Surfing Nosara Costa Rica Surf Guide
Surfing Nosara Costa Rica Surf Guide
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As far as the complete Costa Rican vacation is concerned, Nosara may be one of the most up-and-coming vacation destinations in the entire country. Central America, and Costa Rica, for that matter, are slowly becoming more and more developed, and this town is no different.
Though there is tourism and an ex-pat community, Nosara has remained a little off the grid in terms of vacation hotspots.
Nosara combines top-of-the-line style accommodations and eateries with the remoteness of a Tico beach town. You won't be charged an arm and a leg for a meal, but don't expect the prices of southeast Asia street cuisine - how I miss me some Gado Gado from the stalls of Bali.
Nosara's town is small, but there's a ton to do, regardless of your surf abilities or interests. Obviously, you'll probably be visiting Nosara to catch some gnarly beach breaking waves, but a session or two of yoga while you're there is a smart decision.
Get to know Nosara's waves on your next trip!
Nosara: Overview of the Surfing Spot
Nosara doesn't have the heavy rage atmosphere of Tamarindo or Puerto Viejo. You'll actually get some wonderful days of surf in while you visit and might even heal your chakras from all that debauchery from last week.
After a great night sleep, you might be able to get two sessions in a day - depends on a 5 or 6 a.m. high tide; two sessions every day, that's what we all love, wake up to the brisk Costa Rican morning (well, not that brisk), watch the sunrise, and surf until breakfast.
Nestled in the northern peninsula of Costa Rica is a region called Guanacaste. Guanacaste is known for its "cowboy country" atmosphere, gnarly waves, and pristine beaches, though it hasn't been overrun with thousands of tourists. Although you'll find ridiculous crowds and hundreds of tourism companies in nearby Tamarindo, Nosara delivers a much more relaxed and chill-out vibe than any other beach I've visited in Central America.
Tuk-tuk taxis are rolling all over town, the food is out of this world, and everyone in Nosara embraces life in the most positive fashions. If you're trying to surf Costa Rica on a budget, then Nosara isn't the best option, but it can definitely be done if you know the right places.
The Town of Nosara Costa Rica
Map of Costa Rica
One of my favorite parts about Nosara is the way the town, in general, operates. If the swell doesn't hit or the wave isn't working, people find ways to entertain themselves.
Another huge plus of Nosara is that it's home to most beach yoga institutes, which means in shape vacationers. It's a whole lot better to a bunch of babes on the beach than the typical overweight American vacation slug.
Surfing in Nosara Costa Rica
Nosara is definitely one of Costa Rica's best-kept secrets, for it may attract many surfers, but the majority of them are relatively strong riders. There are two different beaches in Nosara, so you won't get caught in too big of a lineup, but on the weekends, expect a few dozen surfers.
From my experience, Nosara isn't your typical party surf town, but you can probably find something happening if you hit any of the bars on the main strip. This town is set up very well - everything is convenient, but it isn't packed with tall buildings or fancy resorts.
Not to say there aren't great accommodations, but it's much nicer when the hotels are more boutique-style as opposed to enormous all-inclusive ones. As you enter town from the highway, you'll see tons of surf shops, surf schools, yoga studios, Tico souvenir stores, and tiny little bodega style grocery marts.
The majority of the vibe in Nosara is based around surfing, yoga, and escaping from the business of your life.
The People: What Makes Them Unique
Everyone I met in Nosara was so keen. It was a great breath of fresh air.
You'll find the main strip of the town from the highway, where you can find most of the things you'll need during your trip.
You can wake up, head to Café de Paris, where a cute french couple dishes out French pastries and killer drinks at the barista—they also have some rooms for rent, but it would drive me crazy to wake up to French pastries every day.
Or you can head to Tibidabo, where you'll find authentic Mediterranean style foods and an upscale cocktail bar. At the end of town is where the Beach Dog Cafe is located and is a great local hangout for people looking to catch natural lunch and stiff buzz.
With the majority of shops and restaurants owned by Ex-pats, the town functions pretty smoothly. You can most definitely find Tico cuisine all over town. It's cool how so many people from around the world have moved to Nosara and called it their new "home." You really get that international vibe when so many cultures come together, and it works super well in Nosara.
The Waves: Surfing in Nosara Costa Rica
Awesome waves you'll find in Nosara
Nosara is made up of three different beaches, all serving up a different style of wave.
- Pelota; and
- Guiones—Guiones is by far the best.
If you're just learning, I'd recommend Playa Nosara or Pelota, but a beginner will hold up just fine at Guiones (as long as the swell isn't huge). Guiones is, by far, the best. Guiones is an enormous, un-crowded, white-sand beach, which dishes out glassy, clean, and forgiving waves. The beach is surf-able almost 365 days a year, with about 250-300 days of shoulder to overhead size waves.
