Our Favourite Places in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Although most people go to Manuel Antonio just to see the National Park, we decided to spend an extra day poking around, and exploring everything the little town had to offer.

Our adventure was well worth it, the town is full of great restaurants, coffee shops, and hidden beaches. Plus, with the hilly terrain, there are breathtaking views at every turn. So without further ado, here are our favourite places in Manuel Antonio

The entrance to Emilio's. You can see the view from the front door!

The entrance to Emilio’s. You can see the view from the front door!

Emilio’s Cafe– One of the first things I asked David when we checked into our hostel was, “where is the best place for coffee?” My stomach was finally feeling better, and I was ready to jump back on the coffee band wagon. He recommended Emilio’s, which was only about a 7 minute walk from our hostel.
Emilio’s is, just off the main road to Manuel Antonio near the Falafel Bar. It is an open concept coffee shop/restaurant which means when you peer through the door from the road, you can already see that the view is breathtaking.

The view from Emilio's. This was the perfect incentive to make it a two coffee day!

The view from Emilio’s. This was the perfect incentive to make it a two coffee day!

Shaun, and I popped in here one morning after a beach walk.  As we sat outside, looking out over the National Park, sipping a Cappuccino and a Gingerale, and listening to Jack Johnson, I knew I would be writing about this place. Luckily for me, I hadn’t brought my camera, so I had the perfect excuse to come back later in the afternoon for another coffee,  to snap some photo’s, and use their free WiFi to catch up on some blogging.
Emilio’s offers a small, but delicious looking menu. The morning we were there, the special was a French Toast with pineapple, and ginger syrup. Holy yum! Their dessert display was even more tempting. I was astounded by the sheer physics of their Mississippi Mud Pie. A towering pie of whipped cream, and chocolate that seemed beyond belief. My Cappuccino had the most beautiful coffee art on the top, something that I’ve always taken for granted at home, but so appreciate when I find it here.
Although it is only about 3km from the bustling tourist hub near the park, the chilled out atmosphere makes Emilio’s feel like a different world. If you are looking to relax, have coffee, enjoy some amazing food, and enjoy a view that will take your breath away, Emilio’s Cafe is the place to be.

Can you spot the plane?

Can you spot the plane?

El Avion: This restaurant seems to be a rite of passage for guests visiting Manuel Antonio, and rightly so. It’s not everyday that you come across a restaurant inside a green cargo plane that is perched precariously on the top of a hill. Since you have to pass it on your way to the park, many tourists get curious, and stop either on their way to the park, or on their way back.
The story about how this plane ended up on the side of the road in Manuel Antonio is full of mystery, corruption, and scandal. You can read all about it here.

I had visited the restaurant three years ago on a previous visit, but Shaun had never seen it. We made a point to stop in for a happy hour to check out both the feat of engineering, and the breathtaking view.

Impressive eh!

Impressive eh!

If you are eating, make sure you keep an eye out when your food arrives. The kitchen is below, and food is delivered fuselage dumbwaiter!

If you visit, make sure you check out the bar inside the plane. It is open during the day, but at night converts into a night club. You can go right in, and sit in the cockpit!

Shaun rocking the tourist shot!

Shaun rocking the tourist shot!

If you are leaving Manuel Antonio after a big day at the park, I highly suggest making a pit stop at El Avion. Don’t worry if you are sweaty, sandy or wet, they are used to it. It’s a great place for a meal, snack, beverage or final photo op before making your way back home.

The farmer's market in Quepos

The farmer’s market in Quepos

Raw Food Express– Okay, so this one is a little bit of a cheat, as it’s actually located in Quespos, a town located about 6km from Manuel Antonio.

We were lucky enough to be in the area over the weekend, which meant the farmer’s market was open on the boardwalk in Quespos. So, we hopped on the bus to check it out.

Nuts, seeds, cookies, cocoa butter.  A little bit of everything!

Nuts, seeds, cookies, cocoa butter. A little bit of everything!

The market was lovely. It was mostly vendors selling fresh vegetables, fruits, and of course Pipas. There were a few artisans selling jewellery, soaps, and clothes, but one vendor in particular caught my eye.

The table for Raw Food Express was covered in all sorts of amazing raw food items.  As many of you know, I’m always on the look out for unique healthy options while travelling here, so I had to stop and take a look.

My beloved kale chips

My beloved kale chips

I met Debbie, and Gabrielle whose passion for raw healthy food was evident.I scanned their many products, and was impressed by the diversity, and uniqueness of their merchandise. There were so many items that I hadn’t seen in Costa Rica before like: raw cookies, coconut milk, raw crackers, Spirulina, and even my beloved peanut butter.

I could have bought it all, but when my eyes fell upon Kale chips, I knew there would be a sale. Our next stop on our trip was to a remote town, and we didn’t have a fridge. I had been trying to figure out how I was going to get my vegetables in while we were there. Kale chips were the perfect solution. I opted for two bags, one honey mustard, and one herb flavoured.  I am eating them as we speak, and they are so delicious.

Raw Food Express also makes food that you can pre order, and pick up at the market. Everything from raw lasagne with zucchini noodles, to mango sushi. A great option for those interested in raw food, but unsure how to get started.

