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!


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


Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Buying a Surfboard 101

Have you ever bought a surfboard?

Yea, me neither, but Shaun has! In fact, we spent the first week in Tamarindo on the hunt for the his 4 (9)

With amazing waves and a multitude of beaches, surfing is obviously big business here in Costa Rica. One of the main reasons we decided to start out our trip on the Pacific Coast was so that Shaun could surf his little heart out.

I could go on, about a subject I really know nothing about, but instead, I’ll pass it over to Shaun to give you the run down of his surfboard purchasing experience.

photo 2 (9)I had a couple surfboards at home, but figured it was going to be a couple hundred bucks to bring them on the plane. So instead I decided to buy one when I got down here. This backfired the day I got here and all I wanted to do was go surfing but I didn’t have a board. We arrived on a Tuesday and I wasn’t in the water until Thursday. I searched all the board shops, and checked the rentals to find something to use in the interim. However, on Wednesday afternoon I found a board that was for sale, but they would let me rent it by the day to try. I went back Thursday morning and picked it up to try it out.

photo 3 (2)It was a JS Industries Occy Bullseye 6’0 Model. It has some extra width to it and a round pin tail. I really liked it because it helped get my slow ass into these smaller waves. I surfed it for three days. The last day the conditions were quite good and I was pretty much sold on it. It was bigger than what I expected to get but it is almost new and I figure I could easily sell or trade it in later on if need be. 

I bought the board and grabbed a cheap travel bag a few days later. So far I still love it. I’ve had it over a week now and I’m pretty stoked with my decision. Plus it has a bulldozer on the front. I know that would at least make my dad happy.

The board! It needs a name don't you think?

The board! It needs a name don’t you think?

I probably could have gotten a cheaper board as there was decent mix of shortboards here in Tamarindo. Last time we were in Costa Rica, I bought a board in Jaco that I really liked and took back to Canada with me. Talking to the guys in the Tamarindo surf shops it seems like Jaco is the place to go to buy surfboards. It did seem like they had more to choose from. Tamarindo has a decent selection you just may end up paying a bit more than if in Jaco. If I had known this before, I probably would have just brought my board from home. That being said I’m fairly pleased with my board.

My surfing skills on the other hand need some work. Fortunately we have some time. And after Kate got her first wave a few days back I’m hoping to get her hooked on surfing. Then we can focus the trip on what really matters… surfing.

Thanks Manfriend, it turns out if you give him a subject he loves, he’s more then happy to guest post, and who knows…maybe I will turn into the glittery surfer girl!

Leave us some comments if you think Shaun should do more posts! What do you want to hear him talk about??

Pura Vida!


Our “Must Sees” in Costa Rica

Although Shaun and I have visited Costa Rica before, we’ve only seen a small fraction of what it has to offer. Our previous vacations were short, sweet, and full of beer. That didn’t leave a whole lot of time for sightseeing. With five months ahead of us, there will be plenty of time to see it all. Here is a small sample of what we’re looking forward to seeing!  (honesty check: Shaun hasn’t seen this list, nor will he probably look at it until we’re on the plane, but I assure you, he’s excited and just doesn’t know it!)

Manual Antoniophoto 5

Manual Antonio is one of those places that I can only describe as paradise. I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon there during our last trip, and couldn’t get over it. White sand, blue water, palm trees, and SLOTHS!

 Yes that’s right, there are sloths! Part of the wonder of Manual Antonio is their national park. During our visit we saw so much wildlife including: sloths, toucans, monkeys, iguanas, frogs, and coatamundi’s! Since Shaun has never seen it, I can’t wait for us to experience it together.

Caliches Wishbone, Jacophoto 4

Shaun and I have been to Jaco, in fact we got engaged there. It wasn’t one of our favourite places, but we will go back for some Wishbone!

Wishbone is a local restaurant that we went to several times throughout our stay (including the night of our engagement), and let me tell you, it was the nachos that kept us coming back for more.We have spent the past two years trying to recreate Wishbone nachos, and we just can’t get it right. Something about the bean mixture they put on the bottom of it? I don’t know, it’s all just a foggy nacho laden memory now. You can be assured there will be a post about it when we make it there! Oh, and just a note on this photo. Shaun has full right of veto on all photo’s, and as I was snapping this shot, he was asking me if he was allowed to eat yet. The resulting expression on his face was priceless, yet not shareable.

Arenal Volcanoarenal-volcano

Well not just Arenal, but all volcano’s in general! I apparently have developed a bit of an obsession about seeing volcano’s. Not sure why, probably because I have never seen one before, and they’re AWESOME! Last time I checked, Costa Rica has  67 volcano’s, six of which are active. Think we can see them all?!? (I can hear Shaun’s eyes rolling as I write this)

Anyways, Arenal is one of Costa Rica’s most famous volcano’s. It’s apparently quite active and last erupted in 2010. All the activity makes it a prime spot for hot springs! I can’t wait!

Dinosaurs always come with Volcano’s…right?

Mandarina photo 2

To me, Mandarina is the Starbucks of Costa Rica (or at least the towns we’ve visited in the past!)

These cute little smoothie shacks can be found all around popular tourist towns. I’ve seen a bunch in both Tamarindo, and Jaco.

They make smoothies using fresh fruit of your choice. You can get yours custom made too. I learnt very early that they are often made with milk and lots of added sugar (we’re talking multiple heaping table spoons of white sugar!). It’s okay to ask for agua instead of leche, no sucre, and always add passion fruit! Super delicious! 

Santa Teresa/Mal Pais santa-teresa-banner-1920-1024x446

Santa Teresa has been recommended to us by a number of people. We’re lucky enough to be staying there fairly early on in our trip. It’s located in the southern region of the Nicoya Peninsula, and according to our research, is a surfers paradise. I am sure that Shaun will be in his happy place here! Although I’m not an avid surfer (yet), Mal Pais and Santa Teresa beaches are supposed to be some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, and there is also little bustling town! 

Drake Bay wide-1000-drake-1-151

Drake Bay is located on the northern side of the Osa Pennisula, and it sounds pretty rustic. It’s touted as a place where people go to”get away from it all”.

Numerous people have mentioned it to us, so it’s now on the must see list. Although we don’t know much about it yet, we’re looking forward to adding it to our adventure!

Montezuma montezuma

Everytime I look up information for Montezuma, I come across another picture of an absurdly gorgeous waterfall. I feel the same way about the waterfalls as I do about the volcano’s. Can we just see them all?!?(poor Shaun).

Montezuma is in the same general area as Santa Teres. Recently I heard someone describe as “off-beat” and “bohemian”. Hmmm, we will see how we fit in!!

So that is just a small sample of the many places we are looking forward to visiting. Can’t wait to tell you all about them!

Have you ever been to Costa Rica? If so, what are you must sees? If not, what are you most excited for me to post about?

Pura Vida!