Things to do in Puerto Escondido

You’ve landed in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. The sun is shining, the waves are crashing, and the smell of spicy Mexican food fills the air. A day in the life looks like this: wake up, indulge in a juicy morning yoga practice, followed by a mouth-watering authentic chilaquiles brekky. Head to the stunning beaches to relax, surf, and prepare for a long day of eating more bomb mexican food and ice cold cervezas.

In this guide, we'll take a look at:

  • 1. The Food
  • 2. Surf, surf, and oh yeah, surf
  • 3. Head to the beach!
  • 4. Snorkeling & Diving
  • 5. Laguna de Manialtepec
  • 6. Explore Chacahua Lagoon
  • 7. Watch the Turtles Release
  • 8. Dolphin / Whale Watching
  • 9. Detox in Atotonilco Hot Springs
  • 10. Go Fishing!

Welcome to Puerto Escondido

Nestled along the Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido is most notoriously known for its epic waves and chilled out surf vibes. With one of the heaviest waves in all of Mexico, surfers travel to this little pirate town from all over the world.

It’s not just good for the surfers, however- Puerto Escondido has a wide array of things to do for the non-surfers too. From experiencing Oaxaca’s world famous food, to kayaking and watching thousands of turtles hatching, Puerto Escondido has something for everyone.

Here are a few thing you don’t want to miss in Puerto Escondido~

1. The Food

There’s a reason I put this point as number one- it’s the most important part of being in Mexico. Now, I might be a little biased having grown up in the southwest United States where we eat more Mexican food than “American” food (whatever that is…?) but even after traveling all over the world, I will still argue that Mexican food is some of the best cuisine in the world. If you like boring, plain, and bland dishes, then you should skip the food in Puerto Escondido. But if you’re a fellow spice-lover (and have great taste in cuisine!), then you’ll die and go to heaven for the food in Puerto Escondido.

Here are some things you definitely don’t want to miss:

Tlayudas

The traditional Oaxacan dish that consists of a partially fried or toasted tortilla covered with a spread of refried beans, asiento, lettuce or cabbage, avocado, meat, Oaxaca cheese, and salsa. This dish is notorious to the entire state of Oaxaca and is absolutely delicious.

Protip: ask for salsa picante, if you dare!

Mole
If you haven’t yet tried mole, then you’re in for a serious treat. Mole (pronounced like mole’ in guacamole), is a salsa typical to Mexico, but probably unlike any ‘salsa’ that comes to your mind. Some moles can have up to 30 ingredients, and sometimes take days to prepare. These ‘salsas’ also have ingredients you might not think of when you think “salsa”, such as chocolate, cinnamon, almonds, and peanuts, and lots of other ingredients.

The most common mole in the state of Oaxaca is mole negro, which is (in my opinion) one of the most delicious! This mole has notes of chocolate, cinnamon, cumin, and clove, and is one of the more mild mole’s for those of you who can’t hang with the spicy food.

Smoked Fish Tacos

Being on the pacific coast, naturally Puerto Escondido offers a wide array of mouth watering seafood. The unspoken favorite however, is smoked fish tacos. Imagine freshly caught fish, smoked and prepared with delicious salsa. Add some veggies, and throw it all in a grilled tortilla, and bam! Any craving you had in the world is now satisfied. (Yes, they’re really that good).

I recommend heading over to a cool little spot called none other than “Smoked Fish Tacos”. This little taco shop is near Ricatella beach and is not only the perfect spot for taco lovers, but for all of you who are too lazy to make decisions as the menu only offers three items: Smoked fish tacos, fried fish tacos, and shrimp tacos. Cheap, delicious, and awesome vibes.

Selina Restaurant

If you’re staying with Selina you can enjoy the healthy, vegan and vegetarian options at the on-site restaurant. Make sure you eat there on Mondays to enjoy their “native day”- they theme their menu around what’s fresh at the local market.

Spirulina

Maybe people are lazy with their restaurant names in Puerto Escondido, but just like Smoked Fish Tacos, the name of ‘Spirulina’ literally says it all. This health food shop offers awesome health food options for the health conscious, included but not limited to smoothies, smoothie bowls, and of course, spirulina!.

