Communities of Nosara
by Liana Johnson
Tourists and locals alike typically refer to this area as “Nosara” but the distinct neighborhoods of the area are quite different from one another. Nosara is composed of the local Tico town and the beach communities of Playa Pelada and Playa Guiones. Playa Garza and Playa Ostional are just a stone’s throw away and are growing to become an integral part of the community. No matter which direction you go, the adventurous jungle roads lead to a gem around every turn.
Nosara has four different beaches, each with its own distinctive charm and attractions.
Highlights: surf, beach, sunset, restaurants, activities, centrally located
Playa Guiones is a stunning 6km arc of golden sand and home to one of the most consistent warm water surf breaks on earth. Playa Guiones is one of the oldest ex-pat communities in Central America. When the first pioneers arrived in the 1970’s they were instantly aware they had stumbled upon one of the most spectacular beaches Costa Rica has to offer. They have endeavored to ensure that the natural beauty that first seduced them has remained relatively unchanged. Evidence of this lies in the multitude of protected green zones and the 200 meter beach conservation zone. Despite its rustic appeal, Guiones boasts a modern tourist infrastructure offering everything from fine dining to plush accommodations. Known as one of the best surfing beaches in the world, the waves are consistent all year round! In recent years, the area has also become a world class yoga destination. Yoga classes and retreats are offered at some amazing venues throughout town. In addition to being the most stunning light show on earth, sunset gatherings at Guiones to reconnect with friends over a cold cerveza are something of a sacred local tradition.
Highlights: Ocean views, mountain views, sunset views, privacy
EE section is the name of the area that covers Las Huacas mountain. Deemed the “sacred place” by the indigenous royalty of ancient times, the area became a safe haven to bury their treasures high upon the hill to be closest to the heavens. Las Huacas boasts some of the area's most incredible views, both of the eternal Pacific ocean and surrounding lush jungle. The benefits of staying in this area include proximity to the beaches and town while preserving privacy and tranquility.
Guiones Vacation Rentals:
Highlights: Beach, tide pools, sunsets, beachfront restaurants and bars, authentic atmosphere
A short five minute walk from Guiones provides arguably the most alluring beach in Nosara. Pelada is a white sand cove nestled between Playa Guiones and Playa Nosara. A little more rugged than Guiones, Pelada lacks both the surf scene and luxury of its Southern neighbor, which many visitors view as a luxury in itself. The sheltered half moon bay makes the ideal environment for children and families to spend the day relaxing or the ideal place to end a day with a breathtaking sunset. Whether you choose to soak in the local flavor of Olgas Bar sipping cocktails from the tropical opulence of La Luna’s restaurant terrace or simply enjoy the warm, calm Pacific waters, Playa Pelada is the perfect environment in which to soothe your soul.
Pelada’s tranquil ambiance, local Costa Rican feel, and accessibility to some of Nosara’s finest restaurants makes this an unforgettable vacation spot.
Highlights: Secret beaches, sunsets, rivers, nature preserve, fishing, adventure activities, local culture
The best kept secret of the Playa Pelada neighbourhood is an area locally referred to as “La Boca”. In English, this translates to “the mouth”, referring to the most prominent feature of the area - the location where the mouths of Rio Montana and Rio Nosara meet the ocean. This biological hot spot boasts a 35-hectare (86 acres) nature reserve and is home to a variety of local flora and fauna. Roughly 270 species of birds have been identified in this mangrove forest making it a naturalists' paradise. Crocodiles, crabs, fish, turtles, monkeys, and many other amazing creatures can be found here as well. To really get up close, you can explore the river via kayak or stand up paddle boarding. It’s fascinating to watch the local fishermen use their traditional hand line methods and nets to harvest local fish and shrimp. The entrance to the reserve is on the hill at Hotel Lagarta Lodge. From the hotel, capture expansive views of the river and shoreline. Sunsets from their restaurant terrace never disappoint! Ask the front desk for a trail map and list of trees that grow in the reserve.
Playa Pelada & La Boca Vacation Rentals:
Highlights: crowd-free beach, beachfront restaurants and bars, fishing, local culture
If it's a true taste of Costa Rica you're after, then this sleepy fishing village 5 km south of Playa Guiones delivers in droves. Playa Garza is a stunningly beautiful palm fringed, crescent shaped bay, where despite its infinite charm the possibility of being the only person roaming the expanse of golden sand still exists. Opposing headlands form a natural harbor making Playa Garza the obvious choice as the headquarters of the Nosara sport fishing industry. A variety of charter vessels equipped to deliver the fishing experience of a liftime wait a mere two-minute panga ride from shore. Playa Garza's calm, crystalline waters and stunning backdrop offers the ideal environment to swim, snorkel, kayak, stand up paddle and much more.
Back on dry land, Garza town is a treasure trove of cattle ranch culture, welcoming local characters and quaint eateries, all of which combine to create an ambiance that seekers of serenity will find irresistible.
Garza Vacation Rentals:
Highlights: Cultural food , airport, grocery stores, post office, soccer field
The actual town of Nosara is 6 km inland. Nosara is a traditional Tico town where you will find typical restaurants, discotheques, post office, police station, medical services, and supermarkets situated around the paramount soccer field and church. The small airport and landing strip for daily flights to San José and other local destinations is also located here.
On the way to Nosara Centro lies the gas station, Banco Costa Rica, hardware store, and two ample grocery stores: Super La Paloma and Super Nosara.
Highlights: Olive Ridley sea turtle nesting, black sand beach, surf
Playa Ostional is arguably the most important nesting beach in the world for the Olive Ridley sea turtle. During the mass nesting events that take place here, thousands, and sometimes even hundreds of thousands, of female Olive Ridley sea turtles make their way on-shore to lay their eggs in the black sand. This phenomenon is known locally as an “arribada”. It is truly something that you must see to believe. For the safety of the animals, to experience this life changing event you will have to arrange for a guided tour. The prime months to witness this spectacular display is from August to November. Ostional is home to more than just turtles. Mangrove swamps and estuaries provide a nature lovers paradise. Birds, fish, and land-dwelling creatures flourish in the protected area throughout the Refuge. A change in topography offers a different type of ocean view then you will find in Guiones or Pelada. In Ostional, the mountains are much closer to the ocean, making the views comparable to those of cliff-side estates in California. To top it off, Playa Ostional is home to some world class shore break waves that are sure to thrill even the more advanced surfers.
Although we view Playa Ostional as an integral part of our community, legally speaking it is not within the district of Nosara. Playa Garza, Playa Guiones, & Playa Pelada are all part of the district of Nosara, which is part of the Canton of Nicoya. Playa Ostional and part of Playa Nosara(not mentioned in this blog) are legally not part of Nosara but instead of the district of Cuajiniquil which belongs to the Canton of Santa Cruz. Special thanks to Adri Alfaro who brought up this important point while reading our article.
No matter where you choose to stay, I suggest visiting each of these unique spots to experience all of the magic the Nosara area has to offer. The proximity of each neighborhood makes for an easy day trip. Each stop is only a short drive away via car, ATV, or bicycle! If you would like to learn about the neighborhoods in relation to buying real estate, be sure to check out Nathan Jackson’s blog Nosara Real Estate Map and Sections.