Olas Verdes: Costa Rica’s Greenest Boutique Surf Hotel

An affordable, laid-back beach hideout with a distinctly Tico attitude

If the quip “The journey is the destination” typifies your approach to travel then set your sights on Playa Guiones, Costa Rica. The humble but growing beach town is a two-and-a-half hour drive over mostly washboard dirt roads from the nearest international airport. Passing through towns small and smaller, getting lost in the scenery is easy. The region’s agricultural roots give way to modern snippets of the tourism and education industries. A brilliant blue Pacific peeks out intermittently. And, by the time you’ve arrived in Guiones (a stone’s throw from Nosara), travelers will have left the mindset of their home behind altogether as the simultaneously relaxing, rejuvenating and invigorating energy of the landscape takes over. Some call it “pura vida,” but no matter the label, Costa Rica’s alluring draw is alive and extremely well at the newly opened eco-boutique, LEED certified surf hotel Olas Verdes.

Sandwiched between the sleepy, yoga- and juice-loving town of Guiones, the jungle and the mellow beach break waves of the Pacific, Olas Verdes is primed for an active and healthy lifestyle. Cozy yet spacious, the hotel feels more like a micro-community than a resort. Five casitas—each hosting between two and four suites—feature decor and designs from a respective region in the country. The village-like layout gives the feeling of both community and privacy.

Centered around a winding saltwater pool, Olas Verdes features two locally owned and operated partner businesses. The in-house restaurant and bar, El Manglar, serves almost entirely locally grown and produced foods. Classic Costa Rican dishes like fresh fish with rice, beans and incredibly fresh salad are found alongside contemporary healthy favorites like vegetarian breakfast burritos and wasabi ahi tuna.

And, while the food is a draw at Olas Verdes, it’s what works up an appetite that attracts most guests. Just a three-minute walk through the jungle from the hotel is one of the region’s top surf spots. For novices and experts alike, the in-house partners at Safari Surf School have you covered. The renowned surf outfit was the first to set-up shop in the area and for over 17 years has helped spread the sport. At Olas Verdes, experienced surfers get the convenience of rolling out of bed before dawn, tip-toeing to the rack of high-end boards from 7S and Firewire and taking off for the beach. It’s like having your own massive quiver at a beach break that pumps out waves nearly every day of the year—where being cold is out of the question.

If rambling through the jungle first thing in the morning is too much, visitors can take one of the hotel’s sunrise yoga classes. The Nosara Yoga Institute is just up the road and the quality of teachers you’ll find in the area rivals that of any major city. An elevated deck (complete with all the equipment you’ll need) is the optimal place for a morning stretch. As the class progresses, you’ll hear the sounds of the jungle awakening. (This is one vacation destination where you’ll eagerly anticipate waking up before the sun.)

Best of all, hitting an early morning yoga class means you’ll be able to catch a surf lesson (after a fresh juice and coffee at El Manglar of course). Safari Surf’s instructors are primed to teach people of all abilities. Advanced surfers can benefit from a session to unlock the nuances of Playa Guiones as well as get tips on progressing their cutbacks. True beginners will find themselves in good hands. The stretch of beach offers plenty of space for first-timers to progress from the whitewater to deeper and deeper into the line-up.

Forgoing the over-the-top luxury vibe of many resorts, Olas Verdes has more of a home-like feel. Sand on the floor isn’t a big deal—after all, the beach is just through the jungle. The rooms and decor of the hotel further reflect this value. There’s no flatscreen TV in the room to keep you up at night—or inside—during the day. You’ll find a mini-fridge stocked with a bottle of complimentary juice. Bathrooms are spacious, bright and airy featuring local recycled materials and stone-bottomed showers that will most likely see less use here, thanks to the open-air options nearby.

If adventures, experiences and the journey is what you seek in a vacation, Olas Verdes is the place for it. If surfing or yoga aren’t your favorite activities, there are plenty of others—from exploring town on a cruiser bike to zip-lining through the rainforest canopy. And reading by the pool is an encouraged pasttime among all the action.

Suites at Olas Verdes start at $135 per night in the Green Season (May to October) and $185 during the High Season (January to April and November to December). Keep an eye out for our upcoming feature on the hotel’s sustainable food program.

Images by Hans Aschim