El Cafecito

Meaning ‘little cafe’ in Spanish, this cute little cafe offers exceptional mexican food with generous portions. This is a great spot to ‘carb up’ with a hearty meal before a long day with big waves. Don’t miss out on their chilaquiles, a traditional mexican breakfast that will make your mouth water.

Kitsune

This is some of the best Japanese food you’ll find outside of Japan. Fresh, high-grade fish and inventive flavors making a quality experience. This place is a little pricier, so save it for a splurge type of night.

Fresh Restaurant and Lounge

Their menu offers a wide variety of options, but you don’t want to miss out on their ceviche. While a little pricier, it’s some of the best I found in Puerto Escondido.

Jardin Escondido

Not only is this place the perfect spot to grab an epic sunset, but they offer a great selection of craft beers. Come pre-game your dinner at Jardin Escondido before heading next door to El Coste for a fish meal.

2. Surf, surf, and oh yeah, surf

Way back when Puerto Escondido had no tourism, it was still occupied by one type of tourist- the surfer. Surfers started arriving in Puerto Escondido thanks to its infamous (and terrifying huge) surf. More specifically, you’ll find the infamous wave at Playa Zicatela, which offers its world famous ‘mexican pipe’ break. During the season, this wave is only recommended for advanced surfers who feel confident in a heavy wave! Some days the swells come in at 15+ feet, and huge surf events happen here such as the WSL’s Puerto Escondido challenge.

The Encyclopedia of Surfing describes this beach as: “[A] savage Mexican beach break tube located on the northern tip of the Gulf of Tehuantepec, in the state of Oaxaca; often called the “Mexican Pipeline,” and universally agreed to be the world’s gnarliest sand-bottom wave. “Some people love it,” local ace Coco Nogales said of Puerto in 2011. “Some people get pounded, turn around, head for home and never come back.” (Nuff said).

But don’t fret! At Selina, surfers of all levels are welcome! Selina Surf Club is for everyone, from experienced professionals looking to improve their speed and control to novices who are looking to simply stand up for the first time. The instructors are professional and experienced surfers who will help you make the most of your surfing experience. Book your very first lesson with your Selina’s guide, here.

For more advanced surfers looking to improve their big wave skills, Selina offers a ‘Big Wave’ package specifically to help advanced surfers up their game. This package includes cool upgraded features such as video corrections, theory chats, and coaching from the pro’s. Check out this upgraded package, here.

3. Head to the beach!

I had naively thought that Puerto Escondido consisted of one beach, but the town actually consists of many different beaches that stretch for miles. While you might not have time to hit them all up, be sure not to miss these ones:

Playa Zicatela

Located in the heart of Escondido, Playa Zicatela is overflowing with activities, nightlife, and infamous surf. Come to Playa Zicatela to find a great spot to chill, eat food, and surf (maybe take a surf lesson) or watch the waves beachside. If you’re looking for a great place to meet fellow travelers, people watch, buy trinkets from vendors or just enjoy great food and drinks, then come to Playa Zicatela. If you’re looking to relax in peace and quiet, then consider another beach.

Playa Carrizalillo

Speaking of more chilled out, quiet beaches, Playa Carrizalillo is one of the best spots to unwind. Maybe it’s quieter due to the fact it takes 167 steps to climb down — and not everyone is ready for this task. But trust me when I say it’s well worth it! This is a great place to swim since the water is more calm here, and it’s also a great place just to come and lay out in the sun with a good book.

Playa Bococho

Much like Playa Carrizalillo, Playa Bococho is also a great place to relax in peace and quiet. However, this beach is located on the other end of Puerto Escondido, and if you’re staying in the hub of the town, you’ll have to get a taxi down here. Playa Bococho is amidst more upscale resorts, giving you the opportunity to sun bathe with a fancy cocktail in hand.

