🧘🏻 Nosara Travel Guide: 7 Great Things To Do, 4-Day Itinerary and Cost Breakdown

Silhouettes of a man carrying a surfboard against a sunset dipping into the ocean.

Thanks to its wellness-minded vibe, beautiful beaches and vivid sunsets, Nosara was the most relaxing area I visited during my trip to Costa Rica.

Here, I share practical tips on Nosara, including to get around, what to do and eat, a 4-day itinerary, a map with all recommended places and my trip’s $1,262 cost breakdown.

Quick Travel Facts for Nosara

🏄🏻‍♀️ Known for: World-renowned surf and yoga culture, beautiful beaches with stunning sunsets, and an international community of local Ticos, expats and digital nomads.

🧘🏻 Vibe: The area near the beach has a relaxed, wellness-minded and zen vibe. Nosara doesn’t have an obvious town center, so walking through it can feel more quiet and secluded than it actually is.

📍 Location: Located in the Nicoya peninsula, Nosara is 80 miles south of the closest international airport, Guanacaste Airport in Liberia (90 miles west). Most visitors stay next to the beach in Pelada or Guiones (I stayed in the latter), but call all the areas “Nosara”.

A map of Costa Rica with red pins highlighting key towns and an airplane showing the two international airports.
Nosara is south of the closest Costa Rica international airport.

☀️ When to visit: The most popular times to visit Nosara are during Costa Rica’s dry season, which runs from December to April. I visited in March.

⏳ How long to visit: You’ll want to spend 3 days minimum to make the travel to Nosara worth it or if you want to commit to a longer surf or yoga course. People who want to focus on relaxing or getting to know Nosara’s community stay 1 week or more.

This Costa Rica travel guide has more general tips and basics on the country.

Top Beach Towns: Nosara vs. Tamarindo

Nosara and Tamarindo are often on lists of top beach and surf towns in Costa Rica, so if you’re deciding between the two, here are some of their differences:

  • Location: Both Nosara and Tamarindo are in the Nicoya Peninsula, but Tamarindo is closer to the nearest international airport, Guanacaste Airport in Liberia. By land from the airport, it takes 1.5 hours to get to Tamarindo and 3 hours to get to Nosara.
  • Vibe: Compared to Nosara’s relaxed, zen and hippy vibe, Tamarindo is more touristy and is known to be have a more active nightlife. Nosara is popular with expats and digital nomads, while Tamarindo generally attracts young backpackers.

Nosara Transportation

Getting to Nosara

After flying into one of Costa Rica’s international airports (Juan Santamaria Airport in San José or Guanacaste Airport in Liberia), you can get to Nosara in several ways:

  • Rental car. By car, Nosara is 3-4 hours away from Liberia’s airport and 4-5 hours away from San José’s airport. Note that the roads leading to Nosara are rough (very bumpy and full of pot holes). It’s best to drive there only if you’re an experienced driver.
  • Shared/private shuttle. There are several companies that offer daily shared or private shuttles to Nosara. From the Liberia’s airport, I took a private shuttle booked through my hotel. It took 3 hours and cost $135 without tip. I didn’t mind the trip because Nosara was my first stop in Costa Rica, but after spending 20+ hours traveling around Costa Rica by the end of my trip, I wished I had taken a plane in retrospect.

For longer trips (1+ hour) in Costa Rica, it’s best to book a shuttle and you need to book these at least a day in advance. For shorter trips, you can take taxis or Uber.

  • Public bus. Taking the bus to Nosara is the budget option, but the most inconvenient (longer travel time and set departure/arrival times).
  • Plane. Nosara has a small, local airport, that you can fly to. Flight time from and to Costa Rica’s two international airports are 30 and 45 minutes, for Liberia’s and San José’s airports, respectively.

Getting Around Nosara

The Nosara town is ~5 miles away from the beach, so most visitors stay next to the beach in Pelada or Guiones (I stayed in the latter), but call the areas “Nosara” anyway. Once you’re in Nosara, you can get around by:

  • Walking. Nosara is relatively walking-friendly, especially on the roads right next to the beach. The area is a bit more sprawling than it looks, so you likely won’t want to walk everywhere.
  • Bike. Biking can be a cost-efficient and convenient way to get around Nosara. You can rent bikes around the town or check if your accommodation has bikes for their guests for free (mine did). Note that some areas of Nosara can be bumpy, but since it’s not very busy with cars, it’s not a problem.
  • Golf cart. You can also rent a golf cart to get around Nosara more quickly.
  • Tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuks are readily available and are a quick way to get around Nosara, but are not the most cost-effective by distance traveled. I paid on average $2.50 to ride ~3 minutes.

Unlike other tourist areas in Costa Rica, Nosara does not have Uber. Nosara is a small enough area that cars are largely unnecessary unless you’re staying outside the town.

7 Great Things To Do in Nosara

I spent a few days in Nosara balancing downtime and activities, and below is what I recommend doing in approximate order of priority.

This Google Map has all the Nosara places mentioned in this list.

A friend who’s spent several months in Nosara gave me this tip: Nosara is not a place you need to plan in advance. Just get to the town and plan things as you go (exceptions noted below).

1. Attend a drop-in yoga class

Why: Nosara is known for its yoga culture and offers world-famous yoga classes at affordable prices by US standards.

Two people standing next to an upright surfboard on sand.
After a yoga session at Bodhi Tree in Nosara.

Getting there: There are several yoga locations to choose from in Nosara. Three places that offer drop-in classes are Bodhi Tree, Nalu and Norte. I took a walk-in class at Bodhi Tree and a smaller session offered by my hotel.

Bodhi Tree is popular and the class was packed (20+ attendees), but I was still able to book a class the day of. You only need to book in advance for their longer courses.

Duration: Most yoga classes offered will be 1 to 1.5 hours long.

Cost: Both Bodhi Tree and the hotel walk-in yoga classes were $15 each without tip.

My take: Even if you’re not a yogi (I don’t practice yoga seriously), it’s worth paying $15 for a walk-in class to experience the beautiful, outdoor yoga spaces offered in Nosara. The Bodhi Tree class took place in a beautiful yoga shala. The session offered by my hotel was small (2 attendees, including myself) and was in hotel’s relaxed outdoor area.

2. Take surf lessons

Why: Nosara is a world-renowned surf town and offer classes and waves for both beginners and experienced surfers.

Two people standing next to an upright surfboard on sand.
My friend with her surf instructor in Nosara.

Getting there: There are several locations that offer surf lessons in Nosara. There are various types of lessons offered, ranging from personal to group, multi-day to one-off sessions, etc. My friend and travel companion, Annie He, booked multiple, personal surf lessons through our hotel which partners with Safari Surf School.

Duration: Annie’s personal sessions each lasted 90 minutes.

Cost: Annie paid $85 per session, which included equipment and lessons.

My take: Annie wanted to learn how to surf as part of her desire to fear the ocean less, and recommends Nosara as a great place to start learning. She thought the instructors were amazing and passionate about surfing, and was able to quickly make friends with the community.

3. Drive an ATV through rivers and waterfalls

Why: Nosara offers ATV tours that go through mountainous jungle trails, rivers, waterfalls, sugar cane fields and more.

The blog author smiling while playing under a waterfall.
A waterfall stop during the Nosara ATV tour.

Getting there: The are several places that offer ATV tours in Nosara. I booked an ATV ride through my hotel, which partners with Nosara ATV Rentals.

Duration: Expect to budget a half-day for an ATV tour in Nosara. My tour lasted from 10-3pm (5 hours).

Cost: The ATV tour I took cost $95 without tip.

My take: An ATV ride in Nosara is a great option if you want something more active and want to get outside the Nosara town. I thoroughly enjoyed how chill Nosara’s ATV ride felt. We drove through rivers, swam by a waterfall, crushed sugar canes and swung on homemade swings.

4. Catch the sunset at Guiones Beach or La Luna

Why: Nosara has vivid, stunning sunsets that sink into the ocean and leave the sky bright pink/red/purple for upwards of 30 minutes afterwards.

Orange sunset dipping low in the ocean at a distant.
Nosara has beautiful and intense sunsets.

Getting there: I caught the sunset every night at Guiones Beach, Nosara’s most famous beach, or at La Luna restaurant, a popular place to see the sunset.

Because it’s known to have a great view of the sunset, La Luna is one of the few restaurants in Nosara that requires advance reservations (1+ week ahead during the peak season).

Duration: You can catch the sunset ~10 minutes before the sun sinks into the ocean. I recommend staying up to 30 minutes after the sun has disappeared.

Cost: The beach has no entrance fee. I spent ~$40 on a meal at La Luna and this was my most expensive meal in Nosara.

My take: I’ve watched sunsets in multiple countries and Nosara sunsets remain one of my favorites. The sunsets are also so accessible from the beach that it’s almost odd to not catch one.

5. See the Olive Ridley sea turtles arrive at Ostional Playa

Why: Olive Ridley sea turtles arriving in massive numbers to nest at Ostional Playa is world-famous and happens year-round at least once a month (the peak season to catch them is between August and November). This phenomenon is known as “arribadas”.

Getting there: Ostional Playa is a 25-minute ride north of Nosara; you can rent a four-wheel vehicle or book a tour to get there. The sea turtles prefer to nest in the dark so it’s best when the moon is not out. The best time of the day to catch the sea turtles is around sunrise at 5am or sunset at 5pm.

Cost: The Ostional Wildlife Refuge has a $6 entrance fee.

My take: I unfortunately couldn’t make it to see the Olive Ridley sea turtles, but this was on my list of amazing things to see.

6. Explore the Nosara town by bike or walking

Why: Nosara doesn’t have a center per se, but exploring some of the main streets is very charming.

Getting there: Nosara is walkable, but you will cover more ground with a bike or tuk-tuk. My hotel offered their free bikes, so I rode one to town to check out shops like WLDFLWRS (where I bought one of my most complimented beach outfits) and Maderarte (where I bought one of my favorite handmade earrings).

Duration: You can spend a half-day or day walking around Nosara.

My take: Biking around in Nosara is a nice way to change scenery and go outside your hotel and beach area. Despite being a frugal and infrequent shopper, I’ve bought some of my favorite things in Nosara.

7. Get an outdoor massage

Why: Getting an outdoor massage in Nosara means you can hear (and even see) the wildlife, so you won’t need massage music in the background; you get the real deal.

Getting there: There are several spas in Nosara. I booked a massage through my hotel and that was the first massage I’ve ever had while watching howler monkeys swing on a tree nearby.

Duration: You can expect most massage packages to be the standard 30-60 minutes.

Cost: The hotel’s outdoor massage was $80 ($70 cost plus $10 tip).

My take: Massages in Nosara might be more expensive than in other Costa Rica areas, but are still very affordable by US standards, so having one outside was worth the unique experience.

Where To Eat in Nosara

My friend who visits Nosara very often gave me some food recommendations, and here are the places I ate at and can recommend:

  • La Luna: This is a popular restaurant to catch the sunset if you sit outdoors. You can easily stroll onto the beach in less than 3 minutes. At $40, it was one of the most expensive meals I had in Costa Rica.

Because it’s known to have a great view of the sunset, La Luna is one of the few restaurants in Nosara that requires advance reservations (1+ week ahead during the peak season).

A plate of salad, fish and tostones with dips.
A meal at La Luna.
  • Harmony Cafe: I had a $25 meal here that was decent, but not exceptional. I recommend this place mostly for the nice vibe and surrounding.
  • Olas Verdes Hotel: I don’t usually eat meals at my hotel/resort, but Olas Verdes’s menu and staff was exceptional (e.g., the fruit was fresh, the menu had several healthy options), so I found myself eating several meals here.
A fruit bowl of watermelon, mango, pineapples and papaya.
A meal at Olas Verdes Hotel.
  • Beach Dog Cafe: I had a $17 meal here that was good. I recommend this place for the local live music.

