Beaches: (north to south)
Just five miles north of Nosara, Ostional is an important nesting site for Olive Ridley sea turtles. While a few experienced surfers do brave the waters here, waves are rougher and larger than other beaches in the area, and it is not recommended for novices.
A long, dark stretch of shore, Playa Nosara is located north of Playa Pelada, and between Playa Ostional and the Nosara river mouth. The beach is completely encompassed by the Ostional Wildlife Refuge. More isolated parts can be reached by kayak, perfect for those seeking privacy or exclusive surfing waves. Expect to find large and sometimes hollow left and right beach breaks at Playa Nosara.
Playa Pelada, or “bare beach,” is a picturesque, crescent-shaped cove in between Playa Guiones and Playa Nosara. The white sands are soft and inviting, lined by idyllic palm trees offering shade. This is not known as the best surfing spot around, but the reef break in front of Olga's Bar and Restaurant provides ample swells around mid to high tide. Vacationers and locals frequent this swimming beach to relax and enjoy Pelada’s calming, tranquil waters.
The core of the Nosara beach scene is inarguably Playa Guiones, where surfers enjoy some of the most impressive waves in the country. Left and right beach breaks tend to be hollow at lower tides. Here, restaurants, hotels, spas, Internet cafes, a pharmacy, and even a doctor’s office are concentrated in one area – much more than in Pelada or Nosara.
An extension of Playa Guiones, Playa Rosada is the stretch of pink sand at the very south end of this long surf beach. Bring snorkeling gear at low tide to take advantage of crystal clear waters and tide pools.
Playa Garza is a tiny fishing village located four miles south of the Nosara area. As there is little in terms of lodging or restaurants, the beach receives minimal tourism. Many boat tours depart from Playa Garza. Two distinct barrier reefs protect the shore from large waves, creating nice swimming beaches.
Nature Reserves and Wildlife Refuges:
Ostional Wildlife Refuge
Ostional Wildlife Refuge is best known as Costa Rica's second-most important nesting site for the Olive Ridley sea turtle. Every year, tens of thousands of Olive Ridleys come to shore during arribadas, mass nesting periods that last year-round with peaks between June and December. The months of September, October and November see the largest number of nesting turtles.Turtle tours may be booked from nearby towns including Nosara, Tamarindo and Samara, or visitors may visit the refuge and walk the beach with a park ranger.
Nosara Wildlife Rescue
For more than ten years, the owners of Nosara Wildlife Rescue and Sibu Sanctuary have worked in harmony to rescue injured, displaced and orphaned animals. The center takes care of newborns, orphans, and recently injured animals, providing medical care and shelter during their immediate recovery. There are medical facilities as well as a small reception area that sells information, booklets, fundraising calendars and animal information. Visits may be arranged by prior reservation only.
Nosara Biological Reserve
The 90-acre Nosara Biological Reserve is home to over 270 species of birds including motmots, herons, manakins, waders and toucans. Coatimundis, howler monkeys, armadillos, snakes, and anteaters are also common. Sunset at the reserve’s Lagarta Bar and Restaurant is nothing short of breathtaking. From this vantage point 130 feet above sea level, it is possible to see the winding Nosara and Montana rivers and the rivermouth where both empty into the Pacific Ocean.
Monte Alto Reserve
The 855-acre Monte Alto Reserve climbs to almost 2,750 feet above sea level – a cool, mountain retreat that feels worlds away from Nosara's golden beaches. Part of the Nosara Protected Zone, the reserve protects important river headwaters, premontane wet forest and transitional wet forest habitats. Monte Alto is known for its diverse selection of orchids (approximately 67 species) that line the reserve's hiking trails, where at least 157 bird species cohabitate with howler monkeys, blue morpho butterflies, agoutis, coatimundis, and other native wildlife.