Learning To Surf in Costa Rica.

For more on my surfing experiences, check out this article I wrote for the website My Costa Rica

I left Canada in November with a fear of water and an urge to surf. Interesting combination I know.

Within the first two weeks of our travels, I rented a board and Shaun took me out to “catch some waves.”

photo 3I wasn’t a total novice. I had taken a lesson during one of our first trips to Costa Rica, but that was in 2008 and I never actually stood up on the board. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling all that confident! Shaun showed me the ropes and started pushing me into waves. After about 30 minutes I caught one. That is right, stood up, on a board, in the ocean. Woohoo! It was very exciting. My urge to continue surfing was overpowered by my urge for a celebratory beer, so after catching my little wave we headed in.

We went out again a few days later and I trudged right into the water with the utmost photo 1confidence.

It was short lived

I went to catch the first wave and distaster struck. I bailed off the front of the board (such a rookie move) and the board came down right on the top of my head. It was one of those moments, where I needed to do a body check. Anything broken? Are you concussed?

When I finally emerged from the water Shaun was standing in the waves with his hand over his mouth with that “eeesh, that didn’t look good” face. I put on my tough surfer girl bikini bottoms, wiped the tears from my eyes and headed out for more.

photo 2Despite my bravery, I didn’t surf much for the next couple months. The waves at several of the beaches we visited were really big. Not ideal for a beginner like me. It wasn’t until we were in Samara that I tried again. I took a surfing lesson with Samara Adventure Company and it was so awesome. I was riding waves like a pro at the end. You wrote an article about it, you can read all about it here. 

After a couple more sessions in Nosara, you could say that the surfing bug took a little nibble. I’m certainly not the hardcore 5 hours a day surfer like my husband, but I did fall in love with the feeling of catching a wave. Now that we are back home in Canada, I have promised I will sport a wet suit and try surfing at least once here in the cold water. Only time will tell how that will go!

I learnt a lot of tips about surfing during my learning process and I’ll be sharing them in the next post. Thanks for stopping by!

Pura Vida!


Coming Soon:
Stay tuned to the blog for the next chapter of Hostels and Hot Rollers. 

Costa Rica By the Numbers

Are you ever sitting quietly, minding your won business, when all of a sudden you think to yourself “I wonder how many pineapple’s Kate and Shaun ate while they were in Costa Rica?”

Well my friends, you are in luck. Today’s post gives you a run down of this, and many other numerical facts about our trip to Costa Rica.


Pineapples Consumed: 29215_pineapplefruit-940x626

Watermelons Eaten: 12 (all Kate)

Bags of Rice: 7

Bottles of Lizano: 14

Surf Boards Broken: 1

I may not know surfing...but I think it's supposed to be in one piece.


Sunglasses Broken: 3 (All Kate)

Dresses Purchased: 3

Bracelets purchased: 14

Waterfalls seen: 4

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Lines zipped: 13

Sloths: 3 (2 moms and a baby!)

Bottle’s of Sunscreen Used: 6

Beaches Explored: 35

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Steps Taken: 1,984,287 (pedometres rule!

Illness Fought: 4

Illnesses Won: 4

Volcanos seen: 2


Countries Visited: 4

Books read Shaun: 10

Books read Kate: 28

Coming Soon:

Don’t forget to stay tuned to hear about the next exciting chapter of Hostels and Hot Rollers. 

Pura Vida!





Meeting Fantastic while Travelling

It’s a day for shout outs today on the blog!

One of the best things about travelling is meeting some seriously fantastic people. I kept track of all the amazing people we encountered during our trip and thought I would take a second to mention them all.

A huge thank you to each and every one of you for leaving us with a unique and special memory. Perhaps our paths will cross again some day!

Pura Vida!

  • Karen,Terry-Kelowna
  • Alyne-Tofino
  • Junior-Tamarindo
  • Steven, Michelle-Tamarindo
  • Giovanni, Jullieta, Fransesco-Italy
  • Jake-California
  • Tia, Steven-Perth
  • Julian, Colleen-Fernwood
  • Yeison, Sam-Coco
  • Ian, Susan-Ontario
  • Jennifer, Andrew-Hamilton
  • Fransesca-Beligium
  • David-Barcelona
  • Enrique, Mariela- Matapalo
  • Gonzalo- Venezula
  • Manolo- Pueto Viejo
  • Jenny- Bocas del Toro
  • Jessica- La Fortuna
  • Bethan- UK
  • Amah- Colarado
  • Fabricio- Samara
  • Javier- Nicargua
  • Vince- Nicaragua
  • Kim, Wes- Victoria
  • Lydia- Colarado
  • Marco- Nosara
  • Pam- California
  • Neal- California
  • Ben- Brooklyn
  • Jeremiah- D.C
  • Benny, Magda, Eryn- Victoria
  • Simon- Montreal
  • J.C, Emerson, Jorge and Judy- Nosara
  • Chris- Idaho
  • Karen- Toronto
  • Sharr- South Africa
  • Gary, Jolene- Tamarindo
  • Dan, Jackie- California

Coffee in Costa Rica: A Photo Album

During my time in Costa Rica, my love affair with coffee went into hyper drive.

Having had five months worth of amazing coffee, I can guarantee I’m going to be a little more selective about what I choose back home.

But before I have to start thinking about how I’m going to fuel my coffee addiction back at home, lets take a trip down memory lane with some of my favourite cups of coffee throughout Costa Rica

This one is a bit of a cheat, but here I am having my last peppermint mocha in Miami. Not sure if I'll ever want to go back to Starbucks again!

Starbucks in the Miami Airport

Okay, so I know I’m not technically in Costa Rica yet, but I was so sad to leave just as Peppermint Mocha season was starting. I’m pretty sure I drank a zillion in the short period of time I was at home.

I was determined to find the Starbucks when we were in San Jose, but after so much good Costa Rican coffee, Starbucks was the furthest thing from my mind.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be a Starbucks girl again (aside from Peppermint Mocha season of course!)

Cafe Tico, TamarindoCafe Tico, Tamarindo

I’ve lost count at how many Cappuccino’s I’ve consumed at Cafe Tico. I even wrote a whole post about them here. Their coffee is by far my favourite.

I’m by no means well versed in describing coffee flavours, but if I had to, I would say their roast is velvety. It has this amazing flavour that I haven’t had anywhere else. I’m bringing a bag of their beans back home with me, but without the warm breeze and amazing atmosphere, I’m not sure it will taste the same!

Zwart, Santa TeresaZwart Cafe, Santa Teresa

As you can tell by the caption on this photo, this coffee shop was inspiring. An cafe/used bookstore/art studio, of COURSE I’m in!

I hung out at Zwart alot during out time in Teresa. The coffee was delicious but it was the chilled out creativity fused vibe that kept me coming back for more.


Sel et Sucre, Puerto ViejoSel & Sucre, Puerto Viejo

I now present to you the most beautiful coffee in all of Costa Rica. Seriously! Let’s all just take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous this cup of joe is.

I know I’ve written about Sel & Sucre before, but their coffee deserves to be mentioned again. It took me forever to stop snapping photo’s and finally dip my spoon in to stir it up. After such crazyness in Panama, this cup warmed my up my soul.


My Coffee La Fortuna (2)My Coffee, La Fortuna

Coffee Art alert! My Coffee used little stencils to make designs out of cinnamon on the top of my Cappuccino and then always added a little chocolate syrup flower flourish…

Never in my life would I have thought something like that would make me so happy, but by the look on my face..it did!

Bagelmen's, NosaraBagelmen’s Nosara

Bagelmen’s coffee was awesome for two reasons, it was cheap, big and they always put tons of cinnamon on it.

Although Bagelmen’s is technically a Costa Rican fast food chain, I was able to look past that. On those days where our budget was tight, Bagelmen’s was my saviour!



El Barcelo, TamarindoLa Bodega, Tamarindo: I discovered this place on a whim. It’s tucked away on the dirt road in Tamarindo, the one that heads to the gym.

I wish I could tell you about the coffee, but there is a huge tree right next to the cafe and when I was there it was full of howler monkeys. That means I was completely distracted throughout my entire cup of joe. I’m sure the coffee was splendid, but the my coffee companions that day were the biggest memory makers.



Where is your favourite place to go for coffee?

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress



Our Favourite Meals in Costa Rica: A Photo Album

When you have to cook hostel meals for yourself in a shared kitchen, going out for dinner is a real treat.

It’s no secret the Costa Rican cuisine is delicious. We made it a point to snap a couple shots of some of our more spectacular meals.

So without further ado, our favourite meals in Costa Rica!

Classic Ceviche, Nogui's, Tamarindo

Classic Ceviche, Nogui’s, Tamarindo

Passion Fruit Ceviche, Gallo Finto, Tamarindo

Passion Fruit Ceviche, Gallo Finto, Tamarindo

Chicken Taco's, Green Papaya, Tamarindo

Chicken Taco’s, Green Papaya, Tamarindo

Classic Burger, Bugers & Beers, Nosara

Classic Burger, Bugers & Beers, Nosara

Etyl's Famous Pancakes, Kaya Sol, Nosara

Etyl’s Famous Pancakes, Kaya Sol, Nosara

Fish Taco, Kaya Sol, Nosara

Fish Taco, Kaya Sol, Nosara

Marinated Veggies in a Raw Plantain Wrap, Robins, Nosara

Marinated Veggies in a Raw Plantain Wrap, Robins, Nosara


The best Casado I ate in all of Costa Rica. Mahi Mahi Casado from Seven in Playa Grande

Tamale at Sabor Tico, Monteverde

Tamale at Sabor Tico, Monteverde

Black Bean Soup, Gallo Finto, Tamarindo

Black Bean Soup, Gallo Finto, Tamarindo

Casado from the trunk of a car (SO good!), Tamarindo

Chicken Casado from the trunk of a car (SO good!), Tamarindo

I’m so hungry now!

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter:@caketress


Homeward Bound: My personal journey through long-term travel

Some days it feels like we just left, other days it seems  like we have lived an entire life time here in Costa Rica.

Today is the day we land home in Victoria. My heart feels like it is going to burst just typing this. I have had so many moment lately where I’ve pictured the hugs I’ll be giving and it has brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.

Today is also a final day of reflection, 24 hours worth of travel time will do that to you. I find myself continuing to come back to a moment that occurred a few days before we left for Costa Rica. I was laying in bed, sick with worry. I turned over to Shaun and asked him what we would do if I couldn’t “handle it”, could we just come home?

I had never travelled for longer then three weeks, and I was so worried about the trip. What if I couldn’t handle being away from my friends and family. What if I couldn’t live a life so drastically different from the one I lead at home. What if I just couldn’t do it.

I was holding on to so much fear about our travels. I was holding on to so much fear about life.

This is how I was choosing to live my daily life. I lived from the foundation of fear, the foundation of the “what if?” The end result was that I wasn’t truly living.

Going into this trip, I knew that something needed to change. And as I reflect back on what I’ve learned, I find myself in awe of what occurred over the past 5 months.  I didn’t actively pursue change, change pursued me. As soon as I opened my heart to all the possibilities my journey of self-discovery unfolded before me in an almost magical way.

I’m not a different person, I’m not coming home completely changed.  I’m coming home with an understanding of who I am deep down, and what I want out of life.

I’m coming home and it’s time to Shine.

As for the blog…

Can you believe that I actually still have stories to tell? As of today, I will post on the blog twice a week to finish up the last few stories of our trip. After that, the blog will transform into something that excites me to no end.

But you’ll just have to wait to see that chapter unfold…

Until then my friends, Pura Vida


Our Costa Rican Animal Photo Album

Wildlife abounds here in Costa Rica. Here are a couple of our favourite shots that we’ve captured over the past 5 months


Howler Monkey’s in Nosara

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A Toucan en route to Nosara

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The Famous Barely Bear (Schroedi) in Tamarindo


Cheeky Howler Papaya Eating Howler in Tamarindo


Iguana in Samara


A Croc in Playa Grande

One of the baby monkeys I met. He fell from his mom off a powerline and now has problems with his teeth

One of the baby monkeys I met. He fell from his mom off a powerline and now has problems with his teeth


Macaw at the Nosara Wildlife Rescue


Squirrel Monkey in Nicaragua


Capybara in Manuel Antonio


Monkey’s in Manuel Antonio


Sloth in Monteverde (I swear!)


Quetzel in Monteverde

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

5 Months of Surfing in Costa Rica: My Experience

This post has been five months in the making. Shaun’s been surfing his heart out here in Costa Rica, and I managed to convince him to write a little something about it. So, without further ado, take it away Shaun!

These past five months travelling around Costa Rica have primarily been spent along the coast. This is partly because we love the ocean and mostly because I wanted to surf. Kate was a champ in booking so many extended stays at the various surf towns. She also took a bunch of photos and twisted my arm into writing this post.

Most of the spots I surfed were fairly well known breaks on Costa Rica’s west coast. Sorry, there are no secret spots or unknown gems to be revealed here. I surfed the main breaks with everyone else. If you are looking for uncrowded surf maybe go with some buddies and get off the beaten path.

Grande 1

Playa Grande- South End

Playa Grande, Guanacaste

The trip started and finished with Playa Grande. I love this beach and wave. Every time we have visited Costa Rica in the past, we have spent at least a few days here. Usually I surf Casitas, which is on the south end. It’s close to Tamarindo which is nice because we often stay there as well. There was the odd time I would make the trek to the main break on the north end of the beach. The main break is a much better wave and usually has better size, but also has bigger crowds and its a much longer walk if you are staying in Tamrindo. I liked the south end as it has both good lefts and rights and is way closer. It was typically small, but fun. I found Playa Grande to be best at mid to high tide. And if you can get 3 to 4 feet of swell it gets pretty sweet.

Playa Grande- South End

Playa Grande- South End

Santa Teresa, Puntarenas

We were in Santa Teresa for about ten days in early December and there was some pretty decent swells at that time. It got big some days and there were some pretty nice waves and a fair amount of paddling. It is quite a big beach break so there are peaks up and down the beach, but it gets super busy. I found I preferred the mid to high tides there as it seemed to clean up a bit and mellow out. I also heard that low tide is quite good as the wave hollows out more. That being said it was a low tide surf the day I busted a board there.

Playa Grande- South End

Playa Grande- South End

Mal Pais, Puntarenas

We hit Mal Pais aka Playa Carmen for a week after New Years. This wave was mellower then its neighbour to the north, Santa Teresa and didn’t seem to have the same crowds. It was still busy enough, but had more forgiving waves. Again, I would surf the mid to high tides and typically went first thing in the morning when there wasn’t any wind.

Playa Grande- South End

Playa Grande- South End

Matapalo, Central Coast, Puntarenas

The biggest regret I have on this trip was not spending more time in Matapalo. We were only there for three days of which I spent a lot of time in the water. I didn’t know much about this wave and the day we got there it was low tide, big, and unsurfable. As the tide rose, the waves cleaned up and peeled nicely left or right. While we were there it was high tide in the morning and evening so I could put a few hours in at dawn when it was empty and glassy and then surf again at sunset. Where we stayed I could check the surf from my window with out even getting out of bed. Kate came out to take pictures one morning and ended up awestruck by the humpback whales that were swimming behind me.

Playa Matapalo

Playa Matapalo

Playa Guiones, Nosara, Guanacaste

Guiones is where we spent most of our time this trip. We were there for about a month and it was great. It is easily my favourite wave from our whole trip. It is a huge beach break that seems to pick up a lot of swell. Two to three feet of swell there translates into decent waves whereas elsewhere it would seem small. It was also the most consistent wave of the trip. It seemed like it worked on any tide and when it got big it held up okay and would not wall up too much. I had some of my biggest drops there and it felt pretty good.

We were there for most of March and it almost always blew off shore in the mornings then switched to on-shore mid morning around 9:30 to 11:00. By about 4:30ish it usually started dying down and it would be good for an evening session. It was quite busy in the mornings and evenings and usually empty in the afternoons when it was on-shore. It was often crowded, but manageable; it seemed like you could always find some space and get plenty of waves.

Playa Guiones, Nosara- North End

Playa Guiones, Nosara- North End

So those are the spots I spent time at. We hit a bunch of other beaches and towns, but usually only for a few days. As for wild life, I saw a ton of fish, a humpback whale, a shark, a bunch of flying sting rays, two eagle rays, and I nearly paddled into a six foot croc.

Again huge thanks to my lovely wife Kate for letting me surf so much this trip.


Saving the Howler Monkeys in Costa Rica: Nosara Wildlife Rescue

If there is one thing you should do when staying in Nosara it is to book a visit to the Nosara Wildlife Rescue. This non-profit charity will provide you with a perspective changing, once in a lifetime experience.

P1030196The Nosara Wildlife Rescue takes in all kinds of wild animals. Whether it’s a parrot with a broken wing, or a Iguana with a sore foot, the organization will pick up the animal and take care of them. Animals are provided with immediate and long-term medical treatment. The primary goal being to get them re-integrated into the wild as soon as possible. Despite their open door policy for all animals, their true speciality is Howler Monkeys.

Howler Monkeys are everywhere in Nosara. Their distinctive “motorcycle revving” howl rattles you wherever you go and you don’t have to walk far before you’ll find a family walking through the trees. No matter how long I have travelled in this country, I can’t help  but stop and watch these amazing creatures.

I must warn you, this is where things start to get tough to hear. The following information may be hard for sensitive readers.

As real estate in Costa Rica continues to develop, we are increasingly encroaching on the

One of the baby monkeys I met. He fell from his mom off a powerline and now has problems with his teeth

One of the baby monkeys I met. He fell from his mom off a powerline and now has problems with his teeth

homes of the Howler Monkeys. The results have been tragic. Between 1996 and 2007, Costa Rica lost half of its Monkey population, a vast majority from electrocution. This tragedy is made even more frustrating as it is completely preventable.

Howler Monkey’s have natural highways amongst the trees. Families follow the same routes all the time. As a result, when trees are chopped down, and replaced with power lines, the monkeys will simply continue along the lines in order to follow their regular path.

Now we’ve all seen squirrels or birds running along power lines, and they don’t get electrocuted. It’s because they haven’t made a connection or circuit between the two strands of power lines. With long tails, long arms and an ability to dangle from limbs, creating a connection between the two lines is a regular occurrence for Howler Monkeys, resulting in drawn out, painful electrocutions resulting in injury and very often death.


To make matters worse, many of the monkeys that are electrocuted are the mothers, that carry their infants on their backs. Mother’s will often be stuck on the lines continually being electrocuted, while the baby is stranded on them. I won’t go into details regarding some of the stories I heard, but they were all extremely heart breaking.

Although this is a difficult topic to discuss, there is hope at the end of the tunnel. Not only has Nosara Wildlife Rescue developed successful strategies to rehabilitate and re-integrate the vast majority of their injured Monkey’s back into the wild, they are also working on more permanent solutions to this problem.

In collaboration with local electric company ICE, Nosara Wildlife Rescue helped to coordinate a project that created covers for the power lines in Nosara. This drastically reduced the number of Monkey electrocutions in the area. Unfortunately, the results were temporary. When the covers were installed, the trees were trimmed back and the Monkeys were no longer able to get onto the lines. As years have passed, and the trees have grown back, the monkeys are now climbing back on the lines and are coming into contact with the exposed transformers.

After another difficult year of preventable Monkey deaths, Nosara Wildlife Rescue is



working hard to educate the public on the need to cover their transformers. They even sell the transformer covers and/or can make arrangements to help residents have their transformers covered. They are also working diligently to attempt to have policies updated that would require all newly installed transformers to be covered.

The Nosara Wildlife Rescue is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. They run their program from the foundation of devotion and love for animals. Day or night they are out there rescuing animals, and spending every waking moment nursing them back to health. Their success rate for re-integration is amazing. Through years of practice they have developed an amazing program to ensure baby Monkeys are handled in a way that will ensure they are ready for the wild.

After hearing their story, I firmly believe that had it not been for their initial intervention, you would see Howler Monkeys in Nosara.

Their passion comes at a price and despite their best efforts in fundraising, they are continually running at a deficit. As someone who continually stops to appreciate the Howler Monkeys in Nosara, it seemed like a no brainer for me to find some way to support their cause. I chose to provide them a donation in exchange for a tour of their facility. It was so worth it to hear all of the amazing stories, learn about their passion, and of course see tons of baby monkeys

If you want more information about Nosara Wildlife Rescue, check out their website, Facebook or this article that explains it all in a lot more detail.

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress


Pictures of Nosara, Costa Rica

There are so many reasons why I loved Nosara, one of which was how gorgeous it was.

I took so many photo’s while I was there that couldn’t be included in any specific posts, so I thought I would include them all here.


P1020698 P1030123 P1030103

P1030309 P1030299


P1030271 P1030283 P1030287 P1030194 P1030247 P1030190

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter:@caketress