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
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.
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:
- The Bodhi Tree: a gorgeous yoga resort tucked away in the jungle that offers daily classes open to the public.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.