In this post I am going to talk about once the best surf towns in Costa Rica – Nosara. In my opinion, its both a beach and town (as well as area) that offers the widest variety trip options for any family or solo travelers. It also has as a good choice of accommodations, restaurants and transportation.
As a little background, for almost twenty five years I have been consulting travelers on their options for the perfect Costa Rica vacation. I have been fortunate to have a group of good friends that live in Europe the U.S. as well as throughout Costa Rica, which gives me a unique appreciation for the latest trends in all of these countries. I have also been able to develop a network of experts throughout Costa Rica that I contact for the latest fishing, diving, surfing and even the level of volcanic activity.
One of the most common questions I get when people ask me about Costa Rica is which town is the best to use as a base of exploration? Caribbean or Pacific? Guanacaste? Alajuela? Puntarenas?My answer is the same you hear from your lawyer or accountant when ever you pose them even the most simple of questions. “It depends.”It really does depend on the size and make up of those that will be traveling as well as their interests, vacation time and budget.
Located on the southern part of the Guanacaste Peninsula the beach town of Nosara has been a popular destination with savvy travelers and well-heeled retirees looking low key but elegant part of Costa Rica to call home.
It is also important to note that Nosara is the principle town in a community of beach villages and that in referring Nosara we are also including the beaches of Guiones, Pelada and Ostional. There are no enormous resort hotels or large restaurant district (other than Costa Rica dance halls) and the local population of both Ticos and Ex-pats have a long established respect for low profile tourism and wildlife preservation.
Nosara, and the beach communities that comprise the area, are blessed with beautiful beaches that capture a steady but pleasant breeze due to their geographic location. Being far enough down the Guanacaste Peninsula to escape the fierce Papagayo winds but yet far enough north to avoid the sustained days of rain or overcast skies found in the deep part of the rainy season found to the south.
Those looking to experience on of the last habitats of dry tropical forest left anywhere in the world can find solace and enjoyment in the local reserves, watching howler monkeys play and feed at sunset or witness endless numbers of egg laden sea turtles crawl up the beach in the place where they were once born.
In and near Nosara are some of not only Costa Rica’s but the world finest surfing. Waves for surfer of all levels are a short ride away and offer idyllic backdrops for the perfect session.
Divers and Anglers can find a major continental shelf that drops off hundreds of feet deep, just three miles offshore, offering one the ability to have a an encounter with all means of sea life. Birds and porpoise in the tens of thousands, whales, sailfish, marlin and of course, sea turtles.
While sea turtles are visible while at sea, the town of Ostional is home to one of the world’s most impressive and awe inspiring demonstrations of nature’s mysteries on a massive scale that can be found on the planet.
On the this small beach, at certain times of the year, sea turtles will arrive in the tens of thousands to lay their eggs on the same spot where themselves were hatched many years before. How they are able to return to this very beach after traveling up to thousands of miles at sea is not known. Since the overwhelming amount of turtles converging on the same spot means that there are more turtles looking to lay their eggs then there is room on the beach the local community has developed a conservation program that allows them to move some nests and also share this experience with visitors. Check on the dates you are looking to travel to Costa Rica for the best chance you would have to be able to witness one of these unforgettable nights.
Getting To and Around Nosara
First of all I would highly recommend that get your flights into Liberia instead of San Jose as its a lot closer and the road from Liberia to Nosara is well paved. From Liberia to Nosara is about a 3 hour drive and pretty straight forward. From San Jose its technically about a 5 hour drive but that is a generous number as there are a lot of factors involved that will slow you up from San Jose such as slow cars and trucks, general traffic, driving over the mountains etc..
If you’re staying downtown in Nosara and planning to spend a couple days on activities where they’ll pick you and drop you off, you don’t “need” a rental. However, if you decide once you get there and want a rental, your hotel should be able to help you with that however it may be more expensive then booking ahead of time. Without a car you can arrange for a taxi to other beaches or towns.
Domestic Flights to Nosara
Despite its small size the town has been able to maintain regular air service with a frequency better than much larger towns, a testament to the demographic of those that travel there and the small beach “suburbs” it services. In fact both of Costa Rica’s domestic carriers, Sansa and Nature Air, service Nosara on a daily basis but since the number of seats available and their schedule means that if you are looking to fly than making plane reservations should be done before or at the same time you book your accommodations.
Since these carriers prevent or discourage strongly via their terms and conditions from you “holding” a seat without purchasing your ticket, you need to take this into consideration when planning for your group as well. This is one of those situations where an experienced and well-connected travel consultant is worth their weight in gold. Please remember that no matter which air carrier you may use, both have severe restrictions on the amount of luggage you can carry due to weight considerations.
Nosara by Car
Nosara is also accessible by road, but the condition and distance from San Jose and Liberia has always made Nosara a place you “wanted” to get to as opposed to those located in ore strategic locals. Nonetheless, if you have the time to relax and take in the beautiful scenery on your trip, having a car at your disposal allows you not only to carry more luggage, but also the chance explore the many named and unnamed beaches found nearby, and at your own pace.
If you decide to rent a car whether before you get there or once you arrive, then get an SUV. Even the tiniest 4WD is preferred to a standard. You’ll want the clearance. You probably won’t need the 4WD unless you get really adventurous.
Time and Temperature in Nosara
Costa Rica and therefore Nosara is in the Central Standard Time zone and it gets dark at about 6 p.m. — every day of the year. Because it is close to the equator, the sun rises about 5:45 a.m. and sets about 5:45 p.m. If you are driving, try to be at your destination before sunset — road and street signs rarely exist ( but are getting much better) and there are few street lights. Also need to be aware of the people as its common to see them walking along the side of the road.
Many attractions in the Nosara area, especially those with wildlife, open as early as 7 a.m. — so get up and enjoy the day.
The weather in Nosara is tropical — humidity is always high. The busiest time of year there is November through May, when it is generally sunny and hot. Although Nosara is in one of the driest areas of Costa Rica look for it rain from June through October, usually between 3 and 6 p.m. September and October are is the time of year when it is most cloudy and rainy.
Regardless of when you travel to this area, always carry a waterproof jacket, for downpours can occur at any time.