NOSARA, Costa Rica – After climbing for hours through pocked and muddy coastal hills in a tropical downpour, we skidded our four-wheel-drive Suzuki Jimny to a stop just before the road dipped into a deep, rain-swollen stream.

We were stuck, kicking ourselves for using backroads when a Costa Rican man on a motorcycle pulled alongside. He waved for us to follow him into the water. We looked at each other, took a breath and plunged ahead.

“Just keep going,” my travel partner said, before we finally emerged on the other side, tires wet and muddy, hearts pounding, waving thanks to our friend.

By late afternoon we were descending into the lush, palm-studded Playa Guiones in Nosara, a surfing hamlet on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, where American accents dotted the beach as the clouds broke for one of the Pacific coast’s famous pink and amber sunsets. 

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