When my surfer boyfriend suggested taking a trip to Nosara, Costa Rica for his birthday, I had never heard of the place. Aside from being known as one of the best surf towns in the world (along with San Clemente, CA), he said there were plenty of fun things to do in Nosara, but the town looked so small and remote that I wasn’t so sure.
Well, we spent a week in Nosara and I absolutely loved it! Nosara is full of unspoiled coastline, lush jungle, friendly locals, and a laid-back attitude – they really take the whole “pura vida” thing to the next level.
Spending a week in Nosara allowed us to experience some of the best things to do in Nosara while taking some time to relax and enjoy the pura vida lifestyle, making it feel like a true vacation.
This was my second time in Costa Rica – on my first trip, I stayed in Jaco, which is another one of Costa Rica’s best surf towns. However, the similarities end there. Nosara is located in a remote part of the Nicoya Peninsula in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. There is one main highway that runs through the town. Other than that, the roads in and around Nosara are unpaved dirt roads.
This, combined with the fact that local regulations limit development, makes Nosara feel like a hidden gem and an undiscovered paradise. Of course, it isn’t exactly a hidden gem – surfers have been coming to enjoy the consistent waves for decades – but let’s just pretend, shall we?
Aside from its reputation as a world-class surf town, it has also become known as a yoga and wellness hub in recent years. Its vibe totally reminded me of Sayulita and Todos Santos, two of my favorite pueblo magicos (magic towns) in Mexico, so it’s no wonder that I fell in love with Nosara.
Aside from surfing and yoga, the town offers something for every kind of traveler, whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation, to be one with nature, or to enjoy the local cuisine.
Keep on reading to find out more about this magical town, and for the best things to do in Nosara!
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About Nosara, Costa Rica
Located in a remote section of the Nicoya Peninsula, Nosara has its roots as a cattle farming town. In the 1970s, it was discovered by surfers, yogis, and environmentalists, who started developing the town. Since then, strict environmental and development rules have preserved the area, which boasts miles of unspoiled coastline and lush jungles.
These rules have meant that there is no beachfront development, and both commercial and residential buildings are set back quite a ways from the coast by a wide margin of jungle. This, along with the dirt roads in and around the town, gives it a feeling as if you’ve stumbled into a bit of undiscovered paradise.
Yet, you’ll find that Nosara’s magic has attracted an eclectic mix of visitors and expats, who along with the local ticos, have opened hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and surf schools. Being in Nosara feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere, yet you have everything you need.
Nosara also lies a mile away from a Blue Zone, an area that has a high concentration of people aged 100 years or older. The town has also gained a reputation as a wellness hub, with numerous yoga studios and retreats, as well as vegan restaurants all around town.
Whatever you are looking for, Nosara offers a bit of everything for every kind of traveler.
Location and getting to Nosara, Costa Rica
Nosara is located on the North Pacific coast of Costa Rica, in a remote part of the Nicoya Peninsula in the Guanacaste province.
Technically speaking, what is commonly referred to as “Nosara” is made up of three separate communities – Playa Guiones, Playa Pelada, and Nosara. Playa Guiones and Playa Pelada are closest to the beach and where most visitors frequent, while the actual town of Nosara sits a bit inland.
The nearest international airport is Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia (LIR), located 115 km (~72 miles) away and is around a 2 hour and 45 minute drive. Ideally, you will want to fly into Liberia when visiting Nosara. Otherwise, you can also fly into Tobías Bolaños International Airport, located in the capital city of San Jose (SJO). It is located 250 kilometers (~155 miles) away – the drive takes about 5 hours.
From either of these airports, you have a few ways of getting to Nosara:
Despite its remote location, Nosara does have a small airport that serves the city, about 8 kilometers (~5 miles) from Playa Guiones.
Sansa Airlines offers daily domestic flights into Nosara from both San Jose and Liberia. Round-trip flights cost roughly $200-300. There are 1-2 daily departures offered, so depending on when your international flight comes in, this may or may not be the best option for you.
This is the most flexible option for getting in and around Nosara. Liberia Airport is served by several major international car rental agencies, including Enterprise, Budget, and Alamo.
One thing to be aware of when deciding whether or not to rent a car is that the infrastructure in the area is not the greatest. You will be driving on bumpy dirt roads for much of the drive…and when I mean bumpy, I mean REALLY bumpy! If you are not comfortable with this (we were not), I’d suggest looking at other ways to get to town.
If you are up for the drive, do make sure that you rent a 4×4 or a four-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance. I am not kidding when I say that the roads are super bumpy (in addition, rain often adds mud and even small water crossings)!
Hiring a private shuttle service is the best option if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of driving yourself to Nosara – this is what we did. A private shuttle costs around $130-150 each way from Liberia Airport, and $300 each way from San Jose.
Each shuttle fits up to 8 people, so this is also an ideal option for groups. The driver will meet you right outside the terminal and drop you off at your accommodations in town.
As we planned to mostly stay within the Playa Guiones area, we felt like this was the best option for us since we didn’t really need a car.
There is a public bus that departs from the San Jose 7-10 bus terminal. This is operated by the Empresa Alfaro bus company, and departs at 5:30 am each day. The trip takes around six hours and costs $6-9 USD.
Another bus run by the Empresa Traroc bus company also runs from the town of Nicoya and makes several daily departures. The trip takes roughly two hours. From Nicoya you can also connect to a bus with service to Liberia.
How to get around Nosara
Because of its remote location, getting around Nosara differs from getting around other areas in Costa Rica. There is no public transportation or ride shares in the area, and taxi service is very, very limited. If you have a vehicle, you can drive, but because of the unpaved dirt roads, even this may be a challenge.
So how does one get around Nosara?
Playa Guiones is relatively small and walkable. This is also where you will find most hotels, restaurants, and activities. Playa Guiones is split into two separate areas – north Guiones and central Guiones. To walk between them takes about 15 minutes on the main highway (which, as a plus, is paved!).
Playa Pelada is anotherneighborhood where you will find fun things to do in Nosara and is located about 5 kilometers (~3 miles) from Playa Guiones. To get in between the two without a car, we hired a tuk tuk which was such a fun way to get around!
You can find them lined up along the road to the main entrance of the beach in Playa Guiones (near Howler’s Bar and Juan Surfo’s Surf Shop). It cost around $10 USD each way. You can arrange to WhatsApp your drive in order to catch a ride back.
Another way to get around town is to rent an ATV or dirt bike – this is how the locals get around on the dirt roads. You can find rental companies around town (or ask your hotel to arrange one for you). A half-day rental costs about $40 USD and a full-day rental costs about $80 USD.
Nosara also has an Alamo rent-a-car in town, should you choose to rent a car to get around the area.
Weather and when to visit Nosara
As Nosara enjoys warm beach weather year-round, there is almost no bad time to visit. Temperatures stay consistently warm, ranging in average from about 80-95 degrees Fahrenheit (~27-35 degrees Celsius). The area also experiences some level of humidity. Much like the rest of Costa Rica, Nosara also has a dry season and a rainy season.
Dry season runs from mid-December to April. These are also the peak times to visit Nosara, and Costa Rica in general. Because of this, prices for flights and accommodations are usually at their highest, and tour reservations are the most competitive. These are also the warmest months (with April being the hottest), as well as the least humid.
Rainy season lasts from May to November. Don’t freak out when you hear “rainy season,” though. This doesn’t exactly mean pouring rain all day, every day. In general, it just means that there will be a torrential downpour for about an hour, usually in the late afternoon, with sun the rest of the day. Temperatures tend to be lower than in the dry season, however, it is considerably more humid.
We visited in late June and did not mind the rain at all (we just ended up taking a nap whenever it started raining). Locals refer to the rainy season as “green season” since this is when the vegetation turns lush and green – we loved how beautiful and green everything looked! In addition, flight and hotel prices tend to be at its lowest during this time.
Do note that during the rainy season, the dirt roads in town are often super muddy, and often filled with giant puddles. This is something to keep in mind if you plan to walk or rent an ATV.
The only months I would not suggest visiting Nosara are in September and October. This is Costa Rica’s true rainy season, when it constantly rains all day, every day. Some hotels and businesses also temporarily close during these months, so you may not be able to do all the best things to do in Nosara.
How long to stay in Nosara?
As Nosara is a tiny town, at first glance, it will seem that there isn’t much to do and you can cover it all in a few days. While staying a few days will give you a taste of Nosara, there is plenty more to do if you crave a longer stay (the town definitely has a way of sucking you in and making you want to stay longer!).
It is definitely worth adding a few days in Nosara as part of a larger Costa Rica itinerary, but I suggest staying longer if you can!