Nosara gets very dark at night with minimal street light, but it feels safe. Bring a flash light or make sure your phone is charged. When I walked to Beach Dog Cafe, there were portions of the walk that were pitch black.

4-Day Itinerary for Nosara

Below is how to spend 4 days in Nosara while doing all the activities mentioned above. For more downtime, you can do everything in 5+ days.

This itinerary resembles how I spent my time in Nosara while incorporating improvements. I’ve included some of my actual timestamps to give you an idea of how long you might need for each activity and how to efficiently sequence things.

Day 1🚗 Arrive in Nosara (afternoon)
🌤️ Sunset at Guiones Beach (5:30pm-6:45pm)
🎵 Live music and dinner at Beach Dog Cafe (7pm-8pm)
Day 2🏄🏻 Surf lessons (7:30am-9am)
🚲 Bike through and explore Nosara’s town (11am-1:30pm)
🧘🏻 Walk-in yoga class (2:30pm-3:30pm)
🌙 Dinner and sunset at La Luna (5:30pm-7:30pm)
Day 3🏄🏻 Surf lessons (7:30am-9am)
🏍️ ATV ride tour (10am-3pm)
⛅ Catch the sea turtles at Ostional beach (4pm-6pm)
🐠 Dinner and vibes at Harmony Cafe (7pm-8pm)
Day 4🏄🏻 Surf lessons (7:30-9am)
🧘🏻 Hotel outdoor walk-in yoga (9:30am-10:30am)
💆🏻‍♀️ Get an outdoor massage (11am -12pm)
🚗 Leave to the next Costa Rica area (afternoon)

For other Costa Rica itineraries: here’s a 5-day itinerary for La Fortuna, an activity-packed town with an active volcano, and a 2-day itinerary for Monteverde, a town known for its cloud forests.

Where I Stayed in Nosara

Here’s the hotel I stayed at and my thoughts on them.

Factors to consider:

  • Proximity to the beach. Nosara doesn’t quite have a town “center”, but a lot of the shops, yoga studios, surf classes and restaurants are located near the north of Guiones Beach, so staying near there will make everything more accessible.
  • Whether you want a hotel concierge or not. A hotel concierge will call shuttles for you, book tours and recommend things to do. An Airbnb host might recommend some things, but you’ll have to book everything yourself.

Where I stayed:

Hotel: I stayed at Olas Verdes Hotel and paid ~$227/night/person.

  • Pros: The staff was exceptional and the attached restaurant had a lot of good options with fresh fruits. I booked various things through the hotel (e.g., shuttle, outdoor yoga, outdoor massage, ATV ride). The hotel also had a walking path to the ocean, which my friend used frequently for her surf lessons.
  • Cons: I booked fairly last minute at the start of peak season, so I didn’t have as many hotel options. You can likely book a more affordable hotel that offers similar services if you book further in advance.

My Nosara Trip’s Cost Breakdown

I stayed in Nosara for 3 days and spent $1,262 ($420/day), making it the most expensive Costa Rica area I visited per day.

I split expenses with one other person on most things. All expenses are in USD, converted from Costa Rican Colón ($1 USD = 631₡ at the time of writing).

Cost Breakdown

🏠 Lodging: $682 ($227/night)

🚗 Transportation: $137 ($46/day)

  • Private shuttle from Liberia’s airport to Nosara: $135
  • Tuk-tuk ride: $2

🐠 Food: $123 ($41/day)

⭐ Activities and Entertainment: $320 ($107/day)

  • ATV tour: $110 (includes a $15 tip)
  • Bodhi Tree yoga session: $15
  • Hotel yoga session: $20 (includes a $5 tip)
  • Massage: $75 (includes a $5 tip)
  • Shopping: $100

All my Costa Rica travel expenses are broken down by location and category in this Costa Rica cost breakdown.

If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

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