Far away from the gringo trail, the sleepy surf village of Nosara lives and breathes with the tide of the Pacific Ocean. Time doesn’t matter. The tide does. Leave your watch at home, slow down and get ready for pura vida, surf style.
Just as we could spot the Pacific Ocean through the forest in the Guanacaste province on the far northern part of Costa Rica, our four-wheel drive came to a sudden halt. As the yellow dust from the road settled enough for us to see what was going on, the driver turned around and smiled. “Un momento”, he said and pointed at the snake that slowly made its way across the road. A few days later we understood just how typical this was for Nosara, where animal life has been protected for more than 30 years. The monkey-filled trees are protected by their stature as national parks and the local community are dedicated to harmonizing development with nature conservation. The result is a thriving yet sleepy community of like-minded people living the ocean-green dream in harmony with nature. Or as the locals say themselves: Pura Vida, surf style.
Lessons from a whistling duck
To soak up the best of Nosara without disturbing the gentle balance between tourism and nature, we headed to Harmony on Playa Guiones. This eco-wellness resort is all about surf and yoga culture, including a deep connection to nature and others. As proof, the wellness oasis boasts a five-leaf rating from Costa Rica’s Certificate for Sustainability Tourism with solar panels, local staff, a greenhouse and farm for the kitchen, raw food composts, not to mention native plants that provide shelter for local animals. In this eco-luxurious environment, even the pool was designed to care. Stepping out into the ironfiltered oasis, the water felt thicker than normal. It caressed the skin gently, nourishing it as we cooled off in the shaded depths. Opening my eyes underwater as I swam the length, the colour was intense emerald. Maybe that’s what attracted an unusual visitor? Every afternoon during our visit, a whistling duck stepped out from nowhere, strolling over to the pool and with the elegance and ownership of a true diva, slinked into the water. The saying “like water off a duck’s back” came to mind as I watched droplets of water slide gracefully from its back. I took it as a sign – and a challenge – to let unwarranted worries slide off my back just as the droplets sliding off that worry-free duck. As Chi Kung Master Stig Hanson had told us weeks earlier, it’s our responsibility to control what we take in and not. The mind – which the Chinese monks call “muddled water”– easily latches onto criticism, negativity and uncertainties. But would I be any better off ruminating about the future and letting it get in the way of what was here, right now? Watching the water droplets continue to slide, I decided that there was no place better than Harmony to embrace the concept and learn the difference between useful or deteriorating thoughts. I wasn’t the only person grappling questions like this. Harmony seemed to be full of people taking steps to mindfully lead the life that was right for them – and the sense of community and harmony made it impossible to embrace anything but the real version of yourself. At the emerald pool, new friendships were formed over stories of morning surfs and yoga insights, while locals and yoga students sipped green smoothies and snacked on raw basil brownies at the Juice Bar.
3 ways to get all Harmony’ed
The mint and pineapple spritzer – all locally grown
The raw ginger and basil brownie at the Juice Bar
Gaze into the deep jungle as the sounds of geckos and birds punctuate the silence at the open-air yoga studio at The Harmony Healing Centre. Want an after-yoga pamper session? Watch the therapists prepare an all-natural skin treatment with local fruits and plants right in front of you, making this a skin treatment that’s so good you could – and can – eat it!
Plan your next holiday! www.harmonynosara.com
During our three days in Nosara, the biggest and strongest swell in months built along the coast. The beach transformed from playful to thrilling to terrifying, and as the swell built, so did after-surf chats at the pool, of those either ripping it up or being ripped to pieces. I belonged to the last category, so the next day we headed 30 minutes by car down the coast to the protected bay of Samara. The normally gentle beginners beach was pumping with six feet waves crashing right on the shore. In the background “The Blender” reef break demonstrated how it got its name. I quickly swapped my board for a sunbed, and lazily watched my boyfriend join the locals on the ‘fast rides’ from the safety of the soft sand. I felt the sun on my skin, the breeze in my hair, and as I took a deep breath to let the sea air fill my lungs, I realized this was it. Pura vida, surf style.
Nosara is a heaven for an active holiday. Surfers and yogis flock here to indulge in nature, and you can also fill your days with horseback riding on the beach, visiting the Lagarta Lodge Nature Reserve or taking on a river-safari. Gaze at nature’s wonders at a Ostional Sea Turtle Excursion, go on a sustainable coffee tour in Hojancha or zipline through the canopy.
Did you know... National Geographic has named Nosara one of the world’s top twenty surf towns