A.M. Costa Rica
Special Report:
The Nicoya West Coast
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Jo Stuart
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 1, 2002, Vol. 2, No. 85
Photo by Next Media
Boats ride at their moorings in Garza Harbor while two swimmers have fun.
The west coast of peninsula is unspoiled territory
Photo by william Juarez Mendoza
You can kayak all the way to Nicaragua.


Capt. Jerry with
105-pound wahoo
caught aboard the
19-foot panga
"Bailarina del Sol."

Photo by Next Media
You can get there from here. The Nosara Airport is almost in the middle of town.

                Photo by william Juarez Mendoza
There are no shortage of possible
friends down the whole west coast.

Photo by Next Media
The cliffs at Pelada Beach provide a vantage point for photographers.

Photo by Next Media
A girl and her dog have a nearby shelter for shade if the sun gets too harsh.

Photo by Next Media
Another view of Playa Pelada

Gilded Iguana photo
Jungle Joe promises a jump in the pool.


Gilded Iguana photo
The Gilded Iguana recently remodeled the second floor of the main building for cool sleeping.

The Web site for Nosara is:


and the motto is:
'No shirt, no shoes, Nosara!'

On to Sámara: Part II
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By Patricia Martin
A.M. Costa Rica travel editor

To those of you living outside of Costa Rica who wish you were here: Take out your map and locate the western side of the Nicoya Peninsula. We´re journeying along a strip of coastline from Playa Carrillo, heading up through the beaches of Samara, Garza, Guiones, Pelada, Nosara and Ostional. Got it? This is where you can spend quality vacation time nature trekking, deep-sea fishing, swimming in the calm, safe waters or surfing in the rough and tumble ones. 

You´re going to hear howler monkeys, see big, mean crocodiles, spot birds and butterflies, and kayak on the ocean and along the Nosara and Montaña Rivers. This is unspoiled territory, so forget your shopping malls and be prepared to make friends with nature. 


What´s also great about this bio-rich region is the variety you´ll find from one place to another in terrain, attractions and types of accommodation. Maybe you´d like to stay in a rustic, secluded spot with just the monkeys to swing with? Or are you the upscale hotel type who considers TV and poolside service inalienable rights? No problem either way. 

In any case, do yourself a favor and explore the whole area, sampling a bit of everything. Except for the Carrillo/Samara stretch, most of the roads are dirt ones, some of them quite challenging. So it helps to have a four-wheel drive vehicle. You can fly from San José on Sansa or Travelair in 40 minutes, book charter flights (see info under Nosara), or take the direct bus from the Alfaro terminal in San José at 14th Street and 5th Avenue. Call 222-2750. 

Crossing onto the Nicoya Peninsula on the Tempisque Ferry is pleasant, but often there´s a long wait in the vehicle lineup. This will all change when the new bridge is completed, cutting the journey from San José down considerably. At present it can take you around six-plus hours. Once youíre there, inquire about renting bicycles, if thatís your pleasure.


Did you catch the April 16th report in A.M. Costa Rica about the crabs heralding the rainy season? Well, lucky me, I just arrived back from the Nicoya at that time, missing the flood of land crabs around the beaches. Mind you, they come and go in a hurry, and aren´t a lingering bother. Missing the turtles, though, was quite another thing, when I went to Playa Ostional where the Olive Ridley species lay their eggs in the black sands.

Sure, I knew the turtle season was from July to December, when they come ashore in droves, usually at night. But in other months, you can see stragglers, given conditions of low tide and low light. So I scoured the beach on a black night, but my flashlight picked up only a single land crab who gave me a dirty look. I´d try again even in the off-season, and you might do so too, with better results. Cabinas Las Guacamayas (682-0287) has basic rooms at Ostional for approximately $5 a night, right on the spot.


A dusty ride to Playas Nosara, Pelada, Guiones and Garza gives you a choice of things to do, places to stay. Double check with the establishments for any seasonal changes in rates. We can´t mention them all, but can give you a good sampling: Lagarta Lodge Biological Reserve (682-0035, lagarta@racsa.co.cr) for $60 rooms, pool and BBQ, and ocean view; or Estancia Nosara (682-0176, estangis@racsa.co.cr) with $40-50 rooms, pool, tennis and restaurant. For houses at $525 weekly with pool and services, there´s Villas Las Palmas, 682-0193, lrealiza@racsa.co.cr). 

Hotel Playas de Nosara with ocean view, bar & grill (inquire about new rates); contact 682-0121, vailas@racsa.co.cr

One of the earliest establishments is Rancho Suizo Lodge, 682-0057, rsuizo@infoweb.co.cr, from $50 to $68 including breakfast. 

Marlin Bill´s Restaurant/Bar serves good seafood and is our editorís favorite. Hotel Café de Paris, 682-0087, info@cafedeparis, offers lodging, restaurant and bakery, all excellent. 

Good-sized studio apartments are yours at Casa Tucan, 682-0113, info@casatucan.net, with restaurant and pool. Other suggestions are Hotel Villas Taype 682-0333, taype@infoweb.co.cr, and the Harbor Reef Lodge, 682-0059, hbreef@racsa.co.cr , providing cabins, suites, restaurant, along with sportfishing and a surfing school. Well known and much loved is the Italian restaurant La Dolce Vita, on the outskirts of the Nosara beaches at the little town of La Esperanza. 


Take a bird´s eye view of the region on ultralight planes at the Flying Crocodile Lodge, 383-0471; go horseback riding to the waterfalls with Casa Rio Nosara , 682-0117, carinos@racsa.co.cr. Take a surf lesson with Tyler Marsh, 682-0573, info@safarisurfschool.com. Contact Black Marlin Sportfishing for some action on the ocean, 682-0060. And if you don´t mind a longer trip, see the lagoons, mangroves and 12 nature habitats of Palo Verde Park, 1-plus hours away. 


Driving inland 6 km., you come upon the pocket-sized town of Nosara. With an airstrip, post office, school, clinic, library, etc. It serves the needs of hundreds of foreign residents living nearby on the hilltops. Greater Nosara actually consists of the town itself plus the beaches of Guiones, Nosara and Pelada, and this entire area is one of the oldest expat settlements in Costa Rica and a favorite vacation spot for Hollywood celebrities. Donít expect fancy hotels along the main street, but basic lodging is offered by Cabinas Chorotega as well as Cabinas Agnel.

The landing strip is part of the town, receiving daily commuter flights from San José. Carrillo, to the south, also has an air field. Paula White, a Nosara resident, can assist you with travel on Sansa, Travelair or charter flights. The share-a-charter rate runs $95 per person for any size group departing from Juan Santamaria International Airport for Nosara. Paula´s services extend to car rentals and hotel bookings, as well as house or condo stays. Call her at 682-0070, or e-mail paula@nosaratravel.com and state your needs for the entire vacation. She´ll take care of everything. The website is www.nosaratravel.com.


On the same website, you´ll meet Paula´s husband, Jerry White, who bears the credentials of International Game Fish Association certified captain. The fish take Captain Jerry seriously when he heads out from Garza with up to three anglers on his boat, Bailarina del Sol. He pursues wahoo, tuna and dorado for keeps or sailfish and marlin for catch-and release. Sightseeing voyages for dolphins, whales, giant rays and turtles can be enjoyed by all. Contact 682,0070, captjerry@nosaratravel.com, and by all means tune into the www.nosaratravel.com website to read his entertaining fishtales.


This is the place for those who want comfortable but unpretentious lodging, good home cookiní with fresh seafood, and fun evenings at the bar with the down-to-earth folks who gather there. Patty "Doe" Yaniz runs The Gilded Iguana Hotel there at Playa Guiones while partner Joe Davis handles Iguana Expeditions. You´re in for memorable kayaking and snorkeling experiences with Joe, whether locally or all the way up to Omotepe Island, Nicaragua. Jungle and canopy tours to Rincon de la Vieja are his other specialties, but let Joe tell you himself at 682-0259, junglejoe@gildediguana.com

Patty will work out package deals on rooms/excursions when you phone her at 682-0259. Spacious rooms and suites at this time of year range from $25 to $45 or $50. Both the hotel and the expeditions can be viewed in photos on the website www.gildediguana.com. Resist the temptation to add a "u" to the word "gilded" (a common error) and you´ll log right on. 


Captain Chiqui, skipper of the Coast Runner will introduce himself on the above page as well, boasting that he knows where the fish are hiding. Contact him through the Iguana lodge telephone number, or at captainchiqui@gildediguana.com. He´ll take you fishing for marlin, tuna and roosterfish, or you can go dolphin watching and on a snorkeling excursion where you´re guaranteed to see mantas in an underwater grotto.


Playa Guiones is one of Costa Rica´s favorite surfing beaches. Just down the road from the Iguana is a surfer´s hangout called The Blew Dog, with cabinas, bar and TexMex, at 682-0080, blewdog@racsa.co.cr. For inquiries about Corky Carrollís Surfing School, try info@nosara.com, and for board rentals, see Coconut Harry´s Surf Shop, coconutharrys@cox.net

The next beach, Playa Pelada, by contrast to Guiones, has a protective bay and a gentle surf that´s great for swimming. On the sand, you can refresh yourself at a couple of Tico bars, Olga´s and La Luna, where you´re bound to chat it up with both the locals and tourists. The latter bar is owned by Hotel Playas de Nosara, previously mentioned. 

Devotees of yoga and bodyworks will surely be interested in the impressive Nosara Yoga Institute, in the embrace of a nature preserve 682-0071, info@nosarayoga.com. Anyone wanting to brush up their Spanish during an extended stay around Nosara should call Escuelita de Nosara at 682-0249.


Here you´ll find a harbor, a rocky beach, but hardly any tourist accommodations. Still, it´s a change of scenery and worth some good photos. For an isolated stay, try Villaggio La Guaria Morada, 680-0784, vilaggio@racsa,co.cr, which has thatched bungalows, restaurant, and a pool or the ocean to swim in.

Tomorrow our journey continues down the coast to the beach communities of Samara and Carrillo, each with it´s own distinctive character and attractions. Join us then. 

Photo by Next Media
A lone turtle heads out to sea after propagating the species at Playa Ostional
What we published earlier: