Like everywhere else in Costa Rica, Nosara snares tourists with zip-line rainforest tours and seaside horseback riding. But it’s the reliable, year-round surf that sets it apart. Both experienced and beginner surfers can hop 50-minute flights ($82 each way on Sansa ) from San Jose and be paddling out to sea by lunch. Hotels will help arrange lessons with local outfits like the Safari Surf School and Coconut Harry’s, both of which have English-speaking instructors. If you’re serious about nailing that pop-up, opt for two private lessons per day: one in the morning and one in the late afternoon. Prices vary but will typically run about $50 an hour, including board rental. Though Nosara’s generally safe, it’s not free of petty theft, so leave your valuables at the hotel and bury your flip-flops in the sand.
After an afternoon lesson, head to the swim-up bar at Harbor Reef and sip a freshly blended fruit daiquiri or piña colada. Later on, the nightlife crowd puts back bottles of local Cerveza Imperial at the Gilded Iguana’s poolside bar. On Friday and Saturday nights, the most energetic partiers pile into cabs and head to Tropicana Disco in Nosara Village to salsa dance with the locals.
If you wake up sore after your first day of surfing (count on it), work out the kinks in a yoga class at Kaya Sol, the Harmony Hotel, or the Nosara Yoga Institute. Or get a (totally legitimate) massage at Tica Massage (506-682-0096): $50 buys you a one-hour “surfer deluxe.”