Manuel Antonio National Park Part 1

Today we got another of our “Must Sees” checked off our list! Our visit to the National Park in Manuel Antonio is complete, and was a huge success.

Touristy Photos!

Touristy Photos!

Our morning started bright and early. The park opens at 7, so we wanted to beat the rush. This is actually a good tactic for several reasons. One, the park only admits a certain number of people per day. In high season, going later in the afternoon could result in being turned away. Two, it is way cooler. There is a 25 minute hike into the park, and the combination of sun, and jungle can make it a scorcher.

We took the local bus to the park entrance. It costs us a little over a dollar for the two of us. A steal if you ask me! The bus runs every 15 minutes so no matter where you are staying in Manuel Antonio it is a great way to get around. The roads are very hilly, windy, and without sidewalks, not the safest for strolling!

The bus drops you off in front of Playa Espedilla, on the main drag in town. It’s about a 5 minute walk around the back of the town to the park entrance. Along the way there are lots and lots of people trying to sell you tours in the park. Now, it’s my personal opinion that these tours aren’t worth it. With all the wildlife roaming around the park, you’re going to see lots of exciting things without having someone point it out to you. I also like the challenge of creeping around slowly, and stopping to look around whenever I hear something.

That being said, if you are dying to see every piece of flora and fauna Manual Antonio has to offer, then by all means hire away! Just make sure your guide has a certified park badge so you know they are the real deal. Most guides I saw were charging about $25.

Shaun, and I each paid our 10 dollar entrance fee, and started our guideless hike. I did creep on a couple tours just to see if they were pointing out sloths, those things are impossible to spot on your own!

Although we didn’t see sloths, we did see tons of gigantic butterflies on the way. These things were the size of a saucer, and super colourful. They reminded me of the butterflies on wires that you would see on the Muppet show. They would slowly flop around the trail, heading straight for you. I may have squealed a couple times. Here are my three best attempts at trying to capture them!

First attempt!

First attempt!

Second Attempt

Second Attempt

Third Attempt

Third Attempt

Prior to entering the park, the ranger had told us the first beach was closed because there was a crocodile. When we arrived at the beach, people were taking photos. We hung back, and decided to just head straight to the second beach. There was just too many people, and we knew the beach was closed. We started down the trail, and took a moment to stop and look at the first beach one last time. I snapped a photo, and we were just about to leave when Shaun noticed the actual reason for beach closure. It wasn’t a crocodile warning; it was a gigantic crocodile lounging in the sun right in the middle of the beach. Pretty good reason to close the beach if you ask me!

Shaun going in for a closer look. Makes me nervous just looking at this photo!

Shaun going in for a closer look. Makes me nervous just looking at this photo!

I took a couple pictures from the trail, and Shaun asked if he should get in there for perspective. We were pretty far away, so I figured he would just walk in front of the camera, but no. He marched right towards the ole croc. He kept looking back at me, and I kept motioning for him to stop, but he went a little closer anyways. I nervously snapped some photo’s, and motioned to him to make the ole croc jaw motion with his hands. Anything for a cheesy photo op. I was so thankful when he started heading back in my direction.

Ah tourists....

Ah tourists….

We think we're so funny...

We think we’re so funny…

Of course, he wanted to take a look at the photos right away, and deemed them way too far away. So, he grabbed the camera, and headed out again. I could barely watch. At this point there were a couple other tourists starting to get a little braver, and getting closer for photos. I was pleased to see Shaun didn’t get as close to the rest of the people. He snapped a couple of amazing photo’s and headed back.

Working on his tan lines

Working on his tan lines

From this angle, I can totally see why Croc's are often mistaken for sea monsters!

From this angle, I can totally see why Croc’s are often mistaken for sea monsters!

I think that is one really important thing to keep in mind about Manual Antonio Park. You are literally surrounded by wild animals, and you need to remember that you are in their home. Keeping a safe distance, and avoiding direct contact is really important, and a rule that many tourists seem to forget. I’ve read a lot of blog posts that talk about how much of a problem it is becoming. It’s something to keep in mind if you ever visit the park yourself.

But I digress…With our infamous croc photos, we headed to the second beach to check out the water. There were no monkeys out, which seemed odd, because last time I visited the park there were monkeys everywhere. I chalked it up to the fact that it was only 8am, and they were all still asleep., Since it was still fairly cool, Shaun and I decided to go on one of the short hike’s the park has to offer. I was on a hunt to find me some monkeys.

And so you might ask…did we find the monkeys I so desperately wanted to see?

You’ll just have to wait to find out. Tomorrow on Hostels and Hot Rollers- Manuel Antonio Part 2

Same blog time, same blog channel (sorry, but I felt an old school Batman reference was needed).

What do you think about allowing tourists to interact with wild animals? Any family out there want to share their thoughts with Shaun about his love of being close to crocs 😉

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

El Baile de la Iguana, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Ding Ding Ding, we have a winner! Baile De La Iguana in Manuel Antonio is officially our favourite place we’ve stayed so far!

We actually had a really hard time decided where to stay in Manuel Antonio. We knew we wanted to be close to the National Park, but it seemed like everywhere we looked had either really bad reviews, or was way above our price range.

The view from our room. Epic!

The view from our room. Epic!

We ended up opting for Baile De La Iguana (yes, that means dancing with the Iguana!), which is located 3km away from the park entrance. From the entrance, this “aparthotel” is pretty unassuming. It isn’t until you enter the property, and walk up the steep steps that you realize the hotel is located on the side of a hill, and has a view that will take your breath away. The property has a pool that looks out onto the bay, and there are tropical fruit trees all around. We have a starfruit tree right outside our room!

The pool, right outside our door.

The pool, right outside our door.

The hostel offers both private rooms, and hostel rooms. They have a communal living space at the bottom of the property (where the hostel rooms are) that has free WiFi, and kitchen.

We booked a private room with ensuite, but got WAY more than we expected. We had a

Our apartment!

Our apartment!

full on apartment, near the top of the property, right next to pool, with huge windows that look right out over the bay. We had full cable, a fridge, kitchen, stove, oven….wait sorry, my little backpackers head was about to explode for a second! It was a quality of life we hadn’t seen for quite a while.

Baille de la Iguana is run by David, whose goal is to truly make your experience to Manuel Antonio the best ever. He has a vast knowledge of the area, and can recommend all sorts of things to make your stay truly memorable.

The stairs, and this is the just the first level!

The stairs, and this is the just the first level!

 

Be prepared for stairs when you visit. Since the hostel is located on the edge of a hill, daily hikes up the stairs have become a ritual for us. Come to El Baile de la Iguana for the view, and stay for the tight buns!

If you are on a budget, and are looking for a place to stay that has all the amneties, a little character, and a great view, I highly recommend Baille de la Iguana!

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Bonus Picture: Our Starfruit tree! I had never seen one, and my mom requests a snapshot. Here ya go Mom!

Our starfruit tree

Our starfruit tree

Hotel Kangaroo, Jaco, Costa Rica

Although we were only in Jaco for one full day, and two nights, our hostel was just too cool not to write about.

The entrance way. That hammock is the best spot for WiFi!

The entrance way. That hammock is the best spot for WiFi!

Hotel Kangaroo is located at the far end of Jaco beach, about a 15-20 minute walk from the main drag. This was one of the primary reasons we chose this hostel. Not only was it out of the crazyness of the centre of Jaco, but it was also very close to the spot on the beach where we got engaged.

Hotel Kangaroo offers hostel style dorms, and private rooms with ensuite bathrooms. There is a communal kitchen with basic amenities, and amazingly enough, a pool. There are many communal living spaces scattered around the property with hammocks, tables, and other relaxing places to lounge or socialize. They provide free WiFi in the main communal space, a bar that serves beverages in the evening, games, a book exchange, and all the

The main communal area with the bar, pool is just off to your left.

The main communal area with the bar, pool is just off to your left.

information you need to know about having a great time in Jaco. Did I mention the beach is only about a 1 minute walk from the front door?

Since we were fresh off the early boat from Montezuma, we arrived well before check in time. We were greeted warmly by Francesca, and her many dogs. She was busy getting all the rooms ready, but made us feel right at home showing us around, and explaining her three passions.

