As you travel south of Guanacaste’s developed shores, you’ll notice the highway devolve into a rugged gravel path. Motorbikes & ATVs being to zoom around your clunky passenger vehicle as it crawls along the bumpy road, not yet paved for mass tourism. When you arrive at your hotel, you sense the vibe is different here, different than busy Tamarindo or Playa Conchal. Welcome to Nosara, where the pace of life is set to the tides.
The Nicoya Peninsula is the independent traveler’s alternative to busy Tamarindo, Papagayo, Coco, and other beaches on the coast of Guanacaste. Laid-back types make their way to Nosara every year for a low-key couple of days within reach of some truly stunning (and fairly empty) beaches.
Playa Guiones is among the most picturesque beaches in Costa Rica, giving up a mile-long piece crescent coast to travelers and locals to stretch out and enjoy. The water is warm year-round it’s suitable for both surfing and swimming. You don’t notice many hawkers or carts if any at all on Playa Guiones. You might also miss out on huge crowds and massive Spring Breaker parties. If you need bottle service on the beach, definitely don’t come to Playa Guiones. This is the kind of beach where you can enjoy a casual picnic, read a book, and goof around on a boogie board.
Beaches like Ostional, Samara, and Carillo are also worth a visit, and many people who stay in the area opt to rent a 4×4 vehicle. The freedom to explore Nosara’s long stretches of (usually) empty beach and local restaurants is worth it!
Costa Rica Experts tip: If you’re staying in Nosara 4 nights or longer, rent a vehicle and get the most out of your stay! Don’t worry about the logistics – we’ll transfer you from the airport and have the car delivered to your hotel.
A Blue Zone
As part of the Nicoya Peninsula, Nosara lies within one of the world’s Blue Zones. A Blue Zone is an area with a population that contains a high number of people who are age 100 or older. According to National Geographic, these populations also have fewer cases of heart disease, diabetes, and other common ailments exacerbated by the modern Western lifestyle.
You can definitely expect a certain ‘Blue zone’ vibe in Nosara. It’s the opposite of overcharged New York or Hong Kong. The pace of life seems to move with the tide of the ocean. In Nosara, you take things as they come and let go as they leave. You eat the fresh tropical fruits and fish from all around you, noticing that the simplicity of the flavors is the best thing about them. You breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth warm ocean breezes. You are thankful for sunrises and sunsets and all the best things in life. This feeling famously defines Costa Rica and is imbued into the culture with every utterance of Pura Vida, a phrase ubiquitous in daily Costa Rican life. If anywhere can give travelers a taste of that true Pura Vida vibe, it’s Nosara.
People come to this area of the Nicoya Peninsula for wellness travel, yoga, surfing, healing, introspection, balance, and, of course, a bit of lounging and beaching and sipping and sun.
How do you get there?
From the Liberia airport, Nosara is a fairly easy, 2.5-hour drive on paved roads most of the way. Once you’re in Nosara, most of the roads are gravel.
From Arenal, the drive is about 4 hours, depending on the season and road conditions.
From San Jose, we recommend taking a short domestic flight. The flight takes about 40 minutes and has some incredible scenery along the way. The hotel is just 10-15 minutes from the Nosara airport. Travel by ground is trickier and takes about 5 hours (this can be longer during the rainy season).
These are the three best places in Costa Rica to connect with Nosara. The Nicoya Peninsula has very rough, unpaved roads which can sometimes make logistics more complicated. We recommend keeping things smooth by choosing destinations that allow you to connect to Nosara without too much hassle!
When should you visit Nosara?
Some hotels close for repairs and updates in October, which is typically Cost Rica’s rainiest month. Otherwise, Nosara is a wonderful year-round beach destination.
*Be sure to inquire about closures when booking a trip late September – early November.
A Unique Costa Rica Beach Vacation: Best Nosara Tours and Activities
The beaches of Nosara are its leading players. They set the stage for almost everything else Nosara has to offer, including surfing and sea turtles.
Nosara Yoga & Wellness
Yoga and wellness travel are all the rage in travel mags and on Instagram, but Nosara has been quietly flexing its wellness muscle for decades.
Base yourself at Harmony Hotel in Guiones and you’ll be treated to complimentary yoga classes, locally grown food, and a smoothie bar all at your fingertips. Playa Guiones, one of the best beaches in Costa Rica, is just a 2-minute walk from the hotel along a charming dirt path.
Also in Guiones is Bhodi Tree Resort, a great option for yogis who want to deepen their practice but also get that great pic for their Insta story. The sleek but natural atmosphere at Bhodi Tree emphasizes and integration with nature and blends into the local Blue Zone atmosphere. Bodhi Tree does everything from group yoga retreats to individual travel for yoga beginners. Hang out by the lush pool area or take the complimentary shuttle to the beach after your morning yoga class.
Surfing in Nosara
Playa Guiones is one of the best places to surf in Costa Rica. Whether you are just starting out or you’ve surfed for years, Guiones delivers. Your hotel can book a lesson with a local surf instructor; surf lessons are best organized at check-in because they are dependent on tide conditions. If you’re an avid surfer and confident in the water on your own, visit one of the many local surf shops in the Guiones area, which seem like they occupy every other building. Your hotel, or a friendly local passing by, will probably make the best suggestion on board rentals.
Olas Verdes is a great hotel option for surfers looking for simple amenities and easy access to Playa Guiones. Wake up early enough and you’re just a 5-minute walk from catching some sunrise waves.
Nosara Nature and Wildlife
Nosara is best known for its beaches, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t excellent nature and wildlife to be seen.
Ostional Sea Turtles (July – December) It can never be guaranteed that turtles will be present on the exact dates of your trip, but Ostional is known as one of the best places in Costa Rica to try your luck. Your best bet for spotting turtles in Ostional is during the main nesting season, but you may get lucky and see them other times of the year, too.
Lagarta Lodge The best place to connect with the Ostional sea turtle experience and other local nature tours is Lagarta Lodge, an eco-boutique resort north of Playa Guiones. Lagarta can assist in the turtle tour booking process, which is somewhat involved; Costa Rica’s conservation laws fall strongly in favor of the local wildlife and permits are required to visit any nesting grounds.
Lagarta Lodge has distinguished itself among Nicoya Peninsula hotels as one of the most forward in local ecotourism. The boutique hotel sits next to the Nosara Biological Reserve, where guests can take short tours lead by local guides or explore on their own. Kayak a nearby river or explore the Rio Nosara mangroves by boat to explore some of Costa Rica’s unique water-based ecosystems. Spend a day snorkeling off the waters of San Juanillo and you’ll begin to understand the breadth of Nosara’s magic.
Punta Islita is another leader in ecotourism on the west coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. For years, the hotel has blended classic resort amenities with local nature and wildlife experiences to take vacations from average to special. The Macaw Recovery Network uses Punta Islita as a base to showcase and benefit to the rehabilitation of Scarlet Macaws. Visit the Wild Scarlet Macaw Reserve and learn about how these exotic tropical birds play into the local ecosystem. You may spot up to 35 different bird species at Punta Islita, and even some Howler monkeys!
Nosara Dining and Restaurants
Blue Zone dining is the specialty here on the west coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. You can always count on fresh catch-of-the-day fish as an option for lunch and dinner, along with incredible shellfish. You’ll notice a more even representation of menu options for vegetarians and vegans, as this is a region where people come to rejuvenate and nourish themselves.
Guests of Harmony Hotel will enjoy some of the best sushi they’ve ever had, and inventive smoothies from the hotel’s smoothie bar.
La Luna is a charming beach restaurant on Playa Pelada, a fishing beach about 15-20 minutes north of Playa Guiones on foot. This casual but delicate setting is perfect for a boho beach bbq.
Seekretspot is known for its amazing gelato and the restaurant at Gilded Iguana always serves up the perfect casual bite & drink after a day at the beach.
Best Nosara Beaches: Playa Guiones, Playa Garza, San Juanillo, Samara, Carillo, Ostional
Best Nosara dining: La Luna, Harmony restaurant, Pacifico Azul, Seekretpot for gelato
Top Santa Teresa Attractions & Activities: local beach hopping, surf lessons, boogie boarding, yoga, pilates, nature tours at Lagarta Lodge, complimentary activities at Punta Islita, Ostional sea turtle nesting,
Nosara Travel FAQ:
Suggested itinerary: Costa Rica Blue Zone Vacation
If you find that your travel tastes veer left of the mainstream, dare to venture beyond the beaches of Guanacaste. Instead, get to know Nosara, where you might find a newfound love for yoga, an appreciation for the difficulty of surfing, or better yet: you might find yourself truly unwinding.