- The Best of Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Top Spots for WIldlife
- Costa Rica’s Most Beautiful Beaches
- Costa Rica’s Best Beaches for Wildlife
- Best Surfing Beaches in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Unique Retreats & Resorts
- Surf’s Up in Costa Rica
- Off-The-Beaten-Path Eco-Adventures
- Costa Rica Family-Friendly Adventures
- Adrenaline Rush
Nosara boasts three of the best beaches in Nicoya, each with rocky tidepools where the seawater is heated by the sun—great for soaking. They are backed by hills smothered in moist tropical forest.
Playa Nosara extends north from Punta Nosara and the river estuary to Ostional. It’s backed by mangroves. Arribadas of olive ridley turtles occasionally occur. More are expected.
The sleepy village of Bocas de Nosara is five kilometers inland from the coast, five kilometers south of Ostional, on the banks of the Río Nosara. It maintains a simple traditional Tico lifestyle but otherwise offers little appeal, except a lively disco and the airstrip.
Playa Pelada is tucked in a cove south of Punta Nosara, about two kilometers from Bocas de Nosara; it has a blowhole at the south and a bat cave at the north end. An enclave of hotels, restaurants, and surf shops forms an offshoot of the main resort area, Guiones (also known as Beaches of Nosara), south of Pelada and four kilometers south of Bocas de Nosara village.
Playa Güiones, separated from Playa Pelada by Punta Pelada, is a ruler-straight five-kilometer-long expanse of coral-white sand washed by surf. Hence, Guiones is popular with surfers. Beware strong riptides!
Beaches of Nosara started three decades ago as a foreign residential community where about 200 homes are hidden amid the forest. They’ve since been joined by several dozen hotels, restaurants, and bars. The place is in the midst of a real estate boom that has had a devastating impact on local wildlife. The roads of Pelada and Guiones are an intestinal labyrinth sure to turn you around, at least in your head.
About 40 hectares of wildlife-rich forest are protected in the private Nosara Biological Reserve (Reserva Biológica Nosara, tel. 506/2682-0035, www.lagarta.com) along the river. Guided nature walks are offered at 6:30 A.M. daily ($15 pp); self-guided walks ($6) can be enjoyed 6 A.M.–4 P.M. daily.
Refugio Animales de Nosara (tel. 506/2682-0059, www.nosarawildlife.com) takes in animals orphaned and/or injured by uninsulated power lines, vehicle strikes, and unleashed dogs. Run by Brenda Bombard, of Harbor Reef Hotel, it specializes in rescuing and aiding howler monkeys. It is not open to the public, but welcomes much-needed donations, not least to help finance replacing bare electrical cables. (Consider that 132 monkeys are known to have been killed in 2009 alone!) It works in conjunction with the Sibu Sanctuary (tel. 506/8866-4652, sibucr [at] gmail [dot] com), a 50-acre finca that rehabilitates those animals that can be reintroduced to the wild.
Entertainment and Events
The nightlife in Bocas centers on two rustic yet atmospheric bars: Bambú, with live marimba on Saturday; and the Legends Rock Bar (tel. 506/2682-0184), with pool tables and five big-screen TVs for Monday-night football. The hot-ticket dance spot, however, is Disco Bar Tropicana, with disco on Friday and Saturday at 10 P.M.; its shuttle begins picking up guests at hotels in Guiones at 10:30 P.M. and returns at 2 A.M.
At Guiones, the liveliest happening is La Banana Bar (tel. 506/2682-4082). The place, south of Playa Güiones, gets packed with sweating, dancing hordes, including enthusiastic young ladies atop the bar. “Martini grooves” with DJ DaCosta on Wednesday night packs ’em in, as do Thursday-night reggae sessions and Saturday Ladies Night, with free house cocktails for ladies until 11 P.M. It also serves food.
Tamer fare can be enjoyed at Café Lounge (tel. 506/2682-0080, cafeloungecr [at] hotmail [dot] com), at Kaya Sol Surf Hotel, which shows movies at 3 P.M. most days and by night spins everything from reggae to electronica. Theme nights include Latin night (Fri.), with free dance classes at 8 P.M. El Fenix (tel. 506/2686-0287), at Playa Pelada, also has nightly themes, including an all-you-can-eat sunset party on Thursday ($10, including free sangria).
At sunset, head to Playa Pelada for La Luna Bar and Grill (tel. 506/2682-0122, 11 A.M.–10 P.M. daily, $5), an atmospheric place with cobblestone floors, bottle-green glass bricks, and a terrace hosting a Friday-night “multicultural party.” It serves killer margaritas, plus lentil soup, sushi rolls, carpaccio, and more, and plays world music from Dylan to reggae.
Fishing Nosara (tel. 506/2682-0606, in the U.S. tel. 904/591-2161, www.fishingnosara.com) offers sportfishing.
Inevitably, Nosara has a canopy tour at Miss Sky Canopy Tour (tel. 506/2682-0969, www.missskycanopytour.com, $60 adults, $40 children), with 21 zip-line runs. The longest is 750 meters. Tours leave at 8 A.M., 2 P.M., and 6 P.M. daily.
For horseback rides and ATV rentals, call Boca Nosara Tours (tel. 506/2682-0280, www.bocanosaratours.com).
Tica Massage (tel. 506/2682-0096, 9 A.M.–6 P.M. daily) has treetop and garden rooms for walk-in massage.
Nosara Surf Shop (tel. 506/2682-0113, www.safarisurfschool.com) has a Safari Surf School, including women’s and childrens’ clinics. It also sells and rents boogie boards and surfboards, as do Coconut Harry’s Surf Shop and School (tel. 506/2682-0574, www.coconutharrys.com) and El Punto Juan Surfo’s Surf Shop (tel. 506/2682-1081, www.surfocostarica.com). Nosara Surf Academy (tel. 506/2682-5082, www.nosarasurfacademy.com), at the Gilded Iguana, has a surf school and offers sea kayaking. Drifters (tel. 506/2682-1380), at the mouth of Río Nosara, rents kayaks.
Nosara Yoga Institute (tel. 506/2682-0071 or 866/439-4704, www.nosarayoga.com) is dedicated to professional training and advanced career development for teachers and practitioners in the field of yoga and bodywork. Perched in the hills behind Playa Güiones, it’s the perfect place to relax and recharge. The institute specializes in advanced techniques and offers intensive one- to four-week programs in yoga, meditation, and Pranassage (a private one-on-one yoga session), plus nature and health programs.
The exquisite Costa Rica Yoga Spa (tel. 506/2682-0192, www.costaricayogaspa.com), north of the river at Bocas de Nosara, offers an alternative, and has inspirational ocean vistas.
The Harmony Hotel’s Healing Center (tel. 506/2682-4114) has free community yoga classes at 4 P.M. each Wednesday.
Getting to Nosara
SANSA and Nature Air have twice-daily service between San José and Nosara.
Alfaro (tel. 506/2222-2666 or 2682-0297) buses depart San José for Nosara from Calle 14, Avenidas 3/5, daily at 5:30 A.M. (6 hours, $8); the return bus departs from Bocas del Nosara at 12:30 P.M. Empresa Traroc buses (tel. 506/2685-5352) depart Nicoya for Nosara at 4:45 A.M., 10 A.M., 7 A.M., noon, 3 P.M., and 5:30 P.M. daily, returning at 5 A.M., 7 A.M., noon, and 3 P.M.
Interbus (tel. 506/2283-5573, www.interbusonline.com) operates minibus shuttles from San José ($45) and popular tourist destinations in Nicoya and Guanacaste. Reef Travel (tel. 506/2682-1000, ext. 212, www.reeftraveler.com) has an airport shuttle to/from Liberia ($50).
Budget Rent-a-Car is located at Harmony Hotel (tel. 506/2682-4114).
There is no direct road link between Nosara and the town of Nicoya. You must drive south 15 kilometers to Barco Quebrado and turn inland; the dirt road meets the paved Nicoya–Sámara road at Terciopelo.
The roads are all unpaved. You can rent ATVs at Monkey Quad Rentals (tel. 506/2682-4067, www.monkeyquadrentals.com, from $50 per day).
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition