The Natural Centre in Playa Samara, Costa Rica

After our five days of rest and relaxation in Nosara we made a quick pit stop in Playa Samara.The main reason we were stopping by was so I could get some material for writing an article  for MyCostaRica about learning to surf with Samara Adventure Company.

Yes my friends, that meant that yours truly had to take a surfing lesson. You’ll have to stay tuned to a future post to see how it went, although if you follow the Facebook page, you may already know!

P1020728When I wasn’t learning to hang ten like a pro, I did manage to do a little exploring. In amongst the touristy souvenir shops, and tour companies I stumbled across the Samara Natural Centre. Intrigued? So was I!

Located in the heart of Playa Samara, the Natural Centre is a hub for all your healthy lifestyle needs. Here you will find a juice bar, falafel stand, gym and most importantly, a giant health food store (more on that in a second)

The Farmers Market

The Farmers Market

I was extra lucky to have the opportunity to stop by on a Friday afternoon, when the local Farmer’s market was going. There vendors were selling baked goods, vegetables, jams, jelly’s, cheeses and other delectable treats. Many of the items being sold were advertised as organic, gluten free or vegan. A bonus for anyone who is trying to track down these hard to find products.

The vibe at the market was great. It was apparent that this was a gathering place for families and friends to come and pick up all sorts of goodies for the weekend. I had brought my sketch pad and planned to do some drawing while I visited, but found myself more interested in watching the wonderful atmosphere unfolding around me.

So much selection!

So much selection!

Now for the health food store. Samara Organics is by far the epicentre of the Natural Centre. It has the biggest and most diverse selection of health food that I’ve seen throughout my travels in Costa Rica. Along with their wide variety of natural products and produce, they are also set up as a cafe. Visitors can enjoy a full coffee menu, juices, smoothies plus a small menu of salads and snacks. During my visit I had a Cappuccino (no surprise), and was delighted when they offered me the option of almond or soy milk. It was just like being back home! Because the farmers market was going on, the cafe was very busy. Despite being run off his feet, the Barista kept a smile on his face, and made the experience extra special.

If you are in Samara, checking out the Natural Centre is a must.You will find products that you can’t get anywhere else, and be sure to stop in for a treat at Samara Organics.

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Casa Rebecca, Nosara, Costa Rica

After our busy travel time inland, our accommodation in Nosara provided us the perfect backdrop for a little rest and relaxation.

P1020703Nestled in the south end of Playa Guiones, Casa Rebecca is a boutique hotel/hostel. They offer shared rooms in the main house, but also a few private rooms near the pool. They are about an 8-10 minute walk from the main surf break, and a few minutes away from the famous Nosara Yoga Institute.

Our room was large, had an ensuite bathroom and was about three steps to the pool. Not to shabby if you ask me.

The main house of Casa Rebecca iP1020704s both unique and gorgeous. The furniture has almost a Mediterranean vibe to it, white walls, wicker and gorgeous artwork.There are several couches and sitting areas that offer the perfect space to read, practice yoga, or just relax.

P1020706The best part of the main house though was the kitchen. The house was obviously run as a B&B at some point, as it is fully stocked with everything you could possibly need to make delicious meals. After dealing with some very poorly equipped, cramped, unfortunate kitchens in our past, we were delighted with what we had available. In fact, Shaun and I ate in every night during our five days here.

P1020709

The kitchen is attached to a communal dinning area, and living room, as well as a few of the dorm rooms. After being fairly secluded in our last couple hostels, it was nice to have a common space to meet and chat with people. Plus, one of the guests shared a pineapple upside down cake she had just baked, so seriously, what’s not to love.

Our room tucked in the back!

Our room tucked in the back!

I made our reservation through their website, and the owners were awesome in helping us find a room that fit both our budget and needs. At the time of our visit the owners weren’t on site, and the property was being cared for by two young Costa Rican girls. They were very sweet, and Shaun and I managed to wrestle our way through the language barrier during the check in and check out process. Other then that, we were pretty much on our own, which we didn’t mind at all.

As I was Googling Casa Rebecca, it looks like it is actually for sale. So if anyone is interested in a fabulous place with some serious B&B potential, you should buy it…and let me stay for free for making the referral of course!

If you want to read about any of the other places we’ve stayed in Costa Rica, check out our Hostel Review Page.

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Exploring Nosara, Costa Rica

Just a heads up…this is a little taster post about Nosara. Looks like we will be spending at least a month exploring the area, so if this is somewhere that interests you…stay tuned!

I know it may seem like we were in Monteverde for weeks, but in fact, we were only there for 3 days. Our time there was so jam packed, and frankly, so cold, that we were ready to get back to the beach for some chill out time. So early one morning we boarded a shuttle to our next beachy destination, Nosara

Playa Guiones

Playa Guiones

Throughout our travels, we’ve met so many people who had recommended Nosara to us. It had been on our radar since before we even left Canada, and for whatever reason we had missed it in our previous travels through the Nicoya Pennisula.

