Nosara Costa Rica: A Curated, Wellness-Focused Travel Guide
Nosara Costa Rica and Playa Guiones might just be Costa Rica’s best-kept secret and if you haven’t yet heard about them you’ll want to keep reading. Located in Guanacaste Province in North West Costa Rica, Nosara is a small town with a unique, laid-back atmosphere, surf, yoga and one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches.
Nosara Costa Rica has such a welcoming, friendly, laid back vibe that it’s the perfect place for a retreat, a week of surfing, a self-care vacation or a place to base yourself, as a digital nomad for a while. Here you’ll find some seriously gorgeous rentals and eco-hotels, lovely boutiques and a great selection of healthy and plant-based restaurants.
It’s probably worth mentioning here that when people say, ‘I’m in Nosara’ or ‘Nosara in gorgeous’, they actually mean the whole area, particularly Playa Guiones a little further south. The actual town of Nosara is a local, functioning town that isn’t particularly attractive, nor does it have much appeal for visitors. The best places to base yourself are in Playa Guiones or Playa Pelada. Further north, Ostional is an option too.
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HOW TO GET TO NOSARA
To get to Nosara, just like with most places in Costa Rica, it’s best to drive as other transportation options are limited. In fact, renting a car for your entire Costa Rica trip is a good idea as it will allow you to explore much more than trying to navigate the entire country by bus or by an overpriced shuttle.
You can rent a car at San Jose or Liberia International Airports and the process is extremely straightforward. You’ll want to make sure to book your rental car well in advance especially during the high season (November-February). This way you’ll also find the best deals.
I would highly recommend renting a car or even an ATV in Nosara as you’ll need something to get around. While you can easily walk around Playa Guiones, you’ll need transportation to get to Playa Pelada and to explore the area. It’s all a little spread out.
Renting a car locally is quite difficult because of the remoteness of this part of Costa Rica. There is just one Alamo in Nosara. The best place to rent a car on the Nicoya Peninsula is at Liberia airport or better still, book online here for the best prices.
You can also get to Nosara/ Playa Guiones by private shuttle. Tourist shuttles exist all over Costa Rica and provide quick and direct transfers between all the major popular destinations. From the airport, you’ll be able to organise a direct transfer to Nosara. Costa Rica Shuttle is just one company to check out before booking.
Tourist shuttles in Costa Rica are expensive and sometimes it’s cheaper to rent a car, especially if you’re a small group. I’d definitely compare prices between renting a car and a tourist shuttle first to see if it’s actually worth it.
The other way to get to Nosara is by public bus. Buses travel to Nosara from San Jose, Liberia and some other towns on the Nicoya Peninsula. There is one direct bus per day from San Jose. You can also take a bus from San Jose to Nicoya and change there for an onward bus to Nosara.
I personally wouldn’t rely on Uber in this area as it is pretty remote.
WHERE TO STAY
Nosara has so many places to stay from luxury resorts to beach-chic surf schools, hostels and VRBOs. There’s something for all budgets. The best place to stay in Nosara is in the Playa Guiones area. Here’s you’ll have most of the best restaurants, boutiques, hotels and surf schools within walking distance. You’ll also be just a few minutes from the best beach- Playa Guiones.
Located in one of the best locations right behind Playa Guiones, Olas Verdes is our top pick for the Nosara area and it’s where we stayed during our time in Nosara. A true eco-lodge and surf school, this sustainable option has a variety of different types of lodging from tasteful pool-view suites to ample and airy apartments surrounded by jungle foliage and singing birds.
They’re a true eco-lodge at heart- there is no single-use plastic on the premises and you’ll receive a reusable water bottle upon check in to encourage you to not use plastic bottles. Your stay at Olas Verdes also includes complimentary bike rental to explore the Nosara area, boogie boards, complimentary laundry, choice of 9 delicious breakfast options, free parking and courtesy transfer from Nosara airport if you need it.
In addition, you also have access to the jungle-surrounded yoga deck and daily yoga classes to flow and stretch after a morning surf session. There’s even a pool and Club House- a place to relax, watch a movie, play a board game or catch up on work. Their surf school on-site also provides you with private or group classes and board rental to get your surfing skills up to the next level.
At Olas Verdes, you’ll also find El Manglar restaurant where you can enjoy local, healthy cuisine at all times of the day. Playa Guiones is a 5-minute walk away down a secluded path through the mangroves. The property really does have everything you need for the perfect stay in Nosara.
CHECK AVAILABILITY AND BOOK YOUR STAY HERE
A great option for yoga lovers, check into the Bodhi Tree for a week of surfing, yoga, healthy food and good vibes. This is the ideal escape for the wellness traveller looking to discover some of the magic that this area of Costa Rica has to offer. Built and functioning with sustainability and green energy in mind, they also support local projects and conservation initiatives.
Bodhi Tree offers daily yoga classes as well as yoga retreats throughout the year where you can deepen and strengthen your practice. You can also take advantage of their lovely spa to fully relax with a massage post-surf.
Their restaurant and juice bar also keep your body and mind supported and running on the best local produce possible.
Another top-notch option in Nosara especially for surfers and design lovers, rooms here are spacious and beautifully kitted out. They have a gorgeous pool area to relax around during the day and a great restaurant on-site too.
A great option for surfers just a stone’s throw away from Playa Guiones. Lovely and comfortable apartment-style accommodation surrounded by a pool and the jungle.
For the best hotel deals in Playa Guiones/Nosara check the form below:
WHERE TO EAT
One of the two best plant-based restaurants in Nosara, Luv Burger was one of my firm favourites. With a great selection of vegan burgers, tacos, salads, bowls, solid breakfasts as well as juices and kombuchas and of course local, organic coffee.
All food is made using 100% wholefoods, plant-based ingredients and without any chemicals, preservatives or nasties. They locally source their produce and use non-GMO food. The restaurant itself is large with amazing outdoor seating surrounded by jungle. It’s the perfect place for a slow lunch or a romantic dinner in Nosara.
Another plant-based restaurant right around the corner from LUV Burger, Naked Foods the other option you just have to try. Their plant-based menu includes burgers, curries, bowls, salads and healthy spins on local dishes. They also do great breakfasts, juices and smoothies and if you’re in the mood for something sweet you have to try their great selection of organic and healthy treats. A must-try.
More of a grocer than a restaurant this is a great place to stock up on organic, healthy ingredients if you’re self-catering or staying in Nosara for a while. Stock up on bars, grains, legumes and local produce as well as buy coffee, tea and everything else you might need during your stay. Organico also offers produce boxes and picnic boxes in case you’re heading to the beach and don’t have time to organise your own. Read more here.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN NOSARA
Go Surfing in Playa Guiones
Most people head to Nosara for the amazing waves and surfing is the number one activity in the area. The waves are suitable for beginners and pros alike and there are plenty of places to learn and/or rent a surfboard if you’re already past the beginner phase. Some of the best surf schools in Nosara are Nosara Surf Academy which offers group and private lesson for all levels and Cacho’s Surf School which also offer Kayak adventures and SUP tours.
If you’ve been wanting to try surfing for a while now, this is one of the best places in Central America, if not the world to get yourself riding waves. If you’re staying at Olas Verdes, they’ll have you covered through their on-site surf school where you can take lessons directly and rent a surfboard. From Olas Verdes, it’s just a short walk from the hotel to the beach through the mangroves so you don’t have to worry about logistics.
Have a Beach Day
Ok, Costa Rica might be full of beaches you can have the perfect beach day on but Playa Guiones is a definite stunner. With dark sand, warm water and palms fringing its perimeter Playa Guiones really feels quite raw and pristine. It’s really long and wide meaning you can easily set up and lay down without anyone else in sight. There isn’t much in terms of restaurants right on the beach so make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks.
Visit the Farmer’s Market
Every Tuesday is organic farmer’s market day in Nosara and if you’re in town on Tuesday it’s definitely something to check out even if you’re not self-catering. The farmer’s market is a great way to get to know the local community and to chat with the locals about their products. You can pre-order your produce at Organico or on their website here. If you’re not on the market for fruit and vegetables there are also some people selling local hand-made crafts like beautiful jewellery pieces, locally made cosmetics and more.
Enjoy a Sunset
Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is famous for its sunsets and it would be a sin if you didn’t catch one at least once during your stay (weather permitting). Sunsets are equally as beautiful from either Playa Guiones or Playa Pelada. If you do choose to head to Playa Pelada, make sure to make an early dinner reservation at La Luna, where you can enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sun go down.
Go Boutique Shopping
The Nosara area is full of gorgeous, independent boutiques that sell unique creations. Whether you’re after some new clothes or decor pieces for your home you’ll be able to find some really lovely items in Nosara.
The best thing to do is just to stroll around the streets of Playa Guiones and check them all out one afternoon. There are also a few worth your time in Playa Pelada. My favourite stores are Bloom, Libella and Love Nosara for locally produced, sustainable and unique pieces. They make a great souvenir while also helping the local community.
Watch Turtles Hatching on Nosara Beach
On the North end of Playa Nosara towards Ostional, you’ll find the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was set up in 1992 in order to protect the Olive Ridley sea turtle’s nesting grounds. If you’re in Nosara during the rainy season you’ll be able to witness hundreds, even thousands of Olive Ridley turtles coming to shore to lay their eggs. You might also be able to see the tiny baby turtles making their way down to the ocean for the first time.
It’s quite the sight and it really is a once-in-a-lifetime, heart-warming experience. From Nosara, it’s an easy drive up to Ostional just note that the road isn’t in the best shape, especially towards Ostional.
YOGA & YOGA RETREATS
Nosara is known for its top yoga retreats, so if you love yoga this is the place to check into one. There’s no better place than I can think of to come strengthen and reignite your body and soul surrounded by nature, good food and like-minded people.
Nosara really does have everything you need to be able to get the most out of a retreat- a sustainable, grounding atmosphere, positivity and calm. Not to mention you’re also surrounded by pure natural beauty and tranquillity.
There are quite a few different yoga retreats held in Nosara at different times of the year so I highly suggest doing a bit of research around what each of them offers and which one might be the best fit for you. Some of my favourite Nosara yoga retreats are Bodhi Tree Yoga Retreat, Five Parks Yoga and Nosara Tree House
Nosara probably doesn’t have the best spas in Costa Rica, but there are a few quality ones that’ll take care of your mind and body in a way that you won’t want to leave.
Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort– Another reason why you’ll want to stay here or take a yoga retreat here is the wonderful on-site spa experience. Offering deep tissue and relaxing massages, cleansing facials, lymphatic drainage, reiki, Ayurvedic treatments, acupuncture, cupping and more Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort easily has the most varied spa menu in Nosara.
With its Balinese theme, a world away from stress and worry, it’s the perfect place to celebrate yourself and take advantage of the beautiful surroundings.
Nosara Costa Rica Spa at The Guilded Iguana– Take full advantage of The Gilded Iguana’s fantastic spa services even if you aren’t staying at the hotel. They only use locally sourced, organic products to help to replenish and cleanse your body. Some of their treatments include at least six different types of massage including a signature surfers massage, body exfoliations and wraps and a deep cleansing facial- just what you need after all that sunscreen, sweat and saltwater. Click here for more.
Spacio– A lovely, relaxing spa right next to Living Hotel, here you can enjoy a range of different massages including Swedish and deep tissue as well as reflexology, facials, manicures and pedicures.
Costa Rica Yoga Spa– Retreat centre and spa, this lovely space also offers yoga classes and accommodation as well as a range of varying spa treatments. Relax in a beautiful setting while getting an organic facial or deep tissue massage after a week of surfing.
TOP TIPS FOR VISITING NOSARA
- Renting a car is strongly advised in Nosara and Guanacaste and if you can I’d also recommend renting a 4×4 or at least a larger SUV with a higher clearance. Many of the roads in Nosara and Playa Guiones aren’t paved and especially in the rainy season they get flooded and extremely muddy. If you’re staying somewhere a bit off the path, I’d highly recommend a 4×4.
- While there aren’t really any sights to see as such in Nosara, you’re going to want to stay for longer than you planned. If you have the time and are interested in slowing down, surfing and yoga I’d say you’ll want to stay for at least a week to fully take advantage of the area and the activities it offers.
- When visiting in the rainy season expect roads to flood so bad it’s difficult to walk around.
- Make sure to bring bug spray, mosquitoes here are plentiful.
Ready for your trip to Nosara? Check out some other amazing things to do in Nosara Costa Rica and beyond during your stay.
What are your favourite things to do in Nosara Costa Rica? Have you been yet? Let me know all your questions and comments below.
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