If you are into raw food, or just looking for some healthy alternatives while travelling in Manuel Antonio, I would definitely look up Raw Food Express. Try the honey mustard kale chips, you won’t be disappointed!

So there you have it, our favourite places in Manuel Antonio. There are lots more where that came from, so if you are looking for more recommendations, drop me a line!
Pura Vida!
Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

The search for Guanabana in Costa Rica

I LOVE all the produce here in Costa Rica, especially the fruit. I often buy random things at the grocery store just to try them out. That’s how we learnt that we love Chayote, and now we use it in pretty much every meal!

But there is one fruit that has been rather illusive…the ever mysterious Guanabana.

During our first week in Tamarindo, I was choosing the fruit for my smoothie at Mandarina, and noticed this container of white stuff. I rocked a little “que es esto?” and she responded with Guanabana. Having no idea what she said, I figured why not, throw it in. Best decision ever! It made my smoothie so delicious!

From wikipedia

From wikipedia

I went home, and Googled this strange fruit, and even watched a YouTube tutorial of how to cut one. Guanabana or Soursop, is this odd large prickly, looking green fruit, with white pulpy innards and large black seeds. Their wiki page described it has having flavours of banana, strawberry and coconut. There are also lots of articles about its potential cancer fighting powers. Needless to say the more I read the more intrigued I was.


The Farmers Market

I figured I would pick one up at the store the next day for us to try…but they didn’t have any.  So I hiked to the next store…and the next store, and the fruit stand, and the MegaSuper, and NO one in town sold them. When we got to Santa Teresa, and went to their health food store, I found a small container of some pre sliced pieces. I really wanted to find the whole fruit, but figured that would be fine. We were on our way to dinner, so I thought I would stop on the way back. When I returned, it was gone..and the didn’t have any more during our entire stay (trust me, I checked!).

Everything was so fresh!

Everything was so fresh!

I reached out to my blogger friend Maribel of Stroller Adventures, and she suggested a farmers market. Well, it wasn’t until this week in Playa Coco, that I actually found a one! Early one morning Whitney, and I trekked out to the little Farmers Market to see what they had.

The produce was amazing, we loaded up on fresh pico de gallo makings, pineapples, and all sorts of strange fruits. I glanced around for the hidden gem of guanabana, but alas, none to be found.

So many things I didn't recognize!

So many things I didn’t recognize!

As we went to check out, I was using my terrible Spanish to try and ask the women if the fruit we had chosen were good. Her eyes lit up, she said “uno momento” and she reached behind the counter. My heart jumped as she pulled out a GIGANTIC Guanabana. Seriously, this thing probably weighed 10 pounds. I would have paid anything, but when she said it would be 16 dollars, Whitney talked me out of it (Not even I could eat that much!). After explaining to cashier that it was to big, she darted in the back, and started rummaging through boxes, after a lengthy search she came out with a much more reasonable sized one. I was stoked!! She explained that it wasn’t ripe, so I would have to wait until tomorrow to eat it.

Our farmers market haul, with my Guanabana front and centre!

Our farmers market haul, with my Guanabana front and centre!

We lugged our prizes home, and I waited patiently for the 24 hours to pass so I could finally dig into my prize.

Was it delicious?

You’ll just have to wait and see…tomorrow on Hostels and Hot Rollers, the epic guanabana tasting of 2013.

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Cafe Tico, Tamarindo Costa Rica

I’m a gal who loves a good coffee shop, and luckily, Tamarindo has quite a few!

Cafe Tico, consistently shows up on Trip Advisor as one of the highest rated food establishments in Tamarindo, and after visiting it on several occasions, I can see why!

Cafe Tico

Cafe Tico

Located just past the Super 2001 grocery store on your way to Langosta, Cafe Tico seems pretty unassuming. The small store front is tucked back, away from the road. If you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss it.

Although I tried out a couple other shops in town, Cafe Tico, in my humbled opinon, has the best Coffee in town. Which is tough, because I find all Costa Rican coffee to be truly delicious!

The menu, and bar

The menu, and bar

The shop is small, and offers a limited number of outdoor seats to its patrons. Inside, you will find bar that sells your typical coffee shop drinks, small sandwiches and various pastries.

Another awesome thing about Cafe Tico is all the products they sell. They carry a whole line of chutney’s, salsas, jams and jelly’s with a whole line up of items for you to sample while you wait for your drink. I’ll be picking some up for our Christmas dinner for sure!

nut butters!!!!

nut butters!!!!

They also sell other food related items such as coffee, dried fruit, and most importantly NUT BUTTER! I almost died when I saw them!

I have never successfully found natural nut butter of any kind in Costa Rica. It’s Jif or Nil! Here at Cafe Tico, they have a wide variety including peanut, almond, walnut and cashew! My excitement was momentary squashed when  I realized that many of them included additional sugar and oil, but the almond butter just has honey in it. That works for me, it’s nice to be able to have a product available that has a short ingredient list that you can pronounce!

All in all, I’ve loved every experience I have had at Cafe Tico. Their staff are all extremely pleasant, their coffee is delicious and their products are unique and local. If you are in the Tamarindo area, and looking for a nice quiet place for a delicious brew, this is your spot!

Have you ever found a coffee shop while travelling that you just loved?

Pura Vida

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Travel Workouts- Week 1

So the big question is, how does one create a workout routine, when living a lifestyle without a routine??

A thought provoking question indeed!

Coming off my Wholly Fit Challenge, my body was tiiiiiired. So I took two full rest days, and let me tell you, they were glorious! But, by Wednesday, I was itching to get back at it. Ok, actually that’s a lie. On Wednesday I had 5 naps, so working out wasn’t actually seeming all that appealing. But regardless, I tackled this simple workout (after my first nap of the day of course!)

ease in

I kept it arms, cause then it seemed easier, and I was more likely to get out of bed!

Big learning lesson the first day. No shoes, jump squats, tile floors, no good on Kate’s feet. I actually pulled something in my foot, that made it pretty challenging to get around for the rest of the day (and also required Shaun to lovingly but hesitantly rub my foot for the first time ever). I had planned to attempt a run the following day, but opted to create this workout for Thursday instead.

Let's Get Physical


Despite my injury, I wanted to pick up the pace a little bit (no surprise for those who know me). Wearing shoes made a huge difference! Fueled by thoughts of wearing a bikini for 5 mos, I finished this off with an attempt at 1000 ab exercises (pick 10 different ab moves and do them 100 times each) I got to 800 and decided I had had enough. Perhaps a goal to strive towards. By Friday my foot was feeling awesome, so I knew it was time for a run. I figured if I ate breakfast when Shaun went Surfing at 630, I could leave at 730, and it would still be cool enough for a run. It was!

First Costa Rican Beach Run

First Costa Rican Beach Run

The conditions were amazing, it was actually a little drizzly and super mild. The perfect running weather. I ran all along Tamarindo beach. The sand is nice and compact, so it makes for great running. When I got in, I had planned to do some legs, but hadn’t written anything down. After a couple of lame donkey kicks while beads of sweat fell all over my candy crush game I called it. Just more proof that writing down your workout before starting is always more effective! I had such a great time, that I thought I would do a repeat performance the next day.

Next Days Run


Well what a difference a day makes! I did the same routine, probably leaving the hostel around 7:45, but it was already hot hot hot. I sweated my through the same route, but ended it differently. I found this low concrete wall and did 100 step ups alternating legs and 100 wall push ups. I was spent after this, and cut the run short!

The following day Shaun was taking a day off from surf to nurse a sun burnt face, so we rocked a hotel room Centurion. He modified a couple moves, because although he loves me enough to workout in a tiny hostel with me…100 burpees is another story!

Later that day Shaun and I went on a 13km walk (kinda by accident) so needless to say the following morning I was pooped. I did this workout, but honestly my heart wasn’t in it.

1 hour circuit


So that brings us to today! Rest day this morning. I’m planning a 3km walk to the supercompro in hopes of finding oatmeal! I’ll keep you posted!!

How do you stay active while travelling? Should I keep doing these workout recaps?

Pura Vida!


Healthy Hostel Meals Part 1

I’ve decided to start a series of posts dedicated to healthy hostel meals, because let me tell you, it’s going to be a work in progress. I look forward to looking back on this post months from now, and laughing at how ridiculous some of my meals have been. It’s going to be an awesome learning process.

As soon as Shaun and I checked in, we decided are best bet was to do a grocery shop. The fact that I was borderline hangry, and he needed a beer may have helped drive us to the store. Luckily, there is a SuperCompro right next store to our hostel, so off we went! Here is what we ended up with.

Our first grocery run!

Our first grocery run!

  • Rice- brown, much to my insistence, and Shaun’s dismay. Not a time saver in the least, but so much better for you. I kept telling Shaun, we’ve got no where to be!
  • Instant Noodles- You can guess who those are for!
  • A pineapple-You can bet this will be the first of many!
  • Cervasa- Of course
  • Laundry Soap
  • Can of black beans
  • Head of cabbage
  • Salad Dressing
  • Eggs
  • Bananas
  • Mixed Veggies (more on those in a later post!)
  • Tortillas
  • Apples

I had a couple strategies for our shopping. First, find things that had protein that would have some staying power, but that won’t go bad right away (eggs, beans). Second- look for ingredients that we could make mass amounts of and keep in the fridge, (rice, beans, boiled eggs). Third, keep in cheap! Getting cereal and milk would be easy, but its expensive, goes quickly and doesn’t have staying power. Fourth and the most challenging is fresh veggies. We have made a pact that every dinner will include veggies (and in my case lunches too!). I can tell already this will be challenging, but it’s so worth it. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you’ve got veggies in your system!

As soon as we got home with our grocery goodies this happened:

Let me tell you, with my hangry hovering at a dangerous level, this meal was amazing. Banana, almond butter (brought from home) on a mini tortilla. A quick protein burst to get us through to the evening. A perfect start to our Costa Rican hostel dining experience!

Any tips for eating healthy while living in a hostel?

Pura Vida