While Nosara's world-class beaches are the magnets for visitors and residents alike, there are also treasures hidden in the hillsides, such as the Mala Noche waterfall. This waterfall can be found on a creek that feeds the Rio Nosara, just a short distance past the Nosara high school.
While it is difficult to find it without a guide, the journey will give the traveler a perspective on the topography and history of the area. The owner of the property, Older Montiel, who offers group tours, can tell visitors about the history in both Spanish and English. He and his family have been on the land for generations since moving from Nicoya in the 1930s.
The oldest known inhabitants, the Chorotegas, left behind a treasure of jade artifacts in burial grounds in the surrounding mountaintops. Some of these are on display at the Jade Museum in San Jose.
At the beginning of the last century, the area attracted chicleros, men who drained the sap of the nispero trees for the production of chewing gum. Those trees have since died out, and most of the old growth forest was killed in numerous forest fires that spread out of control when parts of the land were being cleared, but the last fire was more than 30 years ago, Montiel said.
It was the chicleros who gave the name to the waterfall, literally bad nights, because of the insects that made the nights miserable in their campgrounds during the eight day gum harvesting pilgrimages.
Today, along the different paths to the waterfall, one can still see a few ancient trees, along with pasture land and secondary growth forest that still shelters deers and elusive wildcats such as the ocelot. Insect-feeding birds such as the yellow or red bellied birds are in abundance as well. In the rainy season, which is the best time to see the falls in its full splendor, river shrimp can be harvested in the stream and the pool below the waterfall offers a refreshing swimming spot and photo opportunity.
Montiel offers group tours and can be reached at 8815-9377. In addition, Experience Nosara offers a morning hike that includes a lunch with organic foods.