๐Ÿ„๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธย Nosara Travel Guide: 8 Best Things To Do + Itinerary

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

Nosara is a small beach town renowned as one of Costa Rica’s best surf and yoga towns.

Four days is enough time to enjoy the town’s wellness-minded atmosphere, pristine beaches, and stunning sunsets.

I spent a relaxing trip in Nosara, and here, I share great things to do and tips to optimize your itinerary. This post covers:

  • โญ๏ธ Top things to do in Nosara
  • ๐Ÿ“ Nosara map with key places
  • ๐Ÿ—“๏ธ 4-day optimized itinerary
  • ๐Ÿš™ How to get around

Planning a trip? Here’s what to know about Costa Rica.

Disclosure: Lists By Lukiih is readers-supported. If you buy through an affiliate link on this post, I may earn a small commission. Thanks!

Nosara at a Glance

Before getting into the itinerary, hereโ€™s some general information on Nosara to help you plan your trip.

๐ŸŒ‹ What Is Nosara Known For?

Regarded as one of Costa Rica’s best beach towns, Nosara is known for its surf schools taught by expert surfers, notable yoga culture, sandy beaches, and vivid sunsets.

The town has a relaxed, wellness-minded, and zen atmosphere. It’s also a popular place for expats and digital nomads to settle down for weeks or months.

๐Ÿ—“๏ธ How Long To Spend in Nosara?

To make the long trip worthwhile, youโ€™ll want to spend at least three days in Nosara. However, if you want to take longer surf classes or yoga retreats, you’ll probably want to spend at least a week there.

Nosara is a great spot for those who want toย relax for long periodsย and integrate into the local community. Many expats and digital nomads make Nosara their home away from home.

Seeย how to spend ten days in Costa Rica.

๐Ÿ“ Where Is Nosara Located?

Located in the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica, Nosara is 80 miles south of the closest international airport in Liberia. It’s located in the Guanacaste province and is surrounded by a dry tropical forest.

Most visitors stay next to the beach in Playa Pelada or Playa Guiones (I stayed in the latter), but everyone calls these areas โ€œNosaraโ€ as well.

A map of Costa Rica with red pins highlighting key towns and an airplane showing the two international airports.
Nosara’s location in Costa Rica.

โ˜€๏ธ Best Time To Visit Nosara

The best time to visit Nosara is during Costa Ricaโ€™s dry season, which runs from December to April. I visited in March, and the weather was sunny, warm, and dry every day.

The rainy season in Guanacaste, the province in which Nosara is located, starts in June and tapers off in November.

Guanacaste is the driest province in Costa Rica, so the area’s weather is hot and dry almost year-round.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Is Nosara Expensive To Visit?

Being one of Costa Rica’s major tourist cities and a popular beach town, Nosara is expensive to visit.

  • Mid-range budget travelers can expect to spend about $200 a day in Nosara.
  • Budget travelers can expect to spend about $100 a day in Nosara.

See my budget breakdown for my trip to Nosara.

Top Beach Towns: Nosara vs. Tamarindo

Nosara and Tamarindo are considered top beach and surf towns in Costa Rica, so if youโ€™re deciding between the two, here are some of their differences:

๐Ÿ“ Nosara vs. Tamarindo’s Locations

Nosara and Tamarindo are in the Nicoya Peninsula, but Tamarindo is closer to the nearest international airport in Liberia.

Beach TownTravel Time From Liberia Airport
Tamarindo42 miles (90 minutes by car)
Nosara70 miles (3 hours by car)
Tamarindo vs. Nosara from Liberia Airport

๐Ÿ–๏ธ Nosara vs. Tamarindo’s Atmospheres

Nosara and Tamarindo are tropical havens known for their beautiful beaches, surf cultures, and “pura vida” vibe. However, their atmospheres do differ:

Beach TownAtmosphere
Tamarindo– Touristy
– Active nightlife
– Popular with young backpackers
Nosara– Relaxed, zen, hippy
– More quiet at night
– Popular with expats and digital nomads
Tamarindo’s vs. Nosara’s Atmospheres

3 Essential Tips for Visiting Nosara

Before getting into the itinerary, here are practical tips to know when traveling to Nosara.

๐Ÿ  1. Book accommodations early.

Due to Nosara’s small size and popularity with expats, mid-range and budget-friendly accommodations tend to be booked about a month in advance, especially during the high season.

The majority of visitors don’t stay in Nosara’s town center. They stay near the shops, yoga studios, surf classes, and restaurants in Downtown Guiones, which makes things more accessible.

I stayed at Olas Verdes Hotel, which has a direct, short walking path to Guiones Beach. The staff was exceptional, and the attached restaurant had a lot of great options for fresh fruits.

A fruit bowl of watermelon, mango, pineapples and papaya.
A meal at Olas Verdes Hotel.

๐Ÿ”ฆ 2. Bring flashlights or charge your phone.

While Nosara feels safe at night, many pedestrian-friendly streets do not have street lights.

Bring a small flashlight or ensure your phone is charged if you plan to walk around at night and not rely on tuk-tuks. There were several restaurants I walked to for dinner, and the walk was almost pitch-black for portions of it.

๐Ÿฒ 3. Don’t expect super cheap food.

While you can get meals for $ 5 USD in places like La Fortuna and Monteverde, the restaurants in Nosara tend to be more Westernized and less budget-friendly.

Here are some of the best restaurants I ate at and can recommend:

  • La Luna is one of the best places to catch the sunset if you sit outdoors. You can stroll onto the beach from the restaurant in less than three minutes. I paid $40 for my dinner here, making it the most expensive meal I had in Costa Rica.

Because itโ€™s known to have a great view of the sunset, La Luna is one of the few restaurants in Nosara that requires reservations (about a week ahead during the peak season).

A plate of salad, fish and tostones with dips.
A meal at La Luna.

You’ll have to travel outside the beach area and into Nosara town for more authentic, local restaurants.

Getting Around Nosara

Hereโ€™s how to get to Nosara and get around once youโ€™re there.

๐Ÿš™ How To Get to Nosara

After flying into one of Costa Ricaโ€™s international airports (e.g., the Liberia or San Jose airport), you can get to Nosara in four different ways.

  • Rental Car โ€“ It’s recommended that you rent a 4WD or 4×4 rental car if you plan to drive to Nosara.

The dirt roads leading up to Nosara are rough and full of potholes, so you should drive there only if youโ€™re an experienced driver.

  • Shuttle โ€“ Several companies offer daily shared or private shuttles to Nosara. I took a private shuttle from Liberia’s airport booked through my hotel. It took three hours and cost $135.
  • Public Bus โ€“ The budget option, taking the bus to Nosara, is also the most inconvenient (e.g., longer travel time, inflexible departure/arrival times).
  • Local Airline โ€“ The best way to get to Nosara is by flying into its tiny airport, Nosara Airport, which saves significant transportation time. The price of a flight to Nosara airport is similar to that of taking a private shuttle (a bit over $100).

๐Ÿšฒ How To Get Around Nosara

Once in Nosara, you can get around by walking, biking, driving a golf cart, or calling a tuk-tuk.

  • Walking โ€“Nosara is relatively pedestrian-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 wonโ€™t want to walk everywhere.
  • Biking โ€“ Biking is a cost-efficient and convenient way to get around Nosara. You can rent bikes in town or check if your accommodation has bikes for guests to use for free.

Some of Nosara’s roads can be bumpy and hard to bike on, but this is less of a problem when they are not busy with cars.

  • Golf Cart Rental โ€“ Rent a golf cart to get around Nosara more efficiently than walking or biking.
  • Tuk-Tuk โ€“ Tuk-tuks are readily available and are a quick way to get around Nosara, but they are not the most cost-effective by distance traveled. I paid, on average, $2.50 to ride for three minutes.

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

Nosara Itinerary Map

This map has all the recommended places in the Nosara travel itinerary below.

4-Day Itinerary for Nosara

This Nosara itinerary efficiently sequences attractions and activities the town is famous for.

Iโ€™ve also included suggested times for each activity based on my firsthand experience.

The Costa Rica planner below has part of this itinerary prefilled.

