Imagine a small, beautiful beach town surrounded by jungle and wildlife with a peaceful multicultural community and many of the comforts of home. That place, named by National Geographic as one of the top surf towns in the entire world, exists. It’s called Nosara.

There are some places that are considered ‘energy centers,’ like Sedona, Arizona, where people come and they don’t know why but there’s just something about the place. That’s what this area is like. You need only walk down the remote and dusty roads of Playa Guiones, pop into an organic café, take a class in one of the many exceptional yoga studios, surf the clean consistent waves, or watch a stunning sunset to understand why.

Nosara is famous for its surf and world-renowned yoga, and arguably put Costa Rica on the map as a retreat destination. This strong healthy culture has brought sophisticated health visitors from all over the world. For decades, local associations have kept the beaches clean and the surrounding protected national parks and forest relatively undeveloped. It has the cleanest water table in all of Costa Rica, with clean ocean water and no dumping of gray or black water into the streams or beaches. It is one of the few coastal towns that lacks nearly any development on the beach.

The Nosara region is located on the North Pacific Coast of the Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste about 100 miles west of the capital, San Jose, and sits between the popular beach towns of Playa Samara and Playa Tamarindo. It consists of five beachfront towns: Playa Nosara, Playa Garza, Playa Guiones, Playa Pelada, and Playa Ostional. The Ostional Wildlife Refuge borders Nosara and is the largest Olive Ridley turtle nesting site in the world. The Nosara and Montana Rivers are two of the longest in Costa Rica and are also teeming with wildlife. The rivers meet the ocean in Playa Nosara.

One legacy of Nosara’s stewardship is a large amount of protected green space that was originally set aside to be a golf course. Another unique feature here is the Ostional Wildlife Reserve, created mainly to protect the olive ridley turtles that nest in Playa Ostional to the north, but it also extends south through Pelada and Guiones. This reserve prevents construction within 200 meters of the high-tide line, whereas in most of Costa Rica concessions can be bought from the 50-meter line and up. The effect of this, combined with the original master plan for the area, has been the re-growth of a thick strip of vegetation next to the beach. So unlike many coastal towns, there is no beachside road packed with businesses, and much of the development is obscured by green canopy when viewed from the beach or from the hills.