By Erin Lentz
It’s often said the places most worth traveling for are often the hardest to get to. As my 9-year-old son and I bump along a pot-holed dirt road to Nosara, Costa Rica, I smile with anticipation of what lies ahead: the gentle surf break at Playa Guiones, yoga classes at Bodhi Tree and The Harmony Hotel, and checking into the recently renovated Gilded Iguana Hotel and its brand new Surf Club.
My fifth trip to Nosara, I’ve caught the “Green Zone” bug. There’s just something about this stretch of sand and Bohemian town that has a certain magnetic pull. As travelers venture further to unplug and reset, this area has quickly become my happy place. Just where to once you arrive? Here’s what’s tried and trending:
The Gilded Iguana Surf Club. The new, members-only Surf Club is the thoughtfully executed brainchild by the owners of the historic and recently renovated Gilded Iguana Hotel. Located just a two-minute walk from the sands of Playa Guiones, it’s not solely for hotel guests. Open to the public for daily, weekly, monthly and yearly memberships, your day-in-the-life looks a little like this: Wake up early with the sun, stroll to the club and order an organic smoothie from the Juice Bar, check into reception for your private locker, towel, and morning lessons by top pros if so inclined, and then enter the Board Room with your Board Caddy, who will pick out just the right-sized wave rider for your ability (or, for you experts, you can store your board in an air-conditioned room year-round). Next up, walk a private path lined with rainbow-colored heliconia flowers to the beach, where endless waves for all surfing abilities await. What’s more, by late fall the Gilded Iguana will debut a new, two-story Activity Center, retail boutique, and yoga studio to further elevate its high vibe as a true community hub. It’s also basecamp for the only mountain bike center in Nosara, with trails to challenge get-after-it, two-wheeled speedsters.
The Gilded Iguana Surf Hotel. As one of the very first surf hubs of Nosara, Costa Rica, the iconic Gilded Iguana’s March 2018 renovation has been widely applauded. The 40-year old landmark’s stylish homage to Nosara’s history is celebrated throughout the open-air lobby while the town’s bohemian mentality is celebrated via laid-back luxury. Designed by architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe, 29 rooms and a posh surfer suite ferry the outdoors in with al fresco living spaces, black-and-white surf photography, locally sourced, sustainable materials, and a neutral palate with playful pops of green. It also features the best outdoor pool in town.
Casa Primos. If traveling with a small group or family and want to stay in a private home, the four-bedroom Casa Primos is your chic headquarters. Located just a five-minute walk to the south end of Playa Guiones, Casa Primos is tricked out and design forward, with an outdoor pool, stone ping-pong table, outdoor grilling area, and a separate Rancho replete with its own private yoga Shala. Your personal concierge can arrange for private chef dinners, zip-lining excursions, and excursions to Costa Rica’s stunning waterfalls.
La Luna. An absolute must. Nestled along a horseshoe cove and beach, with tide pools for the little ones to play in, sunsets here are game-changing. Book an early reservation for 5:30 p.m., order a watermelon margarita and margherita pizza, and watch a candy-orange sun dip over the horizon.
10 Pies. Opened by well-known brothers and Jujutsu champions Ramón and Oscar Díaz, who also helm the restaurant at the aforementioned Gilded Iguana, this little gem has arguably the best fish tacos in town. Surrounded by tree swings and groovy music, you may decide over lunch to extend your stay.
El Chivo. Taco Tuesday is the night to hit this local favorite, which features a large and impressive tequila and mescal list. Expect a mix of sun-kissed local surfers, expats, families, and, if you’re lucky, tunes by local musicians.
The Harmony Hotel. A Nosara mainstay, the Juice Bar draws a mix of yogis, spa-goers, and visiting surfers, while the main restaurant is your go-to for fresh sushi and handcrafted cocktails.
The Gilded Iguana. After its recent renovation, the hotel is a dining hot spot, too. Order the ceviche and rosé and then unwind with an al fresco dinner on the patio, where the people watching is as good as the menu.
The Beach Dog Café. Located on the south end of Nosara, this organic and oh-so-tasty café features incredible curry, live music, and a healthy kids menu. It’s the kind of place that makes you think about eschewing the “real world” and becoming an expat yourself.
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