NOSARA, COSTA RICA
Nosara is off the beaten path by design. It’s a place that could easily be ruined by over-zealous fans of its beauty. Instead, those early admirers of this Costa Rican town had the wisdom to keep it low-key and preserve its original simplicity. In a bold and visionary move, the town’s patrons designated miles of the beautiful shoreline as a protected nature preserve. Everyone can enjoy the beach equally, and the result is a palpable sense of harmony. Thus, many choose to stay at the Harmony Hotel, a small, quaint eco-lodge owned by Nantucketer John Johnson that offers the comforts of an elegant European hideaway. A short stroll from the hotel down a lush canopied path is Playa Guiones, a beach with world-class surfing where the entire town turns out to watch the sunset—like a communal exercise in gratitude. Restaurants abound, from dive bars to elegant eateries on the beach. Everywhere the food is fresh, local and delicious. Favorites include La Luna, overlooking the beach of Playa Pelada, as well as Lagarta Lodge, a sleek eco-lodge perched on the cliffs over the Ostional Wildlife Refuge.
For all of its simplicity, Nosara offers a crazy array of activities: horseback riding through the rainforest, yoga under a palapa (open-air thatched roof hut), surf lessons, world-class music at K-Rae’s Black Sheep Pub, spa treatments. For those with more than a week to explore, visit the monkey sanctuary, go zip-lining, visit the turtle hatchlings at the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, go mountain biking or trek to the Arenal Volcano and surrounding hot springs. If you want to be off the grid, Nosara is the place to do it. It’s hard work to get there, but the rewards are plentiful. Just don’t tell anyone.