Nosara, Costa Rica has some of the best and most consistent surf in the entire country. This break is not by any means the best surf in the country. However, you can pretty much surf here every single day out of the year. At least once per day. Usually twice.
I spent the first few months of this year in Nosara surfing pretty much every single day, and I learned quite a bit about this beautiful beach break. Honestly, Nosara was my absolute favorite surf town in Costa Rica.
Only surfing in Dominical came close. I spent months here, but honestly I could spend YEARS in Nosara. And I’m definitely not the only one who thinks that…. Nosara has a massive expat community that is rapidly growing every year. But there are reasons people like it so much. And I want to share that all with you, so you can be equally stoked for your next surf trip to Costa Rica!
Update: Over the last two years, I’ve now spent 10 months living in Nosara surfing. There’s really something magical about this place that keeps bringing me back!
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How to get to Nosara
The closest international airport to Nosara is the LIR airport located in Liberia. It is about a 2.5 hour drive from the airport. There are a few ways to get from the airport to Nosara, including:
- Shared shuttle ($50-$99 pp)
You can book a shared shuttle from Liberia to Nosara here with Terratours. If I’m traveling between Nosara and the Liberia airport, this is ALWAYS how I go. I’ve probably done 10+ trips with these guys and had an amazing experience every time. They’re also super familiar with surfboards, and will be able to strap your boards to the roof no problem if you’re traveling with surfboards. Just be sure to tell them ahead of time you have boards.
If you book your shuttle during one of their set departure times, you’ll pay $50. If it’s not, you’ll have to book the “shared van” which is $99 per person, $120 if you have two people, or $130 if you have three people. I put shared in quotes because if another person not in your party has a flight arriving at the same time, they’ll put them on your shuttle. If not, it’ll be a private shuttle.
- Private shuttle ($150)
Terratours also does an official private shuttle for $150. If you’re traveling with a group of at least 4, this is usually the most cost effective.
- Rental car (prices vary)
If you want to have the option of exploring all the great nearby surf breaks, I recommend booking a rental car. Rental car prices in Costa Rica vary a ton, you might pay anywhere from $50/day to $200+ a day depending on if it’s high or low season.
Click here to check the best Nosara rental car prices for your Nosara surf trip!
- Taxi $160+
You can also show up at the airport and try to book a taxi to Nosara. One of my friends did this, and paid $160. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend it. Just book the private transfer ahead of time with Terratours instead.
Nosara Surfing Overview
When people talk about “Nosara”, or the surf in Nosara, they’re usually talking about Playa Guiones.
However, people also casually refer to Nosara when talking about the entire area encompassing Playa Guiones, Playa Nosara, Playa Pelada, and Nosara town, which is a small tico, or local town slightly inland.
The primary place to surf in Nosara is called Playa Guiones, which has some of the most consistent surf in the world. Nosara is also one of the most amazing surf towns in Costa Rica– especially if you’re looking for a more remote, relaxing experience.
Are you planning a surf trip to Costa Rica and wondering where to go? I’d love to help you plan your trip with my custom surf trip planning services.
My specialty? Helping surfers narrow down the options to find the perfect surf spot for their budget and skill level and plan an unforgettable surf trip.
Playa Guiones Surf
Playa Guiones is a long, sandy beach break with three separate entrances that signify the different “breaks”. These three entrances are South, Central, and North, and it is about a 10 minute walk from break to break.
Typically, the further north you go, the bigger it gets. South Guiones has the smallest waves, Central in the middle, and north has the biggest waves.
Central Guiones usually has the best wave shape, but it is also the most crowded.
The surf here is incredibly fun. What makes it so special is its consistency. Seriously, you can probably surf here 360 days out of the year. And these waves are pretty solid. On an average day, waves here are usually 3-4 feet with glassy faces that are just perfect for intermediate level surfers to work on turns and progress.
Another thing that makes Nosara surfing so special is that you can pretty much surf Playa Guiones at any tide. Around high tide the waves are softer, and low tide steeper with the potential for barrels. Offshore winds are usually in action every morning until around 11, but sometimes it blows offshore the whole day!
Want to check the Nosara surf? Click here to take a look at the free Nosara surf camera.
Best swells for the Nosara surf
The Nosara surf breaks do best with a south swell and at least a 13 second period. Things get a bit messy with north swells here, but it can still be good.
Planning a surf trip to Nosara? Check out my new guide to the best surf camps in Nosara!
Different Nosara surf seasons
Dry Season (late November-April):
This is the most popular time for surfing Nosara. Waves are usually around head high, it rarely rains, and conditions are super clean. If you want clean, consistent surf and sun every single day, the dry season is the perfect time to plan your Nosara surfing trip.
That being said, it does tend to get very crowded during this time, and it is best to book accommodations far in advance, as options are limited in the dry season. Luckily, Playa Guiones is a huge beach and can handle a crowd.
Rainy Season (May-November):
If you’re looking for bigger swells and fewer crowds, the rainy season is the time to come to Nosara to surf. The waves are considerably larger in the rainy season, so expect lots of overhead days and some brutal paddle outs.
However, the rainy season lacks the dry season crowds, offering up more waves for everyone.
It is also much easier, and less expensive to find accommodation at this time. The biggest downside of the rainy season is well… the rain, and thunder/lightning.
While there’s usually sunshine in the mornings/early afternoons, evenings bring tropical, torrential downpours, with so much lightning it isn’t safe to surf. The roads often flood during this time as well.
The rainy season also sadly means all of the pollution washes out to the ocean, creating unsanitary surfing conditions. This is especially bad at the start of the rainy season, in April/May.
Pretty much everyone I know has gotten sick at some point from surfing in Nosara when the water quality is poor.
Where to stay for a Nosara surf trip
There are a number of options out there for accommodations in Nosara. However, they book up insanely fast.
If you’re planning a surf trip to Nosara, especially in the winter, I recommend booking a place ASAP!
For more awesome accommodation options in Nosara, check out the 13 best hotels in Nosara for every budget.
What Equipment to bring for your Nosara Surfing Trip
I recently spent months surfing in Nosara, and can confidently tell you exactly what you need to bring for your surf trip:
Surfboard: Yes, it’s possible to rent here, but rentals can be up to $20/day, and not all rentals are quality. Especially if you are surfing here for an extended period of time, it is WELL worth it to bring your board from home.
Surf friendly bikini/ swim trunks
Spare Leash: My leash snapped while I was in Nosara, and I ended up having to pay $55 for a replacement. It’s so much cheaper to just bring one from home, and it’s definitely worth the extra luggage space.
Extra Wax: You can buy wax here, but it’ll be much more costly than just bringing a few extra sticks in your suitcase.
Sunscreen: Sunscreen is pretty expensive in Costa Rica, you’ll save some money by bringing extra.
Rash guard: The sun in CR is gnarly. A rash guard will not only offer UV protection, but also will save your skin from getting shredded by surf rash.
Surfing Hat: A solid surfing hat is great to have, and protects your face and eyes from the extra powerful sun.
Waterproof surf watch: While not necessary, can be super useful to have.
Ding Repair Kit: this is super useful to have, and gives you the freedom to fix small dings yourself rather than having to pay a ton of money at a surf shop.
Where to eat in Nosara
After hours in the water, you’re bound to get hungry, and luckily Nosara has some amazing food. Here are a few of my post-surf favorite places to eat:
Rosi’s Soda Tica
Rosi’s is an amazing soda (a typical Costa Rican restaurant) that has some of the best gallo pinto in town. You can go to the Rosi’s in Central Guiones, North Guiones, or over in Pelada- just not on Sundays when they’re closed.
Soda La Barra inside Gabi’s Place
La Barra has the cheapest gallo pinto in Nosara. You get coffee, gallo pinto, eggs, and plantains for WAY less than anywhere else. They’re also open all week, and it’s delicous.
While living in Nosara for 6 months this past year, I started having post-surf breakfast here almost every single day.
Cafe de Paris
It’s not cheap, but Cafe de Paris has some of the best breakfast I have EVER had. Seriously, their breakfast burritos is what dreams are made of. They also have tasty drinks, pastries, and a whole lot of other great options on the menu.
Plus, the staff that works here is really nice! And not pretentious at all, even though it is a fancier place.
Pura Pizza is THE SPOT for a tasty, affordable post-surf slice of pizza. The owners are Italian and know EXACTLY how to make amazing pizza.
Curious about more place to eat in Nosara? Check out this fantastic, current guide to the best places to eat in Nosara.
Hazards of Nosara surfing
Word is out on this surfing paradise. That’s not to say that you can’t have an absolute blast surfing here, but just be ready for crowds, and watch out for rogue boards and beginners.
Accidents happen, leashes snap and boards break. This is a relatively safe break but the ocean is nevertheless very powerful. If you’re paddling out here, be confident in your swimming ability!
There aren’t often crocodile sightings here but they do happen, particularly between July and November. Keep an eye out, and trust your intuition.
As I mentioned earlier, water pollution is a huge issue in Nosara. Nosara exploded in popularity during the pandemic, and is experiencing unprecedented amounts of construction and overpopulation, and many people moving and building here cut corners with their sewage- and the result is not good for the water quality.
Who will enjoy the Nosara surf
The short answer: everyone! The Nosara surf really offers something for everyone- as long as you don’t mind a crowd. There are amazing waves for longboarders and short boarders alike, and surfers from all walks of life.