This is an extract of an amazing blog wrote by Ben and Kelly in April 2021. You can read the entire blog here.
Are you and your family ready to travel? Are you ready to travel outside your country? After over a year of lockdowns, restrictions, and uncertainty, I’m guessing you are MORE than ready to get back out there. And what to do for that first big, international trip of 2021? You might want to consider a family road trip through Guanacaste, Costa Rica!
We recently were able to slow-travel this incredible area of Costa Rica and fell in love with the pura vida lifestyle. Our kids are 4 years old and 1 year old, so our trip was focused mostly on beach and pool activities. We can’t wait until the kids are a little older and ready to explore the more adventurous side of Costa Rica!
The first stop on your family road trip along the Guanacaste coast is Nosara. Nosara is the perfect introduction to Costa Rica. The town has long been known for wellness, surfing, and eco tourism. Stay near Playa Guiones, at Olas Verdes and have the best of Nosara at your fingertips to explore by bike, tuktuk, golf cart, or in your car!
Nosara has grown in popularity over the past decade, but still remains true to its roots. The roads around town are unpaved, shops feature local artists and makers, and yoga studios and surf camps are everywhere. But the biggest draw of Nosara is their ongoing commitment to sustainability and ecotourism.
The whole Nosara vibe. The town and Olas Verdes hotel are surrounded by a dense, lush jungle (technically called a “dry forest”). Dirt roads lead you through the forest to high-quality restaurants, modern shops, yoga studios, and even an organic produce store! Learn more about what we loved about Playa Guiones in our 3 Things to Know – Olas Verdes post here.
I hesitate to say this because I don’t want it to be taken the wrong way, so I’ll just put this out there as a PSA for families considering a visit to Nosara. There are no restaurants or cabanas on the beach and zero shade. Given the context that the beach at Playa Guiones is part of the Ostional Nature Reserve it totally makes sense and it’s one of the reasons we LOVED Nosara. However, if you are a family looking to visit and have a toes-in-sand dining experience, this is probably not the spot for you.
I can’t recommend Olas Verdes enough. This hotel is truly engrained in the community and only employs local residents. During the peak of the pandemic in 2020, they never fired a single staff even though the hotel was closed. They were committed to supporting their team members throughout the financial hardships caused by the pandemic and keeping food on their families’ tables. In addition to their dedication, they are paving the way for sustainable travel and are the first Platinum LEED certified hotel in Costa Rica. As far as family-friendly amenities, Olas Verdes features a complimentary breakfast AND complimentary laundry service during your stay. You can check our our full review of Olas Verde hotel in Nosara here.
Surf Lessons: The waves in Nosara are great for all levels. Beginners will definitely want to consider getting a surf lesson at one of the local surf companies. Our recommendation is Safari Surf School, which is on-site at Olas Verdes.
Playa Guiones: This beach is part of a national refuge for wildlife. As such, you won’t find any cabanas, beach chairs for rent, or vendors on this beach. You WILL find great surfing, a long sandy beach, and a peaceful view of the sunset that embodies everything Nosara is all about.
Playa Ostional: Ostional is a national refuge and the second most important turtle nesting site in Costa Rica. The refuge is taking huge steps to protect wildlife in Costa Rica including the turtles, birds and marine life that call this refuge home.
Take a day trip to Samara: Samara is a great little town also known for yoga, surfing and wellness. It’s perfect for families. Head over for lunch at Lo Que Hay and enjoy toes-in-the-sand dining on the beach, and then rent a kayak and paddle out to Isla Chora and snorkel among incredible reefs. If you’re looking for the best shady beach in the area, be sure to check out Playa Carillo!
El Manglar: This is the restaurant at Olas Verdes hotel and we loved it! Grab a table poolside and splash in the shallow end while you wait for your ceviche!
10pies: This spot is fun for families and groups. 4 of the tables have porch swings for seating so it’s a hit with the kids. The restaurant offers up pizza, sandwiches, poke bowls, and more, so it’s great for any appetite.
Al Chile: We ate here our first night and loved if. The setting is off the main road and in a garden. The menu has great Mexican food and there are daily drink specials.
We left feeling like we didn’t have nearly enough time to explore all that Nosara has to offer and can’t wait to visit again someday. Do yourself a favor and make sure you spend an extra day or two here to explore this special slice of Costa Rican paradise!