We stayed for a full week and still found that it was the perfect time for exploring the area at a leisurely pace. It gave us the opportunity to experience some of the best things to do in Nosara while giving us plenty of time to lounge around the pool sipping on pina coladas.
I am usually a fast-paced traveler who tries to do and see as much as possible in a short amount of time (my boyfriend is the complete opposite), so this was a nice change of pace – the trip felt like an actual vacation!
Costa Rica Health Requirements
In light of the global health pandemic, Costa Rica has implemented a number of health restrictions and guidelines for travel in order to protect its residents and other visitors.
These guidelines include:
- For vaccinated travelers: Present proof of full vaccination against Covid-19 with an approved vaccine (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson).
- Unvaccinated travelers: Must purchase a travel medical insurance policy valid for the duration of stay in Costa Rica. The policy should include coverage for at least $50,000 in medical expenses (including Covid coverage) + $2000 in lodging expenses in case of required quarantine. However, if you are traveling to Costa Rica, it is highly recommended that you are vaccinated against Covid!
- ALL travelers, regardless of vaccination status: Complete an online Health Pass, and present QR code upon entry.
- Travelers coming from the US: Must present a negative PCR or antigen test result, taken within 3 days of arrival back in the United States.
Please be advised that the requirements are constantly evolving, and it is your responsibility to keep abreast of the most current guidelines. You can find out more about entry requirements here.
What to Pack for Nosara
- Sunscreen: This one is my favorite reef-safe sunscreen.
- Hat: Something like this is super cute in photos and perfect for a beach vacation – and offers sun protection!
- Comfortable sandals: These are my new fave – super cute and comfy!
- Sunglasses: I brought these with me and they are trendy and polarized!
- Bathing suits: I brought this one and this one with me
- Cover-up: I have and love this one because it serves as a cover-up but also a light layering piece in case you get chilly
- Beach tote: To tote around all your essentials
- Mosquito repellent – yes, there are mosquitoes. This one helps keep them away and is DEET free.
- Hydrocortisone cream – to relieve itchiness if you get bit – we did!
- Battery Pack: I never travel anywhere without this one. It can charge up to five times on one full charge!
More Things to Know About Traveling to Nosara, Costa Rica
Money and Currency
The official currency in Costa Rica is the colon. The conversion for $1 USD is about 600 colones.
We withdrew some colones from an ATM at the airport. I suggest doing this over a currency exchange as they tend to have more favorable rates. While there are a few ATMs around Nosara, they are a bit outside of the center of town, so I suggest taking out cash at the airport instead.
You can use credit cards at many larger restaurants and businesses, but I recommend keeping at least a little bit of cash on hand for those that don’t. Many establishments also accept US dollars as well, but you will usually get a better rate paying in colones.
That said, as Nosara tends to cater mostly to tourists and expats, prices tend to be a bit higher than in other parts of Costa Rica (and much higher than, say, in Mexico). Expect prices to be close to what you pay back in the United States. If you are on a budget, eat at a soda (traditional local Costa Rican restaurants), or get away from the tourist areas of Playa Guiones and Playa Pelada.
The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. However, mostly everyone speaks English if you stay within the Playa Guiones and Playa Pelada. Generally, the further away you get away from these, the less English is spoken. Still, it is helpful to know a handful of basic Spanish phrases, and if you want to practice, this is the perfect place to do so!
In general, the drinking water is safe to drink in Costa Rica. We asked our hotel and they said that the water in Nosara was generally safe. If there is any doubt, ask or purchase bottled water.
Where to find COVID testing
If you are coming from the US, a negative PCR or antigen test result is needed before your return. Your hotel may be able to arrange this for you (ours was) – this is the easiest way, but do note that pricing tends to be higher than if you arranged your own testing (we paid $100 USD for an antigen test).
Tests are offered in town at Paradise Medical Service. Tests are offered by appointment only – you can either reach out via WhatsApp at + 506 8612-4242, or email [email protected]
Where to Stay in Nosara
Local development rules mean that there are no chain hotels or mega-resorts in Nosara, which is refreshing! Still, you won’t have trouble finding an amazing hotel in Nosara – the theme is trendy and boutique here.
Almost all of the hotels in Nosara are situated in either Playa Guiones or Playa Pelada. Staying in Playa Guiones will give you easy access to surfable waves, and many restaurants and shops. You’ll still find restaurants and shops in Playa Pelada, but it is a bit quieter.
Here are some recommended places to stay in Nosara:
The Gilded Iguana
This is where we stayed and we loved it! It is just a 2-3 minute walk to Playa Guiones, which is as close as it gets to a beachfront hotel in Nosara. The Gilded Iguana calls itself a “surf hotel” which is initially what piqued our interest (they have a surf club as well). It’s also situated right next to many shops, restaurants, and many of the best things to do in Nosara.
We loved the lush grounds, and the beautiful pool area – we really enjoyed lounging out there every afternoon! The rooms have a contemporary design, and our jungle room came with a little patio and outdoor shower – we loved hanging out here every night. The on-site restaurant is fantastic as well (they also have poolside service).
The best part was the staff, who were always welcoming with a smile, and were always happy to arrange tours, transportation, etc. for us to make our stay super easy and enjoyable. Staying here truly felt like a vacation! [BOOK: booking.com / hotels.com]
The Nomadic Hotel
This was our second choice, and I absolutely loved the design of the hotel – the entire property has a boho design, with stylish wood and tile accents everywhere. It has beautiful common spaces, as well as a fresh saltwater pool.
It also has a bit of a secluded feel, but is still only about a 5 minute walk to the beach.
Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort
If your motivation for coming to Nosara is yoga rather than surfing, Bodhi Tree is one of the best yoga resorts in the area. It is situated in the jungle (but not too far off the main parts of town), so you can really focus on your spirituality, health, and yoga practice.
Nosara Beach Hotel
The Nosara Beach Hotel is an ideal choice for those wishing to stay on the Playa Pelada side instead of in Playa Guiones. This was on our short list, but we decided we’d rather be in Playa Guiones since my boyfriend wanted to stay there.
The stylish hotel is housed in a quirky building with colorful domes, and is situated on top of a cliff with beautiful ocean views. The property offers an outdoor pool, direct beach access, an open veranda with hammocks, and rustic-chic rooms with balconies or terraces (there is no TV). [BOOK: booking.com / hotels.com]
Things to Do in Nosara, Costa Rica
Hit the beach
Nosara boasts miles of pristine beaches and coastline. This is in part due to the fact that local laws prohibit beachfront development, as well as the fact that some of the coastline is part of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. In addition, local organizations keep the area free from all gray and black water dumping, ensuring clean, fresh water to swim in.
There are tree gorgeous beaches in the Nosara, and visiting them is one of the most popular things to do in Nosara:
- Playa Guiones: This is the main beach in Nosara, and known as the surfing beach. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, shops, and surf schools in the area that surrounds the beach, and it is the main tourist area. Even though it’s the busiest and most popular beach in the area, it doesn’t manage to feel crowded at all. You’ll find soft sand, consistently surfable waves, and beautiful sunsets.
- Playa Pelada: Playa Pelada has much more of a relaxed feel. There are still restaurants, shops, and hotels in the area, but it is quieter on this side compared to Playa Guiones. The beach has tide pools, interesting rock formations, and even a blowhole which shoots out water when the tide is right. You’ll also find some stunning sunsets here as well. You can surf here, but it is much more suited towards locals and advanced surfers.
- Playa Nosara: Contrary to what you’d think, Playa Nosara is the least visited of the beaches in town. It is the least crowded of the beaches in Nosara, and is much less scenic than the others mentioned above. The waves here are suited more towards advanced surfers and can be a bit inconsistent.
Catch some waves
After all, this is a world-class surf town, so catching some waves is definitely one of the best things to do in Nosara. Surfers have been coming to Nosara for decades to take advantage of the high-quality waves and pristine beaches here. Surfing is part of the culture here.
The town was even named as one of the top surfing towns in the world by National Geographic Magazine in 2014.
Playa Guiones is *THE* surfing beach, known for its consistently beach breaks and hollow waves year-round – in fact, you’ll find that you can surf here almost every day of the year. You can get the best intel about the surf in town from your hotel, or the local surfers.Advanced surfers can find big waves further out, and can even ride waves for up to 300 meters.
That’s not to say that the waves at Playa Guiones are only for experienced surfers – beginners can find smaller waves closer to shore and at low tide. With the abundance of surf schools set up in the surrounding neighborhood, Nosara is a great place to learn to surf – it was where I first tried surfing!
Let me back up a bit. As I mentioned earlier, my boyfriend is a surfer. Like, “surf is life” obsessed kind. When I tell people this, they always ask if I surf too and when I say no, they always ask why not? I decided that if I was going to learn to surf, it would be somewhere cool, and I decided that Nosara would be the perfect place to do it.
