Costa RicaCosta Rica

Guava Fruit Fresh off the Tree

Destination: Samara

The morning is hot and sunny, but there are clouds to the south slowly making their way in this direction (I'm thinking more rain by afternoon). The local fruit stand (Guanafruth) is already open and serving fresh pipa fria (cold fresh coconut water served with a straw from the freshly cut coconut).

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There are many different activities to partake in here in Samara. This might be one of the best places to learn to surf. Gentle waves close to shore make it appealing to ease into the water with a board. There are two surf schools here offering beginning surf lessons.

Samara is a beginner's surf beach. I am always amazed at the number of beginning surfers in the water. MANY people (especially lots of women) learn to surf while in Costa Rica. Surf schools are increasingly popular and most people leave with smiling faces after feeling the satisfaction of having ridden their first wave.

There are a number of tour companies offering dolphin tours, snorkeling tours, horseback rides and sport fishing trips. Our hotel, Hotel Giada, offers all these tours too and they also rent sea kayaks. There is a massage school here and a Spanish language school is on the north end of town, right on the beach.

There are also several restaurant/bars and cabinas/hotels right on the beach. Two internet cafes enable you to keep in touch with the rest of the world and brag about how awesome Costa Rica is to your friends. Samara is a cozy town with friendly locals and enough action to keep it interesting, but not so much that it is crowded or over-developed (yet).

We depart the comfort of Hotel Giada and head up the dirt road towards Nosara. (See driving directions) The roadside is colorful with bright pink bougainvilleas and other flowering trees. Balsa wood and teak wood trees dot the roadside. The turquoise-browed mott mott hides in the brush near a guava tree. We stop to pick some fresh fruits. MMMmm- fresh sweet guava- tender yellow outsides with sweet delicate pink flesh inside.

The first town along the road is Garza. The town is small with the basic amenities- a police station, mini super and a few restaurants. The beach here is beautiful, undeveloped and deserted.

Next up the road is the town of Guiones. The beach here is rocky and reefy- not for swimming. There is not much infrastructure here- pretty much a dirt road to the beach and nothing more.

The outskirts of the Nosara area begin shortly after passing Guiones. New houses and hotels are being constructed along the road. This area is developing fast but it is mostly residential. At least there are not many huge skyscraper hotels along the beachfront. Most of the development is hidden amongst the trees.

The town of Nosara is more spread out, no real town center. It is largely residential with several small quaint hotels filling in the gaps. There are surf schools and shops, yoga and massage institutes and plenty of real estate agencies. The real estate industry is booming here. New luxury homes are being built daily.

We easily find our hotel, Casa Romantica, nestled in the forested area that surrounds Nosara. The hotel is very charming and clean. The staff greets us as if we were old friends and they are happy we have arrived.

The Casa Romantica is a small hotel, only 10 rooms. They know all their guests by name and many people return to the comfort of the Casa because they enjoyed their stay so much the first time.

Delightful gardens with hidden nooks and statues fill the grounds of Casa Romantica. There is a huge thatched roofed shelter at the pool area with hammocks. Brightly colored flora surrounds the perimeter. I feel secluded and at home.

The beach is only 200m from the door of our clean, fresh, spacious room. No houses or hotels are built on the shoreline. They are all hidden behind the vegetated buffer. The beach here, known as Playa Guiones, (Playa Nosara is further north) is definitely a surfer's beach. Known for its big waves and consistent surf, it has plenty of undisturbed, open coastline.

Even though the surf is rough today at high tide, the surfers come out of the woodwork to enjoy the waves that are breaking to the left and right in a variety of heights and speeds. A few boogie borders join in the fun too.

The dark clouds have passed us by to the east without rain, but they cloud the horizon thickly enough that there is no visible sunset. Only a few shimmers of pale yellow are visible through the thick clouds. Darkness moves in and the surfers come ashore one by one, until eventually all is quite again.

Casa Romantica's restaurant is elegantly lit with candles and soft pillar lighting. They have an elaborate menu with at least seven different wine choices and five nightly entree specials. Beef, chicken, pasta or salad, it all looks so good. Fine wine glasses and tiki torches lend a touch of elegance to the outdoor rustic atmosphere.

The guests amicably chat amongst themselves and enjoy the competently prepared food. The friendly atmosphere, set by the owners and staff of Casa Romantica, assures that all guests feel welcome and appreciated. Obviously, the staff loves working here and their happiness radiates to others. Everyone seems to smile around here.

Fresh, crisp salad with perfectly flavored, cooked chicken and plenty of lettuce is served with a light dressing. The French onion soup is hot and delicious. I can't wait for tomorrow, I'll have to save my appetite for the beef stroganoff and famous Casa Romantica ice cream dessert, which we are told we can not leave without trying.

Driving directions: Samara to Nosara. Head back out the main road you traveled on to arrive in Samara. Three to four kilometers up there is a fork in the road- go left following sign to Nosara. Just follow this dirt road (it is in good condition) and the signs to Nosara. There is one river crossing that could be impassable if there has been a lot of rain. If this is the case, you will have to go all the way back to the gas station (further up on the main road towards Nicoya) and follow signs to Nosara from there. If you are coming directly to Nosara from Nicoya, this is also your turn.

Guava Fruit Fresh off the Tree in Pictures

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