Nosara is a small beach town that’s also known as one of Costa Rica’s best surf and yoga towns. 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.
I spent a few days in Nosara and here, I share practical tips on taking a trip there. This post covers:
- 🏖️ Nosara overview
- ⭐️ Great things to see and do
- 🗓️ 4-day optimized itineraryy
- 📍 Map with key attractions pinned
- 🚙 How to get around
Planning a trip to Costa Rica? This Costa Rica guide covers things to know before getting there, including tipping etiquette, common scams, cultural differences and what to pack.
- Nosara at a Glance
- Nosara vs. Tamarindo
- Getting Around
- Nosara Map
- 7 Great Things To Do
- Where To Eat
- 4-Day Itinerary
- Trip Cost Breakdown
- Costa Rica Trip Planner
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Nosara at a Glance
Below is some general information on Nosara to help you plan your trip.
🏄🏻♀️ Known For
Regarded as one of Costa Rica’s best beach towns, Nosara is known for:
- World-renowned surf culture with expert surfers
- Notable yoga culture
- Pristine beaches with stunning sunsets
- An international community of local Ticos, expats and digital nomads
The Nosara 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 is.
Located in the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica, Nosara is 80 miles south of the closest international airport, Guanacaste Airport in Liberia (90 miles west).
☀️ Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Nosara is during Costa Rica’s dry season, which runs from December to April. I visited in March and the weather was sunny, warm and dry.
The rainy season in Guanacaste, where Nosara is located, starts in June and tapers off in November.
That said, Guanacaste is the driest province in Costa Rica, so the area’s weather is hot and dry almost year-round.
⏳ How Long To Visit
You’ll want to spend at least three days in Nosara to make the travel to the location worth it. If you want to commit to longer surf classes or yoga retreats, you’ll probably want to spend a week in Nosara.
People who want to focus on relaxing or getting to know Nosara’s community tend to stay one week or longer. Maybe expats and digital nomads make Nosara their home or a destination they frequently visit in Costa Rica.
This Costa Rica travel guide has more general tips on the country.
Top Beach Towns: Nosara vs. Tamarindo
Nosara and Tamarindo are often on lists of the top beach and surf towns in Costa Rica, so if you’re deciding between the two, here are some of their differences:
Both Nosara and Tamarindo are in the Nicoya Peninsula, but Tamarindo is closer to the nearest international airport, Guanacaste Airport in Liberia.
From the Liberia airport, it takes one and a half hours to get to Tamarindo and three hours to get to Nosara by car.
Compared to Nosara’s relaxed, zen and hippy vibe, Tamarindo is more touristy and is known to have a more active nightlife.
Nosara is popular with expats and digital nomads, while Tamarindo generally attracts young backpackers.
Getting Around 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 by driving a rental car, taking a shared or private shuttle, taking the public bus or flying on a local airline.
Once you’re in Nosara, you will mainly get around by walking, biking, driving a golf cart or calling a tuk-tuk.
🚗 Rental Car
By car, Nosara is three to four hours away from Liberia’s airport and four to five hours away from San José’s airport.
The roads leading to Nosara are rough (e.g., very bumpy and full of potholes), so you should drive there only if you’re an experienced driver.
🚐 Shared or Private Shuttle
Several companies offer daily shared or private shuttles to Nosara.
From Liberia’s airport, I took a private shuttle booked through my hotel. It took three hours and cost $135 USD 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 local flight in retrospect.
For longer trips (more than an 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).
✈️ Local Airline
Nosara has a small, local airport, Aeropuerto Nosara (NOB), that you can fly to. This is the most convenient, but expensive option (more than $100 USD).
I took a shuttle from Liberia’s airport to Nosara, but if you’re not visiting anywhere else near Nosara, I think the best way to get to the small town is to take a local airline to save significant transportation time.
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.
Nosara is relatively walking-friendly, especially on the roads right next to the beach. The area is a bit more sprawling than it looks on a map, so you likely won’t want to walk everywhere.
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).
Some of Nosara’s roads can be bumpy, but if it’s not busy with cars, it’s usually not a problem.
⛳️ Golf Cart Rental
You can also rent a golf cart to get around Nosara more efficiently than walking and biking.
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 USD to ride for three 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 of the town.
Nosara Map With Recommended Places
This Costa Rica map has all the recommended places in Nosara pinned.
7 Great Things To Do in Nosara
I spent a few days in Nosara balancing downtime and activities, and here are seven of the best things I recommend doing in rough priority order.
A friend who’s spent several months in Nosara gave me this tip that I now agree with: Nosara is not a place you need to plan in advance. Just get to the town and plan things as you go (any exceptions are noted below).
1. Drop into a Nosara yoga class
🤔 Why: Nosara is known for its yoga culture and offers world-famous yoga retreats and classes at affordable prices by United States standards.
🚗 Getting there: There are several yoga locations to choose from in Nosara. Three places that offer drop-in classes are Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort, Nalu Studio and Norte Nosara. I did a walk-in yoga 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.
⏰ Suggested duration: Most yoga classes are about one to one hour and a half long.
💰 Expected cost: Both Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort and the hotel walk-in yoga classes were $15 USD each without tip.
🍀 My take: Even if you’re not a yogi (I don’t practice yoga seriously), it’s worth paying $15 USD 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 the hotel’s relaxed outdoor area.
2. Take surf lessons
🤔 Why: Nosara is a world-renowned surf town with consistent waves. This small beach town offers classes for all skill levels and the variety of waves is great for both beginners and experienced, avid surfers.
🚗 Getting there: Several locations offer surf lessons in Nosara. There are various types of lessons offered, ranging from group to private lessons, 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.
⏰ Suggested duration: Annie’s personal sessions each lasted 90 minutes.
💰 Expected cost: My friend paid $85 USD 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 has ATV tours that go through mountainous jungle trails, rivers, waterfalls, sugar cane fields and more.
🚗 Getting there: The are several places that offer ATV tours in Nosara. I booked an ATV guided tour through my hotel, which partners with Nosara ATV Rentals. Here’s a highly-rated Nosara ATV tour through the mountains and beaches.
⏰ Suggested duration: Expect to budget a half-day for an ATV tour in Nosara. My tour lasted from 10 am to 3 pm, for about five hours.
💰 Expected cost: The ATV tour I took cost $95 USD without tip.
🍀 My take: An ATV ride in Nosara is a great option if you want something more active and want to get outside 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 Playa Guiones or La Luna
🤔 Why: Nosara has vivid sunsets that sink into the ocean and leave the sky bright pink, red or purple for upwards of 30 minutes afterwards. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset.
🚗 Getting there: There are several ways to enjoy the stunning sunset in Nosara.
- 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.
- You can also go on a horseback riding tour during sunset which people have said is a beautiful experience.
- You can also take a sunset cruise or boat tour.
Because it’s known to have a great view of the sunset, La Luna is one of the few restaurants in Nosara that requires reservations. Book La Luna a week ahead during the peak season.
⏰ Suggested 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 to see the sky change colors.
💰 Expected cost: The beach has no entrance fee. I spent ~$40 USD 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 try to see one.
5. See the Olive Ridley sea turtles arrive at Playa Ostional
🤔 Why: Olive Ridley sea turtles arriving in massive numbers to nest at Playa Ostional 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: Playa Ostional is located north of Playa Nosara and is a 25-minute ride north of Nosara town. 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 sea turtles is around sunrise at 5 am or sunset at 5 pm.
💰 Expected 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 Nosara’s 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).
⏰ Suggested 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.
⏰ Suggested duration: You can expect most massage packages to be the standard 30 to 60 minutes.
💰 Expected cost: The hotel’s outdoor massage was $80 USD, including a $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 some of the best 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 three minutes. At $40 USD, 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 reservations (i.e., 1 week ahead during the peak season).
- Harmony Cafe: I had a $25 USD meal here that was decent, but not exceptional. I recommend this place mostly for the nice vibe and surroundings.
- Olas Verdes Hotel: I don’t usually eat meals at my hotel/resort, but Olas Verdes’s menu and staff were exceptional (e.g., the fruit was fresh, the menu had several healthy options), so I found myself eating several meals here.
- Beach Dog Cafe: I had a $17 USD 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 flashlight 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 a great way to spend four days in Nosara while doing all the activities mentioned above. For more downtime, you can do everything in five or more days.
This itinerary is the improved version of my Nosara trip. 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.
The Costa Rica planner below has part of this itinerary prefilled.
|Day 1||🚗 Arrive in Nosara (afternoon)|
🌤️ Sunset at Playa Beach (5:30–6:45 pm)
🎵 Live music and dinner at Beach Dog Cafe (7–8 pm)
|Day 2||🏄🏻 Surf lessons (7:30 am–9 am)|
🚲 Bike through and explore Nosara’s town (11 am–1:30 pm)
🧘🏻 Walk-in yoga class (2:30–3:30 pm)
🌙 Dinner and sunset at La Luna (5:30–7:30 pm)
|Day 3||🏄🏻 Surf lessons (7:30–9 am)|
🧘🏻 Hotel outdoor walk-in yoga (9:30–10:30 am)
💆🏻♀️ Get an outdoor massage (11 am–12 pm)
🚗 Leave for the next Costa Rica area (afternoon)
|Day 4||🏄🏻 Surf lessons (7:30–9 am)|
🧘🏻 Hotel outdoor walk-in yoga (9:30–10:30 am)
💆🏻♀️ Get an outdoor massage (11 am –12 pm)
🚗 Leave for the next Costa Rica area (afternoon)
Accommodations in Nosara
Here are things to consider when choosing where to stay in Nosara and where I stayed.
🏠 What To Consider
When choosing accommodation in Nosara, here are some things 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 Playa Guiones, 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
During my trip to Nosara, I stayed at a resort. Here are my honest thoughts on the accommodation:
I stayed at Olas Verdes Hotel and paid ~$227 USD per night.
- 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 the high 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.
Nosara Trip Cost
My three-day trip in Nosara cost a total of $1,227 USD and I averaged $409 USD per day.
Nosara is a well-known, expensive beach town so costs there are generally higher. Across Costa Rica, you can generally find cheap, local meals and budget $20 USD for food per day if you want to, but I found that difficult to do in Nosara.
All my travel expenses are broken down by category in this Costa Rica cost guide.
|Total Cost||Cost per Day|
|⭐ Activities & Misc.||$258||$86|
Costa Rica Trip Planner
To make your travel planning easier, download the trip planning template below and use it as a starting point. The template has country-specific travel information as well as an itinerary, packing list and map with recommended places pinned.
The template is built on Notion, which is what I use for all my travel planning (I’m not paid to say this; I just like the tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.
If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Costa Rica Travel Guides
- ✈️ Planning A Trip to Costa Rica: 13 Things To Know
- 🦥 10-12 Amazing Days in Costa Rica: 3 Itineraries
- 💰 Costa Rica Trip Cost: 2023 Travel Expense Breakdown
- 🌋 La Fortuna Guide: Itinerary + 10 Great Things To Do
- 🌳 Monteverde Guide: Itinerary + 5 Great Things To Do
- 🏄🏻♀️ Nosara Guide: Itinerary + 7 Great Things To Do
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