You’ll find plenty of surf shops offering lessons, camps, and board rentals in the area. Expect to pay around $60-90 for a beginner surfing lesson, and $15-30 for an all-day board rental.
I took a lesson from Juan of Juan Surfo’s Surf Shop, who kept throwing up the shaka sign at us when we were hanging out at the bar next door. The dude is one of the original local surfers in the area (and his shop is one of the first local businesses in the area), and his whole vibe just SCREAMS surfing.
He was the right guy for the job and got me standing up on a board and catching my first wave within 30 minutes. He was super patient and encouraging, and taught me the fundamentals as well as safety. Highly recommended!
Nosara has emerged as a wellness hub in recent years, and has helped put Costa Rica on the map as a yoga destination. Whether you are looking to drop in for a class or two, or want to do a full-on retreat, you’ll find it here.
The beautiful rainforests and the peaceful settings make the town a perfect destination for your yoga practice, and it’s no surprise that it’s one of the top things to do in Nosara.
If you want to take some yoga classes during your stay in Nosara, start with your hotel or resort – many offer on-site classes and workshops (ours did). Otherwise, you can take a class at one of the yoga resorts or studios in town.
A good place to start is the Bodhi Tree resort, which offers retreats, workshops, and teacher training, as well as drop-in classes for the public. You’ll find a variety of yoga types offered here, including vinyasa, hatha, aerial yoga, and even sunset classes. You can check out the schedule here.
Also check out the Nalu studio, which has a number of yoga offerings, as well as other fitness classes including barre fitness, Muay Thai, boxing, and more. You can see a class schedule here.
Cruise around town on an ATV
As mentioned before, most of the roads in and around Nosara are unpaved dirt roads. May locals get around the area on an ATV or dirt bike, and you can too!
You’ll find plenty of ATV rentals all around town. Your hotel or resort can arrange a rental for you, or you can drop by one of the local companies. You can opt to rent a quad for a half or full day to get around town, or book a guided tour or excursion to make it an adventure to remember!
Our hotel arranged an ATV tour with Pipin Rentals and had such an amazing time that we ended up booking a second tour with them later in the week! We took a tour to a local waterfall but Pipin also offers many other tours, including a snorkeling tour in San Juanillo Bay, a coffee tour, and a jungle and wildlife tour.
Whichever tour you choose, you’ll have quite the adventure and encounter breathtaking scenery, traversing through dirt roads, hills, and mountains.
Explore some waterfalls
Yes, you can find waterfalls in the Nosara area. They are not as impressive as the ones you’d find elsewhere in Costa Rica, but visiting them still makes a fun excursion (and swimming in them is the perfect way to cool off on a hot day).
We took an ATV tour from Pipin Rentals to the Pilas Blancas waterfall, a privately owned waterfall just outside of town. It was quite an adventure to get there, and this was seriously one of the most fun and exciting things to do in Nosara!
You start off in town, but soon enough you’ll cross a narrow hanging bridge over the Nosara River. As you enter the jungle, the terrain gets more rough, and soon you’ll be traversing over rugged mountain roads and over multiple water crossings.
The best part was seeing the photo and video footage that the guides took (while sitting off the back of the quad like it was no big deal, while I was hanging on for dear life) – we look pretty badass!
After a wild ride, you’ll finally come to a trail leading down to the waterfall. It is not a very big waterfall, but the water is super clear and refreshing – the perfect way to cool off from the heat and humidity. We swam in the pool for a bit, and enjoyed some fresh pineapple before hiking back up the (steep) trail to come back to town.
Tour a Costa Rican farm
This was another tour we did with Pipin, and one of our favorite things to do in Nosara! Ask for the coffee tour. We booked it because we thought it would be cool to learn more about coffee (I’m a coffee fiend and one of Costa Rica’s main exports), but it ended up being so much more than that!
You will take an ATV through mountain roads up in the hills, passing through a few tiny Costa Rican villages along the way. The tour visits a family farm and residence in Zaragosa, a rural town just outside of Nosara.
The farm is owned by an 80-year-old Costa Rican man and his family. You wouldn’t believe that he is 80 years old – he does all the work and maintenance on the farm by hand, not using any machinery. As we got a tour of the grounds, he was hacking away at the grass and stray tree branches with a machete, going up and down the stairs with no effort while the rest of us huffed and puffed.
