Nosara encompasses the gorgeous beaches of Playa Guiones, Playa Nosara, Playa Pelada and Playa Garza, each with their own distinctive characteristics. Guiones is easily one of the best and most consistent surf spots in Costa Rica, and it is a beautiful expanse of 7 km of white sand and waves that make experienced surfers drool. Pelada’s most distinctive feature is a blowhole along the rocks where you can take an outdoor shower at high tide. Playa Garza is a tranquil stretch of gentle waters, shells and rocks, with the miniature town of Garza to the side. Finally, Playa Nosara is the most remote and because it’s so difficult to reach, it usually remains uncrowded. The waves there are some of the tallest in the country, reserved for experienced surfers only.
Nosara’s focus on yoga, health and wellness is strong and you will see many signs offering yoga lessons, pilates, and massage and vegetarians, vegans, and raw foodists will be thrilled to find that many restaurants here cater to their needs. The Blue Spirit Retreat Center brings world renowned yoga and wellness experts to town for week to month-long retreats and its sustainable approach is admirable.
The nearby Playa Ostional and Ostional Wildlife Refuge, located about 6 km north of Nosara, is the world’s largest nesting site of Olive Ridley turtles in the world. As many as 100,000 nesting turtles have been recorded at this beach at one time. While this amount is exceptional, during arribadas, or nesting in mass numbers, hundreds to thousands of turtles come dig their nests here.
Planning a vacation to Nosara
We recommend a 3 – 4 night stay for your vacation to Nosara. This is the ideal amount of time without over extending your stay. Beautiful beaches are nice, but if you combine them with a trip to Rincon de la Vieja, Monteverde or Arenal, you will have a much more rewarding and memorable experience.
There are a handful of hotels in Nosara to choose from. Our favorite, Lacqua Viva Resort is a Bali style boutique hotel with tasteful style. The Harmony Hotel is another nice, but expensive option that is located within walking distance to the beach. Harbor Reef Lodge is a good mid-range hotel for anybody looking to save a little money. There are quite a few rental houses in town, but they come with the inherent risk of being targeted by thieves.
There are not many organized tours available from the Nosara area. The majority of visitors come for big wave surfing and yoga. Mainstream tourism simply has not hit the area yet. This can be a little dangerous as there are non-certified and non-insured tour operators that do not meet ICT requirements. Our highest recommendation is to ask the operator if they are ICT certified, and if so, to provide their certification number prior to reserving any tours.
Getting around Nosara is best done with a rental car. Private transfers are available, but expensive. You will need a 4x4 as the unpaved roads leading to Nosara are usually in terrible condition. There are several rivers that are prone to flood over them during the rain season. Once you arrive to Nosara, the roads are just as bad. During the rain season there are more potholes than smooth areas.
Reasons to visit
- Great big wave surfing destination
- Several good yoga studios
- Pretty beaches
- Off the beaten path, yet has plenty of amenities
- Turtle nesting on nearby Playa Ostional
Reasons NOT to visit
- Not a good swimming beach
- No all inclusive or large resorts (good for some, not so good for others)
- High rate of petty theft
- Roads leading to Nosara and in town are unpaved and usually in bad condition
- In the dry season, the ATVs that constantly rip around town keep it in a permanent dust bowl.
- Limited tour and activity selection
How to get there
From San Jose: The shortest route to Nosara is on Autopista del Sol to Caldera, where you keep driving towards Puntarenas. When you pass Puntarenas, turn left and follow signs to the Friendship Bridge (Puente de la Amistad in Spanish). Cross the bridge and follow the road signs to Nicoya. Drive straight through town until you see signs for Nosara and follow the well-signaled road there. The roads leading into Nosara can get rough during the rainy season, so it’s best to stick to daytime driving and use a 4WD.
Weather and packing list
Nosara is blessed with year round sunshine and blue skies, and although it rains quite a bit here in September and October, when most of the town shuts down for the rainy season, this region is one of Costa Rica’s driest. Daytime temperatures hover in the upper 80s to lower 90s, usually dropping to the upper 70s at night.
Don’t forget to pack your surf gear and beach garb, including shorts, swimsuits, rash guards, beach towel and sarong, t-shirts, shorts, and flip flops. Don’t forget to throw in some insect repellent, sunblock and aloe vera gel, your skin will thank you for it! Visit our packing list for more suggestions.
Fun Fact: Playa Guiones is one of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica.