The Pure Life Pace: A Horseback Tour in Nosara

Nosara has loads of adrenalin-pumping adventure activities from touring the mountains in a military-grade TOMCAR to flying through the rainforest on one of the world’s longest zip-lines. But, remember, part of visiting Costa Rica is enjoying la pura vida (the pure life), slowing down and taking in the beautiful natural surrounds. Below we share one of the best ways to do just that—horseback riding.


Horseback riding on the beach Nosara Costa Rica Picture

We started our morning at the Boca, the mouth of the river where the Rio Nosara and the Rio Montana converge and spill into the Pacific. Our guide was Manuel, a Tico who has been caring for the horses at Boca Nosara Tours for over ten years. Matt and I were both horseback-riding amateurs, having done it only once before, but Manuel and the team put us at ease, giving us instructions and making sure we were comfortable handling our horses before we left.

Atop our beautiful horses, Palomo and Zafiro, we first headed into the nature reserve not far from the property. Thick mangroves filled the wetlands beside the trail. Howler monkeys groaned from high up in the canopy. Colorful birds like Motmots, Violaceous Trogans, and Long-tailed Manakins darted past. Manuel taught us all about the wildlife and some of the native trees too, like the grand Guanacaste tree, which drops pods with beautiful brown seeds. We passed a point on the river which was said to often have crocodiles but didn’t spot any.

A dirt road led us back into the thick jungle, this time closer to the beach. The rainy season had just begun and the plants were turning from dry and brown to vibrant green. The horses, used to eating hay, were grabbing for the tender greens like a kid grabs for candy. We continued on, Manuel blazing through the jungle with his machete, cutting back any overgrown plants that might be in our way.


Horseback riding Jungle Nosara Costa Rica Picture


Soon we were on the beach. Playa Pelada was all but deserted. It was a calm day and the ocean was a picturesque aquamarine. We passed by the famous blowhole on the rocks just as a wave came thundering in, a little girl and her parents getting sprayed by the mist. As we started rounding the corner, Manuel asked if we would like to gallop. We said we would and the horses were off, bounding through the fluffy white sand.

We soon entered the jungle again and climbed the hill to a lookout. In front of us was a stunning view of the cove below. Just when we thought Costa Rica couldn’t amaze us anymore with its natural beauty, it proved us wrong once again.


View Playa Nosara Picture


Horseback riding was of our favorite activities while living in Nosara. The ride was relaxing and exciting at the same time, and we were able to see so much in just a couple of hours. There are lots of tour companies in the area but we loved our ride with Boca Nosara Tours.

So if you’re looking to take a break from the heart-pumping activities that Costa Rica is famous for, be sure to add a horseback tour to your list. Whether it’s in Nosara or one of the many other towns offering tours, we’re sure you’ll love the laid-back pace, connection with nature, and most of all, chance to experience la pura vida.

Post by: Jennifer Turnbull-Houde & Matthew Houde


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  1. Wow, these photos are stunning! This looks like a great adventure plus I really love adventures that engage all of your senses. Can’t wait to see your next adventure.

  2. That last photo especially is amazing and should be on the cover of a Lonely Planet guidebook or something! I love when destinations amaze and astound you more than they already have, always such a great feeling!

    1. Thanks Julie! Costa Rica is constantly amazing us with its natural beauty. Hope you can visit sometime soon!

  3. Thanks for the afternoon journey to such a beautiful place! I’ve been to Costa Rica a few times, but never made it to Nosara – thanks for taking me there. Sounds like an amazing time!

    1. Our pleasure Kelly, Nosara is really beautiful! Hope on your next trip you can make it there. Pura vida!

  4. We love your blog! Can you offer some advice? We are flying in on Feb19th leaving March 1st. We are renting a 4×4. Visiting family in Coco for a few nights when we first arrive. We have a 12 year old, and don’t want to spend much time in the car. Plan to surf at Tamarindo. Would you spend a few nights in Tamarindo and then head north to Rio Celeste (1 night) [horseback ride/zip line] and Rincon de la Vieja (2 nights) [hike] OR would you just move south from Tamarindo down the beach to Nosara and Samara. A kayak or horseback ride w the outfit you used sounds nice at Nosara. Visit the park and maybe see turtles (have you seen turtles this time of year?). We thought we’d skip Monteverde, since we don’t want to be in the car too much. We really want to see wildlife/birds in the jungle and spend time on the beach. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

    1. Hi Matt, I think I would do your first option, but pick either Rincon or Rio Celeste to avoid spending too much time in the car. One night at Rio Celeste isn’t really enough. We actually just came back from several days there and loved it. The hike to the waterfall is great and it is more jungle-like and has a lot of wildlife. We would do two nights there. Rincon is nice too but it’s tropical dry forest like what you will see in Coco and Tamarindo.

      On the other option, the turtles come during the rainy season mostly so you probably wouldn’t see them in Feb./March. This itinerary would be fine too; the only downside is that you would see only the same region of the country and only the beach.

  5. Thank you so much for the advice! We think we’re staying here for two nights and hike to the waterfall. Do you know if there is any horseback riding or zip lining near Rio Celeste? We see a lot of activities over by Rincon, but we’re not planning to drive east. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Kelly, One of the best places to see nesting sea turtles is Playa Ostional, just north of Nosara. Here is a link to the local association of guides page. You can use that to monitor when turtle events occur (these are called arribadas). They happen about once per month.

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