I called this post a Week Away Travel Guide as opposed to a Weekend Away Guide, as Nosara, Costa Rica is not the kind of place most of us can pop over for the weekend. But I can pretty much say with confidence that if I could pop over there quickly for a weekend, I would probably be there all the time! It looks so amazing and sounds like such a great place to take children on a wonderful adventure.
Now imagine after growing up in California, then living in Australia, you decided to call Costa Rica your home! How incredible does that sound? Shelly, the author of this post, did just that: She now lives in Nosara, Costa Rica and it sounds like the perfect place to travel to!
In her 40-something years of life, Shelly has been a world traveler, waitress, writer, magazine editor, non-profit founder, entrepreneur and artist. By sheer luck and twists of fate, these paths have led to and helped define her latest, greatest and most challenging role as wife and homemaker; mother and teacher to Pixel, Robert and Beckett; and hostess extraordinaire. Shelly is the author of The Book of Questions for New Parents and the blog Kitchen Ranch. Here is her guide to Nosara, Costa Rica:
Nosara, located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, has recently enjoyed some very favorable press. National Geographic named Nosara as one of the top surf towns on the planet, a BBC Travel Segment included Nosara as the best beach in Costa Rica, and the New York Times raved about the world class waves in their travel section.
It is not surprising to me that this small and dusty jungle town is getting attention; Nosara is perfect. I know that is a bold statement, but after living here I feel confident in making it. The beaches, the ocean and the jungle backdrop are awe-inspiring.
Nosara includes the town of Nosara (located 6 km inland), as well as the beach communities of Playa Guiones and Playa Pelada. With one of the oldest expat settlements in Costa Rica, Nosara’s global community celebrates nature, sustainability and healthy living—true to Costa Rica’s “Pura Vida” attitude.
Nosara Wildlife Reserve. The Reserva Biologia, located on 90 acres beside the Nosara River, is a great place to spy howler monkeys in their natural habitat. The entrance fee is $6 and includes a map for a self-guided, two-hour walk.
Playa Pelada. North of Playa Guiones is Playa Pelada. Playa Pelada is a gentle beach with an abundance of tide pools, blow holes and caves. It is easy to spend hours exploring this beach. Olga’s bar, located right on the sand, is a great place to have a drink and watch the sunset.
The David Kitson Library: Save room in your suitcase for a few books to donate to the local library. Libraries in Central America are rare (at best), and the The David S. Kitson Library exists because of volunteers. The collection is impressive, with over 6,000 books in both English and Spanish. The library also offers workshops for the community, computers for personal use and a room that can be reserved for meetings.
Surf’s up. Nosara Tico Surf School is certified by the International Surf Association and the instructors are RLSS lifeguards. Lessons are offered privately or in a group setting for the whole family. Instructors are bilingual and surfboards are included.
Send the kids to school. Home School Beach Academy offers drop-in classes for visiting kids aged five and up. Their half day program includes instruction in Spanish, yoga, cooking and music.
“Giddy-up.” Horseback riding tours along the beach and into the jungle offer stunning views of the mountains and sea. The horses are well cared for and trained. Tours last from 2-3 hours. Visit Boca Nosara Tours for rates and additional details. Children must be a minimum of seven years old.
Take a yoga class. The Nosara Yoga Institute offers four public yoga classes a day ($10 per class), The Harmony Hotel in Playa Guiones offers three public classes daily, and the Yoga House offers several public classes a day during high season (November-March).
The closest thing to a downtown in Nosara might be the main road in Playa Guiones. Along the main road one will find eateries and a few shops. Nativa is one of our favorites for breezy beach wear and hand crafted jewelry.
On Tuesday mornings, there’s an Organic Farmer’s Market which is located on the main road in Playa Guiones. Here you can shop for beautiful produce and local crafts. If you find yourself in Nosara with a kitchen at your disposal, pre-order your produce from Rainbow Organic.
Nosara Nannies: My husband and I often use local childcare when we are on vacation. Whether it is to go river rafting with the big kids or have a long meal out in an upscale restaurant, local childcare is part of our ideal family vacation, and it’s readily available in Nosara.
The Guilded Iguana. The Guilded Iguana is a local favorite and serves up traditional Costa Rican fare as well as falafels, nachos, burritos and burgers. If you are in Nosara for the rainy season, be sure to visit the Guilded Iguana for their rainy day happy hours.
Il Balilisco. Who doesn’t like a pizzeria in the jungle? Il Basilico offers up delicious pizzas and a fresh glass of sangria while you wait. Our favorite pizza is the “Harmony” Pesto, hearts of palm, avocado and parmesan cheese.
Soda Maielos. Soda Marabel is located one block from the beach in Playa Pelada. Marabel has transformed her front patio into a lush garden and inviting restaurant. Bring your own beer (sometimes she is out) and the burritos are the best in town.
Café de Paris. The roads might be unpaved and very bumpy but don’t be fooled, there is some sophisticated dining to be had in this town! Enjoy an espresso and croissant while the kids play 18 holes of miniature golf at Café de Paris.
P.S. Shelly was having problems with the internet connection in Nosara, so the photos are not as high res as they normally would be, but I think they still look amazing!