We got a crash course on coffee beans and how they are planted, grown, harvested, then roasted. The amount of work and effort that goes into producing the coffee and turning it into the final products we see on the shelves is quite an impressive process! We even got to peel the beans using a giant mortar and pestle – let’s just say, we aren’t going to get hired on a coffee farm anytime soon.
In addition to coffee, the family grows many other fruits, vegetables, legumes, herbs, medicinal plants, and more. They also raise their own chickens on the property. The tour ended with a traditional Costa Rican lunch that was prepared with ingredients that were grown and harvested on the farm (everything except the rice), as well as a few cups of delicious coffee.
It was such a fascinating look into true, local Costa Rican life – I highly recommend it as it is one of the most unique things to do in Nosara!
Explore the jungle
Nosara is surrounded by lush jungle, teeming with hundreds of species of plants and animals. There are numerous hiking trails in and around town – the Nosara Civic Association manages a network of trails that connect Nosara to the jungle. You can see trail maps here.
In addition, you can find trails in the Nosara Biological Reserve, owned and managed by the Lagarta Lodge hotel. The 90-acre preserve has a number of well-maintained trails that take you through a mangrove wetland and a dry tropical forest.
You’ll also see over 270 species of wildlife here, from howler monkeys (hearing them roar is an experience in itself), iguanas, racoons, anteaters, armadillos, land cabs, and more. A self-guided tour through the preserve takes around two hours, or you can arrange a guided tour with a naturalist.
Ziplining through the jungle is one of the most thrilling things to do in Nosara! We really wanted to do this as we went ziplining on Catalina Island and loved it, but sadly ended up running out of time (we got distracted drinking too many pina coladas at the pool).
Miss Sky offers canopy tours that give you a glimpse of Nosara from above. It is also the longest canopy tour of its kind in the world. The 13 lines range from 300 to 750 meters long (most are in between 500-600 meters), and are double lined with stringent safety protocols in place.
You’ll get a unique birds-eye view of the Nosara area, the forests, river, and ocean, all while zipping through the jungle while hearing the sounds of birds and howler monkeys. The morning tours also make a stop at a local waterfall, for an added adventure!
Go shopping at the local boutiques
Nosara’s local boutiques echo its personality. It’s an awesome place to shop for some beachwear and accessories, surf gear, and boho chic items.
Some boutiques to check out in town:
- Love Nosara: This open-air boutique is essentially Nosara in retail form. You’ll find clothing, accessories, and jewelry with a New Age/surfer vibe. Everything sold here is designed by the owner and produced locally. Loved the breezy dresses, and bags here!
- Olo Alaia: This surf boutique offers a collection of surfboards and gear, as well as beachwear, accessories, and more. They offer surf lessons and camps as well. In addition, they have a coffee and craft beer bar, and the coffee is a MUST! The baristas are well versed in the art of coffee and you’ll not only get an amazing cup of coffee, you’ll get an education as well.
- Manta Raya: Beautifully designed, eco-conscious beachwear and swimwear designed by local Costa Rican designers.
- Bloom Nosara: You’ll find tons of one-of-a-kind sustainable clothing pieces and handmade jewelry here – the clothing is designed by the owner, the jewelry by her husband. There are a few items from local designers as well.
Visit a wildlife sanctuary
Nosara has two wildlife sanctuaries that help rehabilitate howler monkeys and other animals that have been injured or abandoned. Visiting one or both of these sanctuaries is one of the best things to do in Nosara for animal lovers!
Both the Refuge for Wildlife and Sibu Wildlife Sanctuary cares for and rehabilitates sick and injured wildlife back to health. Both are open for tours for a donation ($50 for the Refuge for Wildlife and $65 for Sibu) that goes towards the work that they do. **NOTE: tours are currently temporarily halted until further notice due to the current health situation
Go horseback riding
Given that the area has its roots as a farming town, it is no surprise that horseback riding is one of the most popular things to do in Nosara. You’ll be able to ride through the hills for spectacular views of the coastline and the jungle.
While we didn’t go horseback riding during our stay in Nosara, I’ve heard that it’s a lot of fun! Going horseback riding at sunset is supposed to be absolutely magical. Playa Ponies comes highly recommended, with customized tours, friendly guides, and horses that are well taken care of.
Go snorkeling in San Juanillo Bay
Just 45 minutes outside of Nosara is San Juanillo, a tiny town with white sand beaches that is supposed to have some of the best snorkeling in Guanacaste. The pristine water and the close reef make it an ideal spot for snorkeling.
