North Ridge, you'll marvel at the amazing scenic views of the indigenous forest's flora and fauna. You'll learn about the ecology and geology that make up the habitats. SIBU provides veterinary care to many animals such as the golden-mantled howler, a resident of Costa Rica. The sanctuary has an Educational Pavilion that shows an informative film about Costa Rica's wildlife and SIBU's impact on wildlife preservation.
Ostional is located a little over 9 miles from Nosara and Guiones. This tight strand of beach runs alongside river inlets and mangrove swamps. The reserve is known for protecting the endangered giant leatherback turtles, Olive Ridley sea turtles, and Kemp's sea turtles that come ashore during the months of August to November to lay their eggs. Visitors are allowed to watch from designated areas at the southern end of Ostional Beach. However, everyone is required to check in at the ranger booth and show respectful consideration to the turtles.
Boca Nosara is also known as the Nosara Rivermouth because it brings the inland river and the Pacific Ocean together. The mixture of fresh and salt water provides a special habitat for diverse aquatic life. The Nosara Rivermouth welcomes fishermen, who line up along the river to catch fish for eating. Moreover, it provides a personal, close-up experience of the wildlife, trees, fauna, and flora to be found within Boca Nosara's parameters. As you stroll the area, you'll be charmed by the sight of little boats threading their way through the mangroves of the Guanacaste jungle.
Extending over four miles of white sand, Playa Guiones is the most renowned beach in Nosara. The beach is enveloped by hotels, shops, businesses, and is a hot spot for tourists. Playa Guiones is known for its majestic surf breaks and the best surfing schools in Costa Rica. Take a stroll along the beach and discover the large tide pools favored for snorkeling. Playa Guiones connects to Playa Rosada, a tranquil pink beach; towards the northern end of Playa Guiones, a walking path connects you to Playa Pelada and its hotels.
Travel to Playa Samara and tour the Werner Sauter Biological Reserve. Here the mangroves and Guanacaste tropical forest are protected and maintained. This is Nosara's only private sanctuary for the Guanacaste ecosystem. Stroll the Samara Trails that weave between the tropical plants and wild animal habitats. You'll be mesmerized by the plethora of creatures such as raccoons, weasels, and capuchins. The jungle is comprised of savannah oak, spiny cedar, pochote, and mahogany trees protected by the reserve.
High season is dry season in Nosara - which runs from around November through March and April.
Liberia Airport (LIR) is the closest point of entry. You'll need to take a taxi or rent a car from there. Taxis should cost around ₡80,000.
If you are driving from Liberia, take Highway 21 to Nicoya, then switch to Highway 150 to Samara, before taking Highway 160 north along the coast to Nosara.
Buses run from San Jose to Nosara via Nicoya every morning at 5:30 am. It takes about 4 hours 30 minutes and costs ₡150,000.
Great beachfront hotels in Nosara include the popular Harmony Hotel, which offers massage and yoga on-site, while the Sunset Shack Hotel is also a good option.
Playa Guiones - Nosara's premier beach, Playa Guiones stretches for three miles along the Pacific. It's a magnet for surfers and sunbathers alike.
Playa Pelada - much smaller than Playa Guiones, Pelada is arguably more picturesque. A working fishing community, it's also home to Bar Olgas, an atmospheric seafront nightspot.
Playa Garza - thought of as more upscale than the other two beaches, Playa Garza is an idyllic spot for snorkeling, with reefs very close to the water's edge.
There's no local bus network along the seafront, although buses run between nearby Nicoya and Nosara. Electric carts can be rented to zip from beach to beach.
Companies like Nosara Taxi Cab provide a reliable service, offering set fares of between ₡9,000 and ₡30,000.
Places to rent a car of your own include Alamo and National, where daily rates can be as low as ₡7,500.
If you want to shop for beachwear or souvenirs, head to downtown Guiones, where you'll find a range of tourist stores. However, Nosara isn't really a shopping destination.
Local supermarkets include Super Nosara and Super La Paloma, where 12 eggs shouldn't cost more than ₡1,600.
Most of the best places to eat in Nosara are right next to the ocean. Head to La Luna for Asian-European fusion meals, sip healthy smoothies and nibble on sandwiches at El Manglar, and lunch at local favorite the Beach Dog Cafe. Meals should be cheap, at around ₡7,000 per head.