Day 1 in Nosara
๐Ÿš—Arrive in NosaraAfternoon
๐ŸŒค๏ธCatch the sunset at a beach5:30โ€“6:45 pm
๐ŸŽตEnjoy live music at Beach Dog Cafe7โ€“8 pm
Day 2 in Nosara
๐Ÿ„๐ŸปTake surf lessons7:30 amโ€“9 am
๐ŸšฒBike around and explore Nosaraโ€™s town11 amโ€“1:30 pm
๐Ÿง˜๐ŸปDrop into a yoga class2:30โ€“3:30 pm
๐ŸฅพHike the Nosara Biological Reserve4โ€“5:30 pm
๐ŸŒ™Have dinner and catch the sunset at La Luna5:30โ€“7:30 pm
Day 3 in Nosara
๐Ÿ„๐ŸปTake surf lessons7:30โ€“9 am
๐Ÿš—Go on an ATV tour10 amโ€“3 pm
๐ŸŒค๏ธCatch the sunset at a beach5:30โ€“6:45 pm
Day 4 in Nosara
๐Ÿ„๐ŸปTake surf lessons7:30โ€“9 am
๐Ÿ’†๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธEnjoy an outdoor massage10:30โ€“11:30 am
๐Ÿš—Leave for the next Costa Rica destinationAfternoon

8 Great Things To Do in Nosara

Having spent three packed days in Nosara, I share my recommendations and honest opinions on the top attractions and activities below, listed in rough order of priority.

A friend whoโ€™s spent several months there gave me this tip, which I agree with: For the most part, you don’t need to plan ahead for Nosara. Just get to the town and plan things as you go (any exceptions are noted below).

All prices mentioned in this post are in USD ๐Ÿ’ต .

1. Drop Into a Nosara Yoga Class

๐Ÿค” Why: Nosara is known for its yoga culture. It offers world-renowned yoga retreats and classes in some of the best yoga resorts. Many classes take place in beautiful surroundings at affordable prices by United States standards.

Two people standing next to an upright surfboard on sand.
Bodhi Tree in Nosara.

๐Ÿง˜โ€โ™‚๏ธ Where To Take Classes: There are many yoga locations to choose from in Nosara. Three places that offer drop-in classes are:

  • Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort
  • Nalu Studio
  • Norte Nosara

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.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort and the hotel walk-in yoga classes were $15 each without tip.

โฐ Duration: Most yoga classes are 60 to 90 minutes long. Many places also offer multi-day yoga retreats.

๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Take: Even if youโ€™re not a yogi (I donโ€™t practice yoga seriously), itโ€™s worth paying for a walk-in class to experience Nosara’s beautiful outdoor yoga spaces.

The Bodhi Tree class took place in a gorgeous yoga shala. The session offered by my hotel was small (two attendees, including myself) and was in the hotelโ€™s relaxed outdoor area, where I could see howler monkeys and birds in the nearby trees.

Return to itinerary โ†‘

2. Take Surf Lessons

๐Ÿค” 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 beginners and experienced avid surfers.

Two people standing next to an upright surfboard on sand.
Surf lessons in Nosara. (Photo by my friend, Annie He.)

๐Ÿ„โ€โ™€๏ธ Where To Take Classes: Several locations offer surf lessons in Nosara. Various types of lessons are 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.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: My friend paid $85 per session, which included getting her own board and private lessons.

โฐ Duration: Annieโ€™s sessions were 90 minutes each.

๐Ÿ€ My Friend’s Take: Annie wanted to learn how to surf as part of her desire to fear the ocean less, and she recommends Nosara as a great place to start learning. She thought the instructors were excellent and passionate about surfing and was able to quickly make friends with the community.

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3. Drive an ATV Through Rivers

๐Ÿค” Why: Nosara offers ATV tours that explore 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.

๐Ÿš— Where To Get an ATV Ride: Several places 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.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Budget about $100 for an ATV tour. Mine cost $95 without a tip.

โฐ Suggested Duration: Budget half a day. My tour lasted from 10 am to 3 pm for about five hours.

๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Take: An ATV ride in Nosara is a great option if you want something more active and want to get outside Nosara’s town. I thoroughly enjoyed how chill Nosaraโ€™s ATV ride felt. We drove through rivers, swam by a waterfall, crushed sugar canes, and swung on homemade swings.

Return to itinerary โ†‘

4. Catch the Sunset

๐Ÿค” Why: Nosara’s vivid sunsets sink into the ocean and leave the sky bright pink, red, or purple for 30 minutes. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset.

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

โ˜€๏ธ Where To Catch Sunsets: There are several ways to enjoy the stunning sunset in Nosara.

  • I caught the sunset every night at Guiones Beach, Nosaraโ€™s most famous beach, or at La Luna, a popular restaurant for sunset viewing.
  • 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.

La Luna is known for its incredible sunset views. It’s one of the few restaurants in Nosara that requires reservations. Book La Luna a week ahead during the peak season.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: The beach has no entrance fee. I spent $40 on a meal at La Luna, making it my most expensive meal in Nosara.

โฐ Suggested Duration: You can catch the sunset about 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.

๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Take: Iโ€™ve watched sunsets in multiple countries, and Nosara sunsets remain one of my favorites. The sunsets are also so accessible from the beach that itโ€™s almost odd to not try to see one.

Return to itinerary โ†‘

5. See the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles

๐Ÿค” 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. This phenomenon is known as โ€œarribadasโ€.

The peak season to catch them is between August and November.

๐Ÿš— 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 visiting when the moon is not out is best. The best time of the day to catch sea turtles is around sunrise at 5 am or sunset at 5 pm.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: The Ostional Wildlife Refuge has a $6 entrance fee.

A reservation with a local guide is required for all sea turtle tours in Ostional.

๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Take: Unfortunately, I visited Nosara outside of the turtle nesting season, so I didn’t see the Olive Ridley sea turtles. This would otherwise be at the top of my list of best things to do.

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6. Explore Nosaraโ€™s Town by Bike

๐Ÿค” Why: Nosara doesnโ€™t have a center per se, but exploring some of the main streets is charming.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: Nosara is walkable, but you will cover more ground with a bike or tuk-tuk. My hotel offered 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 purchased one of my favorite handmade earrings).

โฐ Suggested Duration: Half a day to a full day.

๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Take: Biking around Nosara is a pleasant way to get outside your hotel and beach area. Iโ€™ve bought some of my favorite clothes and jewelry in Nosara.

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7. Hike the Nosara Biological Reserve

๐Ÿค” Why: For nature lovers, the Nosara Biological Reserve has ample wildlife (e.g., howler monkeys, anteaters, iguanas) and an interesting hiking trail cutting through a lush jungle.

The trail can get flooded during high tide, preventing hikers from finishing the route.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: The Nosara Biological Reserve is located north of Playa Pelada. See the hiking route details.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Admission Fee: You have to walk through privately owned land to get to the reserve. Pay the $11 entrance fee at Lagarta Lodge.

โฐ Suggested Duration: It’s an easy trail that typically takes less than an hour to complete.

๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Take: If you want to do an off-the-beaten-path activity in Nosara, this hiking trail is one of them.

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8. Get an Outdoor Massage

๐Ÿค” Why: Getting an outdoor massage in Nosara means you can hear (and even see) the wildlife, so you wonโ€™t need massage music in the background; you get the real deal.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: Nosara has several spas. I booked a massage through my hotel, and that was the first massage Iโ€™ve ever had while watching howler monkeys swing on a tree nearby.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Budget about $100 for a 60-minute massage if you’re going to a spa. The hotelโ€™s outdoor massage was only $80, including a $10 tip.

โฐ Suggested Duration: Most standard massage packages are 30 to 60 minutes.

๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Take: Massages in Nosara might be more expensive than in other Costa Rica areas but are still relatively affordable by US standards. Having one in the outdoors was worth the unique experience.

Return to itinerary โ†‘

Costa Rica Trip Planner

To make your travel planning easier, download the trip planner below and use it as a starting point. The planner has country-specific travel information, an itinerary, a packing list, and a map with key places pinned.

The trip planner is built on Notion, which I use for all my travel planning (I genuinely love this tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.

Three Notion template screenshots are shown: travel information, itinerary, and map + packing list templates.
Preview of Costa Rica trip planner.

If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below.

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