Like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the unique beach town of Nosara lies a one-and-a-half-hour drive from the city of Nicoya, in the province of Guanacaste. The rainbow, in this case, is a bumpy, unpaved road with gaping, cave-like potholes. The reasons to brave such an epic journey: perfect waves, spectacular, uncrowded beaches, a collection of upscale yoga and healing retreats, some of the country’s finest health food restaurants and cafés, alternative shopping and Costa Rica’s only tuk tuk service. The good news: you can skip the drive, Nosara has a landing strip with daily flights from San José airport (SJO) and a twice-weekly service from Liberia airport (LIR) will be launched in December.
An Upscale Surfer Yogi Paradise: Nosara makes Headlines
The surf and yoga destination of Nosara has managed to avoid the fate of many Guanacaste beach towns, declining high-rise condos and all-inclusive resorts in favor of surfer and yogi hideouts, eco-friendly cabinas and Balinese style villas.
Don’t be fooled by first impressions, however. Nosara may appear rustic, but luxury abounds in this town and the price of accommodation and food has skyrocketed in recent years. The cost of eating out is comparable to cities in developed nations (think New York prices) and the town’s humble-looking main grocery store, “Super Nosara,” which is located near the landing strip, is well-stocked beyond your imagination and equally expensive.
But you get what you pay for and the reasons why Nosara is listed in National Geographic’s top 20 list of the world’s best surf towns–they call it a “surfing Disneyland” for its year-long swells–are plain to see.
Nosara was also recently featured in The New York Times travel section in an article that compared the town to a “surfer yogi’s Beverly Hills” and Condé Nast Traveler has coined it “Costa Rica’s chic surf town.”
What the Weather is Like in Nosara
Like all of Costa Rica, Nosara has two main seasons, rainy (from May to November) and dry (from December to April). As in the rest of the country, the end of the rainy season signals the start of the tourist high season, when visitors enjoy the best weather this beach town has to offer: long days filled with sunshine, flaming orange and pink sunsets and tolerable heat. Nosara can get crowded then, particularly over New Year’s and in Semana Santa (Easter week) when ticos from all over the country join numerous foreign tourists here to enjoy their work and school holidays.
The heat in Nosara peaks in March and April, when all yoga becomes hot yoga and everyone is permanently soaked in sweat. The average maximum temperature is around 95 degrees (Fahrenheit) or 35 degrees (Celsius) with very high humidity.
While Nosara tends to be tranquilo year-round, the town dies out in September and October, when as a result of the heaviest rains of the wet season, only locals – ticos and expats – remain. Although many restaurants, shops and other businesses close over these months, when the already inhospitable roads turn into a muddy mess, on the up side, hotels tend to remain open and offer green season discounts. Another bonus of visiting Nosara over these months is that in between torrential downpours, you usually get plenty of hours of sunshine to enjoy practically deserted beaches.
Yoga teacher trainings and surf retreats happen year-round, and they often take place in Nosara over these quiet months. Plan your Nosara yoga or surf retreat using our custom itineraries.
Activities & Things to Do in Nosara
Nosara is a cluster of several different beaches and outdoorsy activities abound in the area.
Nosara’s amazing waves are undoubtedly this beach town’s main attraction. Most surfing happens at Guiones Beach, a long stretch of white sand and steady swells at the heart of Nosara’s tourist area, where you’ll find plenty of restaurants, accommodation and Nosara’s main shopping strip. Guiones is a perfect spot for surfers of all levels, first-timers to advanced, to hone their skills, and there are plenty of surf schools and instructors around. The neighboring Playa Pelada occasionally offers good surf conditions for more advanced surfers who can steer clear of the rocky plateau that juts out of its shores. Playa Garza, the beach of the fishing village of Garza, is usually quite flat and more suitable for swimming or sunbathing.
Yoga by the Sea
In recent years, Nosara has become one of Latin America’s ultimate yoga destinations. With everything from luxurious yoga resorts that attract yoga celebrities and their fans, to peaceful, quiet retreats tucked away in the mountains, there is something to suit every yogic taste and budget here. Various hotels and yoga studios in Guiones and throughout Nosara also have daily drop-in classes with many types of yoga on offer, from invigorating vinyasa to soothing restorative yoga.
Nosara is the backdrop for a variety of adventure tours and activities, including Stand up Paddle in the Nosara River or at sea, a canopy tour touted as the longest in the world, fishing tours, quad tours, mountain biking, hiking and even diving.
Nosara for Kids
Kids will not get bored here. In addition to children’s yoga, parents will be happy to tire out their little ones at Gabi’s Play, a large playground in North Guiones, where the Nosara Kids Camp, which features surf and Spanish lessons for children, has its office. The landmark Café Paris, a café that serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, pastries and dessert, is also home to a mini golf, and across the street, the Tennis Club Colibri offers tennis lessons to children as well as adults.
Do not miss taking your children to the tide pools that form at low tide in Playa Pelada. They are gorgeous, natural mini hot tubs and babies (and tired parents) love soaking in them under the sunshine!
Shop till you Drop
Nosara attracts creative personalities and you can find many of their masterpieces for sale in town. Visit the main street in Guiones, flanked by Café Paris, and you’ll find amazing beachwear, yoga clothes, vintage clothing, children’s clothes, jewelry, art, home decorations and souvenirs, all with an alternative flair.
For the Healthy (and not so Healthy) Palate
Yogis, vegetarians, vegans and health freaks find Nosara delectable. Healthy smoothies, vegan ice cream, vegetarian and vegan meals, ginger beer, kombucha, ghee, you can find everything here, produced with local ingredients too! If you plan to cook during your visit, two organic markets are organized each week from November to August. Ask in town to find out the days and locations of each, as these tend to vary.
The not-so-health-oriented will be pleased to know that Nosara has magnificent pizzerias, the best Italian gelato, seafood and steak restaurants, bagel shops and traditional Costa Rican sodas or small restaurants that serve local cuisine such as casado, a dish that contains rice, beans, steak, plantain and salad.
La Luna Restaurant in Playa Pelada is a Nosara classic. Tourists and locals alike love to dress up and visit this open-air restaurant to view the sunset while enjoying cocktails and Mediterranean snacks.
Note: Perhaps because of its exorbitant prices and low wages, in recent years, Nosara has become plagued with petty crime and break-ins. Unguarded quads are often stolen. During your visit, take the necessary precautions: don’t leave valuables in your parked car, take care of your belongings while you are at the beach, make sure that your hotel or rental home has a guard to watch over your parked car or quad overnight and consider staying at a hotel or B&B rather than at an isolated, unprotected rental home.