Wow, I cannot believe it’s been almost a year since I felt the sand squishing between my toes at Playa Guiones, or watched the sun set as the local ticos braved overhead waves in search of the perfect ride. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling in my life, and while there is still so much I haven’t seen, my heart keeps begging me to return to the Pacific shores of Costa Rica, to the sleepy village of Nosara. I miss the shell pink sugar sand, the blue morpho butterflies the size of dinner plates floating past my face, the sound of the howler monkeys calling their babies back to the troop…actually I miss everything about it.
Nosara is not the typical lavish touristy destination you would expect. Hell, just getting there can be an adventure, depending on what time of the year you arrive. The roads leading into town are mostly dirt, and occasionally they are washed out from torrential downpours. More than once I have had to cross a river in my beat-up rental SUV because the only bridge was washed out. Like I said, it is an adventure from the moment you get off the plane at Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, and it is a two and a half hour drive to Nosara from there. But the scenery is incredible, and if you do get lost, the people are more than happy to help you as best they can (although a small amount of Spanish is helpful.)
Upon arrival, you won’t find large resorts filled with infinity pools and tiki bars, along with loads of people looking for the ultimate experience in pampering. While there is a great deal of money there, and a lot of it American, most of the people and hotels are pretty low key and unassuming. On all three of my trips to this hidden gem, I rented a private home buried in the rainforest, but a mere five minute walk to the world’s most pristine beach. Birds of paradise buzz through the lush greenery, and the bellowing of the local monkey population is heard throughout the day, although these dudes are especially vocal in the morning. You’ll also see the occasional scorpion or snake sunning itself, but honestly I’ve never felt fearful…and I HATE snakes.
I mainly stay in what is referred to as “K Section” as it is within walking distance to Playa Guiones. The area is filled with mostly American expatriates who have decided to leave the States behind for their personal slice of heaven. Funny, none of them seem to have any desire to return stateside either. And why would they? They miss strip malls and heavy traffic interspersed with rude people and endless amounts of stress? I can assure you, if I had a check showing up in the mail, I would already be living there. The other beaches – Playa Nosara, Playa Pelada, and Playa Garza all hold their own special charm as well. Playa Pelada is a pink sand beach with tidal pools filled to the brim with puffer fish, starfish, sea urchins, and other amazing wildlife. The waves smash against the large rock outcroppings in grand fashion, leaving you feeling inconsequential in a world of such beauty. Playa Garza is filled with local charter boat captains who, for about US$250 will take you offshore to fish for most anything your heart desires – yellowfin tuna, dorado, roosterfish, and marlin. You can even head to Playa Ostienal at particular times of the year to help the mother sea turtles get to shore so they can lay their eggs, or help the baby sea turtles return to sea after they have hatched. I’ve promised myself that experience will be part of my next trip there.
Among the many things to occupy your time while visiting, are the local bodegas, a handful of small shops, and several surfing schools. No trip to Nosara is complete without a stop at Marlin Bill’s for lunch, or Coconut Harry’s for his latest collection of hilarious t-shirts. You can also venture to Samara, a slightly larger town about 30 minutes away with an extraordinary beach and lots of local color. And if you’re feeling particularly brave, you can drive to Playa Carillo, but don’t forget your passport, as the local police take great pleasure in stopping tourists.
My favorite time though, is simply sitting on the lanai and listening to all the wildlife chattering around me. I am constantly amazed by the things that I see and hear. It reminds me of my place in the grand scheme of life, and how every creature, no matter how big or small, is important to that puzzle. Nosara centers me, and keeps me grounded. Truly, I’ve never felt as much at home as I do there.