North Pacific Coast: Places to Explore


Playa Nosara

One of the last beach communities for people who want to get away from it all, Playa Nosara's attractions are the wild stretches of side-by-side beaches called Pelada and Guiones, with surfing waves and miles of sand on which to stroll, and the tropical dry forest that covers much of the hinterland. Regulations here limit development to low-rise buildings 180 meters (600 feet) from the beach, where they are, thankfully, screened by trees. Americans and Europeans, with a large Swiss contingent, are building at a fairly rapid pace, but there appears to be an aesthetic sense here that is totally lacking in Tamarindo and Sámara. The town itself is inland and not very interesting, but the surrounding flora and fauna keep nature lovers entertained.

For years, most travelers headed here for the surf. The wide range of surf schools and waves varying from beginner to expert levels makes Nosara one of the best place to learn to surf. Along with surfing, the Nosara Yoga Institute, which offers instructor training, and daily classes for all levels, is increasingly a draw for health-conscious visitors. Healthy-food options, spas, and exercise classes abound plus there's an organic market Saturday mornings from 7 to noon on the main road near the Giardino Tropicale Hotel, selling organic produce plus fish, meat, eggs, dairy products, fresh juices, and baked goods.

Bird-watchers and other nature enthusiasts can explore the tropical dry forest on hiking trails, on horseback, or by boating up the tree-lined Nosara River. The access roads to Nosara are abysmal, and the labyrinth of woodsy roads around the beaches and hard-to-read signs make it easy to get lost, which is why most hotels here provide local maps for their guests.