Exploring in and Around San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Alright lets really get down to our trip to Nicaragua shall we?

San Juan del Sur is often described as a “surf town”. It’s proximity to the Costa Rican border makes it a popular destination for both surfers, and people looking for a quick get away on their Visa run. Located about 1km from Lake Nicaragua, San Juan del Sur is home to a gorgeous 3km horseshoe shaped beach with fun beach side restaurants dotted along its shore.

The beach of San Juan del Sur

The beach of San Juan del Sur

The town itself has everything you need for a good time. Lots of bars, coffee shops, tour companies, souvenir shops and hostels. There is a great market in the centre of town where vendors sell all sorts of fruits and vegetables. The only thing that San Juan del Sur is missing, is the surf. There is actually no surf in San Juan..none at all.

San Juan del Sur tends to be the epicentre for those who are interested in surfing, as it has the most amenities.But the closest surf beach, Playa Maderas, is about 9km away.

Colleen and I on the shuttle

Colleen and I on the shuttle

There are tons of shuttles, vans and taxis that you can catch that will take you to and from San Juan to Playa Maderas. The cheapest option is by far the shuttle that leaves every few hours from Casa Oro. This tourista cattle car is 3 bucks for one way or 5 bucks for a round trip. Certainly beats the 15 dollars that the cabs will charge you!

I don’t blame the poor cab drivers for charging so much though, the road to Maderas is pretty brutal. Pot holes, tight squeezes, low hanging branches and extremely steep hills can make it seem more like a faulty ride in Disneyland then a commute to the beach.

Busy surf in Playa Maderas

Busy surf in Playa Maderas

Once you get to Playa Maderas, you will be greeted by a small but dedicated surfer community. There are a couple of hostels, restaurants and board rental shops on the beach, but other then that, it is pretty remote. You can certainly find a place to get a beer, bed, meal or coffee, but there are no grocery stores or other amenities nearby.

During our stay, the beach at Playa Maderas was always really busy. We aren’t sure whether it is always like that, or if it was because the other surf beaches nearby were really flat. Either way, with so many people trying to catch waves in a very small space, I opted to partake in a little beach side coffee time instead of attempting to surf. Although we left Shaun’s board back in Costa Rica, he did rent a board and go out one afternoon, but with the amount of people in the water and the lack of decent waves, he didn’t last long.

If you are an avid surfer, and are wanting to catch some decent waves, I suggest doing your research. There are tons of nearby beaches that have great waves, alot of which are relatively undiscovered. Playa Maderas is certainly the easiest surf beach to get to from San Juan, so I think that may be another  reason it attracts so many people.

A much less busy Playa Marsella

A much less busy Playa Marsella

If crowds and surf aren’t your thing, there is another beach option. In between San Juan and Maderas is another little beach called Playa Marsella. The lack of surf makes it far less busy then Maderas, but it is perfect for swimming or lounging in the sun. It also boasts several little hotels as well as one beach side bar. There is also a great authentic Nica restaurant on the road to Marsella.

We spent 9 days in Nicaragua, 4 in San Juan del Sur and 5 just outside Playa Marsella. There is lots more to come about our adventures there,  but I figured this was the perfect post to get everyone up to speed of the area I’ll be talking about for the next couple days.

What are you experiences with surfing? Ever tried it?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Travel Workouts Week 14- 5 Smartphone Apps for Travel Fitness

Well my friends, it happened!

I’m officially a member of the Travel Fashion Girl Team!

Starting this month, I will be writing a monthly series on Travel Fitness for this fabulous website.

Travel Fashion Girl is a one stop shop for everything a gal needs to know about travel. They cover everything from beauty, accessories and fashion to packing, destinations, and now fitness!

So, without further ado, I wanted to share my first article:.

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5 Smartphone Apps for Travel Fitness.

As with all my posts, If you like this article please share it on Twitter or Facebook. It really makes a difference!

What is your favourite part of the Travel Fashion Girl website?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Creepy Crawly Costa Rica

I have this memory of sitting on the plane on the way down here, writing a note in my iPhone of all the possible blog posts I could do while visiting Costa Rica.

Creepy Crawly Costa Rica topped that list.

Based on my previous experiences here, I knew I would likely encounter all sorts of crazy critters. Let me tell you, Costa Rica did not disappoint.

So, here is a list of a couple of my favourites that I’ve documented a long the way and their score of how creepy I think they were!

Be advised, if you get the hibbie-jeebies easily…this post might not be for you.

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Praying Mantis: These guys are just COOL. I’m bummed that this is such a bad picture, but It was the only time I’ve seen one when I’ve had my camera at the ready.

This little guy was creeping around the floor one night in Playa Coco being as elegant as all get out.

Hope to see more of these before I go!

Creepy Crawly Score: 2/10

P1010783Toad: We’ve encountered these little toad friends a couple times during our travels. This guy is from Mal Pais, but my favourite toad friend encounter happened in Tamarindo. We were eating dinner outside our room when one of these little guys decided to jump off our door frame and on to my back. Needless to say I was slightly jumpy after that!

 

Creepy Crawly Score: 3/10

photo 2 (2)Ants: Brace yourself, you are about to encounter an ant rant. Ants are insane. One moment you will be going about your day, minding your own business, then, all of a sudden, there will be zillions ants all over the place. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened our travel food bag, only to find that there are hundred of ants inside. Actually I can tell you…it’s three times. But that is three times to many.The third time I made the discovery while travelling on a shared shuttle. Yes…I was THAT girl.

The ants you find in the food bag are actually fine. They are sugar ants, and are just looking for food. Once the food is gone, they’ll just leave on their own. Very polite little creatures.

The ones in the picture on the other hand, they are jerkwads. They look like the sugar ants  and seem so unassuming, but these nasty creatures will bite you like crazy. Luckily for me they appear to like the taste of Shaun more. The only thing that will convince them to leave is a big ole can of Raid. If you catch my drift.

Although  I wouldn’t necessarily call them “creepy”, their bitey, “come out of no where”, jerkwad status gives them a bit of a higher score.

Creepy Crawly Score: 5/10

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Scorpion: Okay, moving on to something a little more disturbing. We haven’t actually seen a live scorpion, but this little dead guy somehow ended up all tangled in my sarong. I was throwing it in the washing machine and noticed his sad little body on the ledge. I’m pretending that he was dead the whole time and didn’t crawl into my space on his own accord. A girl can dream eh?

Apparently their sting is like a bad bee sting. Regardless, it is not something I feel I need to experience myself.

Creepy Crawly Score: 6/10.

P1010508Grasshopper on Steriods: SERIOUSLY! I know right? These massive grasshoppers are all over the place here in Costa Rica. You can guarantee that if one is visible there will be a group of tourists around it taking photos (like me at this moment in time)

We saw this one outside of the grocery store in Tamarindo. My brother’s very brave girlfriend Nat put her hand there for perspective. What a trooper!

Although I think these are more cool then creepy, the thought of one of these guys landing on me gives me the willy’s. So their score gets a boost for their “don’t touch me” factor.

Creepy Crawly Score: 8/10

P1010079Snake…head?: Can you imagine waking up to find this on your porch? Well we can! Yes my friends, that is the head of a snake, covered in ants.I think maybe a howler monkey in the trees above our place ate the other half, but I can’t be sure.  I’ll just give you a moment to let the picture sink in.

Snakes are the one thing that I CANT handle. Just writing about them gives me the shimmy shakes. This one would have gotten a 10/10 in the creepy crawly score had it been alive, but the dead factor and its comical face lessened its score a little bit.

Creepy Crawly Score: 8.5/10

P1010078Golden Orb Spider: Ding Ding Ding, we have a winner! Neither Shaun and I are big fans of spiders, especially these Golden Orb guys. Not only are they all over the place in Costa Rica, but they are really big fans of hiding in or around Tatonka, and making me squeal like a little girl.

You know that gross stat about how many spiders people eat while they are sleeping?

Ewww!!

Creepy Crawly Factor: 10/10

 

So there you have it, a little taste of what we are encountering here in Costa Rica. I should point out that lizards, cockroaches, and centipedes did not make the cut. Maybe I’ll have to do a part 2?

Or maybe not.

Which of these creepy crawlies do you dislike the most?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Beers of Nicaragua: A Taste Test

After the success of our Panamanian Beer taste test, it seemed only fitting that we imbibe in another round in Nicaragua. I would like to thank Colleen for stepping up to the plate and being our third judge in this little adventure.

So without further ado…The beers of Nicaragua

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P1020952Victoria Frost: Alcohol Content 4.9%

Kate: Watery but still hoppy with a little after skunk. Tastes a big lighter then the other Nicaraguan beers. I could drink a few but would still prefer something lighter and with a lower alcohol content

Colleen: Super light and dangerous

Shaun: Pretty good, but bit of a chemical beer taste. Something may be a bit off with this one.

 

P1020953Victoria Classic: Alcohol Content 4.9%

Kate: Way thicker and hoppier. Hits you between the eyes like its saying “drink lots of me and I’ll make your morning a doozy.” It has a bit of a skunky aftertaste. Tastes like something I would drink out of a red plastic cup at a party.

Colleen: More like a Molson Canadian. Heavier then the frost. Don’t care for the chemically after taste

Shaun: Good name (Victoria), Pretty Good. Could slam back a few, less after taste then the frost but would need to be very cold. It’s pretty bad when warm

P1020955Tona: Alcohol Content 4.6%

Kate: Stronger smell. Thick, like molasses beer. A hint of lime at first. I’m not opposed to this beer but would only drink one on a really hot day and only if it was ice cold. Nice to not have that skunky finish though.

