Driving Directions to Nosara, Costa Rica (DO NOT USE/TRUST ANY GPS DATA BASE PRODUCTS)
Driving to Nosara:
San Jose>Nicoya: ( 4-5 hours)
New Highway: As of 2010 there is a new highway out of the central valley down to the Pacific Coast. It is easy to access this new highway from most part of San Jose except the international airport! National car rental's airport office has printed out, directions and a map of how to get to the new highway from the airport. You do not stand a chance without the map!
The new highway drops down into the Pacific and turns north. You will pass the double tree resort on your left as well as one of the local prisons. When the roads goes under the overpass it turns hard right 270 degrees and places you on the Pan Am Highway or as it is more often referred, the old road. This is where the directions for both old and new roads come together. (Skip next paragraph if coming down from San Jose on the new road.)
Old Highway / PanAm Highway: If you are driving from San Jose to Nosara, you will take the main Interamerican Highway (Carretera Interamericana) west out of San Jose (past the large international Juan Santamaria airport). This highway travels west and descends down from the central plateau toward the port of Puntarenas where the road turns north.
As you head north on the Pan Am Highway you will be heading toward Liberia. Keep a look out for the signs pointing to the Puente de Amistad (the new bridge over the Tempisque River). This will be a left turn, but the signs are on the right side out on the main Interamerican Highway. There is a Delta service station and makes for a good rest stop as they sell cold drinks and snacks. (In just about all of costa Rica, US dollars are excepted but change is usually returned in Colonies.) This is the halfway point of your drive from San Jose.
After you cross the new bridge at the river Tempisque, you will be on the Nicoya Peninsula. Keep following the paved highway to the City of Nicoya (large town). When you are almost to Nicoya, you will come to an intersection with a 4-way red/yellow flashing light - there will be signs there that indicate a left turn into the town of Nicoya. Turn left and proceed straight through the middle of town. Warning, Right after passing the hospital on the right there is a mandatory right turn followed quickly by a left hand turn so as to now parralel the road you were just on. This is the beginning of a one way system. Simply go to the end, turn left followed by a right and you are back on the road to Nosara.
Liberia>Nicoya: (1 hour)
Exiting the international airport in Liberia, turn right and follow the signs to Santa Cruz. Approaching Santa Cruz follow the road on as it is now sign posted to Nicoya. Approaching Nicoya there is a huge 4 way stop, bare right and drive straight through town and over the small bridge and continue on to Nosara.
Please read before driving from Nicoya>Nosara. The road between Nicoya and Nosara is not a problem as long as you slow down. For the first 30 minutes the road is paved but seldom straight. In the small towns along the way there are some very pronounced speed bumps that that seem to come out of nowhere. Hit one at full speed and your front end will jump up in front of you followed by the back end. When you start to come up on dwellings, slow down. That is where they hide these road hazards.
There is a law in Costa Rica that there must be a school with in a certain distance of every school aged child in the country. As a result there are schools out in the middle of nowhere with one teacher and one child, just to comply with this law and there is a school about every 10 Kilometers. Many of these schools span both sides of the highway and when they mean slow down they mean it. 25 KPH max! Get used to it. There are schools all over the place.
It is not advised to drive the Nicoya-Nosara route at night even if you have never driven it before. Many of the locals refrain from driving this route at night. One of the reasons for this are several spots where the road goes from one lane in each direction down to only one lane due to the culverts being washed out. You can see them better in the day time. You will need to remember where they are at night. The only good thing about driving this route at night is there are few if any other cars on the road. The down side to this is that if anything happens while in route…………………..
There is one thing about driving in this type of terrain to be very careful of. Bridges, they are extremely dangerous. When they design a road it typically contours the terrain. Should the route need to cross over a stream or river, the road typically descends, then turns 90 degrees so as to have the bridge cross at a 90 degree angle to the terrain. These bridges are one lane only and the rule of the road is that the first one to the bridge has the right of way. (There are yield signs that say CEDA. One side of the bridge should have one. Never assume anything while driving in Costa Rica.) As you approach the bridge you see no one else, proceed, only to have someone come around the bend into view on the other side and he gets to the bridge before you. Where are you going to go. It is always down hill, sometimes gravel or wet or both and the only way out has a ravine to the left and right of it and a car in the middle. Luckily there are usually signs that look like this )( alerting you to the fact that there is a one lane bridge ahead. Costa Rica is full of them. Be careful. Slow down.
The route to Nosara crosses many rivers and streams and luckily there are no fiords to cross. By that I mean driving through the water to get across, just like in the movies. In the dry season this is a common feat on routes where a bridge does not exist. Be careful as the rainy season approaches as these rivers swell up fast. Most auto insurance coverage will not cover water mishaps. If in doubt wait for a local. Note the relationship between his wheel size and yours and watch him cross. If the water will not touch your car body then you will probably be ok, just follow his exact route across. If the route lacks locals in any abundance you can have your wife wade across and check out the water level as she does. My wife did this once and only once. Should have been there.
Nicoya>Nosara: (1 hour)
Drive straight through the town of Nicoya on the "main road". Drive slowly, as there are a lot of pedestrians in this bustling town. Warning, Right after passing the hospital on the right there is a mandatory right turn followed quickly by a left hand turn so as to now paralel the road you were just on. This is the beginning of a one way system. Simply go to the end, turn left followed by a right and you are back on the road to Nosara.About 30 minutes after leaving Nicoya, you will see a large Gas Station on your left. There is also a hardware store and little "soda" cafe for snacks and drinks. (As of 2011 gas can be purchased at the new Nosara Gas station located just after the 5 corner intersection.)
Right after you leave the gas station, 50 feet, the paved road you have been driving on makes a curve to the left. At the apex of that curve, you will notice a small road turning off to the right, downhill. That is the road to Nosara. IF YOU GET TO SAMARA YOU HAVE GONE WAY TO FAR. Be careful especially this first 500 meters as it is downhill and steep. This road to Nosara is about 25KM long, but it take 45 minutes to drive. There are, once again, some turns and twists, but stay on the road. There are signs that tell you how many kilometers you still have to go as you pass through many small towns and villages. There is a T-intersection at a small village called Barco Quebrada, turn right. (there should be signs there, and the road should be obvious). Note: do not pay much attention to the distance to posted on the signs. It will be obvious to you that they did not put the signs up in any specific order. As a result.........................
The people along the way are very friendly, so if you aren't positive that you are still on the main road to Nosara, just stop and ask someone "Donde es Nosara". Most people will at least be able to point in the right direction. When you get into Nosara things happen fast. The main road is the only artery for getting from one section to the next. The result is a mix of four wheelers, golf carts, bicycles, semi-trucks, delivery trucks, pedestrians and the suffer walking down the middle that has yet to master that last 10% of life. Pedestrians have the right of way, as it should be.
In the dry season with all of this traffic there is a real problem with dust. They have come up with a very innovative plan whereby they spay a mixture of molasses and hot water on the road and it does keep the dust down. Interesting thing however, the whole town smells like pancakes! Welcome to Nosara. This is the expatriate section of Nosara more commonly referred to by the two beaches, Playas Guiones and Pelada. If you want to go to the actual town of Nosara, continue on through some twists and turns, about another 5 km, and you will come to a split in the road bare right, but bare left at the next Y intersection. Soon you will come upon Nosara Centro, the business district, where you will find grocery stores, medical care, city services and shopping in this very Tico town.