Nosara, Costa Rica
The Nosara Vibe
Nosara, Costa Rica is a super cute seaside town that is the perfect surfer paradise.
There isn’t a whole lot to do in Nosara unless you are a surfer or interested in yoga, but there are plenty of cool day trips nearby.
We personally love it here for just relaxing on the beautiful Pacific coast beaches away from the crowds of tourists.Now on to the rest of the Nosara Costa Rica travel guide!
Map Of Nosara
Nosara is located on Northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
It is between the larger beach towns of Samara and Tamarindo.
Nosara at a Glance
Nearest International Airport
Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia
Popular Things to Do
surfing, yoga, turtle tours, rent an ATV, snorkel or diving tours
Best Way to Get Around
Rental car, walking in the downtown area
Best Time of Year to Visit
Dry season is from late December until mid-April
Book Your Trip
Getting to Nosara
Flights to Costa Rica
The easiest way of getting to Nosara is by flying in to the Liberia International Airport. From Liberia, it is about a two hour drive to Nosara. From San Jose, it is about a five hour drive.
That being said, we will go through how to get here from each airport to clear things up a bit.
Transportation From Liberia International Airport
Renting a car and driving to Nosara on your own is a great option if you would like to have a car for fun day trips.
The drive is on main roads most of the way and if you are a somewhat experienced driver you shouldn’t have any trouble.
Keep in mind that the roads near Nosara are not paved. Also, there are river crossings in some spots. In the dry season this will be no problem. During rainy season some of these roads can be difficult to cross.
We suggest renting an SUV no matter what time of year you visit for the clearance. Bonus points if you can rent a 4×4.
We work exclusively with a local car rental company called Adobe for all our rental needs.
They are the best company and we could rave about them all day. Plus, they have given us a 10% discount and other great perks to pass on to you.
You can find out more and book your car here.
If you are traveling with a group of people and don’t plan on renting a car, a private shuttle is the way to go.
You can all sit back and enjoy the Pacific coast scenery while a competent driver ensures you get to your destination safely.
We work exclusively with Adobe Transfer for private shuttles. You can find out more and get a shuttle price quote here.
To get to Nosara from Liberia you will have to first take the bus to Nicoya and then switch buses to Nosara.
In our opinion, this is just a total pain. However, it is doable if you are really trying to stick to a tight budget.
You can find out more with this bus schedule.
From San Jose Internation Airport
From San Jose it will take about five hours to drive to Nosara.
The drive to Samara is long, but fine. The first two hours of the drive are on a main toll highway. If you are a somewhat experienced driver you should have no trouble with this.
The tolls do not accept credit cards. They will take dollars or colones.
You will then drive on a main road that can feel like it take foreverrrr. A lot of big trucks drive this road and it is often hard to find a place to pass them.
Eventually, you will turn off on a smaller main road called Paso de Tampisque.
If you need to stop for a quick meal or bathroom, there is a small plaza with a Subway, Papa Johns, and Taco Bell located just before you make a left-hand turn on to Paso de Tampisque.
Other than that, there are not many quick food options along the way.
However, there are several gas stations if you need a bathroom break. Most of the gas station bathrooms are actually fairly decent.
From the turn on Paso de Tampisque, it is usually smooth sailing until you reach downtown Nosara.
Just not that police tend to hang out in the first few miles of your turn onto Paso de Tampisque controlling speeding.
We suggest downloading the free app Waze for directions in Costa Rica. It is the best and often other drivers are really great about inputting where the police are hanging out.
In other words, this drive is doable. We’ve done it many many times. However, after a long flight, driving for five hours might be the last thing you want to do.
Book your rental car here and save 10% plus many other great perks.
A private shuttle is the most comfortable way to get to Nosara.
Your shuttle driver will be waiting for you when you exit the airport and will take care of everything.
You and your group can just enjoy looking out the window. Your driver will be happy to stop for pictures or food along the way.
Get a private shuttle quote here.
There is a domestic airport located in Nosara. It is possible to take a domestic flight from San Jose here.
Just keep in mind that this is a more pricey option and if you are scared of small planes this might not be the best for you.
The pro is that this is a super fast transportation option and the views are amazing.
There is a public bus that will take you to Nosara. This trip will take about six hours.
Getting Around in Nosara
The downtown area of Nosara is small and easy to get around by foot. There are also little tuk tuk’s that you can get a ride on to get around.