Because the beach at Guiones is vast and there's a ton of points, every skill level surfer will find what they're looking for. The best times to rip here are either in the early morning or just before sunset, arguably the best times to ride anyways.
As far as Costa Rica is concerned, Guiones has potentially the cleanest and most well-developed waves in the country, which is why I find myself returning every few months. As a shortboarder, low tide is probably my favorite time to rip Guiones, as the waves have much steeper faces when there's less water.
I've found the wave barreling at low tide, while high tide and mid-tide are much better for beginners or badass old timing longboarders.
Much like most of Costa Rica, the locals are cheerful, friendly, and an energetic bunch. They'll be happy to share waves with you as long as you can respect their presence.
I wouldn't recommend dropping in on a veteran Tico, but he'll definitely give you the head nod to rip that slow rolling right if you just give it a little time.
As one of the most chill places in the whole country, locals tend to be pickier with their waves and won't drop in on every set that rolls through.
Now, let's check the surf: Surfline Forecast
Surf School Recommendations in Nosara Costa Rica
Surf Gear You Should Bring in Nosara
There are a few surf schools around the entire town, so finding a lesson is super easy. For having the best instructors, I'd recommend the following:
- Nosara Tico Surf School
- Nosara Surf Academy
- The Safari Surf School
Tim, the Safari Surf School CEO, reports that it is one of the longest-running surf programs in all of Costa Rica since 1999, and for a good reason, these guys are the best at what they do! They offer all-inclusive surf packages for all budgets and do a lot of custom packages as well.
All the staff is locals from the Nosara area. They are all ISA certified, and lifeguard certified. They also have 2 instructors who are the only ISA level 2 instructors in Costa Rica.
With sustainability as their core principle (Wave Tribe likes that), Safari is well connected within the community development projects and strives to make a difference to keep Nosara, well— Nosara!
As an avid surf backpacker who's been all over Central America, I wholeheartedly believe that Nosara is one of the best waves I've surfed. It may not have the power or height of somewhere like Salsa Brava, nor will it have the remoteness of Playa Grande, but Nosara is fantastic.
It's a great beach for shortboarders, longboarders, old-timers, veterans, virgins, intermediates, chicks, dudes, bros, weirdos, the whole goddamn shebang. Head to Nosara, surf Guiones, and throw in a yoga session; trust me, you won't regret visiting here.
Surfing Nosara, Costa Rica
Hotels & Places to Stay in Nosara Costa Rica
Nosara Beach Hostel
It all depends on what type of vacation or surf trip you want to have. Nosara is a little bit on the pricier side but can easily be conquered by surf backpackers if they choose the right accommodations.
If you are traveling with a crew, you will probably want to rent a house somewhere and avoid staying in a hostel. But if you are traveling solo or with a small group, then there's many hostels and surf camps that cater to people trying to live on a budget.
Nosara Beach Hostel
This is one of the places I stay when I'm surfing Nosara because it's like a 2-minute walk from the southern point of Playa Guiones. Bunks here range from 10-15$, usually have air conditioning, and are super modern.
You walk into this hostel, and you'll feel like you just walked into a millionaire's kitchen. The hostel is very spread out, so you feel more comfortable than a standard backpacking hostel.
This is the most popular hostel in Nosara, so it brings in people from around the world. The majority of people here are either surfing, yoga, or looking for some peace in Central America.
I have only good things to say about this hostel and recommend it to anyone who wants to surf the break for a few days and needs a place to live cheaply.
4 You Hostel
Another great hostel choice, perfect for backpackers. You pay 13-18$ per night here but are housed in an extremely luxurious hostel.
There's room to lock your board in, there are badass keypads for the doors (so you won't have to worry about losing your hostel keys), an enormous shared kitchen, and plenty of area to lounge.
This hotel is definitely the cleanest in Costa Rica, so you can actually feel clean while you sleep.
The Gilded Iguana
A stapled landmark in Nosara, the Gilded Iguana, has been housing backpackers, surfers, and vacationers for years. This place has a super chilled-out vibe, a great seafood restaurant, and a few yards from the beach.
There's a pool, clean rooms, air conditioning, and a bunch of different room styles. I'd recommend this place for any surfer who has a little bit more dough to spend on accommodations, or even if you want a great bite to eat, a trip to the Iguana is a great idea.
To Sum It Up
Watching the sunset in Nosara
Nosara is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful parts of the country. I'm not sure whether it's the people, the waves, the town, the vibe, or the locals' overall happiness, but Nosara has a distinct atmosphere.
The people are friendly, everyone's in great shape, and everything is spotless and warming. If you want a place that feels like a less crowded, smaller, more homey version of San Diego, Nosara may be the best place to visit.
Everyone wants to meet you, everyone wants to surf with you, and everyone wants you to get stoked out of your gourd. Enjoy Nosara! If you’re looking for more tricks and tips in surfing, check out our podcast right here!