The upstairs, our room is the first room with Shaun's leg making a guest appearance.

The upstairs, our room is the first room with Shaun’s leg making a guest appearance.

Her first passion, her dogs. She is very clear right off the bat, if you don’t like dogs, she can find you somewhere else very nice to stay. With almost half a dozen dogs milling around, there is always someone who wants a pat or a cuddle. Most of her dogs are strays that she has adopted off the streets, which means each one has that look in their eyes that says “love me!”

Her second passion is her pool. It’s a rarity to find a hostel at such a low price point that has a really nice pool, and Francesca prides herself in keeping it clean. The sand at Jaco beach is dark, and sticky, so, there is a shower all set up at the entrance to the hostel for everyone to rinse off their feet before diving in!

One of the upstairs living spaces

One of the upstairs living spaces

Her third and final passion, noise. Hotel Kangaroo has a little bar that opens in the evening, but after midnight, the party should move to downtown Jaco. Francesca is very aware that avid surfers want to get up early to catch the good waves.

Defining Francesca’s passions help paint the picture of what Hotel Kanagroo is all about, care. Francesca goes way above the call of duty to take care of her guests, property, and animals. She is constantly calling people cabs, organizing surf lessons, cleaning up, and making sure everyone is taken care of. She even walks people to the bus stop, and waits with them to make sure they get on.

Introducing Oscar. This is a seriously awesome cat!

Introducing Oscar. This is a seriously awesome cat!

Her passion for her people, property, and pets helps to create an atmosphere that is both warm, and inclusive.

If you are looking for a reasonably priced place to stay in Jaco that has a nice mix of party, and relaxation, I would highly suggest Hotel Kangaroo. If you go, you must say hi to Oscar, and epic Hostel cat that really knows how to pose for a picture.

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Travel Workouts Week 7- Montezuma Yoga

NB: I was invited by Montezuma Yoga to attend this class as a guest, and review it on the blog, yet all opinions enclosed are my own.

In Costa Rica, Yoga studios are like Starbucks, there is one on every corner.

That is why I find it amazing that it took me over 6 weeks to finally try one.

P1010851I had the pleasure of being invited to attend Montezuma Yoga’s special Sunday night, candlelight yoga session with live music. I felt especially lucky as this class only occurs every two weeks. It was simply meant to be.

Montezuma Yoga is nestled amongst the jungle in the back of the Los Mangos hotel. It is about a 2 minute walk from the waterfall, which makes it both a great place to practice, and stay. The yoga space is located on the uppermost portion of the property, overlooking the pool, and ocean.

Montezuma Yoga is a one stop shop for all your yoga needs. They offer public, and private

The yoga studio

The yoga studio

classes, as well as a multitude of retreats. Whether you are looking to drop into a one class, take a week of yoga classes, or immerse yourself in a combination of yoga, surf, and Spanish, Montezuma Yoga can meet all your needs.

The candlelight yoga class I attended was taught by Dagmar Spremberg, the founder of the yoga institute. Originally from Germany, Dagmar has been teaching yoga with Los Mangos since 2001.

Setting up the studio

Setting up the studio

The class itself was beyond memorable. The class began at 6, just as the sun was setting. The studio is wooden, circular room, with an open concept. As the sun set, the only light came from long tapered candles held in vases of sand, and coloured paper lanterns strung above the ceiling. As I laid in Shavasna waiting for the class to start my senses were overwhelmed. The sound of the waves crashing blended perfectly with the crickets chirping. The small of candles burning contrasted with the Ylang Ylang trees outside. The breeze from the ocean flowed through the studio, washing away the heat of the day. It entire moment was hypnotic.

The class began, and Dagmar introduced the instrument that would be played throughout our practice, a Hang. I’ve thought a lot about how I would put this instrument into words, and the best I can do is, it is shaped like a metal UFO, and sounds like a combination of a metallic xylophone, and a harp. It was beautiful.

The class was wonderful. Dagmar provided clear, and thoughtful instruction, and balanced

My last photo before I settled in to my practice.

My last photo before I settled in to my practice.

the needs of both the beginers, and the advanced. The class had more flow sequences then Yoga I have taken back home, which was a nice change. I worked out muscles that I hadn’t used in quite a while, and was actually sore the next day. Likely a combination of being out of practice, and lugging a backpack around for 6 weeks.

Throughout the practice, Dagmar asked us to take the practice slow, and soft. It is taking moments to be soft, that allows us to grow stronger. A sentiment that I loved, and has resentated with me.

If you are in Montezuma I would highly suggest seeking out Montezuma Yoga’s Candlight Yoga with Live Music. It is a once in a life time experience. Even if you are in Santa Teresa/Mal Pais, you can easily make it there.

What do you think about the sentiment “you need moments to be soft to help you grow stronger?”

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

We Got Engaged!!! (again)

Well, it took some work, but we did it, we made it back to Jaco to find the exact spot where Shaun proposed. But Costa Rica certainly didn’t make it easy for us.

As you may have read by now, I suffered a little bit of a travel illness back in Montezuma. After 24 hours in bed, I woke up the next morning with an hour long speed boat ride ahead of me. Not exactly something that my queasy stomach was yearning for. That being said, I soldiered on.

white lips, and indication of health for sure

white lips, and indication of health for sure

This picture pretty much represents the worst of it. I think I looked, and felt so pitiful that this wee little perro came up and nuzzled up next to me for a snuggle. The high point of my low point.

After waiting on the curb for a while, we lugged our bags down to the beach, and hopped in our boat…Well, some of us hopped, some of us hobbled. And then, in a flash, we were off. I clung on for dear life, and just hoped that I wasn’t “that” girl. Thanks to sheer will power, some fresh air, and the gravol I took before boarding, we made it to Herrudia without incident. After a quick shuttle ride, we arrived at our hostel.

SO happy to be on the boat.

SO happy to be on the boat.

The day was not all that adventurous. After a long nap, I was determined to walk to theother end of Jaco to get a Mandarina, my first real source of sustinence in days. Shaun was very patient with me, and sat with me as I took breaks along the way. We finally made it, I managed half a Mandarina, before I tapped out, and reported, I needed to go back to the hostel stat, and in a cab. The rest of the evening involved the bed, and Shaun convincing me that chicken soup was a good idea. A very romantic start to our engagement celebration.

The next day I was feeling better, toast for breakfast and even managed a low impact workout. Shaun and I wandered into town to look around. It was amazing to see all the changes that had occurred in Jaco since our last visit three years ago. Everything is paved, there are huge condo’s everywhere, and a much higher police presence. We found ourselves noticing that they had road marking on the street, something that we take for granted back home, but a novelty here.

After wandering around town, and stopping for an ice cream, we headed back to the hostel for a little pool time. We had planned to go to the Caliches, the restaurant I mentioned in my Must Sees post. Their nachos are burned into our memory, and we were so looking forward to imbibing in them once again. When I was looking them up online I discovered, they are closed one day a week, Wednesday, the day we were there. *sigh*

We changed our plan, and decided to rock a happy hour the local beach bar, than find our “spot” to watch the sunset. Well, lets just say chips, and spicy salsa on a weak stomach, probably one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. I thought I was done for, but I knew sunset was looming, and we only had one shot to get to our spot, and re-enact our moment. So, I sucked it up, and we had a very silent hike down the beach.

Now, this is fairly appropriate, as it truly does pay homage to our proposal moment. Shaun and I had decided to watch the sunset, but he made me walk the entire length of Jaco beach to do so. The longer we walked, the more I complained, and the grouchier I got. He kept telling me he wanted to watch the surf waves on the other end of the beach.

Our sunset

Our sunset

Despite my discomfort in my current moment, I couldn’t help by laugh at how similar our situation was becoming. In the end, we arrived, Shaun pulled up a log, and we sat down to watch the sunset.

It was surreal to be in the exact same spot, thousands of miles from home, where such a momentous occasion occurred; a moment that changed our lives forever. As the sun went down, we reminisced about the proposal, and how funny, and appropriate it was for us. Never in a million years did we think we would make it back to that spot, but, despite all the obstacles, we did, and now we have a new memory to go along with it.

