Awesome day trips out of Nosara

Anyone who’s googled the phrase “Driving in Nosara” can attest to the barrage of warnings regarding the hazards and pitfalls of road tripping throughout the area. Travelers tales warn of impassable rivers, potholes the size of bomb craters, opportunistic thieves and a whole range of other things seemingly designed to portray a Guanacaste road trip as the sole domain of the lionhearted daredevil. However, anyone who tells you that a Nicoya peninsula road trip simply isn’t worth the risk / reward ratio has either 1: Never been here. 2: Has been here but bases their reports on events witnessed from the terrace of their 5-star resort hotel room 3: Knows exactly how epic these trips can be and is trying to prevent you from discovering something they’d prefer not to be outed (think Pavones back in the day.)

Many visitors here hail from countries where the idea of a “road” conjures images of smooth, tarmacked stretches of carefree driving accompanied by a digital voice advising where to turn next. In Costa Rica the definition of a road is a little more ambiguous. Sure, the main highways traversing the country and linking the major cities are constructed to the same standards as visitors are used too. Many such roads take in some of the most mind blowing scenery Guanacaste has to offer including mountains, volcanoes, plains and coastal byways. The vast majority of these places are GPS friendly and the biggest dilemma you’ll encounter is likely choosing the best spot from which to take photographs. Then there’s those “other” roads – the ones you were warned about which make a professional motocross track seem like a commercial airliner landing strip, and that’s where the fun begins!

In  1978 a revered psychiatrist named Robert M. Peck produced the bestselling book;“The Road Less Traveled” in which the message is plain; anything in life that involves reward requires a certain degree of discomfort.  Nosara roads, particularly those less traveled can be challenging, but to make a decision based solely on  this premise would be like declining an African safari trip for fear of being abducted by a herd of zebras.  To some, the idea of traversing an unknown jungle track at night may instill the fear of God in them. To others, the same trip may be  a catalyst for arriving at a remote point-break paradise and paddling out to perfect waves before the crowds have even had morning coffee. Entire volumes could be written regarding the infinite array of secret spots and secluded treasures waiting for those who know that fortune favors the brave. However, irregardless of whether you’re an adrenaline addicted,  thrill seeking danger glutton, or someone who’s stomach churns simply watching  Bear Grylls  on TV from the secure confines of your sofa rest assured the open roads of Nosara have something for you. Here’s a few suggestions:


Samara; a small picturesque beach town around an hours drive south of Nosara which is full of restaurants, boutique shops, tour operators, and small hotels. Samara’s biggest draw is it’s long, golden sand beach which is popular with swimmers and families due to it’s relative protection from large Pacific swells. This is a great place to grab a cocktail and relax on the beach and a great location for a sunset stroll with the family.


Famed mainly for it’s incredible surf, this black sand beach north of Nosara attracts surfers from all over Costa Rica. However, there’s more to this are than just the waves. Check out the great little restaurant at the north end of the beach named Tiki-hut. Additionally, there’s some beautiful back country trails around this area which takes in scenic jungle.


Like Marbella, this beautiful beach not far south from Tamarindo is famous for high-quality, powerful surf. The tranquil, secluded, white sand beach is tranquil, peaceful, and the perfect place to unwind with a beer. Check out the restaurant Lola’s. Here, in addition to an extensive menu of delicious food items you’ll find the enormous pig after which the restaurant is named.


Many people who have flown into Nosara airport have looked down and wondered and wondered about the large network of trails and roads that twist through the surrounding mountains. These fantastic roads and trails take in coffee plantations, jungle, rainforest, small villages, and have incredible views of the Pacific coastline. Unfortunately, getting in and out requires local knowledge. If driving these roads and trails sound like a fun day out then the best advice would be to ask a local friend, or even hire a tour guide to take you safely on your journey.

San Juan Mountain – During the drive select low gears, and try not to let the endless visual distractions divert your eyes from the steep, curvy road.

Barco Quebrado

Barco Quebrado translates to “broken boat” and is considered one of the areas hidden gems. Barco Quebrado is located a few kilometers south of Playa Garza. This place can be tough to find if you don’t know the area however there’ll be more than enough friendly locals in the area to point you in the right direction. Surrounded by majestic cliffs, the clear, turquoise waters make it popular with swimmers and snorkelers. That said, because of its remote location you may well find yourself to be the only person on the beach. Barco Quebrado is a great place to unwind and relax and if you’re looking for a unique day out this place should be on your to-do list.

Mala Noche

Remember the pictures of that beautiful waterfall you saw while researching your Nosara vacation on the internet? Well, they were probably taken here. Although close to Nosara it’s exact location can be tricky to find. To get around this ask a local, or better yet, take a friend who knows the area well.

Coffee Plantations

These itineraries represent a mere fraction of whats on offer in and around the Nosara area. If these trips appeal to your inner explorer then go for it. To ensure a safe and memorable trip read the following list of tips and tricks  .


1)Some of these trips, particularly in rainy season require traction and high clearance. In many cases a 4×4 is the only way to go.

2).If renting a car take time to read the policy. A little research may save you from getting whacked with an excessive charge if you damage the vehicle.

3). Don’t forget your drivers license. Your license will allow you to rent a car for up to 90 days after which you will need a Costa Rican license.

4). Don’t leave valuables in your car.

5). If you encounter a single lane bridge (which you will) slow down even if you have right of way.

6). If you’re driving during, or directly after heavy rains try to get some local advice about the state of the roads.

7). Many of the back roads cut through rivers. When faced with an unfamiliar river crossing the best option is to kick back and wait for a local driver to pass. Note the line they choose and follow it. Alternatively get out and wade through the water to check the depth.

8). Learn some basic Spanish: “Peligro” = Danger. “Ceda el paso = Give way. “Despacio” = slow.

9). Relax and enjoy the ride. Your destination is going nowhere so don’t trade safety for an extra 10 minutes at the beach.

10). Don’t forget your camera!

Happy trails!

Ready to explore more spots in and around Nosara? Check out some of Nosara’s hidden gems.

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