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

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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

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

Wave Trotter Surf Hostel, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

There has been lots of questions about where we’ve been staying here in Santa Teresa, so here we go!

The sign from the road

The sign from the road

The apartments in the back..Ours is the bottom on the far right.

The apartments in the back..Ours is the bottom on the far right.

P1010072For the past 9 days we’ve been staying at the Wave Trotter surf hostel in Santa Teresa. Gone are the cushy days of air conditioning, and pool time. We’re in real hostel country now. That being said, Shaun, and I haven’t gone so far as to get a dorm in any of the places we’ve booked so far. Many hostels offer rooms with a double bed, and an ensuite bathroom for $40-60 dollars a night. This is the set up we have here at Wave Trotter.

Our room is simple, with minimal amenities. We don’t need much, as we tend to spend most of our time in the main house. These private rooms belonged to another property prior to being added to Wave Trotter, so they are older then the dorms in the main house.

Walking up to the main house from our room in the backyard

Walking up to the main house from our room in the backyard

The reception, kitchen, and dorms are located in the house. An awesome open concept, loft style building about 200m from the main road in Santa Teresa, and very close to the Santa Teresa Surf break. The hostel is owned by an adorable family from Italy. Giovanni, Julietta, and their beautiful baby Cecilia, who is just a little over a year old. They run Wave Trotter in high season, and then shut it down, and head back to Italy for low season. Both the family, and the staff spent so much time and energy making sure the main house and communal areas are clean, and that everyone is taken cared of.

Reception in the main house, and LeeLo the dog with the very tough life.

Reception in the main house, and LeeLo the dog with the very tough life.

Wave Trotter has a real family feel to it, and has a tendency to bring people back year over year. Lots of the people we met were repeat visitors which made me feel like we were part of a really neat community. Every day the family can be found puttering around the house cooing to the baby in Italian. It was just such a great atmosphere.

Looking into the house from the backyard...there is Shaun!

Looking into the house from the backyard…there is Shaun!

Wave Trotter is a really surf centered hostel. They rent boards, do ding repairs, and can arrange for lessons. If you are looking to surf the Santa Teresa break, it is one of the closer hostels to the area. As we walked through the town, and saw all the other hostels we had looked at online, we felt pretty fortunate that we had chosen one that was so close.

The fireman's pole!

The fireman’s pole!

The interior of the main house is really unique, and is truly the selling feature of the entire experience. The interior is loft style, with all the dorms above the communal living space. There is even a fireman’s pole to get down (if you feel so inclined).

The main house at Wave Trotter

The main house at Wave Trotter

The staff, and owners at Wave Trotter really make the experience special. I would highly recommend the dorm set up, as that’s where the action is. The apartments in the back are nice, but fairly rustic, as you are located pretty much in the middle of the jungle. Despite the occasional creepy crawlers, I loved waking up to the sound of howler monkeys in the morning!

Have you ever stayed in a hostel dorm? How was it?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Healthy Hostel Meals Part 3

Food photo round up time!

Two and a half weeks in, and we are rocking the hostel meals.

I thought I would take you on a photo tour of some of our recent meals. We are working on getting some variety…if you have any suggestions, leave a comment below!

Sauteed Chickpeas and onions with all sorts of local veggies (most of which I don't know the names of!)

Sauteed Chickpeas and onions with all sorts of local veggies (most of which I don’t know the names of!)

Fajita night! Chicken, beans, avocado and veg!

Fajita night! Chicken, beans, avocado and veg!

Lizano chicken, sauteed peppers and rice and beans!

Lizano chicken, sauteed peppers and rice and beans!

One of my fave lunches! Tuna, Avocado, Cabbage, Chickpeas, and lettuce...with lots of Lizano of course!

One of my fave lunches! Tuna, Avocado, Cabbage, Chickpeas, and lettuce…with lots of Lizano of course!

Gotta have colour in our veg!

Gotta have colour in our veg!

This is one of our faves! Shaun aims to slide the egg on just right for a good photo op! Veggies and chickpeas underneath!

This is one of our faves! Shaun aims to slide the egg on just right for a good photo op! Veggies and chickpeas underneath!

Similar the the previous night, but I got impatient and squished my egg in. Added avocado which made it extra delicious!

Similar the the previous night, but I got impatient and squished my egg in. Added avocado which made it extra delicious!

Okay, I’m hungry now. Lucky for me it’s almost lunch time!

What do you think we should make for our next hostel meal?

Pura Vida!

Kate
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