Many companies offer snorkeling tours to San Juanillo Bay, or if you have a car, you can drive. We were interested in doing a snorkeling tour and asked our hotel about it, but were advised against it because of the visibility while we were there.
Watch sea turtles hatch
The Ostional Wildlife Refuge, located just north of Nosara, is one of the two most important nesting sites in the world for Olive Ridley sea turtles.
While turtles are present year-round, the best time to see them is during the hatching season, which takes place from July through December. This season is known as an arribada, which means arrival in Spanish.
During this time, thousands of turtles come to lay their eggs on their beach. You will see the most turtles right before a new moon, when the sky is the darkest.
As Ostional is a protected area, the only way to see the turtles is with a licensed guide. Ask your accommodations to see if they can recommend a tour, otherwise you can reach out to the Ostional Guide Association.
Sadly, we arrived outside of the arribada season but I would love to return to see it, because it is said to be one of the most amazing things to do in Nosara!
Watch the sunset
Nosara’s pristine beaches and coastline sets itself up for some stunning sunset viewing opportunities. You must take in at least one (preferably multiple) sunset from the beach – it is one of the most magical things to do in Nosara!
While we were able to catch sunsets from both Playa Guiones and Playa Pelada and can’t go wrong with either, I would recommend Playa Pelada if you had to choose one. It’s a bit quieter and more relaxed over there.
Plus, you’ll be right next to La Luna, which is the closest thing Nosara has to a beachside restaurant, and is an excellent place to enjoy dinner afterwards!
Where to Eat in Nosara
Despite its remote location, you’ll find that the food in Nosara is top-notch! You’ll find a variety of cuisines here, all made using fresh local ingredients. Sampling all the food from the local restaurants is one of the best things to do in Nosara.
Here are some recommended places to eat in Nosara:
Rosi’s Soda Tica
Rosi’s has two locations in Playa Guiones, both offering traditional Costa Rican cuisine. You’ll actually find that there aren’t a whole lot of traditional Costa Rican restaurants within the main tourist areas – Rosi’s is one of the few, but it is delicious! You can’t go wrong with any of the casado plates here (the fish was my favorite), as well as the gallo pinto for breakfast.
Luv Burger has an entirely plant-based menu, offering burgers, sandwiches, casados, salads, bowls, wood-fired pizzas and more. It also has a beautiful garden setting, with lush plants and romantic string lights. The pizza was tasty, as well as the cocktails and dessert!
You’ll find an extensive menu at 10 Pies -they literally handed us four separate menus when we sat down. While that is sometimes a cause for concern, you don’t need to worry – the food is delicious here! Order the tuna poke or a wrap.
I usually scoff at on-site restaurants at hotels as they are usually disappointing, but we actually really enjoyed the food at the Gilded Iguana! Each of their dishes are made using fresh, organic local ingredients. We loved having breakfast here each morning (the gallo pinto is delicious), and enjoyed the nachos and ceviche. We also got a dessert and cocktail to take back to our room every night.
The closest thing that Nosara has to a beachfront restaurant, and it is well worth a stop! Yes, the prices are a bit inflated since you are paying for the atmosphere, but the food is actually worth it – this was our favorite meal in Nosara! They offer a menu with a Mediterranean flair. We had a grilled red snapper and it was amazing! Come around sunset for the best views. Reservations are suggested but we were able to walk in.
An awesome spot to try more local beers. They also serve amazing wood-fired pizzas as well!
Fresh and delicious smoothies, juices, and smoothie bowls. These make the perfect refreshment on a hot day!
We stumbled upon Howler’s and stopped by because it was near our hotel, but we ended up coming back several times because we loved it! The owners – an expat and a local – are awesome and super fun to chat up. Loved the chill vibe here, as well as the tacos and tuna carpaccio. They serve both tasty cocktails and a selection of local Costa Rican craft beers.
A steakhouse with delicious Argentinian specialties. We had the ribeye and it was well-cooked and very flavorful. They have other non-steak dishes as well, if you don’t eat red meat. They also have live music sometimes! It’s one of the more popular places in Nosara, so make a reservation or eat early!
This tiny joint makes the best gelato! You’ll find a mix of traditional flavors, as well as unique local flavors. Loved the tiramisu here!
Have you ever been to Nosara, Costa Rica? What are some of your favorite things to do in Nosara?
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