Much like Mal Pais/Santa Teresa, Nosara is known to be a town of surfers and Yogis. There is a focus on healthy food, and healthy living. Totally up my alley. We read a sign in one restaurant that stated “No Shirt, No Shoes, Nosara.” I figure that pretty much sums up the vibe!

No shortage of these guys hanging around Nosara!

No shortage of these guys hanging around Nosara!

The town of Nosara is actually about 5 km inland, but most people refer to the nearby beaches as Nosara. The most popular beach, and the one we stayed at, is Playa Guiones. This is where the surfing is.

Like many beaches in Costa Rica, Nosara is turtle central, meaning the beach front is protected from development. I like the beaches like this because you can walk along the beach without the obstruction of condos, houses or restaurants ruining the view. The town is set back about 200m from the beach,and there is beach access set up pretty much everywhere. You certainly never have a hard time figuring out how to get to the beach!

one of the main strips in Playa Guiones.

one of the main strips in Playa Guiones.

I would describe the layout of Playa Guiones as a web of streets. I think we spent the first three days wandering around trying to get our barrings, and to be honest, I still think we missed several parts of the town. Most local businesses provide maps of the area, and if you are visiting I suggest you pick one up.

We stayed in Nosara for 5 days, but will be heading back there for three weeks at the end of our trip. The longest span of time we’ve ever spent in one place. Rest assured you will be hearing plenty about this funky little beach front community, as it is pretty apparent that we are big fans.

Pura Vida

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Exploring Montezuma, Costa Rica Part 1

With excitement of Christmas coming to an end, I thought I would catch everyone up on a couple things before everyone got here… Enjoy!

What a day!

I feel like we lived three days in the past 12 hours, Montezuma just has so much to offer

If you’ve read my Must Sees post, you know I’m a gal who loves her waterfalls, and Montezuma has one that they are known for! Shaun, and I planned on getting up bright and early (not uncommon for us), and hiking out to see it. We ended up dilly-dallying, and left the hostel around 7:45.

The trail head was about a 5-10 minute walk from our hostel, just at the bridge you go over to enter Montezuma. There is lots of parking, and often guides waiting to try and sell you on a tour. Luckily, being early has it’s advantages, and no one was there to bother us.

That being said, Shaun, and I only planned on going to to the lower waterfall. There are two other levels to the Montezuma waterfall, and apparently the trails can be a little dicey, and hard to find. It’s highly suggested that if you are going on the big adventure, to hire a guide.

The sign at the trailhead should probably be taken seriously.

The sign at the trailhead should probably be taken seriously.

The hike, is just that, a hike. You’ll climb rocks, navigate through tree roots, and even cross a river. It’s highly advisable to wear water shoes or running shoes, or something with a little more grip, as the rocks can get slippery.

The path is marked with yellow paint, so just keep your eyes out. It’s pretty self explanatory. It reminded me a lot of the harder parts of the Mt. Finlayson climb, in Victoria!

This doesn't even begin to do it justice!

This doesn’t even begin to do it justice!

Iphone is broken so we are learning master the selfie on an old school camera

Iphone is broken so we are learning master the selfie on an old school camera

After about 15 to 20 minutes of hiking, we made it. Piece of Cake! And let me tell you, it was GORGEOUS. My biggest suggestion is to get there early. We got there around 8:15, and had the place to ourselves for about 20 minutes or so. After that, it just got busier, and busier. Having those moments to enjoy it all to ourselves was such a beautiful way to start the morning, and a moment that seems rare given the popularity of the attraction.

We stayed for over an hour, taking pictures, and watching a group of people dive off the cliffs. Oh, that’s another thing. If you are looking at this majestic waterfall, and the first thing you think of is, “oh man, how great would it be to jump off that thing” think again. No one has ever jumped and survived. The fall looks straight down, but when you look at it from the side, you realize it juts out juts out quite far. If you are looking for places to jump in, just watch the locals. They know the places that are deep enough, and sage enough to jump in from.

A guy pre-belly flop

A guy pre-belly flopside,

After a short time, we started the hike back. We had brought plastic bags to put our shoes in, but had managed to navigate the slippery river rocks without getting them wet…that is, until Kate, the clutsy wonder, misjudged a step, and plunged both feet into the river. Sigh….of course. Luckily Shaun was there to catch me. No harm done, just bruised my pride. Despite walking home in squishy shoes, it was a morning full of memories that will stay with me for a lifetime.

We did a lot more exploring that day, but I’m going to break it up into two posts. Mainly because I think we are going back to keep exploring mid January. So I’m going to have even more to talk about!!

My early morning zen moment.

My early morning zen moment.

What’s the most amazing waterfall you’ve ever seen?

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

Our Favourite Places in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

During our travels here in Santa Teresa, we’ve come across from pretty cool places.

Today’s post is all about some of our favourites!

A Health Food Store! I think I'm in love!

A Health Food Store! I think I’m in love!

Green World Store: Oh yes my friends, Santa Teresa has a health food store. Although I’m not sure that Shaun every actually went inside, I think I was there about every other day. In Canada I can spend so much time cruising up and down the aisles of health food stores, looking at all the goodies. Turns out, I can spend even more time cruising them when everything is written in Spanish!

Can you see the hidden Mickey's??

Can you see the hidden Mickey’s??

Cafe Zaza: Air conditioning and coffee..What more could a girl ask for??This cute little cafe is closer to Santa Teresa side of the strip, and is in the same complex as a couple little shops. It’s a pretty hostel central area, and while we were there, there was a lot of talk about things being stolen. Just keep you wits about you as you sip your latte!

Check this place out!

Check this place out!

Bajo del Mar: We ended up here for dinner on their opening night. We had planned on going somewhere else for dinner, but after a couple glasses of boxed wine in plastic cups, our fellow hostel mates convinced us to join them here. It turned out that the owner used to work at our hostel, so they were all heading there to support him. We were keeping an open mind, as we knew it was their opening night, and we were a pretty big group, but the meal was amazing! We had a Margarita pizza. Shaun, and I order these all the time, so we are pretty critical of them, but I gotta say, this one was amazing! The crust was so crispy, and the ingredients so fresh. A must visit if you’re in the area!

photo 2 (3)

my view on many days here in Santa Teresa

Zwart Art Cafe: So this place wins the prize. I spent soo many afternoons at Zwart, sketching, and drinking coffee. This place is a coffee shop/ bookstore/diner/art studio. A one stop shop! The owner even offered to have me come use her paints (unfortunately, I ran out of time). If you are looking for a place to relax, eat great food, and feel inspired, I would highly recommend Zwart.

Many days were spent like this!

Many days were spent like this!

Banana Beach: This is one of few bars that is right on the beach, but let me tell you, it’s a winner. Hammocks, beds, lounge chairs, tables. However you want to relax, they have it. Shaun and I spent many afternoons buying the occasional cervasa and coke light, just so we could use their beach chairs.We spent most of our time here during the day, and at sunset, but they have something different going on every night, plus some great (but pricey) food.

Such a great atmosphere

Such a great atmosphere

So those are just a couple of the many great places we’ve encountered while we were here, and most are pretty close to our hostel. Like I mentioned before, the Mal Pais/Santa Teresa road is 10km long, so there are lots of places we didn’t spend much time at. We will be staying in Mal Pais in the new year, so I’m sure we will have all sorts of new places from this area to share!

What has the been the best place local business you’ve every found while travelling?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Exploring Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

We’ve been spent the past 10 days exploring all the Santa Teresa has to offer.

Beautiful sunset, with no one else around.

Beautiful sunset, with no one else around.

After coming from Tamarindo, it has been quite the culture shock. No more being bombarded on the beach with people trying to sell you things. Or having to dodge all the Tourista’s taking sunset photos. It is way mellower here.

The layout of Santa Teresa has been challenging for us. The main strip is a road that is about 200m back from the beach, and it is 10km long. This road covers both Santa Teresa, and Mal Pais (where we will be staying in the New Year).

Coming from Tamarindo where everything is easily within walking distance, this has been an adjustment. There are many places you can rent bikes or ATV’s, and if you want to make the most of your time here, I would highly suggest investing in one or the other. Unfortunately for us, it’s 10 dollars a day for a bike and 50 dollars for an ATV. Just a little to far outside our budget. Besides, we are walkers, so we’ve been using our feet to get around.

As a result of this, I’ve been spending a lot time in the hostel, and the few businesses that surround us. Early in the morning, or early in the evening the road and beach are great for running. There are also tons and tons of places to do Yoga. The chill vibe has been been nice. I’ve read some great books, taken some great classes, started drawing again, and met some fabulous people in the hostel.

The main surf break in Santa Teresa is about a 7 min walk from our hostel, which is really lucky for Shaun. He heads out there during the day at some point, but says that it is very crowded. The waves are better then when we were in Tamarindo, so the result is a lot more surfers out at all hours of the day. The result is often a surfer traffic jam.

One of the many tidal pools I've explored

One of the many tidal pools I’ve explored

The beach is amazing. It’s a combination of sandy beach, and amazing rocky tidal pools. I could, and have, spend hours wandering the rocks, peering into each pool to see what’s inside. It reminds me of Botanical Beach back on Vancouver Island.

Some of the pools are so big and deep, that they become like a hot tub during the day. Lots of people spend their time lounging in them.

Santa Teresa was not what we expected, but it’s been an awesome week of relaxation. Probably for the best, since next week everyone arrives for Christmas. I get this feeling that our days of relaxation and quiet will be replaced with celebration and cervasas!!

Have you ever gone somewhere, and have it be completely different then what you expected?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress