Barefoot luxury footsteps from the waves, Nosara, Costa Rica
Kick off your shoes at this chilled out sanctuary beside Playa Guiones, in the family-friendly Mecca of Nosara. Beneath a relaxed character you’ll find an abundance of little luxuries. Put your feet up by the pool, cool off with a cocktail and fuel up with Latin American cuisine. Dive into your surroundings with surf lessons, horse riding and cultural excursions. And indulge in some grown-up time while the kids head off on eco tours and fun-packed excursions with qualified childminders.
- BE THERE
- SURF & BEACHES
- EAT & DRINK
- THINGS TO DO
- KIDS SAY
- WE SAY
Barefoot luxury footsteps from the waves
Location: Playa Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica
Best for: All ages, tots to teens
Transfer: It's 2.5 hours' drive from Liberia international airport (LIR) to The Sunset Shack, or 4.5 hours from San José (SJO). Transfers can be arranged from $140. If you fly direct from the UK to SJO, the easiest way to get there is via a domestic flight from SJO to Nosara (about 45 minutes), from where it's just 15 minutes' transfer. Private charters can also be arranged.
Climate: Av. temps 28-32C year round. The ‘Green’ season is from May to October (most rainfall is at night), with most rain in September and October.
Best time to go: It's almost a year-round destination. Dec-Feb is best for smaller swells and wall-to-wall sunshine. Christmas holidays are peak season, while Feb–May are quieter months with better swells. Although May–August is considered 'Green' season, there is a 'mini summer' in July, which makes it a great time to visit while the waves are bigger, prices cheaper and the weather still balmy. The wettest month is October, which is the only time we'd suggest avoiding.
Surf level: Beginner to advanced. The beach break of Playa Guiones is perfect for beginners, and a playground for levels as the swell increases. There are point breaks and other more advanced spots nearby.
Other activities: Horse riding, zip lining, ATV quad tours, waterfall hikes, yoga, wildlife tours, diving, snorkelling, climbing, mountain biking, SUP.
Time zone: GMT-6
There are just 8 beach-chic rooms surrounding the swimming pool.
All rooms contain organic toiletries, fresh local coffee and a coffee maker, fridge, kitchenette, air conditioning and Wifi.
Deluxe Family Rooms: Simple and stylish, the family rooms sleep up to 4 (5 including a cot), in a king-size bed and two singles. These rooms have yoga mats and writing tables – perfect for stretching out and journalling.
Standard Rooms: In the same simple, barefoot-chic style, the standard rooms house a double bed and daybed, sleeping up to 3 people.
The rooms are situated in tropical gardens surrounding a saltwater swimming pool. Monkeys, iguanas and squirrels are regular visitors in the leafy canopies overhead. There are surfboard racks, sun loungers and an outdoor shower, creating the perfect spot to relax between beach life and cultural excursions.
Kids' day camps are available from 8.30am–1pm (extensions available from 1-4pm), with the amazing Nosara Day Camp. In the hands of fully qualified professionals, your children can enjoy excursions to local farms, tide pools, rivers, waterfalls and beaches, as they get under the skin of the wonders and culture unique to Nosara. Meanwhile you get some grown-up time to enjoy yoga, hone your surf skills or take a cheeky siesta. Babysitters are also available on demand.
Daily yoga sessions are held across the street in The Harmony Hotel, at a reduced rate for guests at The Sunset Shack.
The friendly team at reception will recommend and organise a range of cultural tours and activities – from waterfall walks to zip wiring.
The excellent onsite Al Chile restaurant serves fresh Mexican dishes from breakfast through to dinner. It offers a laid-back environment for family dining, with table football, table tennis, hula hoops, games and live music.
Note that The Sunset Shack is a non-smoking hotel.
The Sunset Shack is a 200m walk from the waves of Playa Guiones – the most consistent surf break in Nosara, where you will also experience magical sunsets.
You can surf Playa Guiones on almost all tides, but it's best around mid tide. The waves are more hollow at low tide, and more mellow as the tide floods in.
We can organise surfing lessons with the local experts at Nosara CR Surf School. Every session includes all your equipment (and even special sunscreen). You can also keep the equipment for an extra hour following your lesson, to get some practise in. Surf guiding to other beaches is also available.
Please note that there are no lifeguards in Nosara. Stingrays are also common, so shuffle your feet when entering the water.
Playa Guiones is part of the Ostional Wildlife Refuge and a turtle nesting beach, so please ensure you keep the beach clean and leave only footprints.
Other local beaches include:
A broad, tree-lined white-sand beach with a small fishing village.
A more remote white-sand beach and an excellent break for more experienced surfers.
A sheltered bay with rocky outcrops, and a blowhole that forms a natural shower during the incoming tide.
A remote black sand beach backed by mangroves.
Part of the National Refuge where hundreds of thousands of sea turtles lay their eggs every year.
Playa San Juanillo
A stunning bay perfect for snorkeling and swimming.
A wide beach with clear water, considered one of the area’s best surfing beaches.
The onsite Al Chile restaurant is open for breakfast (included), lunch and dinner, serving up fresh Mexican dishes from burritos and nachos to local specialities. We love the breakfast burritos, homemade lemonade, fish tacos and chocolate churros.
Al Chile offers a really family-friendly, al fresco (partly undercover) dining experience, with table tennis, table football, games and hula hoops. There are also regular live music sessions.
There is an organic supermarket a couple of minutes' walk from The Sunset Shack, for all your daily needs from gourmet picnic food,, to reef-friendly sun cream.
The Sunset Shack is within walking distance of lots of other local restaurants. Our favourites include Café de Paris Bakery for delicious pastries and lazy lunches, Harmony Hotel for Asian fusion dinners and amazing smoothies from the Juice Bar, and Olivia's for the best pizza in town alongside craft beer from Guiones Brew Co.
When you book a holiday with Family Surf Co. we'll send you off with a family eating and drinking guide to Nosara, so you won't miss any of the hotspots!
- Hire a bike, an ATV (quad bike) or golf buggy. It's great to have your own wheels to get around town. Just be aware that the roads are bumpy and also get really dusty. There are plenty of rental places on the doorstep – or the team at reception can arrange it for you.
- Go horse riding along the beach – a sublime activity at sunset.
- Test your strength on the freestanding Nosara climbing wall.
- Work on your carving at La Eskina skate park.
- See the baby turtles hatching and making their way to the ocean at Ostional Wildlife Refuge. Every year hundreds of thousands of turtles nest on the shores close to Guiones. Peak nesting season is September to November.
- Hike to a local waterfall and jump into the pools. This can be arranged as an organised tour with a local company, or you can go under your own steam with a bi-lingual guide from the Sunset Shack.
- Explore the terrain on a mountain bike – hire and tours available.
- Boat tours – snorkelling, fishing and trips to remote beaches.
- Wildlife trips to Nosara Biological Reserve and the SIBU sanctuary for orphaned animals.
All trips and activities can be arranged via the friendly team at reception.
"The Sunset Shack is an amazing family-friendly hotel in Nosara – a cool surfing town beside Playa Guiones. The rooms are perfect, with a balcony overlooking the pool. We spent a lot of time in the pool between surfs, and it didn't sting our eyes because it's saltwater, not chlorine. But mostly I just loved the beach and the surf here. I surfed about 3 or 4 times a day. The waves were 2-ft and perfect every day, and there were loads of peaks to surf.
The staff are super-friendly at The Sunset Shack and the food is amazing – especially the homemade watermelon juice and chocolate churros. Eating in the restaurant was so much fun because we got to play Jenga, table football and table tennis. It's a great place to hangout and meet other kids to play with. There was also an iguana on the roof of the restaurant every morning.
As well as surfing, my favourite outing was a trip to an amazing waterfall where you can play in water and jump from different levels into the deep pools."
Oli, aged 10.
"This was the most friendly and laid-back little sanctuary in a veritable surfing paradise. I met so many lovely surfing families, surfed with the kids from sunrise to sunset, and was able to really relax and feel at home at The Sunset Shack. From table tennis and table football to entertain the kids, to plenty of shade by the pool, wildlife in the gardens and cool rooms, there was everything we needed as the perfect base for our family surfing holiday. The staff were really friendly and could organise anything from bike hire to an amazing waterfall walk, and there was a kids' camp that took the children on exciting trips into the local area. We'll miss this place. And the magical sunsets."
Hayley Lawrence, surfer mum of three boys