Nosara Beaches, Costa Rica "Suggestion for Best Winter Trips"
Photograph by Rob Francis / Robert Harding World Imagery / Corbis
Surfers and expats have discovered Costa Rica 's Nicoya Peninsula Pacific, yet the beaches Nosara-Playa Guiones, Playa Pelada and Playa Nosara, remain relatively undeveloped and uncrowded. Each beach has its own personality. Low-key Guiones is an expat community and surfing hub. Rocky Pelada is a favorite with locals. Black-sand Nosara is isolated, accessible only by fording a river. Sign up for a weeklong Nosara Paddlesurf SUP (stand up paddle) Camp to explore this idyllic section of the Costa Rican coastline.
When to Go: January-April is the dry season, which typically means little or no rain. SUP Camp weeks are offered monthly (more hours may be added), March-April and July.
How to Get Around: From Liberia International Airport, it's about a 2.5 to 3-hour drive to Nosara. Nosara Paddlesurf SUP Camp rates include round-trip airport transfers. Car rentals are available at the airport.
Where to Stay: Sustainable surfboards , made using green chemistry and renewable materials, are the newest guest amenity and eco-friendly Harmony Hotel . The 24-room retreat Playa Guiones (10 rooms, 13 bungalows, and 1 two-bedroom suite) includes the hotel's Healing Centre with outdoor yoga studio. Bungalow 15 and the suites are closest to the ocean, or book bungalow 12 for an up-close look at the local monkeys that hang out in the pochote tree on the private deck.
Where to Eat: After yoga or a SUP excursion, recharge with a nut butter banana smoothie at the Juice Bar Harmony Hotel. The hotel incorporates ingredients grown and its farm into many menu items (try the arugula avocado roll in the main restaurant) and plans to open an al fresco Sushi Lounge in 2014. At lunch, pair a healthy veggie wrap with a scoop of homemade "coffee to wake the dead "ice cream and robin's Cafe & Ice Cream in Playa Guiones. For sunset views and fresh fish tacos, head to the beachside La Luna restaurant in Playa Pelada.
Cultural Tip: Most restaurants and shops in Nosara will accept both US dollars and Costa Rican colones. Prepare to pay in cash since some restaurants do not accept credit cards or add on a usage fee.
What to Read Before You Go: Leading Costa Rican writers are showcased in Costa Rica: A Traveler's Literary Companion , a collection of 26 stories organized by region.
Fun Fact: Ostional National Wildlife Refuge is one of the world's primary nesting sites for the olive ridley sea turtle, Costa Rica and the only location where it is possible to observe nesting sea turtles year-round.