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Best things to do in Ostional

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Though the main attraction for many visitors to this stretch of the Costa Rican coast is to hang 10 and enjoy the beach and surf, Ostional is really best known for being a turtle sanctuary.

For the past 60 years or so, tens of thousands of sea turtles have been coming to this 7km long beach to lay their eggs. In fact, this is the single most important place in the world for nesting of the endangered Olive Ridley turtle.

Activity is greatest in the cooler months between June and December. Turtles tend to like the days/week prior to the new moon when things are darker. You will tend to find the younger/fitter turtles come up first to lay whereas the older and injured females are often there later in the cycle or later in the night through morning.

In truth, there are so many turtles here that you may well be lucky enough to witness at least some individuals laying at almost any time of year.

The locals have been trained to guide out onto the beach on night tours which is very highly recommended. You can also head out onto the beach early in the morning for a walk to see if there are any stragglers still laying, or even better, you might see baby turtles hatching. The journey of these tiny hatchlings to the water can be a heartbreaking as you see all the birds lined up at the back of the beach to feast on the soft little things.

Tempting as it might be, don’t help the turtles. The physical exertion to get from their nest to the sea is vital for them to develop strength and lung capacity for the next, equally hazardous, stretch of their journey. You can, however, stand guard next to them so nobody gobbles them up! You might enjoy this video of a baby turtle going to the sea…

Independently, you might like to know about other activities available in this stunning corner of Costa Rica. Here we list some of our favourites:

Early morning walks

Ostional has various walking options for wonderful views. Heading for a pre-breakfast walk either into the hills above the coast or within the Nosara Biological Reserve could then be a great idea. As you’ll walk the dry tropical forest early in the morning, birdsong and the raucous calls of howler monkeys will undoubtedly accompany you.

Surfing and more

As surfing is the most popular activity along the coast, surfing classes are obviously plenty here - Playa Guiones and Playa Nosara are some of the best spots - but if surfing doesn’t appeal, you might like to try some Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), snorkeling or scuba diving around the calmer waters of San Juanillo beach. Please be careful of rip currents and take local advice before going to the sea.

Kayak the wetlands

Behind the beach of Nosara, the Río Montaña and Río Nosara converge to form a lagoon that teems with fantastic birdlife (around 270 species have been recorded here) and atmospheric mangrove swamps. One off the best ways to explore this fascinating habitat is to go on a guided river safari on board a quiet electric-motor boat. Alternatively you can rent kayaks to glide silently through the waters - early morning or late afternoon are the best times of day for any tours like this.

Feed Scarlet macaws

South of Sámara, the Ara Project has been working since 1982 to breed and release endangered Scarlet and Great Green Macaws into the wild. This breeding and rehabilitation centre is a great place to experience with the whole family, as kids will be able to meet, watch and even feed the birds.

Ride a horse along the beach

There is some  lovely horse riding around Ostional and Playa Pelada. Tours generally takes you from the rich countryside to the lovely shoreline near Guiones/Nosara. This is an opportunity to experience a slice of Costa Rican campesino lifestyle surrounded by exotic animals.

Zip line through forest

Nosara boasts the longest Canopy Tour in the world (11km long). Located within a pristine 2,500 acre forest reserve, the runs traverse mountain ridges, valleys, rivers, waterfalls along with some fabulous views of the Pacific.

Cruise on a catamaran

Sunsets over the Pacific are stunning in this part of Costa Rica. There are various companies in Ostional offering sunset catamaran tours. Boats are generally packed with amenities including trampolines, kayaks and snorkelling gear so you can swim in the tropical waters with sea turtles, manta rays, reef fish, dolphins and possibly even whales.

Fill your boots

Given the wonderful setting, the lifestyle and also the number of immigrants (notably Italian) in the area of Ostional, there are some fantastic places to eat along this stretch of coast. From classic beach bar fare to some really quite sophisticated international cuisine, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be disappointed. So make sure to plan some time for long, leisurely meals too.

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The Pothole is Pura Aventura's popular monthly email. We share what we love, what interests us and what we find challenging. And we don't Photoshop out the bits everyone else does. We like to think our considered opinions provide food for thought, and will sometimes put a smile on your face. They've even been known to make people cry. You can click here to subscribe and, naturally, unsubscribe at any time.

The Pothole is Pura Aventura's popular monthly email. We share what we love, what interests us and what we find challenging. And we don't Photoshop out the bits everyone else does. We like to think our considered opinions provide food for thought, and will sometimes put a smile on your face. They've even been known to make people cry. You can click here to subscribe and, naturally, unsubscribe at any time.

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