Our “Must Sees” in Costa Rica

Although Shaun and I have visited Costa Rica before, we’ve only seen a small fraction of what it has to offer. Our previous vacations were short, sweet, and full of beer. That didn’t leave a whole lot of time for sightseeing. With five months ahead of us, there will be plenty of time to see it all. Here is a small sample of what we’re looking forward to seeing!  (honesty check: Shaun hasn’t seen this list, nor will he probably look at it until we’re on the plane, but I assure you, he’s excited and just doesn’t know it!)

Manual Antoniophoto 5

Manual Antonio is one of those places that I can only describe as paradise. I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon there during our last trip, and couldn’t get over it. White sand, blue water, palm trees, and SLOTHS!

 Yes that’s right, there are sloths! Part of the wonder of Manual Antonio is their national park. During our visit we saw so much wildlife including: sloths, toucans, monkeys, iguanas, frogs, and coatamundi’s! Since Shaun has never seen it, I can’t wait for us to experience it together.

Caliches Wishbone, Jacophoto 4

Shaun and I have been to Jaco, in fact we got engaged there. It wasn’t one of our favourite places, but we will go back for some Wishbone!

Wishbone is a local restaurant that we went to several times throughout our stay (including the night of our engagement), and let me tell you, it was the nachos that kept us coming back for more.We have spent the past two years trying to recreate Wishbone nachos, and we just can’t get it right. Something about the bean mixture they put on the bottom of it? I don’t know, it’s all just a foggy nacho laden memory now. You can be assured there will be a post about it when we make it there! Oh, and just a note on this photo. Shaun has full right of veto on all photo’s, and as I was snapping this shot, he was asking me if he was allowed to eat yet. The resulting expression on his face was priceless, yet not shareable.

Arenal Volcanoarenal-volcano

Well not just Arenal, but all volcano’s in general! I apparently have developed a bit of an obsession about seeing volcano’s. Not sure why, probably because I have never seen one before, and they’re AWESOME! Last time I checked, Costa Rica has  67 volcano’s, six of which are active. Think we can see them all?!? (I can hear Shaun’s eyes rolling as I write this)

Anyways, Arenal is one of Costa Rica’s most famous volcano’s. It’s apparently quite active and last erupted in 2010. All the activity makes it a prime spot for hot springs! I can’t wait!

Dinosaurs always come with Volcano’s…right?

Mandarina photo 2

To me, Mandarina is the Starbucks of Costa Rica (or at least the towns we’ve visited in the past!)

These cute little smoothie shacks can be found all around popular tourist towns. I’ve seen a bunch in both Tamarindo, and Jaco.

They make smoothies using fresh fruit of your choice. You can get yours custom made too. I learnt very early that they are often made with milk and lots of added sugar (we’re talking multiple heaping table spoons of white sugar!). It’s okay to ask for agua instead of leche, no sucre, and always add passion fruit! Super delicious! 

Santa Teresa/Mal Pais santa-teresa-banner-1920-1024x446

Santa Teresa has been recommended to us by a number of people. We’re lucky enough to be staying there fairly early on in our trip. It’s located in the southern region of the Nicoya Peninsula, and according to our research, is a surfers paradise. I am sure that Shaun will be in his happy place here! Although I’m not an avid surfer (yet), Mal Pais and Santa Teresa beaches are supposed to be some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, and there is also little bustling town! 

Drake Bay wide-1000-drake-1-151

Drake Bay is located on the northern side of the Osa Pennisula, and it sounds pretty rustic. It’s touted as a place where people go to”get away from it all”.

Numerous people have mentioned it to us, so it’s now on the must see list. Although we don’t know much about it yet, we’re looking forward to adding it to our adventure!

Montezuma montezuma

Everytime I look up information for Montezuma, I come across another picture of an absurdly gorgeous waterfall. I feel the same way about the waterfalls as I do about the volcano’s. Can we just see them all?!?(poor Shaun).

Montezuma is in the same general area as Santa Teres. Recently I heard someone describe as “off-beat” and “bohemian”. Hmmm, we will see how we fit in!!

So that is just a small sample of the many places we are looking forward to visiting. Can’t wait to tell you all about them!

Have you ever been to Costa Rica? If so, what are you must sees? If not, what are you most excited for me to post about?

Pura Vida!


Meet Tatonka

Yes, it’s official, the backpack has been purchased. I’m pleased to announce the arrival of our new bundle of joy, Tatonka.

Finding a backpack was actually harder than I thought it would be. After a lot of research on backpacking websites, chatting with experienced backpackers, and multiple trips to MEC, I determined my backpack needed the follow two and a half things.

1-Side Loading: My current backpack loads from the top, and I’m always rummaging around looking for things. Undoubtedly, there are things that fall to the bottom that never see the light of day. If you are going to be staying in one place, a top loading pack would likely be fine (as I’m assuming you would unpack everything anyways), but, since we are bouncing around, I wanted to make sure I had easy access.

2- Two Compartments: While we are travelling, I plan on working out, running on beaches, and doing all sorts of things that will make my clothes smelly, and my shoes dirty. As much as I am opening my mind to the idea of “roughing it,” I’d rather not contaminate all my clothes with my stench. Hence the rationale of the two compartments. One side for things I’d like to keep clean, and one of the not so clean items.

2.5-  My final criteria was having an day pack that attached to my main backpack. Why is this a .5 you may ask? I wasn’t actually completely sold on the idea at first. When I envision what our travelling style will be, I doubt that there will be many times where I would have my day pack attached to the bag itself. When we are on the move, I imagine I will be wearing my day pack on my front with my valuables in it. I figure that only time it would come in handy would be on our way home, when our bags are so full of junk, that I need to buy a new one to carry on. Then I could just attach the daypack and check it on the plane. Also, many of the bags with attachable day packs didn’t seem very well equipped for attachment. The ones I saw had a few buckles to attach it, leaving the back susceptible to being ripped off in an airport or theft. Yet, as I priced out the bags, I realized how much money I would save if I found an all in one unit that had both packs together, plus it would save me the hassle of starting pack shopping all over again. Ultimately, I was wishy washy about the whole idea.

Once I knew what I was looking for, the search began. Enter Pinterest. You may laugh, but I found that Pinterest was the best way for me to organize all the packs I found. I would cruise around online, and as soon as I found a pack that hit my criteria, I would pin it to my board for future review.

In addition to my social media savy search, I checked out a couple of stores here in Victoria. I spent lots of time in MEC, Robinsons and Atmosphere. I made sure I spoke with employees to get their opinions. It was great to hear first-hand experience about the packs.

After three weeks of searching, I was beginning to get a little anxious. Not only were there very few packs that met my criteria, the ones that did were tipping the scales at $400plus. On a fateful Friday afternoon, I made one last ditch effort and popped into Capital Iron (a local “we have everything” store in Victoria). I chatted with an amazing employee, and told him all about my plight. His reponse…”You need a Tatonka.”


I’d never heard such beautiful words…and she was…beautiful.



I purchased the Tatonka Great Escape 60, which literally has everything I need and more.


– Two big compartments that can be converted to one if needed.

-A side loading zipper for easy access.

-A detachable day pack (which also has two compartments), that is secured by an industrial zipper.

-A protective layer that can be zipped over the packs straps for easy travel

-A duffel bag conversion, so the bag can be worn over your shoulder as needed.

-A semi-reasonable price tag. At $200 it was at the top end of my budget, but the fact I was getting the two bags out of the deal sold me.

1450049_10152936973638538_1039753958_nSo here we are. Tatonka and Kate, lifelong friends. Or at least for the next 5 months. I’ll do a follow up post during the trip, and let you know if all the trials and tribulations of tracking down Tatonka were truly worth it!

What kind of backpack do you have? What do you like about it?

Pura Vida!