La Punta de Zicatela

Literally translating to “the point of Zicatela”, this area is mainly popular among backpackers and offers more hostels and budget accommodations. With thatched roofs and dirt roads, you’ll get a more rustic vibe. If you’re interested in learning how to surf, this is the best place to learn, as it offers small and medium sized waves depending on the day and the swell. Book a surf lesson with a Selina pro, here.

4. Snorkeling & Diving

While Puerto Escondido is definitely most well-known for its famous surf, the snorkeling and scuba diving are not to be overlooked. Located on the stunning Pacific coast, the ocean here boasts abundant sea life and coral with warm ocean swells. Whilst snorkeling, you’ll find large schools of fish hovering just above the reef, whereas a scuba excursion will take you even deeper, to potentially see groupers, guitar, and diamond rays. If you get the chance to go out on a boat, you’ll probably encounter schools of dolphins, or if you’re lucky, humpback whales!

5. Laguna de Manialtepec

Head 16 kilometers outside of Puerto Escondido and you’ll find Laguna de Manialtepec; a gorgeous lagoon full of adverse wildlife during the day, and bioluminescent plankton at night. Come here to boat or kayak through the stunning lagoon or go exotic bird and wildlife spotting for herons, ibis, parrots, iguanas, and even crocodiles. Visit during the night (on a new moon if you can!) and you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the stars of the sea- a truly magical experience! Book your adventure here.

6. Explore Chacahua Lagoon

If you don’t make it to Laguna de Manialtepec, make sure you at least make it to Chacahua Lagoon — or better yet, do both. (Live your best life!) I recommend taking the day trip tour through the lagoon with Selina. In this equally stunning lagoon you’ll make your way through fields of mangroves and see many different species of birds. Then you’ll arrive at El Faro beach where you can dive in the crystal clear water, followed by a sampling of delicious regional foods. Last, you’ll go to the lighthouse to catch the sunset. It’s truly breathtaking!

7. Watch the Turtles Release

It just so happens that Puerto Escondido is home to one of the most beautiful species of turtles in the whole world; the Golfina Turtles. It also just so happens that this area is one of the top five turtle nesting spots in the entire world. If you come during the prime season (July – January), you might get lucky enough to witness an arribada, which is when the turtles come in mass to lay their eggs. And when I say ‘mass’, I’m not playing around. Literally thousands of turtles can be witnessed laying their eggs! Check out a video, here. If you book with Selina, not only will you get the opportunity to connect with the turtles, but you’ll also be supporting the Tortuguero camp that you’ll visit- a local foundation that focuses on preserving the turtle species. Win win!

8. Dolphin / Whale Watching

Did I already mention Puerto Escondido is an epic place to spot dolphins? Well I’ll say it again — It’s seriously an EPIC place to watch dolphins! One of the best in the whole world. Definitely take a dolphin watching tour, and if you’re especially lucky, you’ll even be able to see humpback whales. Not only will you be able to spot five different species of dolphins, but you’ll get unobstructed beach views from the water. Book here.

9. Detox in Atotonilco Hot Springs

From Puerto Escondido, you get to adventure through 1 ½ hours of dense jungle trails, brimming with incredible wildlife, flora, and fauna. Then you’ll arrive at the incredibly magic hot springs of Atononilco. If you need a detox day — this is perfect. Breathe in the rich jungle air and bathe in the mineral dense waters to leave yourself feeling refreshed, renewed, and ready for more. Book here.

10. Go Fishing!

My last recommendation you definitely don’t want to miss out on — going fishing! Not just any old fishing tour, but a professional sport fishing tour, where you’ll have the opportunity to be out at sea for 7-8 hours catching fish such as tunas, dorados, or marlins. Not interested in fishing? It’s still an exciting experience simply to be out at sea, enjoying the beauty and excitement of the ocean. Plus, maybe you’ll get lucky and be boating alongside dolphins or even whales. Pro tip: Do NOT forget your hat and sunscreen!

By Brooke Nally
Brooke is a freelance writer focused on the health and wellness sphere. She has been traveling the world for over three years now, working with YogaTrade and teaching yoga everywhere she lands.

The Ultimate List of Things to Do in Medellin

You’ve landed in Medellin, Colombia. After your parents and your friends warned you about coming to this ‘dangerous’ city, you’ve managed to take the risk to travel there yourself — and oh wait… you realize it’s actually not so risky after all!
While Medellin used to be notoriously known as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, a lot of progress has been made in the last 10 years. Now, it’s a safe & popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The city has come a long way, and the locals are proud of the progress made in making it a safe destination again. In fact, Medellin’s history and bad-reputation is what makes it one of the more unique, and incredible cities to visit today.

In this guide, we'll take a look at:

  • 1. Few things you don’t want to miss
  • 2. Explore El Poblado
  • 3. Parque Lleras Nightlife
  • 4. Selina, Medellin
  • 5. Free Walking Tours
  • 6. Comuna 13
  • 7. Immerse in nature at Parque Arvi
  • 8. Take a day trip to Guatape
  • 9. Horseback riding through the coffee farms
  • 10. Casa de la Memoria
  • 11. Museo de Antioquia
  • 12. Plaza Botero
  • 13. Santa Fe Shopping Center
  • 14. Pub Crawl
  • 15. Salsa
  • 16. A few salsa clubs I recommend

I’ve traveled throughout central and south America, and I found Medellin to be one of the most inspiring cities I’ve ever been to. With the combination of fascinating history, warm and friendly locals, and of course, amazing food, Medellin should be at the top of your South America bucket list.

 

Few things you don’t want to miss

Explore El Poblado

Medellin is a huge city. And I mean huge. You could spend weeks in Medellin and still feel like you’ve only tapped into a small portion of her grand luster. So, if you don’t know where to start — then start where all the tourists do; El Poblado. Now, if you’re like me and you prefer to avoid tourist traps, I totally get it. However, there’s a reason lots of tourists are flocking to El Poblado, and it’s because it’s just, well… really cool. El Poblado is teeming with exciting nightlife, world-renowned gastronomy, an eclectic combination of locals, tourists from all over the world, and ex-pats who have made Medellin their new home.

I recommend spending some time in El Poblado. It’s become a popular place for tourists and especially ex-pats for living, working, networking, meeting other cool like-minded people, and most importantly, to indulge in some of the finest gastronomy in the world. Within this district, I recommend trying out a few of the following:

  • Selina’s cafe
    While most hostels usually don’t offer the best coffee options, Selina is one huge exception. I am quite the coffee expert (if I do say so myself), and I was very impressed with the quality of coffee at Selina. If you’ve booked to stay here, then definitely check out the coffee bar and don’t forget to try their bacon sandwich! Selina’s restaurant and bar called
  • The Garden
    The Garden is the restaurant and bar within the Selina’s hostel, where you can find great nightlife, salsa lessons, and offers the best pizzas in Medellin. Starting in March, The Garden will also be offering craft Colombian beer! Definitely try their Guaro Mule, the Colombian national cocktail.
  • Pergamino Cafe 
    The perfect place to answer emails or get some work done on your computer. Pergamino has amazing coffee and chilled out vibes. It’s in a great central area in El Poblado, walking distance from Selina.
  • Mondongos
    Offering classic Colombian cuisine in the heart of El Poblado, Mondogos is famous for its Mondongo soup — a typically Colombian tripe soup.
  • Carmen
    This is one of the most famous restaurants in the El Poblado area — and one of the best splurge meals of your trip! Come to Carmen for a multiple course experience paired with fine wine.
  • La Causa
    In another prime location in El Poblado, right across the street from Selina, is La Causa. This upscale Peruvian restaurant has amazing seafood and Peruvian fusion cuisine. Don’t miss out on their ceviche!

Parque Lleras Nightlife

Centrally located within El Poblado, Parque Lleras is the best place to go out any night of the week. From small salsa clubs to huge upscale clubs, and more chilled out places to grab a beer, you’ll find whatever you’re looking for in Parque Lleras. Pro tip: Make sure you wear close-toed shoes or they might not let you into the dancing clubs

Selina, Medellin

I stayed at Selina Medellin (which is one of the biggest Selina hostels worldwide), and to be quite honest — I didn’t feel like I needed to leave much. The atmosphere in this hostel is warm and inviting, and everything you could possibly need is right there. Their cafe has great food and coffee, their bar has different parties and events every night, and their outdoor yoga shala is absolutely stunning and right on the edge of a small stream. The best part, however, is their epic co-working space, a popular spot for traveling nomads staying at Selina, and long-term ex-pats alike. Their coworking space offers high-speed internet, private conference rooms, a meditation studio upstairs, and most importantly — air conditioning. Not to mention their diverse range of activities- from photography workshops to music recording, and guided meditation evenings, their schedule is brimming with diverse events to attract locals and travelers alike.

If you need a solid coworking space, Selina’s for you . If you want to take Salsa lessons, Selina’s for you. If you’re traveling solo and want to meet other awesome travelers, Selina’s for you.

Definitely don’t miss Salsa nights on Wednesdays at 8 PM, beer pong on Fridays, and pub quiz on Tuesdays. Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 5-8 PM, offering 2 for 1 cocktails and a bucket beer promo.

Free Walking Tours

If you feel overwhelmed about where to start in a city as huge and intricate as Medellin, I recommend immersing yourself into the city via local experts on free walking tours. This is by far the best way to experience a new place — and the tour guides are always city locals so it’s easy to get an insider’s insight. During my time in Medellin, I really got into the free walking tours — not only are they super informative, touching on the history of the city and the culture of people, but they’re absolutely free (don’t forget to tip)! There are many different free tours you can choose from depending on your interests. Here are a few of the best:

  • Food tour

If you’re a foodie like me, then you’ll absolutely love this tour. Here you’ll have the opportunity to walk around the city with a local guide, trying lots of different cuisine in different districts of Medellin. Don’t miss out on bandeja paisa, which is considered to be the national dish of Colombia, originally used to provide the poor peasant workers with energy all day long. This dish consists of rice, plantain, arepa (corn cakes), avocado, minced meat, chorizo, black sausage, and fried pork rind with a fried egg on top, just in case you’re still hungry

Comuna 13

By far the most inspiring part of the trip. It was truly awakening, saddening, yet inspiring at the same time to take part in the tour through the once-most dangerous part of Colombia.
On this tour, you’ll be guided by a local who grew up and experienced first hand what it was like to grow up in Comuna 13. We did our tour through Selina, and our guide was truly inspiring. Having grown up in Comuna 13, we got a local insight and perspective into what went on over the past 20 years. The message he left us with was to never take life for granted, as you never know how much more time you have left. He encouraged us to live each day like it could be our last, and to invest time and energy in loved ones.

Book here: https://selinamedellin.rezdy.com/236518/comuna-13-medellin-graffiti-tour

Immerse in nature at Parque Arvi

Not only will you have the opportunity to ride an epic gondola across Medellin up into the hills and mountains, but you’ll explore a bit of nature outside of the bustling city. You can hop on the gondola right at the subway, and it will send you up into the mountainside to explore numerous trails spanning across 16,000 hectares. Nowadays, you will need to pay for a guide to explore the trails, but it’s cheap (only about $2 USD) and definitely well worth it! Come here for a few hours, or pop over to the nearby town Santa Elena to lodge up for a night or two.

Take a day trip to Guatape

One of the most highly recommended things to do while in Medellin is to take an excursion out to Guatape. Guatape is an adorable village that is debatably the most iconic pueblo you will ever see. It sits just two hours outside of Medellin and is notoriously known for its brightly colored houses that look straight out of a painting. Guatape sits on the edge of a stunning lake, and the main attraction is a towering rock formation called El Penol which you can climb to take in impeccable views of the lake and surrounding area. While fully possible to do in one day, I recommend arranging to spend at least one night in Guatape, so you’re able to enjoy your time here without feeling worried about catching the bus or transport back.

Horseback riding through the coffee farms

The highlight of my whole trip to Colombia was doing a coffee farm tour. The day consisted of horseback riding through the mountains, learning about the coffee-making process from gestation to the coffee pot, whilst buzzing on coffee all day long! If you love coffee, (and if you don’t, what is wrong with you?) then this tour is a must. We went on a tour with Alejandro and have never felt so inspired in my life. He is a local from Medellin, and his life’s work is to his greatest passion and love; his coffee farm.

Casa de la Memoria

This museum will leave you with a somber feeling, but will also offer deeper insight into what Colombia and Medellin have been through over the past 20 years. This museum is unique in that it has many interactive exhibits to teach you about Colombia and its armed conflicts.

Museo de Antioquia

Founded way back in 1881, this museum is home to many interesting works of art. You can find the famous Botero’s art here, as well as pieces that date back to pre-Colombian times. The entry here is about $6 USD, and if you don’t have time to dive in for hours, it’s a place worth at least popping into.

Plaza Botero

You can meander around this plaza for free and get up close and personal with Botero’s works of art. Botero is known for his interesting proportions in his works of art. His sculptures are unique in how he really makes you ponder perspective and the way in which we view things. While you’re there, I recommend popping over to the Museo de Antioquia, which is in the same area as additional works by Botero.

Santa Fe Shopping Center

Whether you need to reassess your club attire, or simply get a few souvenirs of Medellin, you can find everything you need in this shopping center. You’ll find top brands such as Zara, H&M, as well as Colombian chains and smaller boutiques with local goods.

Pub Crawl

If you’re in the mood to get crazy, then don’t miss out on this pub crawl. Selina’s pub crawl will take you across Medellin to some of the most notorious spots for both reggaeton and techno. Every day they offer a different itinerary in case you want to repeat it, and the price includes welcome shots, billiard pool, Jenga, darts, beer pong, and all cover fees to get into the different bars and clubs. On this pub crawl, you’ll experience the perfect combination of quieter rooftops to enjoy conversation over cocktails, and louder clubs perfect for dancing.

Salsa

I’ve saved the best bit of advice for last, but if you’re in Medellin you absolutely have to try dancing salsa. Whether or not you’re a dancer is irrelevant, since local boys and girls can take your hand and spin you around the dance floor whether you know what you’re doing or not. They say that the people of Colombia were born with salsa dance in their blood — and you can truly feel the passion and energy in the salsa clubs. Whether you speak Spanish or not, you can learn to communicate with the people of Medellin through the rhythm and movement in Salsa.

I learned to dance salsa while in Medellin, from a local old guy at a salsa club who only knew a few words of English. It didn’t matter, however. We were speaking the language of dance. He spun me around the dance floor and taught me more than just salsa — he taught me how to listen to music. I’ll never forget when he looked me straight in the eyes and bluntly told me “to stop thinking so much. Just listen, and feel the music.” Straight life advice right there. We danced all night long, and ever since, I’ve been in love with this dance.

There are many opportunities for you to learn this historic dance. Selina offers lessons every Wednesday night for free, and the salsa teacher has a salsa studio just upstairs in Selina where you can take private and group dance classes.

A few salsa clubs I recommend

Eslabon Prendido:

You’ll find a more authentic vibe in this small yet high-energy salsa club. Notoriously known as one of the oldest salsa clubs in Medellin, here you’ll find mostly Medellin locals. The drink prices are cheap and you’ll have no problem finding a dance partner should you come solo!

Son Havana:

Come here on Thursdays and Saturdays for live salsa music, and dancers of all levels. The dance floor is small, which means there is nowhere to escape or awkwardly stand, so get ready to move! This club has a small cover charge but the drinks are cheap.

All in all, you’ll never be bored in Medellin. There’s plenty to do, amazing locals and expats alike to connect with, and delicious food to keep you salivating for years. My last bit of advice? Make sure you give yourself time to extend your trip in case you want to stay here longer — you probably won’t want to leave!

By Brooke Nally
Brooke is a freelance writer focused on the health and wellness sphere. She has been traveling the world for over three years now, working with YogaTrade and teaching yoga everywhere she lands.