We like to have a car because, besides surfing and eating, there’s not a whole lot to do in Nosara. Having a car gives us the flexibility to explore all the nice nearby beaches (and there are a lot of them).
We always rent with Adobe because they are the only rental car company in Costa Rica which we fully trust. Unfortunately, Adobe does not have an office in Nosara so it is not possible to take the public bus and then rent a car once there.
We have a 10% rental car discount for you! You can read more about it here.
Book Your Transportation
The most popular time to visit Nosara Costa Rica is between the end of December through early May. This is dry season in Nosara. You can expect extremely hot weather and no rain.
We like to visit this area between May through mid-August. At that time of year, you will likely have a daily afternoon thunderstorm, but there are fewer tourists,
From mid-August through mid-December you can expect the temperature to cool off a bit and more rain.
A lot of hotels close between August and December because there just isn’t enough demand.
You can find out more about the weather by month here.
Grab a free copy of our Costa Rica guide
The Gilded Iguana– Located 300 meters from the beach, this hotel has a pool and restaurant. The hotel has beachy modern vibe.
Hotel Boutique Lagarta Lodge– This hotel offers amazing ocean views from above. Relax in the beautiful pool or enjoy a delicious Mediterranean meal in the restaurant.
Tierra Magnifica Boutique Hotel– Enjoy the beautiful gardens and view of the ocean. This hotel has an on-site spa, pool, restaurant, and more!
Villa Mango: Nice hotel that backs up to a wildlife reserve. Guests can enjoy the on-site pool, restaurant, and amazing views.
The Sunset Shack– Located 50 meters from the beach, this hotel offers an on-site restaurant, pool, and simple (but modern) rooms.
The Nomadic Hotel– This hotel has private rooms as well as a mixed dormitory. There is a private pool, yoga classes, and a complimentary breakfast every morning for guests.
Green Sanctuary Hotel– Have you ever wanted to stay in a shipping container converted into a living space? You can at this hotel. There is also an outdoor pool, wellness center, and a spa on-site.
Nosara Homes & Villa Rentals
We always love renting a home or villa for our vacation. This gives you more privacy and allows you the flexibility to cook your own meals.
Note: We try to only ever suggest places with good cancellation policies, but always double check before booking.
Villa “F” – A secluded and modern 4 bedroom home that can sleep up to 10 guests comfortably.
Casa de Alces – This home is located just south of downtown Nosara on Playa Guiones. It can sleep 20 guests in 8 bedrooms. It would be the perfect spot for a family reunion or a group of friends.
Elements Villa – Also on Playa Guiones this home sleeps 20 guests in 7 bedrooms. This home has everything you would need for a fun trip.
Nalu Nosara Pool Villa – A 3 bedroom villa that can sleep up to 10 guests. There is a private pool on the property.
Things to Do in Nosara
Walk the Beach
The beach in Nosara is super long. You could walk for hours and hours while watching all the surfers in the water.
We suggest planning your trip with Captain Juri on his boat the Joy Toy. He offers inshore and offshore half and full-day trips.
Some of the fish you may catch include; mahi-mahi, tuna, grouper, wahoo, cubera snapper, and blue marlins.
Take a Surfing Lesson
Nosara is a surfers paradise and taking a surfing lesson from a surf school is a must do while here.
There are several surf shops along the main road which offer lessons and rent boards if you are more experienced.
Pro tip: Rent a board from the shops closest to the beach so you don’t have to lug the board as far.
See Sea Turtles
Near Nosara, there is a beach called Playa Ostional which is home to the Ostional Wildlife Refuge. Olive Ridley turtles use this beach as a nesting ground. You can find out more about seeing the sea turtle nesting here.
Take a Yoga Class
There are several yoga studios in the Nosara area which offer drop in classes. We personally like Bodhi Tree because it is seriously beautiful. Plus they have areal yoga. You can check out their schedule here.
Also, if you would like a more intense experience you can sign up for one of the many yoga retreats in the area.
Go Horseback Riding
There are almost always people walking the beach with horses offering rides for a fee. We like to take a sunset horseback ride for a really enjoyable experience.
Luna Azul Restaurant– A great place for quality seafood. The service and atmosphere are also amazing.
Restaurant Chirriboca– Such a beautiful restaurant with an amazing ocean view. All the food is delicious and fresh.
10 Pies – Really good quality food. A great lunch or dinner spot.
Burgers & Beers – Delicious burgers! Plus, they have quality beer, which is always important. 🙂
Dolce Vita: Amazing Italian food! Definitely try a pasta dish.
La Luna – Delicious fresh food and amazing atmosphere. It is always nice to have a great meal while watching the ocean.
Rosi’s Soda Tica – Great typical Costa Rican food at a good price. This place is super cozy and cute.
Go Juice – Great juice and poke bowl stand in town.
Digital Nomads in Nosara
If you plan on working while in Nosara there are a few things you should know.
– In general the internet is usually decent, but it’s always a good idea to ask about the internet speed before booking a place.
– If you need a co-working space check out Seline Hotel. They provide a coworking space for about $10 per day.
Packing for Nosara
In Nosara you will probably either be enjoying yoga or surfing.
For yoga we like to bring our own travel yoga mat, and very lightweight breathable clothes for yoga. It is hot here!
For surfing, don’t forget a rash guard shirt that has UV protection. We usually opt for long sleeve because the sun is so powerful.
If possible, we suggest packing your stuff in a large backpack instead of a suitcase. The roads aren’t paved here so sometimes rolling a suitcase around is not ideal.
Also, there are a few cute shops in the downtown area. Save some space in your bag if you think you might want to buy some stuff.
Check out our Nosara Packing List on Amazon for all the essentials.
Nosara Travel Tips
-We’ve gotten some questions on Nosara versus Samara. If you are looking for a really small town with a super relaxed feel, Nosara is the best option. If you would like a bit more going on, Samara is a better choice.
Both towns are located on the Nicoya Peninsula within one hour of each other.
– Please be aware that Nosara is not the best for swimming. There are consistent waves and this area is known for rip currents.
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Hey there!!! Im trying to put together a “per day” budget for my wife and I. We have airfare, and a house booked on Airbnb….Just trying to figure out between food and spending how to make sure we have enough for 10 days. Just not sure how to figure it all out. Thanks!!
Hi Damon, It is kind of hard to figure out because it is hard to say how much you will spend on activities and food. What we like to do is make a budget (like say we are only going to spend $100 per day) and work backwards. So, on our trip if we spend a lot one day for an activity we might eat a cheaper meal that night. You can definitely save money by cooking at your Airbnb for a few nights. You can get an OK meal for about $10 per person, but if you want to eat at nicer restaurants it will be more like $20 per person.
What other beach spots near Nosara do you suggest checking out? Also what other things can we check out near Nosara? We have rented a car with adobe.
Hi Brittany! You’re going to love Nosara! Heading down to Samara is a nice day trip option. Samara is a little busier than Nosara but has a cool hippie vibe and nice beach. You can also head north from Nosara and stop at Playa Osteonal. This is the beach which is known for being filled with turtles. Usually, this is something you will only see in the fall, but depending on which dates you will be there, you may be able to see at least a few turtles. They keep their Facebook page up to date, so definitely check that out. https://www.facebook.com/GUIASAGLO/ Also, we like to just drive the road that borders the ocean up to Tamarindo and pull off at random beaches along the way. So, what you do is instead of cutting out onto the main road to Tamarindo, enter Playa Junquillal (nice place to stop) in your GPS. Most of the little beaches are down unmarked dirt roads which just randomly end at beaches. You can just park your car at the end of these roads, but make sure you dont leave anything of value in the car. I would make your end goal Lola’s. From Junquillal just type Lola’s in your GPS and make sure it is bringing you along the beach road. Lola’s is a cool beach bar on a nice beach called Playa Avellana. https://www.costaricavibes.com/playa-avellana/ You could also head to Tamarindo from there or take another day trip up to Tamarindo. If you make it its own day trip, definitely take the interior road because it’s way faster and better maintained. Hope that helps! Let us know if you have more questions.
I first visited Nosara 28 years ago. I instantly fell in love with the place. I felt like I was stepping back in time. There were horses tied up outside bars and restaurants. That was the major source of transportation. The drive here took us over 8 hours. Driving through 11 rivers on a trip with no pavement on the road upon leaving Nicoya. There was only one hotel at the beach, which is still there but it is empty most of the time.
Now, everything is brand new in Nosara, with the recent development. You now have a luxurious airport in Liberia which shaves 2 hours off of the trip.
The drive is a drag except for all of the beautiful scence you will experience.
Enjoy the trip and pura vita.
Wow thats really interesting. Ffor only 28 years this country has definitely changed a lot! Thanks for sharing! I can’t even imagine Nosara like that with horses tied up outside of bars. I’ve driven through a few of the rivers when the bridge was out and I thought that was crazy.