Our proposal picture on the top, and our re-enactment on the bottom.

Our proposal picture on the top, and our re-enactment on the bottom.

Do you have, or have you heard, a good proposal story you want to share?

Pura Vida

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

6 Tips to Survive a Travel Illness

Well, I guess you aren’t really a traveller until you can write a post like this from experience. Unlike Shaun, who has faced travel illness before (including once on this trip already), I was a virgin. It doesn’t help matters, that I am an uber wimp when it comes to being sick.

After Mal Pais, we came back to Montezuma for one day. We had planned a 12km hike in the morning to see a waterfall, and then had our sights set on the national park in the afternoon. It was going to be a full day, but I was pumped, and ready. So, you can imagine my dismay when I woke up in the middle of the night with all sorts of things wrong with my body.

The morale of the story is Shaun spent one very boring day in Montezuma, while I spent a very dismal day in a darkened hostel room with a leak in the ceiling. Low point Kate, low point.

Now that that moment in time is a distant memory, I feel I can give everyone a few tips that helped me survive my bought of illness.

Taken the morning after my 24 hours in bed. My expression pretty much sums up my thoughts on this travel day.

Taken the morning after my 24 hours in bed. My expression pretty much sums up my thoughts on this travel day.

6 Ways to Survive a Travel Illness

  1.  Get Comfortable: You’re likely going to be getting up close and personal with your bed for an extended period of time, so try and get as comfortable as possible. If this means requesting extra pillows or blankets then do it. This also might mean changing beds entirely, and getting a different room. If there was ever a time to spring for something a little out of your price range, this is it. There is no sense in both your body, and your bed being uncomfortable, you might as well fix the one you have control over.
  2. Temperature Control: I don’t know what I would have done without a/c during my illness, and it was just a fluke that we had it that day. If you are in the tropics, it makes a huge difference, as you can crank it during your hot spells, and turn it down during your cold spells. That being said, sometimes you are stuck with no other option. In that case, a big bowl of ice in front of your fan can help keep it cool. and never forget about the cold washcloth on the forehead trick. Makes you feel just like Mom is there.
  3. Hydrate: SO important. Water, Gatorade, Broth, Watermelon. Whatever kind of clear liquids you can get in you is a good thing. I used a clear water bottle so I could keep track of how much I was drinking.
  4. Find Entertainment: In a perfect world, you are in a hostel or hotel with WiFi in your room, and you have an endless supply of Netflix to keep the time that you are conscious occupied. We all know that the majority of the time, that is just not a reality. Reading is one option, but I found I didn’t want the lights on, and I found it hard to concentrate. My entertainment was podcasts. I have an endless array of comedy, storytelling, and interview related podcasts on my iPhone. I think I had them playing for 10 hours straight that day. My faves? Smodcast, This American Life, Nerdist, WTF, You Made it Weird, Stuff Mom Never Told You…just to name a few.
  5. Buddy System: If you are travelling with a partner, make sure they check in on you, and grab you supplies as needed. Travelling on your own? Don’t suffer in silence. If there is one thing I’ve learned, hostels are amazing places, and there is always someone who is will help. Avid travellers have all been there, so ask for help if you need it.
  6. Seek Medical Assistance: You can catch some funky ass things in tropical countries, none of which you want to take home with you. If you’ve caught something that feels out of your league or you’ve been sick for a while, go to Doctor. Chances are they are going to have a way easier time figuring out what’s wrong with you then if you take you tropical illness back home with you. That’s why you got your travel medical insurance right…right???

So there you have it. I’m happy to be writing this post from the other end of the tunnel, and hope I don’t have to take my advice again on this trip.

I certainly hope you are reading this post solely out of enjoyment of my blog, and not because you Googled “how to survive a travel illness”. If you did, poor button, you’ll make it! Tweet me, I’ll give you a virtual hug!

Any tips you want to share? What was your worst travel illness experience?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

5 Tips for Travelling with your Spouse

Travelling Costa Rica when the man of my dreams is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

That being said…

Staying sane, while travelling Costa Rica with the man of my dreams, is something else entirely.

Having been married a year, Shaun and I knew that transitioning from seeing each other after work and on weekends, to 24/7, would be an adjustment.

So, without further ado, here are 5 ways to travel long term with a spouse that help keep the trip fun, and the relationship strong.

Cheers!

Cheers!

1-       Take Time For You: Go off, and do something separate from one another. Shaun, and I often find times to do our own things. For him it’s often surfing, or beach walks, for me it’s running, and coffee shop time. This is time to ourselves to help us recharge our batteries.

2-      Try not to be too Gross: This is a tough one. Close quarters, means close contact. Although Shaun, and I are married, and have gotten pretty darn comfortable with each other, we’ve already had some very “overshare” moments. Whether it’s up close and personal with your spouse’s food poisoning, or running out of toilet paper before our early morning shuttle leaves, situations will arise, and things won’t be pretty. So, control the things you can control. For example: closing the bathroom door, not clipping toenails in bed etc… Remember, this is your spouse, not your roomie.

3-      Is it you or is it me: Travel can mean lots of outside stressors, all of which can take a toll. Whenever I find myself annoyed with Shaun, I always take a moment to decide, “Is it him or is it me”. I know I’ve talked about “hanger” alot in the past, but being hungry totally creates a mythical angry beast in me, and often times it creeps up without me even realizing it. So, for myself, I always double check to make sure I’m actually annoyed, and not just needing some peanut butter. (95% of the time, peanut butter fixes it!)

4-      Talk it out: So you’re had your peanut butter, and you’re still frustrated, angry, sad, mad,upset, hurt? Time to talk it out. Travelling is no time for the silent treatment. Close quarters are actually really nice for this. Without the pressure of having to go to work, or school you actually have the time, and the space to really talk about what is going on, and work it out.

5-      Be a couple: Shaun and I try, and have regular date nights during our travels. Nights where we actually both shower, he’ll shave, I’ll put on some mascara, and ta-da we are fancy. Even though we are just going out for dinner, calling it “date night” makes it extra special. Find ways to still feel like a couple, and not just a rag-tag dirty backpacking duo.

So those are our five tips for travelling with a spouse. They’ve worked for us, hope they work you!

Have any tips you wan to share?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Pura Vida

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Travel Workouts Weeks 4/5- 5 tips for beach running

Well the holidays are finally over, and all things fitness, and food are back on track here at Hostels and Hot Rollers.

During my Christmas slump, I found myself relying on running as my go to fitness activity. It’s easy, requires no planning, and can be done anywhere.

Having been here for well over a month, I feel I have mastered the art of effective beach runs.. So, I thought I would share some tips for getting the most out of your vacation runs:

Hostels and Hot Rollers Top 5 Tips for Beach Running

Pre run smiles!

Pre run smiles!

1- Time of Day: Not sure if you are aware, but it is HOT here. Not only is running during the day uncomfortable, but it can be down right dangerous. Exerting yourself in the mid-day heat is simply a recipe for disaster, and although I see people doing it on occasion, I believe it should be avoided at all costs. Besides, mid-day is the time for vacation naps anyway.

If I am running a 10km, I set my alarm for 6am, and get out the door asap. The sun is up, and the air is cool. There are often very few people out, which makes it nice and relaxing. Plus, my workout is done super early, and I have the whole day to look forward to.

Some days I will break my workouts up into two parts. In the morning I will do a strength training circuit, and in the evening I will do a short 5 or 6km run. I try and get these runs done between 5 and 6. The air is cooler, but I can still get home before it’s dark. Careful on these runs though, bug spray is a must!

2- Sand: Running in sand adds great resistance, and can really up your calorie burn. That being said, sand is a really unstable surface to run on, and can easy lead to sprained ankles, or pulled muscles. Whenever we get to a new beach, I look for areas that have sand that is more compact, to make for easy running.

The perfect running tide...the sunset isn't so bad either ;)

The perfect running tide…the sunset isn’t so bad either 😉

3- Tides: There is nothing worse then planning a nice long beach run, only to discover the tide is up, and the beach is non-existent. Or even worse, the tide is up, so the beach is packed with tourists trying to take their sunset photos. To avoid being the photobomber of everyone’s photo, grab a tide guide and check out when the tide is out. Having more beach real estate will make your run much more enjoyable!

4- Be Prepared for Critters: During my runs I’ve been howled at by monkeys, dive bombed by bats, chased by dogs, charged by iguanas and chaperoned by a very persistent horse. I certainly have had to develop a certain level of flexibility with my runs. Each one is a new adventure. I like to think that each one of these experiences made me run just a little big faster!

Me being a creeper on a beach front wedding.

Me being a creeper on a beach front wedding.

5-Bring Your Camera: I have yet to go on a beach run where I haven’t wanted to snap a photo of something. Whether it’s some crazy animal, a gorgeous sunset, or a beach side wedding, there is always some memory I want to document. It was a sad day when my iphone camera died, and I could no longer take a quick second to snap a pick. That being said, I have been known to run with my canon on my shorter evening runs. I just can’t resist a sunset photo!

Finally a bonus tip: Whether you are running morning, or night, on beach or on road, remember to HYDRATE. We’re not in Victoria anymore Toto, and running in hot whether can suck the life right out of you. I try and get a litre of water in me as soon as I’m done running, just to get myself back on my A game!

So there ya go! My top 5 tips for beach running. Remember, all you need is a good pair of shoes, and you are off! No excuses!

What are your beach run experiences?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Our Favourite Places in Mal Pais, Costa Rica

If you’ve ever looked into the areas of Mal Pais, and Santa Teresa, you may be thinking “Hey Kate, didn’t you already write this post here?”

Well yes, and no. Before Christmas, we spend 10 days in Santa Teresa, in a hostel that was about 5km from where we are now. As a result, we didn’t get a chance to explore the area of Mal Pais very much.

So, I thought I would write about a couple of our favourite places on this end of the strip, and with good reason too. There are some amazing local businesses here that I highly suggest you check out.

It's like the sun is making a spot light on the small store little store front. It's the one on the left.

It’s like the sun is making a spot light on the small store little store front. It’s the one on the left.

Bean & Bejuco- Natural Food Market & Artisan Trading Co– If you are a health food fanatic, as I am, Bean & Bejuco is the place to be. When I first walked into the little shop nestled amongst the clothing shops and restaurants in the Playa Carmen mall, I couldn’t believe my eyes, a real health food store! It even had that health food store smell that I love.

The previous health food stores I’d visited were mostly organic fruits and vegetables. Not this one! The store is a wonderful mix of both western health food store goodies like burts bees, and local Costa Rican food products like honey, and cacao. Need less to say I was in heaven.

So many amazing products to explore!

So many amazing products to explore!

On my first visit, my eyes scanned over all sorts of goodies like quinoa, and kimchi, until they finally landed on the prize of the day…natural peanut butter! For real! Nothing but peanuts!  Although I’ve found some that has come close in the past, this is the real stuff. And not only peanut butter, but almond, cashew, and other fabulous combinations

Can you hear the angelic music playing over this display?

Can you hear the angelic music playing over this display?

You better believe I bought a container, as this stuff is pure gold.

If you are in Mal Pais, and looking for some healthy treats, have specific food needs (raw, gluten-free, vegan etc) or just want to support an amazing local business, I would highly suggest checking out Bean & Bejuco.

Such a cool building

Such a cool building

Kasava Gourmet Fast Food: A great healthy dining option for anyone visiting the Mal Pais area.

The first thing that attracted me to this place was the building. It’s really attractive, and makes you want to check it out. The sign outside boasts healthy fast food, so I was intrigued.

I certainly wasn’t disapointed. They have a huge array of healthy made to order options, a salad bar, full coffee menu, plus the added bonus of a/c and free wifi. The service was great, the staff are really friendly, which is something that I find is hit or miss in this area.

The beautiful patio in the background

The beautiful patio in the background

What really made this place stand out was their outdoor space in the back. I’m always looking for places that I can get a coffee, sit down, and relax for a little while, without feeling rushed. The outdoor space in Kasava is the perfect spot for a little Zen Kate time.

If you are looking for some healthy eats, or a relaxing coffee, this is the place to be!