Everything You Need to Do in Nosara, Costa Rica

You’ve landed in Nosara, Costa Rica, surrounded by undeveloped jungle, oxygen rich national parks, and the clearest ocean water in all of Costa Rica. While Nosara has grown in popularity over the past 10 years, it still carries a small-town charm with a sense of peaceful isolation while simultaneously providing eager travelers with plenty of activities to do. Nosara is also notoriously known as one of the 5 original blue zones of the world, which are some of the world’s hot spots where people on average, live longer and happier lives.

In this guide, we'll take a look at:

  • 1. Surf and swim at Playa Guiones
  • 2. Yoga, yoga, and more yoga
  • 3. Breathe in the jungle
  • 4. Eat fresh, sustainable food
  • 5. Rent a quad and explore
  • 6. Canopy Tour
  • 7. Refuge for Wildlife
  • 8. Learn some Spanish
  • 9. Beach Clean Up

Funnily enough, after visiting Nosara you might understand why. Perhaps it’s the mouth-watering, nutritious food. Or perhaps it’s the relaxed, ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle where not too much is taken seriously, work is worried about ‘manana’, and the locals understand and appreciate the beauty of life.

Put Nosara at the top of your list, and definitely don’t miss out on a few things:

1. Surf and swim at Playa Guiones

The beach:

This stunning beach has three miles of pristine white sand and year-round waves. Although it’s the area’s most popular beach, it’s still big enough to have personal space. Plus, there are no buildings on the beachfront, making every section of the beach feel like a private get-away. Thanks to local organizations, this beach and all of Nosara is free from all gray and black water dumping, ensuring the cleanest, freshest water to swim in. Keep walking north on the beach, and you’ll find Playa Pelada with some of the best tide pools to swim in during the heat of the day.

The Surf:

Playa Guiones is a beach break, offering clean left and right waves for surfers. The surf isn’t too intimidating — and is a great spot for beginners and intermediate surfers. You can rent boards at a few spots right off the beach for around $20 USD, and take a surf lesson from a pro for around $75. For the advanced surfers — be sure to check the surf reports, as this beach can also get some incredible swells with some fun waves for expert surfers who know their bottom turns from their cutbacks.

2. Yoga, yoga, and more yoga

Nosara is known as one of the yoga capitals throughout all of Costa Rica, and is crawling with yoga retreats, yoga classes, and teacher trainings. Great news if you’re a yoga instructor, because there are plenty of teaching opportunities should you decide you want to move to Costa Rica for a while to teach! You’ll find yoga classes in almost every hotel and hostel (including daily classes at Selina), as well as events, workshops, and everything a yogi could desire.

Definitely don’t miss:

  1. The Bodhi Tree: a gorgeous yoga resort tucked away in the jungle that offers daily classes open to the public.
  2. Nosara Yoga Institute: Located in the outskirts of Playa Guiones, this world renowned institute is a destination for yogis looking to do their teacher training or simply take a hiatus from their daily life.
  3. Blue Spirit: Not available to the public, but if you get a chance to partake in a yoga retreat here it’s an absolute must!

3. Breathe in the jungle

Nosara’s jungle is one of the most stunning in the world, and is home to over 270 species of animals. Walking down the streets, you can spot monkeys, bats, squirrels, iguanas, armadillos, and more species of birds than you could count. Not to mention the breathtaking flora and fauna — your senses will be awakened and tingling with the vibrant sensations that Nosara’s nature provides. The jungle is teeming with bright yellow and orange hibiscus, lush Panama trees, and 300-year old mangroves.

There are several hiking trails throughout the Nosara Biological Reserve that will offer you an even deeper glimpse into the dense jungle.

Start the morning with a 3 hour bird-watching tour to spot mccaws, parrots, and hundreds of species of birds, or take a tour to the malanoche waterfalls.

Just down from the Lagarta Lodge, hikers can access five different hiking trails winding through nearly 90 acres of reserve. You can also purchase a private two-hour tour with one of Lagarta Lodge’s wildlife experts — they’ll make sure to point out all of the exciting birds and wildlife that isn’t easy to see with the naked eye!

