I traveled to Costa Rica for the second time in February 2020, thankfully right before this pandemic really took hold. My boyfriend and I had gone the year before to Tamarindo, Costa Rica and absolutely fell in love with the country so we decided to visit another area this time around. Keep in mind that Nosara is a rural town, think only dirt roads, walking everywhere, and your main destination is the beach or yoga studio. I personally love a quiet, laidback, beach vacation so for me this is paradise.
We found this seven day surf camp in Nosara through Barefoot Surf Travel and decided to go for it. Aka my boyfriend was going to do the surf camp while I lounged on the beach and did some yoga classes, which sounded like a sweet deal to me. Barefoot provided us with a place to stay and kept to a schedule of surf classes/lessons, dinners, and gatherings which was really awesome. At first we thought it might be a little too planned out for a “vacation”, but we had plenty of time on our own and it was nice to meet people and know you were going to the best restaurants in town given the instructors had been living there for a few months already.
Barefoot provide the accommodations at The Gardens Hotel. This hotel was surrounded by gorgeous greenery and each room was like a private bungalow. The room was decorated with bright colors and trendy wooden accents with vaulted ceilings and skylight windows. They also have their own coffee company so each room was fitted with its own coffee drip maker and ground coffee- so good! And their dark chocolate peanut OR almond butter squares. Let me tell you about these. I could not stop eating them, they are SO GOOD! They were stocked in the fridge in your room and every time you ate them, they magically appeared back in your fridge the next day. They aren’t your average dark chocolate nut butter treat, food in Costa Rica is so fresh and doesn’t have all the preservative junk in it that we’re so accustomed to, it just tastes better. I can’t even explain it, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
The beautiful saltwater pool had a bar/kitchen right next to it that was fully stocked with different beverages and snacks that you could help yourself to. All you had to do was write on the little notepad your name, room number, and what items you took from the fridge and they charged your room. How awesome is that? There was also a restaurant on site called The Local. Every morning we had complimentary breakfast through the surf camp there and I cannot recommend the yogurt and the breakfast burrito enough.
I know recommending yogurt sounds weird, but I sort of love it and when you’re wearing a bikini all day and have a yoga class to catch it’s the perfect start to your day. I had never tasted yogurt like this before, it was extremely creamy and came in the cutest little mason jar with granola and fresh fruit on the side. The breakfast burrito was just that… a burrito, but better? It was filled with rice, beans, avocado, and potatoes. You just can’t go wrong.
Nosara is known as a great surf spot. You’ll see tons of surfboard rental shops, instructors giving lessons on the beach, and beach goers hanging out having a beer in between sessions. The beach closest to us was Playa Guiones which has waves that are for beginning and intermediate level surfers. Playa Garza is pretty close by and also has good waves for beginners and intermediates, and if you have access to a boat you can go out even further for a bigger break.
Nosara is also a very popular yoga destination. Everywhere you walk you’ll find signs with local hotels’ yoga class schedule.There are also a lot of yoga retreats in Nosara if that sounds more appealing than a surf trip. Two of my favorite places I took a yoga class at were Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort and Harmony Hotel. I am not a yogi, I take a class from time to time and have a basic understanding of the poses but I am in no way a regular yoga practitioner. Even if you’re a complete novice or not interested in yoga, I recommend you check out these two places for their beauty in general.
In order to get to Bodhi Tree there was a path from my hotel through the jungle, I had to ask the concierge where to go at first but after I figured it out it was really easy. You’re surrounded by the jungle and encounter little bridges and all kinds of interesting trees along the way. Plus, it was constantly shaded making it a much cooler trip than walking in the sun along the road. Bodhi Tree was a bit of a trek but it is a sprawling compound with many different yoga studios and exercise classes in general. I took a class in the Oceana Shala which in order to get to you have to climb up a bit of stairs, but it was so worth it. When you reach the Oceana Shala you are above the treeline in a room surrounded with glass walls that open for fresh air and look out onto the ocean. It is a magical place to take a yoga class. I also took a class in the Shakti Shala which also has glass walls that place you in the middle of the jungle among the trees. B-E-A-UTIFUL. After the yoga classes I would venture over to the juice bar which had amazing juices, smoothies and bowls. There’s a lot of comfortable seating and you’re right next to the pool which makes for great ambiance.
Harmony Hotel was a much closer walk from my hotel. I bought a package of classes at a discounted rate, they were slightly cheaper than the classes at Bodhi Tree. The classes I took were all in open air setting rooms surrounded by nature. The studio was smaller than the ones at Bodhi Tree which made it seem more crowded but it’s also in the center of town so I should have expected that. Harmony also has a great juice bar that I would go to after every class. I’m telling you the fruit in Costa Rica is beyond.
There are a few other things you can do depending on which season you’re traveling. Turtles laying eggs, hatching and making their way to the ocean can be found on nearby Ostional Beach. Keep in mind you will need transportation to get to Ostional from Nosara but your hotel can probably arrange this for you. We also went on a stand up paddle board adventure through the mangroves. We stopped and got off halfway through and they cut up fresh coconuts for us, so good! The water was really calm so it was pretty easy to paddleboard, however I will say we did encounter an alligator who apparently had a history of being angry. Even the guides seemed nervous so if encountering potential danger isn’t your thing, I do not suggest this. You can also explore nearby towns by riding in a tuk tuk. We had our hotel call arrange for a tuk tuk driver for us and took us to the neighboring town for dinner, it was so fun and a little scary but totally an experience you need to have.
There are so many good food options in Nosara! A little disclaimer that the service is a bit slower in Costa Rica, they take pura vida to heart so don’t go there expecting the same service you might be used to. A few of my favorites were The Local (our hotel restaurant), Rosi’s Soda Tica for authentic Costa Rican food, and La Luna. The Local served up a mean breakfast but their poke was probably the best I’ve ever had. The tuna was so fresh and it came with sliced mango which added so much to the overall flavor. Rosi’s was recommended to us over and over again, I wish we would’ve gone earlier in our trip. We had the traditional chicken and sauce dish and it was amazing. It’s a must try if you’re looking for an authentic Costa Rican meal. We took a tuk tuk to La Luna which is on the neighboring beach of Playa Pelada. It’s one of the only restaurants located on the beach and has great cocktails and mediterranean food. I suggest getting to Playa Pelada early for the sunset, there’s a rocky area on the beach that you can explore and hang out on with great views before dinner.
My favorite place to hang out at and have a cocktail while listening to live music was The Gilded Iguana. It is a newer hotel in the middle of town and has a really large lawn area for hanging out on. Go Juice has amazing fresh juices, smoothies and bowls. It’s a small stand but the fruit is so good I couldn’t get enough. Organico Deli-Market- remember this! Organico is technically a health food store but they also make fresh food and baked goods daily. THE GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. I’m not even gluten free and I say this with confidence. And if you get them right when they come out of the oven…. Omg. You can thank me later. Also, they carry the dark chocolate covered nut butter squares that I mentioned earlier, so if you’re staying at a different hotel that doesn’t provide them stop by here and check them out for yourself.
The best for last, coffee. El Jardin is a trailer turned coffee shop where I had the best coffee. It was within walking distance from my hotel and I used my boyfriend’s naps or surf sessions as an excuse to venture here every day. It is in a little circle of shops that you also need to check out, right next to a brewery and a really cute clothing/accessory shop. Also, the guys that work here are extremely nice. I brought home some of this coffee and they ground it up for me with the thickness of my choosing and heat sealed it so it was a completely fresh bag. When I ran out of it at home a piece of my heart broke, I just can’t find anything that compares to it.
I can’t wait to go back!!