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Imagine a small, beautiful beach town surrounded by jungle and wildlife with a peaceful multicultural community and many of the comforts of home. That place, named by National Geographic as one of the top surf towns in the entire world, exists. It is called Nosara.

Expats who live in Nosara will tell you there is no better place on earth.

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One need only walk down the remote and dusty roads of Playa Guiones, pop into an organic café, take a class in one of the many exceptional yoga studios, visit some of Costa Rica’s best real estate, surf the clean consistent waves, or watch a stunning sunset to understand why.

With a strong expat community, excellent international academies for kids, and accessible health food Nosara has many of the luxuries and comforts of home tucked into a small Costa Rican beach town surrounded by nature. Many consider it the perfect place to relocate abroad.

Nosara real estate for sale in an established community: At 1,000 feet in elevation, La Paz offers the very best of Nosara. Smokin’ ocean views (some lots see 50 miles of coastline!). Just close enough to the beach (12 minutes).  Local food production in the community. Lots, land, and home construction. Check out Nosara real estate at La Paz before it’s too late!


Nosara is famous for its surf and world-renowned yoga, and arguably put Costa Rica on the map as a yoga retreat destination. This strong surf and yoga culture has brought sophisticated health conscious expats from all over the world.

For decades local associations have kept the beaches clean and the surrounding protected national parks and forest relatively undeveloped. It has the cleanest water table in all of Costa Rica, with clean ocean water and no dumping of gray or black water into the streams or beaches. It is one of the few coastal towns that lacks nearly any development on the beach.

Bonus: Nosara has ranked #1 in our Top 57 Places to Live & Invest in the Tropics report for several years running. Click here to get access to the free report.

This unique combination of North American culture and pristine Costa Rican wilderness attracts all kinds including the rich and famous. Woody Harrelson, Liv Schreiber, and several wealthy individuals have either lived here or visited in recent years. High demand has led real estate to soar but people continue to move and to buy. The quality of life here is so high, many choose to relocate regardless of the cost.

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Location and Geography

The Nosara region is located on the North Pacific Coast of the Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste about 100 miles west of the capital, San Jose, and sits between the popular beach towns of Playa Samara and Playa Tamarindo.

It consists of five beachfront towns: Playa Nosara, Playa Garza, Playa Guiones, Playa Pelada, and Playa Ostional. When many people cite Nosara, they are usually referring to the most popular beach town of Playa Guiones where most of the restaurants, yoga studios, surf shops, and hotels can be found.

The Ostional Wildlife Refuge borders Nosara and is the largest Olive Ridley turtle nesting site in the world. The Nosara and Montana Rivers are two of the longest in Costa Rica and are also teeming with wildlife. The rivers meet the ocean in Playa Nosara.

The official town center of Nosara is located about five miles inland from the beach and is where most of the local, Tico population resides. It has medical facilities, supermarkets, a local airport, a pharmacy, banks, and a post office.

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Like most of Central America, Nosara has a rainy and a dry season but enjoys warm weather year round. The dry season coincides with the highest season for tourism and runs from late November through April.

Temperatures average in the mid eighties. Days are long and sunny with stunningly beautiful sunsets. With no clouds in the sky you can enjoy incredible nightly stargazing. The offshore winds create clean, consistent surfing conditions and surfers can ride waves all day long. The jungle tends to be dry and brown but there is still plenty of wildlife to observe especially near the beach and river.

Nosara real estate for sale in an established community: At 1,000 feet in elevation, La Paz offers the very best of Nosara. Smokin’ ocean views (some lots see 50 miles of coastline!). Just close enough to the beach (12 minutes).  Local food production in the community. Lots, land, and home construction. Check out Nosara real estate at La Paz before it’s too late!

The rainy season begins in May and ends in November. During this time the jungle becomes green and the foliage comes into bloom, bringing tons of wildlife. It tends to rain during this time in the afternoon and evening with sunny mornings for beach time.

Temperatures are about five degrees cooler and many tours and accommodations are available at discounted rates. The rainiest months are September and October when rain can fall all day. During this time many businesses close, reopening in November.

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The land around Nosara was used for generations primarily for cattle pasture. As a result large areas of land were deforested. Much of the beauty of the landscape was destroyed during this time.

In 1962 a U.S. resident decided to purchase the entire coastline of land known as Nosara and implemented The Nosara Project which was the original master plan of the area. In fact, Nosara is the only town in Central America that was master planned. The development originally entailed 500 residential lots interspersed with commercial sites, parks, and a golf course.

The project was never fully completed as finances ran dry. Individual investors began acquiring the lots and formed the Nosara Civic Association in an attempt to carry out the vision of the original city plan. They fight to keep Nosara relatively undeveloped and free from pollution.

Today Nosara is dense with forest and much of the region is protected.

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Like the rest of Costa Rica the primary language in Nosara is Spanish and the culture is Tico. Local Costa Rican phrases, cuisine, and art are enjoyed here. However, Nosara is culturally distinct from the rest of Costa Rica due to its strong expat population as well as its residence in Guanacaste.

Nosara real estate for sale in an established community: At 1,000 feet in elevation, La Paz offers the very best of Nosara. Smokin’ ocean views (some lots see 50 miles of coastline!). Just close enough to the beach (12 minutes).  Local food production in the community. Lots, land, and home construction. Check out Nosara real estate at La Paz before it’s too late!

Until 1846 the state of Guanacaste where Nosara lies once belonged to Nicaragua to the north. As a result Guanacastecos developed a strong sense of independence and cultural pride. You may even notice a variance in their accent.

Today Canadian, American, and European expats lend a unique flavor to the local culture. It has one of the oldest expat communities in the entire country. Organic cafes, yoga studios, and Italian restaurants are all foreign businesses that add appeal to the area. English is widely spoken and at times in Playa Guiones you may feel like you’ve landed in the hidden gem of Southern California.

The Beach Towns

Playa Garza

Playa Garza is known primarily as a fishing village. The offshore reef protects the bay from nearby currents and fishermen anchor their boats here as a result. In fact, it’s possible in the afternoon to purchase fresh fish right off the boat. The beach itself is lined with quaint restaurants and bars. At low tide a small cove with pink sand made from seashells is accessible.

Playa Guiones

Playa Guiones is the area’s longest and most popular beach. It stretches three miles with white sand and great surf. The beach has a large swell window, which gives it the most consistent surf in the entire country. The waves are fun for all levels, with swells that challenge the most experienced surfers and waves for complete beginners.

The town itself has several excellent yoga and pilates studios, expat-owned cafes and restaurants, several hostels, surf schools, and a few laid-back bars.

Playa Pelada

While Guiones is the beach for surfers, Pelada is the beach for swimmers. Snorkelers and divers can explore the caves and a local fisherman can take you on a boat tour to observe dolphins, turtles, and whales during mating season.

The town is very small and laid-back with a stunning restaurant, La Luna, that overlooks the beach with epic sunset views.

Playa Nosara

The ancient dark volcanic rock in Nosara created the dark sand beach of Nosara. It sits on the Nosara Biological Reserve and has two of Costa Rica’s longest rivers running through it, the Montana and the Nosara. You can spot 270 species of birds here, as well as monkeys, coati, raccoons, armadillos, anteaters, crabs, and crocodiles.

Many kayak, boat, and stand up paddleboard tours explore this beach, its rivers, and mangroves. You must wade the rivers to reach the beach or take a boat.

Playa Ostional

Located in the Nosara-Ostional Wildlife Refuge, this seaside village protects the largest nesting site in the world for the Olive Ridley sea turtle. Hundreds to hundreds of thousands of turtles come onto the shore to lay their eggs on the darkest nights following a full moon. Peak season takes place between May and November but you may see small groups year round.

Following the nesting it is possible to see the turtle hatching, where thousands of baby turtles run into the ocean to begin their aquatic lives. Volunteers can help protect the turtles from nearby dogs and vultures.

Surf is also prime here, however rip currents are strong making it unsafe for swimming.

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The exceptional schooling available in Nosara is one of the key reasons families come from all over the world. The two private schools, Del Mar Academy and HSBA Academy, offer high quality education in an international setting.

Bonus: Want to know how much real estate costs in Nosara? Click here for our Nosara Real Estate Report and see charts and graphs that will help you learn average home prices, land prices, and property trends.

Classes are taught bilingually exposing children to a second language and offering them the opportunity to build relationships with students from all over the world. These schools provide smaller class sizes for more one-on-one attention and focus not only on academic development but also on community and environmental involvement.

Del Mar Academy

Located in the jungle at the end of a small road, this Montessori school is surrounded by nature and wildlife. The school uses the Montessori teaching approach as well as curriculum from the non-Montessori educational community.

This approach encourages hands on learning to aid children in developing observational skills through activities that use all five senses. The classes are designed to accommodate each individual in his or her learning process. They accommodate children from toddler age until seventh grade.

The core subject areas covered include nutrition and health, multicultural environments, English and Spanish language, music and movement, creative art, and natural science as well as highlighting the importance of community service, the environment, and social awareness.

Field trips are planned throughout the year and involve curriculum related activities intended to enhance the student’s areas of study. Activities include nature hikes, fishing trips, visits to farms, museums, seashores, and eco preserves. There are also many extracurricular activities including dance, surf, swimming, baseball, tennis, and soccer.

HSBA Academy

The HSBA Academy caters to a wide age group offering classes for kids from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Creativity and curiosity are fostered through experiential learning and classes are taught bilingually.

The curriculum focuses on Math, Science, Language, Social Studies, and Art. Many extracurricular activities are available including yoga, art, music, cooking, physical education, and surfing. Classes take field trips frequently to local destinations to learn about the area.

Every Friday afternoon students and families can come to the surf club in Playa Guiones for free surf lessons from members of the Costa Rican surf team. Students also participate in community events like Nosara’s Festival of Lights and the Sustainability Fair to encourage community involvement and giving.

Casa de Las Estrellas Waldorf School

Casa de Las Estrellas is an irresistible little school on the beach with a focus on Waldorf Education.

Currently the school goes through the 6th Grade, but there are plans to add two more years.

Children can learn about the world through nature in the large gardens, on the beach, or in the Jungle. Parents who visit the campus first hand often have the reaction of their jaw hitting the ground because the magical looking school and beach location.

You can learn more here

Complete Nosara Guide

Leo Prieto


In Nosara one could easily spend days on end soaking up the sun and lazing on the beach admiring its beauty. But with so much to do, why would you? Nosara is home to world-class surfing and yoga and has plenty of other athletic activities and nature excursions for you to participate in.


The Nosara Yoga Institute paved the path for many yoga studios in Costa Rica today. It had long been a destination for yogis looking to receive their teacher training or simply deepen their practice. Unfortunately NYI has closed its’ doors, but the influence it had can seen in the several studios open to the public today.

Nosara has several studios that offer drop-in classes several times a day, and even more that have yoga teacher trainings and retreats. High competition means high quality and it’s hard to go wrong. Many special yoga events are held in Nosara that are not available elsewhere in the country.

If you are passionate about yoga, you will never be at a loss for things to do in Nosara. It is not uncommon to see groups practicing yoga on the beach and you may feel inspired to get playful with some acro yoga in the sand.

Nosara real estate for sale in an established community: At 1,000 feet in elevation, La Paz offers the very best of Nosara. Smokin’ ocean views (some lots see 50 miles of coastline!). Just close enough to the beach (12 minutes).  Local food production in the community. Lots, land, and home construction. Check out Nosara real estate at La Paz before it’s too late!

Public Yoga Classes

The Bodhi Tree Resort

The newest mecca for all things healthy, Bohdi Tree Resort offers several classes per day including Yoga and Pilates. (There is even a yoga class where you can hang from the rafters) After class, healthy food is easy to find as there are many option eat. Look for the Juice bar, the Breakfast Buffet, or even Cascada in the Bodhi Village.

Pro Tip: If you get a chance try to attend the Akasha Shala for class as this is the premier location on the grounds.

Check out this link for the Class Schedule

Harmony Hotel The Harmony Hotel is a beautiful addition to the neighborhood of Playa Guiones with its luxury rooms, peaceful gardens, delicious restaurant and café, and amazing yoga classes. The open air studio sits across from a tranquil lily pond.

Classes are offered several times a day in a variety of styles including Vinyasa, Hatha, Yin, and Kundalini for $12. All props and mats are included. They also offer aerial yoga classes for those looking to get upside down. The pliable hammock cradles your body as you stretch realigning your body with the compression of gravity.

Those who suffer from back or neck injuries can particularly benefit from these postures as it allows you to take deep inversions without lower back compression. It is a truly unique style of yoga worth exploring. They often host yoga workshops as well for those looking to deepen their practice in specific areas like arm balances and hip openers.

Harmony Class Schedule

Costa Rica Yoga Spa Up in the hills near the Montana River is the Costa Rica Yoga Spa. They typically run retreats and yoga teacher trainings, but do offer public classes once a day, for $15, from their ocean view studio. For another $10 you can stay for one of their organic meals using produce from their garden. They occasionally host events open to the public as well.


Located right in the center of town, Nalu has one of the most aesthetically pleasing studios around. The founder offers classes in Muay Thai, but there are several other options including Yoga and other movement classes.

Open to the public classes are offered on most days and there are epic ultra modern bungalows you can rent by the day or the week.

Check Class Offerings Here

The Buena Vibra Collective

Buena Vibra offers several classes per week in a Costa Rica style rancho that is a beautifully designed yoga space. It is a quiet space just steps from the beach and was definitely influenced by the Grateful Dead. Buena Vibra also offers lodging, and Naked Foods the best vegan restaurant in the area is part of property, so grab some plant based food and take a class.

Classes offered at Buena Vibra

The Guilded Iguana

With a recent redesign of the Guilded Iguana changed from an old favorite to a new favorite.  A hotel designed by surfers for surfers with restaurant and studio open to the public.

If you are in North Guiones this could be the place to go to train.

The Guilded Iguana has a weight room and the studio offers several other classes besides yoga like Jujitsu, and HIIT classes.

 Check out the classes here

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Yoga Retreats and Teacher Trainings

With its beautiful relaxed setting and exceptional yoga centers, Nosara is a great place for those looking to complete a yoga teacher training or take a yoga retreat. There are many studios offering Yoga Alliance accreditation as well as relaxing, deepening retreats.

Blue Spirit Blue Spirit is another famous yoga center in Nosara. They host yoga teacher trainings through YogaWorks as well as many retreats hosted by a variety of groups and teachers. All trainings and retreats include accommodations, gourmet vegetarian meals, and use of their stunning ocean view facility with a saltwater infinity pool.


Pilates Nosara offers several drop-in classes per day for $10 of both mat pilates and reformer pilates. Private pilates appointments are available on weekends. They also offer pilates retreats at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa often in combination with daily yoga. For those interested in becoming pilates instructors or simply improving their understanding of the practice they have teacher training courses and workshops.

Check out the website here

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The Enchanted Forest Hostel and Gym offers daily boxing classes led by a professional female boxer from the U.S., “Tiger Brenda”. Classes begin with a challenging, creative circuit workout before transitioning to the ring on the other side of her property. Brenda’s boxing classes are a fun way to get a workout and release tension.

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Nosara was named by National Geographic as one of the top 20 surf towns in the world. With clean, consistent surfing for all levels, it’s easy to see why.

Playa Guiones has some of the best waves to learn surfing in all of Costa Rica. Right at the shore are rows of clean white water, perfect for beginners taking lessons. The shape of the wave is just the right curve for beginners and challenging enough to trim for experts. These waves can be surfed at any tide level so you can take lessons and practice in the water virtually any time of the day.

Nearby Playa Pelada has a volcanic reef break that can be surfed at high tide with the right south swell.

There are plenty of other nearby breaks that can be explored by vehicle including Playa Ostional which has heavy hollow breaks and Playa Marbella that has hollow but smaller waves.

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Jason Martin

Surf Schools

Board rentals and private lessons are readily available, particularly in Playa Guiones, and there are several surf schools including Olo Alaia and Coconut Harry’s for those looking to really delve in.

Coconut Harry’s The famous surf shop in Playa Guiones, Coconut Harry’s offers board rentals, lessons, and surf packages. They even sell boards for those who are dedicated to the sport. Lessons are taught by trained, certified instructors who offer professional services.

Group surf lessons start at $35 and go up to $70 for private. They offer a variety of surf lesson packages for kids and adults as well as all-inclusive packages which include transportation to and from the international airports, breakfast and lunch, accommodations, and twice daily surfing.

Safari Surf School Voted “Best Outfitter on Earth” by National Geographic and an Official Billabong Surf School, Safari Surf School has the most accolades of any surf school in Nosara. All instructors are certified and the company has been in operation for over 13 years.

They have surf camps for various skill levels from absolute beginner to advanced helping people at all stages in their practice improve. Packages start at $2000 and include twice daily surf lessons with certified instructors, breakfast, accommodations, airport transfer, and other activities including ziplining, yoga, and jungle hikes.

They have a surf school specifically for women with an all female crew of surf instructors. The women’s surf school offers walk-in lessons as well as week-long camps. The camp experience is essentially a retreat that focuses on health and wellness in addition to surfing.

Starting at around $2000 the retreat includes transport to and from the airport, twice daily surf lessons, daily yoga and guided meditation, $100 spa credit at Harmony hotel, adventure excursions like ziplining and hiking, six nights of accommodation, daily breakfast and lunch, several dinners at local restaurants, and other goodies.

Stand up Paddleboarding

Stand up paddleboarding has become a popular water sport across the world. It builds core strength and improves balance but is also downright fun.

Experience Nosara Paddlesurf and Coconut Harry’s run tours along the Rio Montana and Rio Nosara to the rivermouth at Playa Nosara. These tours weave through mangrove shoreline allowing you to see nature up close and personal. It’s almost like taking a hike on the water. Spotting nearby wildlife like exotic birds, snakes, and crocodiles makes it an adventurous ride! Tours cost around $60.

Blue Zone SUP runs a stand up paddleboarding camp where they offer enthusiasts immersive one week programs. Camps cater to all levels from absolute beginner to highly advanced. Each day participants enjoy SUP courses, nature excursions, and yoga. Packages include accommodation in Playa Garza and gourmet meals and start at $2,250.

If you want to do some exploring on your own, Coconut Harry’s rents stand up paddleboards for $30 a day.

Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga

Nosara occasionally hosts stand up paddleboarding retreats where you can test your balance on the water surrounded by nature. Nosara SUP Yoga offers tours where you can test out this new sport or rent a board and experiment on your own.

5 Rhythms Dance

The 5 Rhythms is a moving meditation that is occasionally taught at Harmony Hotel in Nosara. This style of dance is intended to heal the mind, body, and spirit through free-form movement. It usually lasts about three hours and is a unique and deepening practice not offered elsewhere in Costa Rica.


The rivers in Nosara can also be explored by kayaks if that suits your fancy. Nosara Paddlesurf leads half-day tours from down the Nosara River to the ocean, spotting wildlife along the way.

Drifter’s Kayaking does a similar tour and rents kayaks by the hour, allowing you to take your own self-guided tour.

Canopy Tours

Costa Rica is famous for its canopy tours, and Nosara has not only the longest of its kind in the world with over 11km of line, but it’s also one of the safest. Miss Sky Canopy Tours takes participants on 21 runs that are double lined which goes beyond the national safety standards.

You can enjoy wildlife and incredible waterfall and nature views on the lines, then you stop at a waterfall for a nice cool swim. It’s a great way to see the countryside.


The beautiful protected countryside surrounding Nosara makes for great hiking. The Nosara Biological Reserve has 35 hectares of flora and fauna on the south side of the Nosara River. In the wilderness here you can find monkeys, coatis, armadillos, deer, wildcats, and 270 species of birds. This particular hike takes two hours and is best done early in the day before it gets too hot and the animals are the most active.

Horseback Riding

Riding along the beaches of Nosara at sunset on the back of a horse is a memorable experience. Playa Ponies leads guided horseback tours along the beach and through jungle trails past howler monkeys, parrots, and crocodiles along the river.


Nosara is known for being one of the best places for sportfishing in Costa Rica. Here it is possible to catch sailfish, blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi, snapper, and more.

Fishing Nosara offers all-inclusive fishing vacation packages which include transportation, lodging, and fishing excursions. They also charter private boats for day fishing trips. Agua Azul is another company that takes groups on private fishing trips. You can also ask around to find a local fisherman who will take you out on his boat.

Snorkeling in San Juanillo

The laid-back white sand beach of San Juanillo might be one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. It’s a short drive from Playa Guiones but feels worlds away. The town is small, authentically Costa Rican, and surrounded by fishing boats. Several tour companies including Playa Ponies operate half-day snorkeling trips here where you can explore the offshore reef and its tropical fish and marine life.

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Activities for Kids

Most activities in Nosara are kid friendly, like ziplining, hiking, kayaking, and more, but Nosara also has many programs and camps catered specifically to children.

Nosara Kids Camp

Keep the kids busy learning to surf and all about ocean safety. This camp is dedicated to kids having fun with other kids their age while they learn to ride the waves.

This is ideal for children from 5 to 12 to meet other kids while you stay in Nosara

Learn about their services here

Nosara Day Camp

With a focus on getting out of town and learning about the surrounding area this camp offers a great opportunity for children to learn about the ecology around Nosara.

Bat caves, waterfalls, and local Guanacaste traditional life are all things kids can experience in this curriculum.

Snacks are included!

Learn more here

Kids in Motion

Teaching children about themselves and one another through movement, Kids in Motion allows kids to express themselves with rhythm, art, and dance. They focus on encouraging the uniqueness within each child to build confidence. Programs include beginning acrobatics, musical theatre, ballet, hip hop dance, and even introduces kids to the 5 Rhythms of Yoga.

Nosara real estate for sale in an established community: At 1,000 feet in elevation, La Paz offers the very best of Nosara. Smokin’ ocean views (some lots see 50 miles of coastline!). Just close enough to the beach (12 minutes).  Local food production in the community. Lots, land, and home construction. Check out Nosara real estate at La Paz before it’s too late!

Boxing for Kids

The Enchanted Garden also offers boxing classes specifically for kids from 7 to 15 years of age. Classes are taught bilingually and enable kids to play and exercise in a boxing ring inside the jungle. Classes are $10 each.

Surf Schools

Most surf schools in the area offer private and group lessons specifically for kids. Safari Surf School offers a kids camp which has a variety of activities including surfing. Beach activities like soccer, volleyball, board games, and tide pool excursions are also part of the camp experience.

Half-day and full-day options are available depending on the needs of your family. Camp instructors speak bilingually, simultaneously teaching your children Spanish. They also educate children on environmental conservation and the importance of keeping the beach clean. A half day costs $90 and includes snacks, a full day is $150 including lunch.

Scuba Dive Introduction

Paskis Adventures based in San Juanillo introduces children over 8 to the world of scuba diving.

Participants swim in a safe, supervised, shallow water area playing and learning to breathe underwater. It’s a great way to begin to learn about the underwater world.

Mini Golf

Café de Paris has a mini golf course, which is great fun for kids and families. It is the biggest mini golf course in Costa Rica with 18 holes. There is also a playground and pool.

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Beach Buddies

Think daycare on the beach. This organization arranges art classes, sports, and Spanish classes for your kids ages 4 to 12 daily from 9am to 4pm including lunch for $120. It’s a great way to relax on your own time while your kids learn some valuable skills and have fun.

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Bars, Cafes and Restaurants

The Guilded Iguana

This bar and restaurant is a local hotspot near the beach in Playa Guiones. They serve modern food with a healthy twist. Breakfast lunch and dinner is served.

Café de Paris

Incredible freshly baked breads and pastries are served in a lovely garden with pool, mini golf course, basketball court, and playground. Elegant Parisian breakfast and lunch is also served here.

La Luna

Perched on the beach in Playa Pelada, La Luna is one of the best places to watch the sunset in all of Costa Rica. The outdoor tables all have an excellent view of the ocean for peace and relaxation. The menu boasts a wide variety of fusion dishes including fried calamari, beet salad, fresh fish, and grilled steak. Enjoy cocktails and wine on their full bar menu.

Olga’s Bar and Restaurant

Olga’s is another place to enjoy a lovely sunset in Playa Pelada. The fare is traditional Costa Rican cuisine served on a beachfront patio. Enjoy live music here seven nights a week.

Naked Foods

Naked Foods in Playa Guiones sells truly raw, organic, allergy-free foods and beverages. They offer amazing juices like coconut water, ginger, cayenne, cucumber, and honey, bottled and refrigerated for you to take to the beach. Raw goodies and snacks include cacao spread, spirulina fruit roll ups, and dehydrated bananas. Jars of fresh spices are also for sale.

La Dolce Vita

Believe it or not you can find delicious, authentic Italian food on the beach in Costa Rica. La Dolce Vita is Italian-owned and serves up homemade delicacies like antipasto platters, lasagna, ravioli, grilled fish, and steak. They even have gluten free pasta options!

Harmony Hotel Restaurant

Tucked away in the beautiful garden at Harmony Hotel is their lovely fine dining restaurant. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner featuring fresh, local ingredients, many of which come from their very own farm.

The menu is fusion with Hawaiian style shrimp, crispy falafel, sushi menu, and more. The open air restaurant has a full bar and mixologist crafting fine cocktails and mocktails.

Harmony Hotel Juice Bar

The Juice Bar is a casual alternative to the Harmony Hotel Restaurant for those looking for lighter fare. Inside of a lovely ranchito you can enjoy fresh organic juices, salads, and sandwiches on whole grain bread made in-house.


Up in mountains 20 mins from the beach is a wonderful restaurant called with a fantastic view. Coyol offers several high quality middle eastern, mediterranean, and Eastern European dishes, it is a unique atmosphere that is truly a destination unto itself. Great for a couples night out or a family looking for an experience.


This is one of the most popular restaurants in town, this is because it is easy to get to, has several options for all kinds of people and great prices. From Pizza to Casados, Salads to Sandwichs 10 pies has you covered. Get there early because this place fills up pretty quickly.

Café Social

Located in Northern Guiones this restaurant specializes in Breakfast and Lunch. The setting is a mediterranean inspired courtyard with palms and boutique stores. A great place to sip expresso and hang out with friends or just to try some healthy breakfast food creation then go shopping in one of the stores.

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The David Kitson Public Library

Nosara boasts an impressive public library, a rare commodity in Central America. Their collection includes over 6000 books in both English and Spanish. They also offer community workshops, computers for public use, and meeting rooms.

Organic Grocery Store

Like in North America, communities can often be found where the food is. Organic Deli-Market in Playa Guiones is one of the only organic grocery stores in Costa Rica. They sell organic produce every day, a rarity in much of Central America, bulk spices and nuts, local cheese, and delicious ready-made soups, salads, and sandwiches. It’s like a mini Whole Foods. Expat locals frequent here often and community events are advertised on fliers when you enter.

Nosara real estate for sale in an established community: At 1,000 feet in elevation, La Paz offers the very best of Nosara. Smokin’ ocean views (some lots see 50 miles of coastline!). Just close enough to the beach (12 minutes).  Local food production in the community. Lots, land, and home construction. Check out Nosara real estate at La Paz before it’s too late!

Local Fare

Every Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. is an organic Farmer’s Market selling organic meat, fruits and veggies, and homemade bread and pastries. You can also set up an account with Rainbow Organic, a local company that allows you to pre-order your farm box online. They offer organic produce, meat, and local cacao, honey, and coconut products. Franklin’s offers excellent and original products as well like homemade coconut oil, dried fruit, cacao treats, and other specialties.

Nosara Nannies

Nosara Nannies is a local service in Nosara that provides short- and long-term childcare for children of all ages. Childcare providers are experienced and English speaking.

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Watching the sunset

In the dry season, without fail there is a stunningly beautiful sunset every evening in Nosara. In Playa Guiones surfers come out of the ocean and land dwellers walk to the shore to sit and watch this impressive performance. It is a great way to feel connected with the entire community and to meet other expats and families.

Crime and Safety

Nosara is known for being a very safe place to visit. The local community is quite friendly and there is little crime in the area. However, theft is a problem in Costa Rica in general, so always take care and use your head. Never leave valuables unattended on the beach nor inside of your parked vehicle.

If you do encounter any problems in Nosara there is a police station in the town of Nosara and a Tourist Police Center in Playa Guiones. Here you can report any stolen items or crimes you encounter. There are also paid security guards at many restaurants, hotels, and businesses and local police patrol the area on motorcycles and ATVs.

complete guide to nosara costa rica

Steve Wright


Roads in Nosara are unpaved and very dusty in the dry season. They typically have potholes and at times farm animals blocking them. Take a deep breath and be patient and you should be able to get around just fine.

Nosara is reachable from the San Jose and Liberia airports by air through Nature Air, shuttle, car, and buses.

Once in the Nosara area there are roads and buses connecting the different beach towns. ATVs, rental cars, and bicycles are available for rent and can be helpful if you plan to explore other neighborhoods. Playa Guiones is quite walkable on either the road or the beach. On average a quad costs around $50 per day and a bicycle costs around $10 per day.

If you decide to rent a car you will need your driver’s license from home as well as your passport.

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Government and Economy

Costa Rica operates under a democracy, headed by a president in power over a four-year term. Balance is kept in place with an elected congress and appointed ministers. There is no military as it was constitutionally banned in 1948.

The funds once used to sustain the military force became available for business development and social programs like healthcare and quality education. Over 90% of Costa Ricans enjoy public healthcare coverage and the country has significantly higher literacy rates than most Latin American countries, 94.7% to be exact.

As a result, Costa Rica is one of the fastest growing and most stable countries in Latin America. It has a significantly higher growth in income compared to Latin America as a whole, as well as lower poverty rates. The economic and political environment is stable, the country has strong institutions, open markets, and a well-educated workforce.

The government also has laws to protect citizens from foreign investors. Foreign-owned businesses must hire local citizens as their work source.

Costa Ricans are facing a new challenge as their country becomes an increasingly global marketplace. Do they conform to the free market economy of first world nations or continue to support the many social structures in place?

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The national currency is the Costa Rican colone which typically exchanges to 1/500 of a dollar. Banks usually distribute bills in 10,000 notes, which equate to a $20 bill. The smallest bills are 1,000, or $2, and coins start at 5 colones and go up to 500.


Healthcare in Costa Rica is rated highly internationally. Citizens here have the health and life expectancy of developed nations due to inclusive universal health insurance and reputable private and public hospitals.

The public health insurance system, Caja, is available to all citizens and legal residents.

Throughout the country there are ten major public hospitals affiliated with the public health insurance program. Small clinics called EBAIS are located in nearly every small Costa Rican community. In Nosara you can find a clinic in the town center.

To join the public health care system one must pay roughly 10% of his or her income. This low cost and high quality system attracts many people, therefore wait times are long for all matters from regular checkups to important surgeries.

Costa Rica also has private hospitals and clinics for those willing to purchase private insurance. These facilities offer high quality medical care at a sliver of the U.S. equivalent cost. This is one of the key reasons why Costa Rica has become so popular with expats and many tourists come simply to receive medical care.

Nosara real estate for sale in an established community: At 1,000 feet in elevation, La Paz offers the very best of Nosara. Smokin’ ocean views (some lots see 50 miles of coastline!). Just close enough to the beach (12 minutes).  Local food production in the community. Lots, land, and home construction. Check out Nosara real estate at La Paz before it’s too late!

Private insurance plans are available through the government-owned insurance company, INS, and include dental work, optometry, general checkups, and annual checkups. Prescriptions, exams, and hospitalization are covered at 80% cost and surgeon costs are covered fully. This insurance costs about $60-130 per month per person.

Expats may also choose to purchase international healthcare insurance which covers most private hospital costs but these plans tend to be much more expensive than private healthcare through the INS.

Pharmacies offer many drugs without a prescription, including birth control pills, cholesterol medication, etc., and pharmacists can diagnose and treat many problems. Typically residents head to the pharmacy first and consult the pharmacist about their ailments. He or she will either provide a solution or send you to a hospital if they believe the condition is more serious.

Keep in mind, there may be some pharmacists who are eager to sell many products and may misdiagnose you to prescribe you things that you do not necessarily need. Think of it like getting an oil change and take what they say with a grain of salt.

Nosara has several pharmacies including one in the town center and one in Playa Guiones.

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Visas and Residency

North Americans are allowed to legally stay in Costa Rica for a maximum of three months at a time. Obtaining a visa prior to entering the country is not necessary, however proof of onward travel is required. After three months one must leave the country for a minimum of 72 hours, then may return for another three months. Tourists without residency are legally allowed to own vehicles, property, businesses, and generate income from self-employment.

If you wish to obtain residency, you must receive a minimum of $1000 per month in pension or other approved source or receive an investment income of $2500 per month or more or invest $200,000 in an approved sector of the economy like property.

After three years of this type of residency, you may then apply for unrestricted residency. It costs about $1100 per family member, $600 per child, to process. Renewals are required every year and you must reside in Costa Rica for 4-6 months in order to renew.

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Money earned outside of Costa Rica is not taxed for residents and personal income taxes tend to be low compared to North America. Many personal expenses are deductible from locally-earned income and corporate taxes are also low.

Sales tax is 13% and import duties are high, from 50-90% of a vehicle’s blue book value. They are in the process of decreasing the import duties. Tourists may pay an exit fee of around $25 and exit fees are even higher for foreign residents. License plate fees are paid annually for vehicles but tend to be low. Property taxes are also very low compared to those in North America.

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While the infrastructure may not be to North American standards, the country is much more advanced in this area than other countries in Central America. Most utilities are much more affordable than those in North America.


The phone system is owned and operated by a government agency called the ICE. This agency controls most of the utilities in the country. The phone system itself is excellent, however it can be quite difficult to obtain a landline if you are not already residing in a house that has one.

This option is only available to residents, so tourists will have to rely on cell phones. There are also limited phone lines available so wait times can span from weeks to years, particularly if you are in a rural area where poles and lines need be installed to get you a new number.

Installation can cost around $100, activating an existing line costs $30, and basic monthly use is $10 per month. These rates can change often.

Because land lines can be so difficult to obtain, it’s important to include them in rental and purchasing contracts to ensure your home or business has a fixed line.

Cell phones are readily available, but often use pay as you go SIM cards rather than plans. The two most popular companies offering this service are Kolbi and Claro. If you have your own unlocked iPhone, you can purchase a SIM card with unlimited data use for $18 per month compared to iPhone plans with AT&T in the U.S. for over $100 per month.

Those looking for fixed cell phone numbers and plans must obtain them from the ICE. This service is only available to residents and there is a limited supply of numbers.

Cell service in general suffers from coverage problems throughout Costa Rica as there are many dead zones in rural areas.

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Costa Rica does have high speed internet service, however it is slower and less reliable than North America and Europe. Availability of high speed DSL lines is a big problem and you will need to contact ICE to see if DSL is even available for your home. Other internet service providers do exist, Amnet, Cabletica, and RACSA, but not all will be available in your area.

Basic internet can cost anywhere from $5 to $100 per month depending on your area and usage.

Internet sticks are a great option and are widely available throughout the country. These sticks use cellular service for internet so they can be used anywhere you go. The SIM cards provide the service and can be used interchangeably between the stick and your phone. You can purchase an unlimited SIM for $18 per month. The speed is not as fast as high speed in the U.S. but it’s fast enough to use Skype and stream video online.

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Depending where you live, cable and satellite television service are available. Cable is widely available in the Central Valley near San Jose and in some of the more developed beach towns.

Satellite is available everywhere but is less reliable particularly during storms. The cost for cable is about $25 per month and provides many North American channels as well as local Tican channels. Sky TV and DISH Network are available but you will need to find the satellite dish and hardware locally.

Postal Service

The national postal service in Costa Rica can be difficult to accept. They do not use an address system, therefore locations are described in proximity to landmarks. Zip codes have recently been implemented but are not widely used yet. Consequently, most homes do not have delivery to their door. It’s best to get a postal box at the post office, however you may wait up to a year to receive one depending on your location.

Sending mail overseas can take five days to a month and mail sent to you may stop in customs where you will need to pick it up. Theft does occur so it’s best not to send valuables through the mail.

Private mail services are prevalent and offer courier mail to and from your doorstep. Rates differ but tend to be around $15 per month.

International couriers like FedEx, UPS, and DHL are options as well.

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Electricity and Gas

ICE supplies electricity throughout the country. While most areas, and certainly all of Nosara, have electricity, power outages do occur, particularly during storms. It can take all day for ICE to repair power lines that have broken from trees and you will simply have to be patient and accept that there is not electricity that day.

Electricity costs about $20-30 per month depending on the size of your home and your usage.

Costa Rica uses plenty of electricity-conserving devices like on-demand water heaters and energy saving appliances.

Most homes use stoves powered by propane tanks, which can be purchased at supermarkets and local suppliers. This comes in handy particularly during power outages.

Water and Sewer

Many are surprised to learn that water throughout Costa Rica is clean and drinkable. 95% of homes are connected to the municipal water supply, which is treated. Most water bills amount to $5-10 per month. Most homes use energy efficient appliances like on-demand water heaters used primarily in the shower, and semi-automatic washing machines that use less water.

In Nosara, water is provided by the Rural Aqueduct Administration of Nosara and comes from nearby wells. Water testing is performed quarterly and residents are able to access the reports. Water is currently plentiful in the town but conservation is still practiced and encouraged, particularly in the dry season.

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Costa Rica has a wide range of trash services, and in Nosara garbage and recycling are collected twice per week. Many other parts of the country do not even have proper garbage collection as they end up dumping the trash in nearby rivers and vacant lots.

The recycling program in Nosara has been initiated by the community and is quite comprehensive. Costa Rica as a whole has begun consolidating landfills and implementing a public education program on recycling and waste.

You can limit your waste considerably by reducing the amount of plastic you use by refilling plastic bottles, composting all of your organic scraps, and recycling as much as possible.

Who Might Not Want to Move to Nosara

While Nosara is a wonderful place well suited to some people, it is not for everyone. Costa Rica in general may be more developed and Americanized than the rest of Central America, but it is still a developing nation.

Those who need consistent reliable internet and modern conveniences may become frustrated with the limitations here. Additionally life moves at a slower pace in Costa Rica, particularly in small beach towns like Nosara. For some this brings peace, for others aggravation.

The dusty rough roads in Nosara may be difficult for some people as well as the proximity to nature. Few can deny the beauty of wilderness, but exposure to insect infestations and wild animals can be undesirable. Also, during the dry season there is little to no rain at all and the landscape can dry up and become covered in dust. The rainy season is greener and more beautiful but roads can become difficult and many outdoor activities are not possible to partake in.

Contrastingly, those who wish to be completely immersed in Costa Rican culture may find areas of Nosara, particularly Playa Guiones to be overly Americanized. Those seeking a singles or party scene will also likely be disappointed as Nosara is a very laid-back, family-oriented area and may prefer towns like Tamarindo, Jaco, Dominical, or Puerto Viejo.

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Who Might Want to Move to Nosara

There are many reasons why a person would want to relocate to Nosara, and hopefully this article has succeeded in illustrating them. In summary, here is who would likely benefit from a move to Nosara.

Those looking for a community with many of the comforts of home like good healthcare and reputable schools will likely enjoy Nosara. Beach lovers, surfers, yogis, and most athletic individuals will also enjoy the many physical outdoor activities available in beach towns like Playa Guiones.

Those interested in living a healthy lifestyle will find that the many health-oriented restaurants, cafes, and markets in Nosara as well as physical activities and surrounding nature make it much easier than in other areas of the world. The laid-back, quiet, peaceful nature of Nosara is a huge draw for families looking to relax and live off of the grid.

Also, those who have some hesitations about moving to Central America due to language and cultural barriers may find Nosara to be an easier transition as it has an established English speaking North American expat community.

Making the decision to move abroad should never be taken lightly, but it can also be an incredible life changing journey. Perhaps Nosara is the place for you to start?

Nosara real estate for sale in an established community: At 1,000 feet in elevation, La Paz offers the very best of Nosara. Smokin’ ocean views (some lots see 50 miles of coastline!). Just close enough to the beach (12 minutes).  Local food production in the community. Lots, land, and home construction. Check out Nosara real estate at La Paz before it’s too late!

Nosara Fast Facts

  • Population: About 4,700
  • Typical temperature:Mid 80’s
  • Nearest airport with U.S. flights: Liberia
  • Nearest U.S. consulate: San Jose

A deeper look at Nosara and its history will quickly reveal that this long-time mecca for surfing enthusiasts offers so much more than just the sand and sea. The increasing interest in the area as a destination for families looking for a healthier lifestyle has helped Nosara evolve from its early beginnings into a place where both body and soul can be nurtured.

The town’s metamorphosis from surf haven to an established community immersed in sustainability, healthy living, and dedicated to the “green” lifestyle continues to draw both visitors and expats looking to find a destination that can help body, mind, and spirit thrive in concert with each other.

discovering nosara nosara costa rica

Discovering Nosara: A Brief History

From their arrival in the mid to late 16th century, the Spanish converted much of the Nicoya Peninsula, including the area that we know now as Nosara, into large cattle ranches. It remained in that state until 1962 when Alan Hutchinson, an entrepreneur and developer, purchased a large tract of land (roughly 3,000 acres) that he hoped to transform from pasture land into something more desirable.

It was his concept to build a sustainable upscale resort community known as “The Beaches of Nosara.” Hutchinson’s idea, which became known locally as the “American Project,” never materialized although it did lead to the creation of the Nosara Civic Association. This local organization has dedicated itself to reforestation and the preservation of the natural and ecological beauty of the region and directly to the growth of the Nosara of the 21st century.

Ironically, it was a short time later when surfers began to discover the great potential for surfing in Playa Guiones and the surrounding beaches. The combination of great surf breaks, a laid-back vibe, and the “off the beaten path” location made Nosara the perfect place to find that “endless summer.”

Fast Forward to the Present

As the 20th century drew to a close, Nosara transformed itself into the focal point for expats desiring an all-natural lifestyle with an emphasis on healthy living. The proliferation of yoga retreats and alternative healing centers has merged well with the surfing community.

For those discovering Nosara for the first time, there are a number of yoga surf camps that combine the best of both worlds. In addition to the surfing schools in the area, the Nosara Yoga Institute has gained worldwide acclaim as one of the premier training centers for yoga instructors.

Nosara and the Nicoya Peninsula have also gained prominence as one of the “blue zones” for longevity thanks to Dan Buettner’s popular book of the same name. This aesthetic mixture of lifestyles found in and around Nosara is unique, not only in the Latin Tropics, but across the globe as well.

Merging Sustainability and Planned Growth

The Nosara Civic Association has worked tirelessly to ensure that real estate development can occur in a planned fashion that will not sacrifice the environment and ecological beauty of the region. The permanent 170-acre “Green Zone” and the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge are two prime examples of the importance given to balancing nature with growth in the area.

Finding property that can be developed, or purchasing an existing structure is still an affordable option. While there are a number of upscale owners seeking to build higher-end homes in the Nosara area, there are also opportunities for those with more modest budgets.

discovering nosara costa rica

The Desirable Intangibles of Nosara

Beyond the surfing and the yoga, Nosara has many other, less obvious, features that commend it as one of the most desirable expat locations in the Latin Tropics. Nosara’s intangible benefits are equally important considerations for those considering relocating to the region.

Family Friendly

One of the biggest draws of Nosara, Costa Rica is the family-centered community in and around Nosara. Unlike many surfing communities, Nosara is not a “party town” but features a close-knit sense of belonging that welcomes families with children and retirees as well as outdoor sports enthusiasts.

The creation of two bilingual schools has helped foster this type of lifestyle that offers more time for parents and children to interact. Additionally, the wide variety of outdoor activities (beyond surfing) helps to nurture young bodies in concert with educational growth.

Language Is Not a Barrier

One of the intangible benefits of the growth of the expat population in Nosara is the increasing use of English in the area. Being able to shop, make appointments, and even interact with your neighbors, without constantly needing a translator, can make adjusting to your new expat life much easier.

Nature and Art: Two Forms of Beauty

The Nosara region combines the natural beauty of the environment as well as a growing arts community. The hamlet of Montezuma, a short distance from Nosara, is home to the annual Costa Rica International Film Festival as well as a number of artist communes and craft shops.

The Ostional Reserve (mentioned above) is home to olive ridley and leatherback sea turtle populations that are known across the globe for their ecological importance. Nosara’s beaches are recognized annually with the Blue Flag award for cleanliness. Its water table is the cleanest in Costa Rica, thanks largely to the commitment of community leaders to maintaining this standard for quality of life.

Nosara Is Waiting for You

With everything that it has going for it, discovering Nosara should be at the top of your list if you are considering a move to the Latin Tropics. Visit, experience and immerse yourself in this eclectic tropical location and find out if Nosara, and all it offers, are right for you.

What was once the up-and-coming expat haven of Nosara, Costa Rica, has blossomed into one of Costa Rica’s most established expat communities that continues to be ranked near the top of the list of most desirable destinations in the Latin Tropics.

There are few places on earth that can boast of having a dedication to outdoor activities, such as surfing, blended with a lifestyle focused on sustainability as well as the environment, and other beneficial pursuits, such as yoga and meditation. Add in the Costa Rican vibe of “pura vida” (literally “pure life”), and the result is a magnetic draw for retirees, young families looking for a slower pace of life, and investors seeking a great return on investment.

expats still like nosara

Expats Still Like Nosara for Its Real Estate Potential

One of the reasons that expats still like Nosara is the variety of options that exist in the real estate market. While there are an increasing number of upscale owners seeking to build or buy luxury homes, the Nosara Civic Association continues to make a concerted effort to ensure that the natural beauty and the environment are not overwhelmed with development.

At the other end of the economic spectrum, there are many affordable and rustic properties in and around the village of Nosara itself. Importantly, there are also a number of lots that can be reasonably purchased so that expats can build their own tropical escape.

Looking at a list of properties in the area can help potential expats explore the potential that exists. Whether you are seeking your tropical retreat, or considering a longer term investment option, it can be found in Nosara.

Nosara Is Poised for the Future

As the brainchild of American developer Alan Hutchinson Nosara was originally planned to be a resort community. While the “American Project” never materialized, the foreigners who discovered the beauty and potential of the region dedicated themselves to aggressively reforesting the former cattle ranch into one of the premier “Green Zones” that exist throughout Costa Rica.

The Nosara Civic Association zealously protects the roughly 170 acres of Green Zone land that is distributed throughout the former project site. Any future development in the Nosara area will be part of a planned growth model to maintain the balance between humans and nature. This measured approach has become a model for other projects throughout Costa Rica and the Latin Tropics.

expats still like nosara

Activities for the Body and Soul

One of the premier reasons that expats still like Nosara is the unique mix of outdoor activities with more spiritual aspects such as yoga, meditation, and alternative health. Being able to immerse oneself in such a wide variety of pursuits, in a stunning and diverse ecological location, continues to provide an irresistible draw for those who are seeking to find a place outside the ordinary.

Surfing and More

As a top-rated surfing destination, Nosara’s beaches and natural surf breaks have drawn enthusiasts who seek the “endless summer” for decades. The near-perfect year-round climate makes enjoying the beach, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, and other outdoor pursuits an easy and enjoyable task.

Yoga, Meditation and Alternative Health

As a counterpoint to the surf culture, Nosara has also become known, particularly in the last decade, as a destination for yoga and yoga retreats, meditation camps, and alternative medicine and health. Combining a holistic lifestyle with high-energy sports may seem like a cultural contradiction but these pursuits are actually the perfect complement to one another. In Nosara the two approaches blend perfectly.

Expats Still Like Nosara for Its Family-friendliness

For younger expat families, finding a place where children can thrive can often be a difficult challenge. Nosara, Costa Rica has become one of those rare destinations that can truly be said to be welcoming to families of all types.

The creation of two bilingual private schools, as well as the great variety of kid-friendly activities like sports and nature-focused initiatives, have contributed to the growth in the number of expat families considering a move to Nosara. Even more important is the relaxed pace of living that allows for more interaction between parents and children, something that is often lacking in the 24/7/365 hustle of major metropolitan areas.

A Healthier Way to Live

Dan Buettner’s recent book, “Blue Zones,” identified the Nicoya Peninsula as one of the places around the globe whose residents seemed to live longer, healthier lives. Nosara’s location, in the middle of the peninsula, has become a focal point for many expat families who want to add longevity to their lives and the lives of their children. Having a focus on a sustainable lifestyle continues to be one of the major considerations for those looking for a better quality of life.

The Best Way to Discover Why Expats Still Like Nosara Is to Go There

Nosara promises to be an important expat destination both now and moving forward. But what makes Nosara desirable differs from person to person. So don’t just take my word for it. The best way to see if Nosara is a fit for you and your family is to visit and experience both the ambience and the activities that await you there.

When you hear people applaud Nosara for its laid-back rustic vibe, what you may not realize is that despite it’s off-the-beaten-path atmosphere, Nosara is also surprisingly well connected. As such, this Costa Rican hotspot continues to be one of the most desirable locations for expats and visitors to the Latin Tropics.

Nosara, Costa Rica perfectly combines the beauty and tranquility of nature, the high-energy infusion of surfing, and the mellow, relaxed vibe of yoga and meditation. It’s truly an all-encompassing piece of paradise.

But what it also has, that many similar destinations lack, are 21st century conveniences and amenities that rival those you’d find in many First World cities. Buildings feature high-end materials. Cellular service and internet connectivity are easily available. All this is due largely in part to the careful and intentional way the town has grown.

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Contemporary Homes in a Rustic Setting

Nosara’s founders had a plan to see their town grow the right way, with a commitment to complementing, not overwhelming its natural beauty. And those who have followed in their footsteps have retained this same approach. The result? Modern, contemporary homes surrounded by the beautiful, untouched tropical landscape.

Indoor/outdoor living is king, with many homes having spaces that expand from interior living rooms onto outdoor patios with tropical canopies before trickling out into gardens, pools, and outdoor kitchens. Homes offer bonus features such as solar panels, greenhouses, yoga floors, and many other amenities necessary for sustainable, healthy living.

As you might expect, there isn’t a lot of bargain basement real estate in and around Nosara. But if “cheap” is your Number 1 criteria for finding your perfect place in paradise, then you’ve probably already figured out that Nosara isn’t right for you. What Nosara offers is an unrivaled quality of life, and its real estate — while not the lowest prices in the Latin Tropics — represents an incredible value.


Nosara: Many Options to Experience “Pura Vida”

The phrase “pura vida” (literally “pure life”) has become the catchphrase to describe living in Costa Rica. There is no place in the country that exemplifies the essence of “pura vida” better than Nosara.

Life Is Still a Beach

Nosara’s long standing reputation as a great beach and surf town has not diminished with the growth in the area. National Geographic lists Nosara among the top 20 surfing cities worldwide while TripAdvisor lists it as number 8 in the top 10 beaches in Central America.

Nosara and Guiones Combine Natural Beauty with Luxury

The area around Nosara, including Guiones, has become a magnet for upscale expats seeking to build high-end retreats with 21st century amenities. Even with this growth spurt, the Nosara Civic Association aggressively works to preserve the natural beauty and the environment of the 170-acre “Green Zone” to ensure that development will not overtake the essence of what makes Nosara special.

Eco-tourism lodges, yoga spas, surf hostels, and high-end hotels provide an eclectic range of lifestyle options. Whether you need to stay connected to the 24/7/365 world or want to be completely “off the grid,” you can find a place in Nosara to fit your desire.

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Connections to Nosara: Virtual and Logistical

Getting to Nosara is easier than one might imagine. While the traditional method of driving the length of the Nicoya peninsula is still popular, Costa Rica is not exactly known for the quality of its roads. The good news is that SANSA, a domestic Costa Rican airline, offers inexpensive flights from both Liberia and San Jose to the regional airport in Nosara.

For those looking for a more relaxing and scenic alternative, the ferry across the Bay of Nicoya provides a different way to experience the Nicoya Peninsula. This roughly one hour ferry trip from Puntarenas is a great way to get you and your vehicle to the Nosara area without the need of navigating the roads on the peninsula.

One of the key benefits to the growth in and around Nosara is the improvement in Internet and Wi-Fi services. Many of the hotels, hostels, and cafes offer free Wi-Fi that can make staying connected much less stressful.

Nosara: Rustic, Connected, and Waiting for You

If you are seeking a place that combines a rustic, laid-back vibe with modern connectivity and easy accessibility, Nosara may just be the answer for you. Planning a visit to this special area in Costa Rica is the best way to decide for yourself if this is the place for your tropical retreat. Go once, and you may just decide to stay and live the pure life forever.

There are surprising facts about Nosara that highlight why it continues to be the top expat destination in Costa Rica. While the region has long been known as a surfers’ mecca, there is more to this tropical location than meets the eye.

The essence of what makes Nosara a unique place begins with its history and continues to grow to this present day. There are few places in the tropics that bring together the natural and aesthetic vibe like this special location on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Surprising Facts About Nosara

Surprising Facts About Nosara’s History

There are a couple of surprising facts about Nosara from a historical perspective that many expats are not aware of. This background is one of the primary features that has contributed to the desirability of Nosara as a place to build a tropical paradise.

Nosara was not always part of Costa Rica.

One surprising fact about the Nosara area is that it did not always belong to Costa Rica. Prior to 1824, Nosara and the entire Nicoya Peninsula were part of the Spanish province of Nicaragua. On July 25th, 1824, the Central American Federal Republic signed a law transferring the entire Guanacaste Province, including the Nicoya Peninsula, to Costa Rica.

Even then, the region maintained a unique autonomy of its own. Finally, in 1848, the territory gained provincial status as part of Costa Rica.

A North American put Nosara on the map.

Another surprising fact about Nosara is that it was actually the brainchild of a North American. Alan Hutchinson, an entrepreneur and developer, purchased a large cattle ranch (several thousand acres) in 1962, with the idea of building a resort community he called “The Beaches of Nosara.”

The “American Project” (as it came to be known locally) never came to fruition. However, it did call attention to the region and its attractiveness for expats looking for someplace different.

One of the most positive aspects of the American Project was the creation of the 170-acre permanent Green Zone. This vital natural area is a testament to the community’s desire to balance the interest of people with the interests of the environment.

More Surprising Facts About Nosara

The kind of opportunities for expat living that can be found in Nosara today cover a wide range of choices. There is something for everyone in this unique location.

Surprising Facts About Nosara

Yoga in Nosara, Costa Rica is the new surfing.

Nosara has long been recognized as one of the best surfing destinations in the world.  In 2017, Nosara was ranked number one among the fastest growing surf towns worldwide. The combination of unsullied beaches and good natural surf-breaks have helped build on Nosara’s reputation as a surfers’ paradise.

What fewer people know is the fact that the area in and around Nosara has become home to a large number of yoga, meditation, and alternative health retreats. There are also a number of spas that combine yoga and surfing, two activities that complement each other well in so many ways.

Live a longer, healthier life in Nosara.

In his book Blue Zones, Dan Buettner identified the Nicoya Peninsula as one of the top “longevity hotspots” around the globe. Nosara’s location, in the heart of the peninsula, may well be “ground zero” for longer life spans.

Expats seeking to escape the incessant drumbeat of the 24/7/365 “always on” existence of the modern world can immerse themselves in the more laid-back ambiance of Nosara and rediscover what it means to just stop and take a breath. With a lifestyle focused on sustainability, combined with the cleanest water table in Costa Rica, Nosara can provide a healthier approach to daily life.

It’s family- and language-friendly.

A truly surprising fact about Nosara is that, unlike most surf/beach towns, it is not a frenetic party town. The more relaxed atmosphere is conducive to a family-friendly environment. The location of two bilingual schools in a neighborhood setting can make transitioning for the youngest expats much less stressful.

Additionally, with the growing number of expats and visitors to the region, finding English speakers is easier than it might be in other parts of the Latin Tropics. Daily tasks, like shopping or making appointments, do not require such a robust command of the Spanish language.

Surprising Facts About Nosara

The Most Amazing Fact About Nosara: The Price Tag

With all of the interest in the Nicoya Peninsula, and Nosara in particular, it may come as surprise that real estate is still affordable. Although the market has rebounded from the lows of 2008, there is still a great deal of potential for both expats and investors to explore.

Here are a couple of examples of the kind of opportunities that can currently be found in Nosara:

1-Bedroom Home, Great Investment, Lots of Room to Build Your Dream House on Remaining Land. The home is 1-bedroom, 1.5-bath on over 1 acre of land. It is located about 15 minutes from the beach, 9 minutes from shopping and 6 minutes from the airport. It has water, electricity, and a 1-bedroom guest house with septic system and it can all be purchased for only $137,000.

Diamond Point – 2BR Condo Facing the Pool. 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo beautifully designed and comes furnished so you can start living the lush jungle life immediately. It is located on the ground level with a patio facing one of the nicest pools in Nosara that has a waterfall feature and a shallow area for lounging or for kids to play. Priced at $99,500.

Affordable, Flat Lot in Quiet Area of Playa Pelada. This is for those who want to build their tropical dream home from the ground up. It has recently been reduced in price to $74,999.

Finding your place in a tropical paradise may never be easier. And the even more exciting news is that property values in Nosara are headed nowhere but up. With its incredible natural beauty, first world amenities, family atmosphere, and increased interest from developers, Nosara is poised for even more growth in the future.

The Most Surprising Fact About Nosara

Perhaps the most shocking fact about Nosara is that you have yet to experience it for yourself. Take that first step and see if Nosara may be the tropical paradise that you have been longing for.

There are a number of destinations that can be included in a list of the healthiest places in the Latin Tropics. The abundance of fresh foods, a more relaxed pace of daily living, and the tropical climate are just some of the features that have made the region a long-time favorite destination for retirees and other expats looking for a better quality of life.

This compelling combination has dramatically increased the interest of U.S. residents in finding alternative approaches to their current living arrangements. It is not just the locations themselves, but the qualities and opportunities that can be found there, that promise an overall healthier lifestyle – both on the physical and the emotional levels.

What Makes the Healthiest Places in the Latin Tropics Special

There are a number of qualities that the healthiest places in the Latin Tropics all seem to share. Below is a list of these factors that contribute to the wellbeing of locals and expats alike.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Finding fresh produce in the tropics can be as easy as taking a short walk or drive to one of the countless roadside stands or weekly farmers’ markets that are a fixture of life in these countries.  The wide variety of locally grown products is not only less expensive but makes it far more convenient to prepare meals from scratch – leading to another element that makes life in the tropics a healthy alternative: diet.

healthiest places in the latin tropics

Geoff Baker

Healthier Diets

There is certainly a much smaller emphasis on pre-packaged or “fast” food in the Latin Tropics. As a result, more meals are prepared fresh, instead of out of a container or microwavable box.

Additionally, there is not as much emphasis on red meat in the region, the preferred protein sources being poultry or fish. These kinds of diets have been shown to be healthier in terms of reducing fat and cholesterol.

Better Climate

Having more sunlight, warmer temperatures and less extremes in climate (i.e., winter cold to summer heat in a short period) has shown to be more conducive to better health. Aside from the physical benefits of Vitamin D, the abundance of sunlight also helps combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Appropriately abbreviated as SAD, this type of depression brought on during the shorter periods of daylight during the winter months impacts roughly three million adults yearly. Given that daylight hours only vary about fifteen minutes during the seasons, life under the tropical sun is emotionally healthy as well as physically healthy.

Less Stressful Pace of Living

If there is one thing that is the hallmark of the Latin Tropics, it is the slower, more relaxed pace of life.  The stress of facing crowded streets, time clocks, and the omnipresent “noise” of the 24/7/365 connected world is replaced by the far more tranquil natural rhythms of the ocean, tropical rain forests, and small villages.

While the slower pace of getting things done (such as repairs or building projects) can take some getting used to, the physical benefits are worth the extra time spent.  It can truly be said that, in terms of daily living, you do without doing and it all gets done.

More Active Lifestyle

One of the most important features that all these locations share is a more active physical lifestyle. Warm weather is more conducive to outdoor activities that can range from merely walking to more strenuous forms such as swimming, surfing, and other sports.

The Top Five Healthiest Places in the Latin Tropics

Here is a list of the top five healthiest places in the Latin Tropics. While each one has its own unique characteristics, they all share qualities that make them desirable of destinations for those seeking to find their own personal “fountain of youth.”

healthiest places in the latin tropics


5. Volcán/Boquete, Panama

Located in the Chiriquí province of Panama, the Volcán/Boquete area boasts access to an abundance of fresh produce, herbs, and coffee and is known as the “breadbasket of Panama.” The moderate temperatures, low humidity (thanks to being 4000 feet above sea level), and a tranquil sense of wellbeing, all contribute to a more active lifestyle.

The region also can claim longer life spans for its residents than the rest of Panama. Boquete has been singled out by AARP magazine as one of the top places to retire in the entire world.

4. Playa Gigante, Nicaragua

This rustic fishing village on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua is rapidly becoming a mecca for a growing number of alternative health and yoga spas. With a very laid-back lifestyle, ready access to fresh fish and produce, and natural beauty of one of the country’s ecological centers, healthy living in Playa Gigante comes easily.

healthiest places in the latin tropics

Jon Hurd

3. Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Aside from its breathtaking vistas, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala is becoming recognized as a place for retirees seeking a healthier lifestyle. With some of the best weather anywhere, the rich Mayan culture (still very much in existence), abundant fresh produce, and a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy, Lake Atitlán’s popularity as both a tourist destination and a retirement location continues to grow.

healthiest places in the latin tropics

Presidencia de la República del Ecuador

2. Vilcabamba, Ecuador

It may come as a surprise to many that Vilcabamba, Ecuador is included in this list. Located in what is has become known as the “Valley of Longevity,” local residents claim to reach life expectancies well past 100 years.

While there is no hard evidence to support this claim, the mild climate, abundant fresh air (no pollution), low animal fat diets, and active lifestyle certainly are positive factors for healthier living. The natural beauty and relaxed pace of life in the valley also contribute to the growth of Vilcabamba as a top retirement destination.

healthiest places in the latin tropics

Carlos Adampol Galindo

1. Nicoya Peninsula/Nosara, Costa Rica

Featured in the book, The Blue Zones, the Nicoya Peninsula – and Nosara in particular – has become the best known of top healthy places in the Latin Tropics. The ready access to fresh produce and seafood combined with a more relaxed outdoor lifestyle has created an environment where longer life spans are the rule, not the exception.

Healthier diets and more physical activity seem to be only part of Nosara’s secret. The growing number of alternative therapies, such as meditation and yoga, create an atmosphere where life can be embraced as opposed to just being lived.

Finding That Longer, Healthier Life Path in Paradise

Visiting the locations mentioned above (or others in the region) could be the first step to discovering what the healthiest places in the Latin Tropics could offer as a lifestyle choice. Learning where and what resonates with you is a great place to begin your quest for a healthier, happier existence.

When people think about U.S. citizens living abroad what comes to mind is probably retirees, or the super wealthy, or maybe even a bunch of backpacking college students. People who don’t have to worry about things like maintaining a job or finding a good orthodontist.

What seems like a bit more of a stretch, to many, is the idea of moving overseas with children, particularly young ones, and having the need to educate, protect, and support them. But the reality is that living abroad, even in a developing country, has never been easier for young families.

The Latin tropics, for example, offer a ton of locales where parents can earn a living for their families, send their kids to a bilingual international school, sign them up for afterschool art and sports programs, and never have to give a second thought about their safety.

Improved technology and infrastructure make things like telecommuting, homeschooling, and communicating with friends and family a virtual breeze. Cities with established expat communities can help to make the transition easier.

On the flip side, there are also more remote destinations that offer the opportunity to cut out all the distractions and focus on what really matters to your family. Where your children can learn to become students of the world, rather than spending their days cooped up in a classroom.

In fact, it’s been observed that living abroad helps children develop a certain skillset and adaptability that their homebound counterparts lack, making them particularly qualified for leadership positions.

Every tropical destination has its own set of pros and cons. Not every young family will share the same opinion about a certain city. But there’s no denying that each of these places has a unique appeal that families with children will likely find intriguing.

Jose Juaquin

Jose Juaquin

Best City for Culture – Cuenca, Ecuador

A longtime favorite of expats of all demographics, Cuenca, Ecuador, is still a fantastic option for families with children. It offers an established expat community with lots of English-speakers, as well as expats of many other nationalities.

Cuenca has a high level of amenities, with easy access to all the necessary goods and services. Yet it’s also surrounding by an incredible natural environment that offers plenty of options for outdoor enthusiasts.

For all it delivers, Cuenca is also quite affordable. It’s big city convenience with a small town feel, right down to the cobblestone streets and charming historic architecture.

Because it’s home to a number of universities, residents of Cuenca also place a high value on education. The high concentration of students also makes Cuenca a cultural and artistic hub. It’s a great place to get a true taste of what makes the local culture so incredible.

TR Rounts

TR Rounts

Best Expat Community – Boquete, Panama

Another destination that’s popular with young expat families is Boquete, Panama. Tucked into the highlands of the Chiriqui province, Boquete is smaller than Cuenca (and quite a bit more expensive). Yet it too offers an incredible level of services and amenities.

A longstanding expat presence has led to the establishment of everything from “Gringo Night” at local restaurants all the way up to an expat theatre group. In fact, Boquete is so expat-friendly that some complain it’s almost just like being in North America.

But understand that, even though Boquete might be full of people who look and talk like you, there’s still plenty of authentic culture to experience. Not to mention the incredible natural surroundings like cloud forests, whitewater rapids, and an abundance of flora and fauna.

Between its near-perfect climate and its welcoming residents, Boquete is a great option for newcomers with children.



Best Beach Town – Nosara, Costa Rica

Those who think all tropical beach towns are way too heavy on the party scene for young families need to think again. Introducing…Nosara, Costa Rica.

Rather than loud dance clubs and dreadlocked drug peddlers, what you’ll find in Nosara is more like yoga studios and organic smoothie stands. It has great surfing, some of the best in Costa Rica, but it also has great schools. It’s a win-win for young families.

The abundance of health food stores, fitness centers, and sports teams make Nosara the perfect place for those looking to lead a healthy lifestyle. However, all the excellent consumer options and extra-curricular activities do tend to tip Nosara a bit towards the expensive end of the spectrum.

Nosara is clean. It’s safe. Its residents are a closely knit community, and they flock to the beach in droves each evening, just to see the sunset. Its four miles of white sand beaches are protected from any kind of encroaching development, and the many conservation efforts help keep it pristine.

Young families looking for the beach lifestyle without the stereotypical beach culture should definitely give this place a closer look.

boca chica panama

Viva Tropical

Best Island – Boca Chica, Panama

If island living is the scenario you had in mind for your family, then forget the overcrowded, touristy places like Roatan or the Belize Cayes. There’s nothing authentic about seeing a cruise ship dump its hordes of travelers onto your shores for a quick romp.

Instead, may I suggest the tranquil forests of Boca Chica Island, where the only other residents you’ll likely see and hear are the howler monkeys and toucans perched just outside your window?

Boca Chica and its surrounding islands offer the same natural wonders as their busier counterparts (e.g. pristine beaches, ancient forests, excellent fishing, and mangroves packed with marine life). But in Boca Chica those can be explored on your own, not on a chartered tour with a dozen other strangers.

Although it feels remote, Boca Chica Island is only a 10 minute boat ride from the mainland where you can also access attractions such as Volcan Baru (the nation’s highest peak), the aforementioned town of Boquete, and the bustling city of David (the country’s second largest) where you can find any and all of the amenities you could possibly need.

photo by P. Schenll

photo by P. Schenll

Best on a Budget – Granada, Nicaragua

While affordability shouldn’t be your biggest factor when choosing an expat destination, for some young families it’s a necessary concern. Enter Granada, Nicaragua.

This charming colonial town boasts many of the same features as Cuenca. Yet with a noticeably lower price tag.

The tradeoff is that some of the amenities aren’t quite as good. Consumer options are a bit more limited. The infrastructure isn’t as top-notch. In fact, some may even see Granada as a little gritty.

But that authentic vibe is exactly what a lot of parents want their children to experience. The ability to take in your surroundings and feel almost as if you’ve stepped back in time 100 years. Except for the internet cafes and ATM machines.

All in all, Granada is a great compromise for those who want to experience Latin America for what it is, not a North American version of it. And not for the same amount you’d pay to live in the States.

So, if you’re looking for a place to relocate your family, or even if you just want to try a gap year to see if this whole expat thing is right for you, these top destinations are a great place to start!

When planning a scouting trip to determine if a tropical destination is right for your family, it’s pretty important to check out what there is to eat in the area. And I don’t just mean the fancy places where you might eat if you were on vacation.

In order to get the full experience of life in Nosara, Costa Rica, you need to try out some of the top local restaurants. Sure some are upscale and maybe even a little pricey. But there are also some really great Mom and Pop type joints (known to the locals as “sodas”) that serve up great local fare at a fraction of the cost.

Here, in no particular order, are a few of the places we recommend.

nosara costa rica restaurants

Beach Dog Café

Located along the road near the Harbor Reef, the Beach Dog Cafe looks like any other beachy hangout. But one look at the menu will reveal that there’s much more to it than that.

Chef Mike Streda got tired of working in other people’s restaurants, where he wasn’t allowed to make changes or suggestions, so he decided to open his own place. And, since he also loves to surf and he couldn’t do a lot of that in his native Canada, that place was in Nosara, Costa Rica.

He describes his approach as “fresh, healthy, simple, all the flavors on the palate.” Even though those last two almost seem to contradict one another, they marry beautifully in dishes like coconut buffalo wings, Cajun crusted fresh catch, and chili lime mango fajitas. He also serves a concoction called Picklemole, which is guacamole made with…you guessed it…pickles.

There’s live music a few nights a week and a creative cocktail menu that includes what’s labeled as the best mojito in town. It’s open all day every day, except Sunday when it closes at 3:30, and menu items run anywhere from $6 to $16.

nosara costa rica restaurants

La Luna

One of the most amazing things about this restaurant is its location. Situated right in front of Playa Pelada, it’s one of the few restaurants in Nosara that’s actually directly on the beach. The other amazing thing is that it serves arguably the best food in town.

Even though it’s on the beach, the feel is very private. The vibe is very laid-back and comfortable. And the cuisine is influenced by owner Angelina’s Greek and British heritage.

The menu at La Luna is extensive and varied, with everything from grilled Mediterranean kebabs, falafel and hummus platters, brick-fired pizzas, and a full English breakfast. One star is a gigantic antipasto platter (as big as an extra-large pizza) for $30 that includes an assortment of Greek olives, marinated vegetables, cheeses, tzatziki, salami, spreads, homemade bread, and more.

Prices range from $8 to $30.

nosara costa rica restaurants

Rosi’s Soda Tica

One of the best values in Nosara, Rosi’s Soda Tica also serves up some of the town’s best authentic local cuisine. While not the most variety you’ll find on a menu, the quality of the food is excellent and consistent, as is the service of the friendly waitstaff.

For breakfast you’ll find omelettes full of fresh veggies, huevos rancheros, and the signature banana pancakes. A lunch favorite is the casado, a meal containing rice, black beans, plantains, salad, and your choice of meat. Each evening there’s a “fish special” that’s well-seasoned and cooked to perfection.

There are two locations, one in the middle of town, and one on the south end of town near the super grocery store. That one is also next to a liquor store. So if you want a beer with dinner, they’ll let you walk over and get one to bring back and enjoy.

nosara costa rica restaurants

Burgers and Beers

Speaking of beer, local entrepreneur Victor Garita is a Tico who noticed something interesting about all the North American visitors who had begun frequenting his little Costa Rican town. They loved to eat hamburgers. And they loved to drink beer with them.

The problem was that there just weren’t many places to get a burger in town. So the most aptly named restaurant in Nosara, Burgers and Beers, was born. The menu is as simple as the concept, but the flavors are about as complex as they come.

There are six burgers on the menu: The Classic, the French, the Fish, the Blue Cheese, the Barbeque Mushroom, and the Vegetarian. Each was inspired by a famous dish (e.g. the French is chateaubriand), based on Victor’s correct assumption that “if it tastes good on a plate, it will taste good as a hamburger.” With the right quality ingredients, that is.

He seeks the same quality in the craft beers he serves, usually offering double digit options on tap and as many as a dozen or more in bottles. And they run the gamut in terms of variety.

nosara costa rica restaurants


Tibidabo is another product of the observation of one individual (in this case a Spanish foodie) that resulted in the development of a niche restaurant that has thrived in Nosara, Costa Rica. Luis Velasco moved to Costa Rica in 2008 after his corporate job suffered from the global economic crisis. He met a Tica named Laura and, noticing that there were no Spanish restaurants in Nosara, opened Tibidabo.

There’s an interesting story behind the name. Tibidabo is a mountain that overlooks Barcelona, Velasco’s hometown. His mother always told him that if ever got lost, he could always walk towards Tibidabo to find his way home. It seemed like a fitting name, the landmark that for Velasco always represented “home.”

The restaurant itself is an elegant tapas place that’s not only one of the most delicious, but also one of the most elegant in town, with its upscale decor and immaculate gardens. And the menu is nothing short of extraordinary. It contains 37 tapas consisting of everything from tuna tartare to strawberries to anchovies to sauteed shrimp. And then there’s the favorite — paella, which has to be ordered in advance.

nosara costa rica restaurants

El Chivo Cantina

If you’re looking for something a little bit more familiar, up to and including U.S. football on the TVs, then look no further than El Chivo Cantina, which is Spanish for “The Goat.” A fusion of Costa Rican, Mexican, and American food, it offers dishes you’re used to with a bit of a local flair.

There’s everything from burritos to chicken wings, served up in a laid-back atmosphere with plenty of activity. It’s a great place to watch sports, let the kids run around, or even watch a Disney movie with the family.

Come on Taco Tuesday for a lively experience. Wash it down with a margarita or a shot of one of the many tequilas or mezcals on the cocktail menu. The listed menu prices range from $6 to $20.

nosara costa rica restaurants

Il Basilico

Looking for a little Italian cuisine in the Latin Tropics? Check out Il Basilico, which is Italian for basil, a favorite herb of proprietors Alexander Cabalceta and Jens Castrillo. This hotspot is popular among locals and tourists alike, and often features live musicians. There’s a pizza party every Saturday night where all pies are $10.

Rather than specializing in a few signature dishes, Il Basilico serves up a wide variety of pizzas, pastas, salads, and seafood dishes. When one tasty pasta dish with bacon, mushrooms, and truffle oil wasn’t selling well, they changed the name to Penne Surfo. Now it’s one of the more frequently ordered items on the menu.

Like most restaurants in Nosara, Il Basilico caters to the health conscious. There are plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options on their extensive menu.

nosara costa rica restaurants

Le Bistrot

There isn’t much to say about the menu at Le Bistrot. Mainly because, well, there’s no menu. Instead a simple blackboard displays the specials of the day, which changes based on whatever’s freshest and in season.

While the star ingredients often vary, the techniques are tried and true. Owners Fabien Piguet and Alex Juvet, both from the French part of Switzerland, specialize in Mediterranean and French-style food. They serve up sauces loaded with lots of wine, sweet cream, butter, olive oil, and fresh olives. And since Juvet’s wife is from Peru, there are often Peruvian-inspired dishes.

Whatever it is you crave, there’s a good chance you can find it in Nosara, Costa Rica. The long-standing expat presence has done much to benefit the town, as the growing community continued to demand more and varied nuances of flavor. The result is a culinary explosion that’s taken place in recent years.

Come and taste it for yourself!

When it comes to choosing a tropical destination to call home, it’s important to know that they aren’t all created equal. It’s also important to know that just because one person or one publication loves a certain country or city, that doesn’t mean that everyone will or that YOU will.

That being said, there are a few places that stand out heads above the rest in terms of lifestyle, atmosphere, and quality of life. 

Bridget Shirvell

Bridget Shirvell

We ranked cities all across Latin America in areas such as cost of living, quality of life, and potential for real estate appreciation. And we’re dying to tell you more about the three cities that blew all the others out of the water in those and other categories.

And, while not every single person on the planet would be happy in one of these three destinations, they’re hands down the top places where most people would be happy living in the tropics.

Here they are!



1. Nosara, Costa Rica

There is no place on earth quite as remarkable as Costa Rica, with its unparalleled natural beauty, friendly population, and laid-back lifestyle. Its residents are among the happiest people on the planet, and there are some obvious reasons for that.

There’s also no place in Costa Rica quite as fantastic as Nosara. It was initially established as a planned community by a North American developer. It got started on the right track and has continued to follow that original plan.

Today, it’s a tropical paradise with a first world design. There are banks, grocery stores, medical clinics, and fitness centers. Yet, due to zoning regulations, there aren’t any high-rise condos to block your view of the pristine coastline and magnificent sunsets.

The town also has numerous conservation and beautification initiatives, so it’s one of the cleanest cities you’ll find in the tropics. There’s regular trash collection, clean water, and reliable utilities.

It’s a health conscious town, and most residents regularly enjoy activities such as surfing, yoga, stand-up paddleboarding, soccer, tennis, and other sports. There are organic grocers, smoothie stands, and other healthy consumer options. There’s also plenty of nature to help rejuvenate your mind and body.

Great for Singles, Even Better for Families

Not only is Nosara a great place to live, it’s also the perfect place to raise a family abroad. There’s a large established expat community and a lot of English speakers, which makes for an easy transition. There are several bilingual schools, as well as plenty of organized sports and activities for children to enjoy.

Nosara is also an incredibly safe town. Crime is low, and there’s not much of a party scene or drug culture like you might find in other tropical beach towns. Everyone looks out for each other, and there’s a great sense of community.

While not the cheapest city to live or buy property in the tropics, Nosara offers tremendous bang for your buck. And even though it’s already a well-established town, there’s still room for appreciation and growth. As investors, we hope to be a part of where Nosara is headed.

Eric Hunt

Eric Hunt

2. Cuenca, Ecuador

You’ve probably heard a lot about Ecuador, and more specifically Cuenca, being a great place to live or retire because it’s cheap. Well, we think that’s a horrible reason on which to base such an important decision.

Yes, Ecuador enjoys a lower cost of living than many of its Latin neighbors, but there are so many better reasons to love this country and city. Here they are.

First of all, the climate is ideal. The temperature most days is in the high 60s to low 70s. It gets cooler at night, sometimes dropping into the high 40s. You only need one wardrobe for the whole year, plus a sweater or light jacket for evenings.

There’s a rainy season that runs from January to May. The rest of the year, all you’ll see is an occasional afternoon shower, perfect for a nap or some time with a good book.

Small Town Atmosphere, Big City Amenities

Also, for a fairly large city (roughly 330,000 people), it has a quaint small town feel. The colonial architecture is stunning, the people are friendly, and the carts of local farmers and craft vendors make walking the city streets a pleasant experience.

Yet despite Cuenca’s charming ambiance, there’s no shortage of big city amenities. There are internet cafes, boutiques, entertainment options, and any professional service you can think of.

What’s probably most notable about Cuenca is the incredibly diverse culture, both native and foreign. Cuenca is home to several large universities, and the zeal for learning and experiencing new things radiates through the city. There are numerous museums, free concerts, and local artists that further establish Cuenca as an important cultural hub.

Though not dirt cheap like many areas in Ecuador, Cuenca is a very affordable place to live. It has a large, growing expat community and numerous expat-friendly businesses. Health care is good. Education is emphasized. It’s a great fit for expats of pretty much any demographic.



3. Boquete, Panama

Panama, and especially Boquete, has been the darling of the international retirement scene for a while now. Not only does it have natural beauty, a great climate, and first world amenities, it also offers some of the best retirement benefits of any country in the world.

Retirees of any age can save on everything from healthcare to transportation to entertainment to utilities. And with tons of visa options, obtaining residency in Panama is about as simple a process as is possible in Latin America.

But enough about the boring stuff, what’s truly amazing about Boquete is the scenery and all the incredible opportunities to experience nature in the surrounding areas. Boquete has been dubbed both the “Land of Eternal Springtime” and the “Valley of Flowers,” and it easily lives up to both of those monikers.

At 3,900 feet above sea level, it enjoys a moderate climate with warm days and cool nights. Its location offers sweeping vistas of the surrounding valleys. And its fertile soil makes it the perfect place to grow fresh fruits and vegetables year round, as well as a variety of flowers. Its orchid fair held each March is an international event.

The Pace of Life Is Slow, but You Don’t Have to Be

The surrounding mountains offer opportunities for hiking, bird watching, white water rafting, zip lining through the cloud forests, or exploring local organic coffee farms. After a day packed with activity, the nearby Caldera hot springs are a great place to relax and rejuvenate.

Thanks to a longstanding expat presence, Boquete has most amenities you’d expect to find in an established first world city. English is widely spoken. Phone and internet service are top-notch.

Boquete is a more expensive mountain option than Cuenca, yet still affordable by North American standards. Its expat population is still growing steadily, thanks to much media hype in recent years. That’s likely to continue for years to come.

boca chica panama

Panama Travel

What About the Other 54?

These are the three tropical destinations we feel will appeal to the largest number of people. However, there are still 54 other amazing places you need to know about. It is possible you might love the sound of one of those even more than the three we just described. Download our free eBook and find out!

Something we at VivaTropical get asked all the time is “Where is the best place to live/invest/retire in the tropics?” And the answer to that is…we don’t know.

I mean, we know a LOT of really great places down here. We just don’t know the one that’s best for YOU.

So, while we can’t tell you exactly where you should move or retire to, we can give you a lot of really great options. In fact, we recently did just that when we listed the “Top 57 Places to Live and Invest in the Tropics.”

It’s a free download of over 200 pages of facts and amazing photos detailing what we think are the best overall places to live your life, invest your money, or both.

It’s based on a lot of different factors, such as the cost of living, quality of life, and real estate outlook for each area. I suggest you check out the whole ebook, or at least the places that interest you in the table of contents.

Meanwhile, here are our top three picks, as well as a few others that we think are great up-and-coming destinations.


#1 Nosara, Costa Rica

Nosara, Costa Rica is the perfect example of development done right. When the town was first established in the 1970s, the developer had a master plan to make it a top notch destination, and the residents have carried it out for decades. Most notably, the beach remains free of any high-rises to block the incredible sunsets.

Nosara has top-notch surfing, first-world amenities, and modern conveniences you won’t find elsewhere. Yet it’s not overcrowded or touristy. It’s clean, healthy, safe, and has great schools, making it ideal for young families. And did I mention that it’s breathtakingly beautiful?



#2 Cuenca, Ecuador

One thing that attracts a lot of people to Ecuador is its affordable cost of living, but that’s far from being the main reason you should consider Cuenca. While it is less expensive than many expat destinations, it delivers big on amenities, culture, and community.

The best of both worlds, Cuenca offers big city conveniences in a quaint little small-town atmosphere. Its architecture is striking, and it’s rich in history. The town’s many colleges and language schools make it a virtual melting pot of unique people and ideas.

Dark Times Press

Dark Times Press

#3 Boquete, Panama

One of the neat things about Panama is its incredible infrastructure. And you won’t find many places in Central America as well developed as this expat haven. Decades of North American influence have paved the way for a first-world experience for expats living in Boquete.

But before you think it sounds too much like the U.S., consider the incredible nature that surrounds you in Boquete. Known as the “Valley of Flowers,” the hillsides around the town boast orchids and coffee farms. The rivers offer world-class whitewater rafting. And the rainforests are home to a variety of birds and other wildlife.

Some Honorable Mentions

photo by VivaTropical

photo by VivaTropical

#8 Boca Chica, Panama

Though it’s still relatively unknown, or more likely BECAUSE it’s so unknown, this destination scores off the charts on our Real Estate Prediction Meter. This coastal town and its 50+ islands in the Gulf of Chiriqui deliver all the things people love about ocean adventure and island living, but at a fraction of the cost.

As it becomes more and more accessible, we think this area is really going to take off. Its close proximity to David, plus new roads and a newly expanded airport mean big appreciation for real estate investors in Boca Chica.

#13 Dominical, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is truly an amazing place to visit or live. And Dominical has the best of everything this country has to offer. From the unparalleled surfing to the breathtaking panoramic views, this is one place not to be missed.

The town is really growing, but not in a manner that takes away from its natural beauty or the whole idea of what the place is really about. The incredible opportunities to experience nature, plus the renewed interest in the area make it a great option for expats and investors.

You can find out more about these and the other 52 destinations that made our list by downloading our ebook. Take a look! Which one of the top 57 places to live and invest is right for you?

With the right blend of amenities, a commitment to a sustainable lifestyle, natural beauty, and a great atmosphere, deciding to invest in Nosara can be one of the best decisions an expat or investor can make. This unique village in the southern Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica is the perfect destination for nature lovers, yoga and fitness buffs, surfers and, most importantly, families seeking to find a place to thrive in a vibrant culture far different than the frenetic pace of life in the U.S.

invest in nosara

Pat Cranson

With the start of the “American Project” in 1971, Nosara has become the gold standard for responsible planning and community development throughout Latin America. Combining balanced residential growth while maintaining the natural beauty of the surrounding tropical environment is a key factor in Nosara’s desirability as a place to invest and live.  The types of properties available reflect the best qualities of this village and the surrounding area.

invest in nosara

Viva Tropical

The 7 Signs Why Now Is the Time to Invest in Nosara

As Nosara continues to grow in popularity, the number of expats considering this location in the Nicoya Peninsula is also increasing. Below are seven signs as to why choosing to invest in Nosara now has such great potential for a positive return on investment.

A Wide Selection of Properties To Choose From

Nosara has a variety of properties that can be used as investment vehicles. Below are some samples:

  • Condominiums in Diamonds Point. These two-bedroom, two-bath units, being offered for $129,000, are ideal for a vacation getaway or providing rental income over the long term. Located in Guiones, a short drive from the center of Nosara, these units come with a large living area, patios, and fully-equipped kitchens. The development also has onsite laundry service, a common swimming pool, and security.
  • Playa Guiones Building Lot. The opportunity to design and build your own tropical escape can certainly be realized by owning a ready-to-build lot within walking distance of the beach, shops, and restaurants. For investment purposes, buying now and holding onto the land as the total inventory dwindles is a great way to maximize the return on the purchase price of $149,000.
  • Beach Front Nosara Condos. Located at Villas Las Palmas, there are units available on both the upper and main floors. Located a mere 100 yards from Playa Pelada, the closeness to the beach enhances the desirability of these two-bedroom, two-bath residences as an investment property with great rental value, as well as a perfect second or vacation home. Equipped with en-suite bathrooms, new modern appliances, and high quality fixtures and furnishings, these attractive garden units can become the tropical hideaway of your dreams and all for $189,900.
  • High End Ocean View Home. Also located in Playa Guiones, this property is located in one of the more prestigious sections of the development. Though secluded and private, the huge yard and outdoor space are perfect for viewing those tropical sunsets. With high-end features usually found only in multi-million dollar villas, this $890,000 two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home can command a high rental price and can be your retirement palace later on.

With properties that can suit every taste, from lots to villas, perusing the available selections demonstrates why Nosara is definitely a place to invest and live in.

invest in nosara

Pat Cranson

The Quality of Life Is Better Than Other Areas

Nosara has remained focused on responsible planning that can permit growth while maintaining the natural beauty of the land. The 170-acre permanent Green Zone, that is part of the “American Project” is a testament to the community’s desire to balance the interest of people with the interests of the environment. The Nosara Civic Association, which oversees the area, was established to ensure that the unsullied beauty that makes Nosara so attractive can remain without the threat of over-development.

One of the benefits of this approach is that Nosara has the cleanest water table in Costa Rica as well as the cleanest ocean water. Thanks to aggressive zoning, the beach is not obscured by high-rise structures and remains a pristine place where nature can be experienced as part of daily life as well as adding to the value of property in the area.

A More Vibrant, Healthy Approach to Living

With the all of the emphasis on a sustainable lifestyle, it is no surprise that it is easier to live “healthy” in Nosara than in many other tropical locations.  Organic grocery stores, raw food cafes, and green initiatives such as recycling, beach clean ups, and tree plantings, add an important intrinsic value to daily life.

Alternative medicine practitioners, yoga retreats, and meditation centers provide holistic options to dealing with health issues. For more traditional medical treatments, Nosara has English speaking doctors, dentists, and a pharmacy. Regardless of which treatment approach is preferred, finding it in Nosara is an easy proposition.

invest in nosara

Bryan Thatcher

A Great Place for Families

Unlike so many beach towns in the region, Nosara does not have the frenetic party atmosphere that is the hallmark of many ocean-side destinations. The availability of modern amenities, the presence of two bilingual schools and a neighborhood-type vibe are just some of the reasons why there are an increasing number of families relocating there and calling Nosara home.

Lots of Outdoor Activities Right at Your Doorstep

Another important reason why now is a great time to invest in Nosara is the wide variety of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed literally steps away from your residence. Nosara is known as one of the best surf locations in Costa Rica; the number of surf camps and schools make it an ideal destination for the novice or the hard core wave rider.

Tennis, stand-up paddle-boarding, and hiking through the nearby wildlife reserves are other options to become one with the natural beauty of the area. Even a quiet walk on the beach at sunset is a reminder of how valuable the serenity and peacefulness of this beach village truly is.

invest in nosara

Chris Goldberg

Nosara Is There for the Long Term

Nosara has an established expat community that has resulted in a large number of English speakers – both expat and local. From an investment standpoint, being able to offer a scenario where daily transactions can be handled without learning Spanish or finding a translator can be a strong value-added element.

Perhaps no sign as to why you should invest in Nosara is more important than its permanence. Unlike many tropical destinations that are heavily dependent on the tourist trade to survive, Nosara is an established community whose plan for growth is well controlled in order to meet the needs of residents both now and in the future.

Ultimately, the best way to experience all that Nosara offers, whether for a potential expat relocation or future investment, is to visit this unique community in the Nicoya Peninsula first hand. There is no substitute for actually being there, and now is certainly a good time to explore those Nosara possibilities for yourself.

Viva Tropical Radio

Viva Tropical Radio

Park and Josh look for a large tract of land for their next project. After combing through hundreds of options and locations they have narrowed it down to the Southern Zone of Costa Rica or Nosara, Costa Rica. Join them as they talk about the pros and cons of each site while walking around on the property.

Listen in as they discuss the process of deciding what direction to take or not take on a particular property. The initial stage of deciding what property is the best for them is only the beginning; the next steps of figuring out a plan and how it will work is where the rubber meets the road in this special episode.

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