To discover true paradise, sometimes you have to go off-road. And sometimes in a 4×4, if it’s anything like my town.

When you turn onto the unpaved road, ignore your instinct to bust a u-turn and your fear of the unknown. Instead, continue off the beaten path. Eventually you’ll pass a man and his wife selling ice-cold fresh coconuts, better known in Costa Rica as “Pipas,” before you end up in Nosara. If you trust that the machete in his hand is simply used to slice open the coconut, and you dare to engage them with your Spanglish, you’ll learn that these charming individuals are more than just “Pipa people”. They too have a story, a family, goals and dreams, morals and values, just like you and me.
 
 
Why Trek Travel guide Alyssa Sponaugle moved to Costa Rica
 
 
I first visited Nosara when my group of friends was planning a surf trip to Costa Rica and asked me to join. At the time, I was clothed head to toe in March as a snowboard instructor who had put in nearly 100 days chasing and counting my little “snow ducklings” all over Vail Mountain. I glanced at the powder below my board, then to my pretzel-ed up student stuck in waist deep snow awaiting my rescue, then back down to my snowboard, which had suddenly become a surfboard atop crystal blue waves. I thought to myself, “I need a vacation.”

At the time, I couldn’t even surf. I mean, sure, I could stand up on a long board, paddle and mimic a whale-like dismount. But I hadn’t experienced “the feeling”. The feeling that one has when they finally learn how to dance on water. The feeling of floating through the air while the ocean playfully spits water back at their face. The feeling of flying with mother nature, or in layman’s terms, catching a green wave. That was a feeling I wanted to know.
 
 
Join Trek Travel guide Alyssa Sponagule in her home of Nosara, Costa Rica
 
 
It took less than a week to fall in love with Nosara’s charm: the people’s positive energy and generosity, the natural beauty and environment, and the wildlife right before your eyes. Three weeks of waking up to howler monkeys, finding my way through lush green jungle paths to an untouched, white sand beach with a stellar wave, and consuming more mangos and fresh pipas than I thought possible. For three weeks I was mesmerized day after day by how strikingly beautiful and different one sunset was from the next. So I looked at a “Casita” that was for rent in the fall, shook the hand of a Tica friend named Ane, and said, “I’ll be back in November, I’m good for my word.”

A simple, “Yes, I’m in,” from atop a snowy mountain five years ago has lead to one of the most life changing decisions I have ever made.

In the years since then, I’ve learned to love the simplicity of life here. I’ve learned that you can live a very full life once you strip away everything else. Eventually I learned to live without all the things that I once felt were a necessity, and learned to value life’s true necessities. Life becomes less complicated here. Without distractions, you enable yourself to be present and engaged in each and every moment. I feel like I am myself in my purest form in Costa Rica.
 
 
Trek Travel bike tour guide Alyssa Sponaugle in Costa Rica
 
 
What makes Costa Rica a unique travel destination?

Costa Rica boasts a higher biodiversity than the United States and Europe combined! When you think about its size–slightly smaller than West Virginia–the diversity is incredible! The wildlife and natural beauty of this country is present everywhere you look. Secondly, Costa Rica offers a bit of everything, which is why I think it is the perfect place for groups of friends or families. Everyone can get their own taste of Costa Rica: biking through cloud forests, visiting cocoa farms in the Caribbean, gazing at volcanoes, splashing around in natural hot springs, riding Central America’s best surf, and hiking through the rain forest spotting monkeys, toucans, sloths, the striking poison dart frog. There is something exciting for everyone here, and it’s welcoming to all: singles, couples, families, young and old alike.

What do you love most about Nosara?

The sunsets. There are some sunsets where the sun subtlety falls below the horizon. There are some sunsets that feel more grandiose. And then there are Nosara’s sunsets, where the sun and the colors of the sky stop an entire town at 5:45PM. During a Nosara sunset, you’ll find everyone on the beach transfixed by it’s natural beauty. Sometimes the sky brings you back to childhood memories and paints itself the colors of cotton candy. Other times it may choose to boast the brightest hues of orange and yellow imaginable. At some point you’ll find that your mind goes blank and time stands still. It’s rare to be so deep in a moment that you actually don’t think of anything. Once it sets, everyone wakes up and hustles to get home before dark. It’s a funny 15 minutes where the world just seems to be on pause, but once it sets, the play button is pushed again. For me, it has become the most anticipated part of my day.
 
 
Trek Travel Costa Rica Vacation designed by local Alyssa Sponaugle
 
 
What are you most excited for guests to experience?

Our Costa Rica trip can’t be compared to any other Trek Travel trip we offer. It’s in a category of its own. Each guest takes away their favorite moment of the trip, whether it be whitewater rafting through the rain forests, zip lining through the Cloud Forests, or enjoying coffee with our hotel owner, Agnes, while taking in views of Pelada. However, once guests arrive in Nosara, I’m undeniably excited to show it off to them! Guests stay in a quaint bed & breakfast in the hills overlooking Playa Pelada, one of my favorite fisherman beaches in the area. They have surf lessons with my friends at Agua Tibia and catch their first waves on the very same beach where I too caught my first real wave five years ago. They horseback ride at sunset to my favorite restaurant in town, infamous for it’s delicious passion fruit mojitos and breathtaking sunsets. And best of all, they get to know the community of Nosara. More than just strangers passing through a town, our guests have a key to the door behind which lies local Costa Rican life. After two days they’ve met most of my friends, and for guests who stick around after the trip, they’re treated more like friends than tourists. I find that guests really enjoy that experience, and it’s especially fun for me!
 
 
Trek Travel Costa RIca Multisport Vacation
 

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