All smiles at Papaya Lounge

All smiles at Papaya Lounge

Papaya Lounge: I had read about Papaya Lounge on trip advisor, and once I heard everyone raving about the view, I knew I wanted to visit it. It’s a little off the beaten path, but if you are looking for the best way to see Mal Pais at sunset, and are willing to got for a bit of a walk, it’s well worth it.

This doesn't even do it justice!

This doesn’t even do it justice!

Located about 2km from the main intersection, Papaya Lounge is perched at the highest part of the Moana Lodge property, so be prepared for a lot of stairs!The menu is mostly tapa style, and although we had planned on going just for a drink, we ended up sharing some pico de gallo, which wasn’t anything too exciting. In the end, this place is all about the view. Get there in time for sunset, and I promise it will be worth your while!

So there you have it, our fave picks during our stay here! It was actually hard to choose for this round, because there were so many great places.

If you are visiting the area, and want anymore recommendations, pop me an email, or come join our Facebook page.

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Mal Pais Surf Camp, Mal Pais, Costa Rica

After two weeks of luxury, we were bracing ourselves to re-enter the life of hostelling. Luckily, our pick for this week couldn’t have been better for our transition.

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Mal Pais Surf Camp

Mal Pais Surf Camp is located, funny enough, in Mal Pais. It is about 500m left of the main intersection, on a huge property about a 5 min walk from the beach.

The surf camp is incredibly versatile, and can meet the needs of travellers of all budgets and walks of life. They offer apartments, cabinas with both shared, and ensuite bathrooms, open air, hostel-style ranchos, and camping. There is literally something for everyone!

Our little home this week

Our little home this week

Shaun, and I opted for the cabina, with ensuite bathroom. When we arrived we had an outdoor kitchen area with a fridge, and a sink. The property is so big, that it was a bit of a hike to the communal kitchen. Within two days, the owner had set us up with an industrial propane burner, and all the tools needed for a full kitchen. It is such a treat to have our own little house!

The restaurant/bar.

The restaurant/bar. Shaun loves that they are always playing surfing videos

A bonus of this place is their gorgeous pool, and delicious restaurant, a rarity for hostel life! Every night, Shaun and I have sat in the restaurant enjoying an Imperial, and Diet Coke, while chatting, using the Wifi, and watching surfing videos. It feels like we get to go out every night, without having to break the budget.

The entrance way, so gorgeous

The entrance way, so gorgeous

The atmosphere here is great. The diversity in their accommodation options, translates to a diversity in their clientele. There are families, couples, surfers, and hard core backpackers. Along with amazing food, the restaurant area also has a pool table, ping pong table, book exchange, and a never ending supply of interesting people to chat with. The camp runs on an honour system, so you can just head behind the bar to the cooler, grab your drinks, jot your name down, and your off. This system reinforces the positive atmosphere that this place emits.

Shaun has been really enjoying the surf. Although Mal Pais, and Santa Teresa are often thought of as the same place, there is about a 10km difference from where we were staying at Wave Trotter.

Our little kitchen area. Howler monkeys were going crazy when I took this!

Our little kitchen area. Howler monkeys were going crazy when I took this!

So Shaun had never had the chance to surf the waves on this side of the beach. Some days the waves have been better then others, but after his lengthy surfing hiatus in Playa Coco, I think he is just so happy to be back out there. The camp offers both surf board rentals, and surf lessons, for those who feel so inclined.

The only downfall is it is a bit of a hike to the grocery store, probably just over 1km. This is totally fine if you have an ATV/Bike/car, but as I’ve mentioned before, Shaun and I are walkers through, and through. We realized how spoiled we were at Wave Trotter having the store 200m away! On the other hand, it is only 500m from the main drag of town, so you have lots of restaurants, coffee shops, banks, and shops close by.

Other then that, this place gets top marks from us. Any place that I can be lulled to sleep by howler monkeys in the trees, and iguanas on the roof gets a high rating in my books! In fact, it might be one of the best places we’ve stayed so far! We’ve already talked about how great it would be to come back here years from now with family, and friends.

If you are looking for a place to stay in the Mal Pais area, we would highly suggest the Mal Pais Surf Camp!

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress