Among the several beaches at Nosara are the long, curving Playa Guiones ★★, Playa Nosara ★, and the diminutive Playa Pelada ★. Because the village of Nosara is several miles inland, these beaches tend to be clean, secluded, and quiet. Surfing and bodysurfing are good here, particularly at Playa Guiones, which is garnering quite a reputation as a consistent and rideable beach break. Pelada is a short white-sand beach with three deep scallops, backed by sea grasses and mangroves. There isn’t too much sand at high tide, so you’ll want to hit the beach when the tide’s out. At either end of the beach, rocky outcroppings reveal tide pools at low tide.
When the seas are calm, you can do some decent snorkeling around the rocks and reefs just offshore. Masks, snorkels, and fins can be rented at Café de Paris or Coconut Harry’s. Bird-watchers should explore the mangrove swamps around the estuary mouth of the Río Nosara. Just walk north from Playa Pelada and follow the riverbank; then take the paths into the mangroves. In addition to numerous seabird species, you may spot hawks and other raptors, as well as toucans and parrots.
Fishing -- All the hotels in the area can arrange fishing charters for $250 to $600 for a half-day, or $550 to $1,200 for a full day. These rates are for one to four people and vary according to boat size and accouterments.
Hiking & Wildlife Viewing -- Located on land surrounding the Nosara river mouth, the Nosara Biological Reserve (tel. 2682-0035) features a network of trails and raised walkways through tropical transitional forests and mangrove swamps. More than 270 species of birds have been spotted here. This private reserve is owned and managed by Lagarta Lodge, and the trails start right at the hotel. Admission is $10. Guided tours and guided boat tours are also available.
Closer to Santa Marta, the 50-acre SIBU Sanctuary (tel. 8413-8889) is a beautiful project that helps rescue injured, orphaned, and displaced wild animals and provides them immediate medical care, rehabilitation, and eventual release into the wild. Tours ($60 donation per person) are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 am and last 2 hours; reservations are required.
Horseback Riding & Quad Tours -- The folks at Playa Ponies (tel. 2682-5096) have a stable of well-cared-for horses and a range of beach, jungle, and waterfall rides to choose from.
For ATV tours and rentals is iQuad (tel. 8629-8349).
Sea Turtle–Watching -- If you time your trip right, you can do a night tour to nearby Playa Ostional to watch nesting olive ridley sea turtles. These turtles come ashore by the thousands in a mass egg-laying phenomenon known as an arribada. The arribadas are so difficult to predict that no one runs regularly scheduled turtle-viewing trips, but when the arribada is in full swing, several local guides and agencies offer tours. These arribadas take place 4 to 10 times between July and December; each occurrence lasts between 3 and 10 days. Consider yourself very lucky if you happen to be around during one of these fascinating natural phenomena. Your best bet is to ask the staff at your hotel or check in with the Associación de Guias de Ostional ★ (tel. 2682-0428; Ostional Local Guide Association). Tours are generally run at night, but because the turtles come ashore in such numbers, you can sometimes catch them in the early morning light as well. Even if it’s not turtle-nesting season, you might want to look into visiting Playa Ostional just to have a long, wide expanse of beach to yourself. However, be careful swimming here because the surf and riptides can be formidable. During the dry season (mid-Nov to Apr), you can usually get here in a regular car, but during the rainy season you’ll need four-wheel-drive. This beach is part of Ostional National Wildlife Refuge (tel. 2682-0428). At the northwest end of the refuge is India Point, which is known for its tide pools and rocky outcrops.
Surfing -- With miles of excellent beach breaks and relatively few crowds, this is a great place to surf or to learn how. If you want to try to stand up for your first time, check in with Coconut Harry’s Surf Shop (tel. 2682-0574) or Del Mar Surf Camp (tel. 8385-8535). Both offer solo or group lessons, multiday packages with accommodations and meals included, and board rental.
Yoga -- There are regular yoga classes throughout the day, as well as the occasional meditation session, offered up at the Harmony Hotel & Spa.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.