Ross's Travel Guide for Nosara, Costa Rica

This Travel Guide page was last updated on July 9, 2009. Some things have changed, some haven't.

First of all look at the Map. This the best local area map of Nosara I have found. Actually, it is not Nosara where you want to go, it is Playa Guiones. Nosara is the nearest town, about 5 km to the northeast of Playa Guiones. The Hotel List provides a lists of most of the accommodations in the Playa Guiones and Nosara vicinity. I also have links to many of the hotels below on this page. The Directions give you a pretty good idea of how to get to Nosara from San Jose and Liberia. It isn't that hard and you don't need a GPS if you can read of map. Costa Rica has much better road signs than they did just a few years ago. You will probably want to print the directions, and always know the name of the next town you need to go through.


As of June 2009, you could still book a decent motel room with A/C for as little as $50 to $65 during the Green Season (May through August). Rates are even less for Sept and Oct, but I am not sure you would want to go to Nosara then since the rain is exceptionally heavy during that period. Prices go up for the dry season (Nov through April).

Playa Guiones is divided into two neighborhoods. Although the map indicates these neighborhoods are connected by a road down near the ocean, this connection is for foot traffic only, so you have to drive up to the main road and go 1/2 mile or so before you can turn off into the adjoining neighborhood. I have always stayed in the northern neighborhood at the Gilded Iguana or rented a house near by. The Kaya Sol is just across the street from the Iguana and is a fine place to stay if you don't need A/C. The Casa Romantica is just a few hundred yards south of the Iguana and has reasonable rates for a very nice place. As the name implies, the Casa Romantica would probably be the best choice for newlyweds since it is pretty, quiet, and very secluded. Further away from the beach, but still within reasonable walking distance is the Giordano Tropical. It would be a pretty long haul to carry a longboard down to the beach from the Giordano Tropical. For folks on a real tight budget, there are still some surfer's dorms for $10 a night just north of the Caya Sol near Juan's Surfo Surf Shop.

The other neighborhood is just a little ways to the south and has another collection of motels. These motels include the Casa Tucans, Harbor Reef, Harmony, and Cafe de Paris. The main surfing beach extends from just south of the Harbor Reef all the way north to the base of the point where the castle sits. It would probably take 15 to 20 minutes, walking at a brisk pace to cover the distance from one end to the other. Sometimes the surf is better towards the north end and sometimes it is better towards the south end. Also, since they have about 9 feet of tide, surf conditions can change quite a bit in a just an hour or two. In general, mid to high tide on the incoming tide seems to work best for longboards since it seems to get a little more dumpy as the tide goes down.

To the north of Playa Guiones is Playa Palada. Playa Palada is just beyond the big point at the north end of the Playa Guiones Bay and it's a pretty stiff walk from Playa Palada to the main surfing areas of Playa Guiones. Folks with shortboards do it all the time, but I would not recommend it for someone with a longboard. The main hotels in Playa Palada are the Villa Las Tecas and Pancho's Beach Resort. Both have nice rooms and are great places to stay, but keep in mind the long walk to Playa Guiones unless you drive over each day. If you don't mind driving to the beach, it doesn't matter very much where you stay. There is a high tide break at Playa Palada, but it is not very wide and can only accommodate about 6 to 8 surfers at a time without getting crowded. The Nosara Hotel, which sits on the point between Playa Guiones and Playa Palada was closed when I was there in June 2009 and I don't know when or if it will re-open.

Keep in mind that motel rates fluctuate quite a bit between the wet and dry seasons. Price go way up after mid-November and then drop around May 1. Also, there is a 13% tax on motel rooms and restaurants in Costa Rica. It is the norm for restaurants to add the 13% tax and a 10% gratuity directly to your bill (23%). Restaurants usually mention this on the menu. If you don't see mention of it, always ask if tax and gratuity are included on your bill. If you want to leave an additional tip beyond 10%, I am sure it is welcome, but I don't think it is expected like in the USA.

Hotel Links:

  • Gilded Iguana - Good rates and right THERE where you want to be! This is where I stayed on my last several trips.
  • Kaya Sol - Has an assortment of both old and newer rooms. Right where you want to be.
  • Casa Romantica - Nice rooms. A/C. Secluded. Very short walk to main beach. Fair rates for a nice place.
  • Hotel Casa Tucan - Near the Harbor Reef. Medium walk to beach. I haven't seen the rooms yet.
  • Harbor Reef - A little bit pricey in the high season, but has A/C and is nice. Very short walk to the main beach.
  • Hotel Cafe de Paris - I didn't look at the rooms, but the food is pretty good there. 10 minute walk to the beach.
  • The Harmony - Very nice but sort of pricey for most of us.
  • Panchos Resort - Nice place to stay at Playa Palada. Long walk to Playa Guiones.
  • Villa Las Tecas - At Playa Palada. Very nice, big rooms, new, quiet peaceful area. Long walk to Playa Guiones.
  • Hotel Lagarta - Fabulous view and very nice. At least a 10 minute drive to the surf beach. Best for Eco travelers.

Rental House Links:

If you don't get a quick response to your e-mail inquiry, try calling or faxing. Some of these places don't spend a lot of time using their computers and sometimes internet connections go down for days at a time out there.

If you are surfing, you will probably want to locate in the central Playa Guiones area bordered by the Caya Sol at the north end and the Harbor Reef Lodge (vicinity) at the south end. Refer to the MAP.

Travel Agents:

The easiest way to make travel arrangements is through a travel agent. They get a commission from the sellers and it doesn't cost you anything. In fact, since they do this stuff every day, they may even save you some money over what you'll find on the web. And keep in mind that they may save you from some unwanted and costly surprises. Travel agencies that specialize in surfing trips include the following. Surf Express is now located in the Cocoa Beach Surf Company building next door to Ron Jons. Worldwide Adventures is located on South Patrick drive in Satellite Beach. There are also some local travel agents in Nosara that can assist your travel needs.

Surf Shops and Surfboard Rentals:

Good Places to Eat:

There are a bunch of good places to eat, including two new ones since last year. I can't even remember all of them, but here are some of the places you will want to try.

  • Gilded Iguana
  • Kaya Sol
  • Casa Romantica
  • Rosies Soda Tica
  • Giordano Tropical
  • Cafe Paris
  • Casa Tucans
  • Harmony
  • Jungle Java
  • Beach Cafe
  • Dolce Vita
  • La Luna

Surf Photography:


While in Nosara, one of the things you want to consider is a dedicated photo session by a professional surf photographer for you or for your group. Surfing Nosara has a shop in the Nosara mini-mall just down the road from the Cafe Paris and offers both in-the-water and from-the-beach sessions. They also frequently shoot public sessions from the Main Beach (near the Harbor Reef) and offer the photos from these sessions on CDs for very reasonable rates.


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