4. Eat fresh, sustainable food

While being a relatively small town, Nosara doesn’t lack in the world of gastronomy. Indulge your senses in the freshest fruits picked right off the trees, sensational herbs found from the region, and fish caught fresh daily from the sea to your plate. There’s a reason locals have a reputation of longevity — and it’s closely related to the nutrient-dense foods that will make your mouth water. Here are a few places you definitely don’t want to miss:

a. The Guilded Iguana
In a perfectly centralized location and offering a large variety on their menu — this is a great spot to come after the beach and continue to relax at by their pool with a pina colada.

b. La Luna
Beautiful spot to watch the sunset offering delicious pizza, seafood, and mediterranean cuisine.

c. Cafe de Paris
Delicious coffee, pastries and smoothies for breakfast, and healthy vegan/vegetarian options for lunch.

d. El Jardin:
A surprisingly large food truck — one that you can actually walk completely into and even sit down inside. The coffee here is fresh and the smoothie bowls are blended right in front of you. They have an adorable outdoor seating area full of flowers and cute decor.

e. Rosi’s Soda Tico
If you’re like me and you like to eat local food, you don’t want to miss Rosi’s Soda. Here you’ll find the best, home cooked local food such as a casado and fresh ceviche. Very affordable prices, and made with love.

f. Seekretspot
Last but not least — dessert. This might be the best kept ‘secret’ in Nosara, offering the best Gelato in Costa Rica!

5. Rent a quad and explore

A popular way to get around on the dirt roads that wind their way through the Nosara region. Since Nosara isn’t completely walkable, you can either opt to rent a taxi to get around if you decide to leave the Playa Guiones area, or, my recommendation is to rent a quad and unleash your adventurous side. With 4×4 abilities, you can go explore more rugged areas of Nosara such as Mala Noche waterfall, or even take off into the unknown jungle and see where you end up. Last time I was in Nosara, I ended up taking a quad with some friends up through the mountains and discovered a beautiful waterfall way off the beaten path! Monkey Quads offers rentals and guided tours if you prefer to go with a local expert.

6. Canopy Tour

The popular zip-lining activity will give you a glimpse of life in Nosara from above. Not to mention, Nosara has the longest canopy tour of its kind, with over 11km of line. Miss Sky Canopy Tours takes the adventurous ones on a tour of over 21 lines, each line ranging from 500-600 meters and hundreds of feet off the ground! The tour weaves you in and out of lush, jungle forest and has a pristine stop at a crystal blue waterfall for a refreshing rinse.

7. Refuge for Wildlife

A must-do while visiting Nosara — Refuge for Wildlife is an animal rescue project that was created to protect the wildlife in Costa Rica. As construction and development has grown in the area, electrocution of monkeys and other animals is the main cause for their rescues. The specialized team at the rescue are trained to rescue wildlife that are trapped in electric equipment, where they then bring them back to the rescue for further help from qualified veterinarians. You can choose to volunteer, or just stop in for an educational visit for a unique opportunity to learn more about the wildlife and the rescue process.

8. Learn some Spanish

Take a swing at learning the local tongue — whether you practice in the local Soda restaurants, or you take some proper Spanish lessons — learning the language is the ideal way to immerse yourself deeper into the local culture and to learn more about how locals live. Not to mention, Spanish is fun, and if you know a few useful phrases you might be able to barter at the local shops or fruit stands, or even make a local friend in the surf! Nosara Spanish Institute is a great accredited school to take Spanish lessons.

9. Beach Clean Up

Become part of the already booming eco-conscious culture of Nosara by partaking in a beach cleanup. This is a great way to give back to a place that has given so much to you. Start or finish your trip with a local beach clean up so you can leave Nosara feeling like you’ve leaving it better than you found it. Ask someone at Selina about their ‘Selina Gives Back’ program & when their next beach clean up is, or take the initiative and organize one yourself!

To summarize, enjoy Nosara! Whether you spend your days eating local food and getting to know the sweet culture of Nosara, or you enjoy yourself in deeper isolation, interacting with the dense jungle forest or the playful waves, you’ll fall in love with the experience of Nosara.

By Brooke Nally
Brooke is a freelance writer focused on the health and wellness sphere. She has been traveling the world for over three years now, working with YogaTrade and teaching yoga everywhere she lands.