Colleen: Heavier than the other two. Harder to chug!

Shaun: Seems like a heavier beer in comparison but refreshing. Good but not as poundable. More of a winter beer then hot climate beer.

P1020956Cerveza Premium: Alcohol Content 4.5%

Kate: Stinky! Tastes like water compared to everything. I keep sipping it up thinking there might be more to it, but its just bubbly yeast water. Let’s be honest, this is a Kate beer. Fluffy, light, nothingness. Perfect for my delicate dainty palate

Colleen: Not sure if this is even from Nicaragua, what does “Made in Central America” even mean. Not a huge fan. Overall would prefer anything else

Shaun: Judging by the name it must be good. Not very good. Reminds me of a Pacific Pilsner…Terrible

So there you have it! We knew going into this that Nicaragua is certainly not known for its beer. That fact was defininetly reinforced with our taste test. It should be advised, that beer taste tests often result in situations like this.

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Yes, that is a delicious street side burrito. I regret nothing!

The Costa Rican beer taste test will be finale. We are waiting for the perfect moment though, because we 9 different varieties to try, we may never recover!

Are you in Costa Rica and want to partake in the finale beer taste test? Message us on Facebook!

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

To my Husband on his Birthday

We’re celebrating a birthday here in Costa Rica today!

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My travel buddy, partner in crime, and amazing husband Shaun is another year older.

There is nothing Shaun would like more then to let this day go by like any other, but unfortunately for him, that’s not the way I role.  For me, birthday’s are big business! But don’t feel to sorry for him, he knew what he was getting into when he married me.

So to celebrate his birthday, I’ve decided to share a couple facts about the mostly silent other half of the Hostels and Hot Rollers team.

  1. Shaun is a great teacher. He has patiently taught me how to surf, golf, shuffle cards, and fry eggs.
  2. Shaun is a man of many talents. Not only can he surf, curl, play golf, and play hockey, but he can paint and take crazy great photos as well.
  3. That being said, Shaun can’t throw a frisbee 😉
  4. Shaun is the best cheerleader a girl could ask for. Whether I’m running a race, finishing a degree or trying to figure out what to do with all my “big ideas”, Shaun will cheer me on the entire way.
  5. Shaun has an amazing smile. The ladies love those chicklets!
  6. Shaun eats a lot of black pepper
  7. Shaun is patient, especially when his wife makes him stand outside the room while she finishes her workouts, makes him eat chickpeas and eggs for every meal and eats all his cereal without telling him.
  8. Shaun’s family and friends are super important to him.
  9. Shaun is one of the 3 people left in the world who doesn’t have Facebook, and he is very proud of it.
  10. Shaun can literally nap anywhere and on anything.
  11. Shaun loves french fries. McDonalds are his fave.
  12. This might be biased, but I think Shaun is the best husband a girl could ask for!

So Happy Birthday Manfriend, thank you for this adventure. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it with anyone else.

Te llamo

Here is a little bit of a cryptic message just for you babe!

1-6-20-5-18 20-8-9-18-20-25 20-8-18-5-5 25-5-1-18-19 25-15-21 18-5 19-20-9-12-12 18-15-3-11-9-14-7 20-8-1-20 19-13-9-12-5
1-14-4 25-15-21-18 14-5-24-20 3-15-15-12 16-18-5-19-5-14-20 3-1-14 2-5 6-15-21-14-4 9-14 1 6-9-12-5

Leave your birthday messages for Shaun below. It’s the only way he will see them 😉

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

10 Things We’ve Learned in our Four Months of Backpacking

Hard to believe, but I now have 4 months of backpacking under my belt. Although I feel like I’ve graduated from my newbie backpacker status, I still learn new things every day.

I thought I would take a moment today and share with you 10 of my most recent observations about the crazy world of a backpacking.

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  1. Lack of laundry facilities means spilling something on myself is 100 times more devastating.
  2. After four months it has just becomes easier to refer to ourselves as Keit and Jawn.
  3. When leaving a hostel that has hot water, we shower like we will never see hot water again.
  4. Buffet breakfast? Watch out, we will make three meals out of it
  5. Free Coffee? Watch out, Kate will make three meals out of it
  6. If I am not wearing underwear by noon, I won’t wear any all day. That’s a waste.
  7. If I have to pee when I’m in a bed with mosquito netting, I will opt to do the potty polka until morning.
  8. Somewhere in Costa Rica, someone is giving out free Jack Johnson CD’s to every citizen. We just aren’t sure where.
  9. Some people need the sound of waves, crickets or whales to fall asleep, I’m pretty sure when I get home I’ll need a sound machine that plays bad karaoke, howler monkeys and people humping.
  10. Date night’s consist of a box of cooking wine, a bag of plantain chips and being in bed by 9

So there you have it. A little insight into the glamorous world of backpacking.

What other tips about backpacking do you want to hear?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress