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.

 

Advertisements

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.

P1030216

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

Isaiah

Isaiah

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!

Kate

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.

Enjoy!

P1020698 P1030123 P1030103

P1030309 P1030299

P1020697

P1030271 P1030283 P1030287 P1030194 P1030247 P1030190

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Making Etyl’s Famous Pancakes at Kaya Sol, Nosara, Costa Rica

I’ve mentioned already that while staying at Kaya Sol, we met these three fabulous ladies from Victoria. They even helped us preform our Beer Taste Test.

What I haven’t mentioned yet is that one of them, Benny, has an amazing food Blog called Being Bethany Jane. We of course immediately bonded over all things blog related as well as a mutual love for delicious healthy food.

When I heard that Benny was going to be getting a pancake lesson at Kaya Sol, I simply Etyl's Famous Pancakes Kaya Solcouldn’t resist joining in.

You see, the pancakes at Kaya Sol, are slightly amazing. Okay well actually they are bombdiggity delicious. I’m not usually one to order pancakes but after hearing the girls rave about them I got a couple for Shaun and I on his birthday. Seriously…life changing!

These pancakes aren’t the normal white, dry pucks with gooey centres that I am used to seeing at restaurants. These pancakes are full of oats, fresh ginger and coconut! I know I’ve perked your interest now!

Learning to make them was a real treat. As an added bonus, we not only got a lesson, but we got the lesson from Etyl herself! Now since this is not a food blog, I didn’t write down copious amount of notes during the process. I just wanted to get a the jist of the situation, so I could try and recreate them when I get home. Here’s what went down.

P1030158

Etyl whipping up some magic

The dry ingredients included whole oats, a bit of baking soda and baking powder all blended up in a blender. The wet ingredients included an egg, grated ginger, fresh nutmeg, honey, vanilla and three kinds of milk; whole milk, soy milk and fresh coconut milk. Add it all together and bobs your uncle. Etyl did say that you can bulk up the pancakes and add some pancake mix, but if you want to keep it whole grain, then leave it as is.

It was so awesome being able to learn how to make these creations from the inventor herself. You better believe I’ll be trying my hand at these when I get home. I might even be wild and add in a banana!

If you are sitting there reading this and thinking, Kate I really still have no idea how to make these pancakes, I would highly suggest checking out Being Bethany Jane. Not only am I confident that Benny will be trying her hand at her own version of Etyl’s pancakes, but she has tons of amazing recipes to tide you over in the meantime!

What is your favourite breakfast food?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

 

Nosara Artisans Market in Playa Guiones, Costa Rica

One of the best parts of being a travel blogger is stumbling upon a topic for a post that truly deserves to be recognized and rejoiced.

The Nosara Artisans Market falls into that category.

I learned about the Artisans Market early in our trip to Nosara, via an advertisement on a local community board. Being a traveller who loves exploring local markets, I was instantlyP1030251 intrigued.

Wanting to learn more, I connected with Kristen Brousseau, a local artisan and one of the coordinators of the event. She and fellow artist Emma Kinsey, have been organizing the Nosara Artisans Market since 2012. Kristen was kind enough to provide me with a little insight and history into how Nosara Artisans came to be:

“Nosara Artisans, started in October 2012, and was created to give Nosara artists a place to sell their wares during the holiday and summer season. It is a non-profit artist collective open to all artists living in the community. The first fair was held December 2012 at The Gilded Iguana Hotel and Restaurant located in Playa Guiones.
P1030259
Since then, the group has grown with many artists participating from other countries and Costa Rica. They hand make accessories, clothing, ceramics, furniture, glass art, lamps, jewellery, mosaics, paintings, photos, up-cycled creations and carved wood art. A lot of the artwork is made using natural materials found in Nosara and its beaches.

In an effort to give back to Nosara, this season The Gilded Iguana and Nosara Artisans have teamed up collect a portion of the artist fees for fundraising. So far, they donated money to Nosara Animal Care, the Del Mar Academy’s scholarship fund and the education fund at the Nosara Recycle Center. Also new this year, is the addition of baked goods, organic garden products, artisans breads, coffee produced in Costa Rica, and local food products.”

 
Upon hearing that description, I felt I simply had to attend the event. In fact, I even altered my travel plans so I could stay for it. The day of the event arrived and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

P1030254Immediately upon entering the market, you could sense the excitement in the air. Booths filled with jewellery, pottery, crafts and baked goods wound their way through the shaded grassy lawn of the Gilded Iguana. Groups mingled together laughing and marvelling at each others creations. I was struck with the diversity and uniqueness of the artwork. I found myself appreciating the fact that everything that was for sale truly was “one of a kind”
My husband and I explored the booths, sampled a few goodies and of course made some purchases.We chatted with several locals who welcomed us to the market with open arms. We left the market that day not feeling like a tourists, but more like honourary members of the Nosara community.

10245464_307950199357161_9069604458241027652_nThe Nosara Artisans Market is not just about selling wares, it’s about a community coming together. Not only do they celebrate the beauty of their handmade creations but also the feeling of togetherness that we found Nosara is known for.

If you are in the Nosara area, I would highly suggest you check out this market. Not only will you see some amazing one of kind creations, you’ll really get a feel for what Nosara is all about.

The next Nosara Artisan Art Market is on Saturday, April 19th at The Gilded Iguana from 12-3pm. Check out their Facebook page or website for more information.

Pura Vida!
Kate
Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Meeting Warner in Nosara, Costa Rica

We have a special post here today for two reasons. The first is that it was written by Shaun, and the second is that we have written it in Spanish and English. So make sure you scroll to the bottom if the first section makes your brain feel fuzzy.

A HUGE thank you to my wonderful Cuñada Natalia for translating for us. Regardless of how many Spanish podcasts we have listened to, we could have never done this without you!

_________________________________________________________________________

Si alguna vez has tomado el camino de acceso a la playa que queda al norte de Playa Guiones, cerca del “Guilded Iguana” y de “Kaya Sol”, es probable que hayas visto o intercambiado un par de palabras con Warner. Desde su puestecito cerca del estacionamiento, vende pulseras, collares y joyería que el mismo hace. Sin duda alguna, él es una de las personas más amables y genuinas que he conocido.

P1030260Durante las 3 semanas que estuvimos en Nosara, pasé por Warner varias veces al día  cuando iba o regresaba de surfear. Warner habla algo de inglés y yo un poco de español, por lo que nuestras conversaciones siempre fueron sencillas , pero interesantes al mismo tiempo. Por lo general solo hablábamos sobre el surf, o nos quejábamos de los malditos vientos de la tarde, o la falta de oleaje.  Él no podía surfear  por las mañana, pues es cuando vendía su joyería, sin embrago lo vi en acción un par de tardes. ¡Era muy bueno!

Entre más hablábamos, me fui dando cuenta que era una gran persona. Él vende joyería para mantener a su familia y tiene varias hijas de pequeña edad. Un par de veces, cuando hacía mucho calor, yo le traería una cerveza o una Coca. También le regalé un par de shorts de playa que  yo no pensaba traer de vuelta a Canadá conmigo. Él estaba encantado.

Cuando nuestra fecha de partida se acercaba, le avisé que pronto nos iríamos y que P1030261había sido un placer haberlo conocido. En ese momento me hizo una pulsera. Trate de pagársela, pero no aceptó que le diera dinero.  Yo no suelo usar pulseras o joyería, sin embargo esta acción me hizo sentir muy humilde. De hecho, es una pulsera muy padre. Cuando Kate la vio, quiso comprarse una parecida. Warner le dejó escoger los colores, y le hizo una pulsera similar a la mía.

Nos dio su email, pero nos dijo que lo checaba muy seguido.  Nos dijo que no necesitaba email o Facebook, lo único que el necesitaba era su puestecito, las olas, y la gente que paraba a platicar con él todos los días.

Si alguna vez vas al Norte de Guiones, tienes que pasar a ver a Warner. Platica con él y échale un vistazo a su mercancía. Es realmente una persona excepcional.  

_________________________________________________________________________

If you have ever taken the beach access road to the north end of Playa Guiones near the Gilded Iguana and Kaya Sol, then you’ve likely seen or talked to Warner. Warner has a table set up along the road near the beach parking lot. He sells bracelets, necklaces, and jewellery that he makes himself. I can safely say that Warner is one of the nicest and most genuine people I’ve ever met.

P1030260During our three weeks in Nosara, I passed by Warner several times a day on my way to and from the surf. Warner speaks a bit of English and I speak a small amount of Spanish so our conversations were always somewhat simple, but always interesting. We would usually just chat about the surf; the damn on-shore winds in the afternoon and the lack of swell. He sold his jewellery in the morning so he couldn’t surf then, but I saw him make it out a couple of evenings. As expected, he could rip. 

The more Warner and I talked, the more I realized what a great guy he was. He runs his stand to support his family (he has a whole bunch of little girls). On a few hot days I’d bring him a cold beer or coca colas. I even gave him an old pair of board shorts I wasn’t planning on bringing home. He was pretty stoked.

As we neared the end of our time in Nosara, I let him know we were leaving, and told him P1030261how great it was to have met him. Next thing you know he made me a bracelet. I tried to pay, but again he would not accept. I’m not one for bracelets or jewellery, but I felt pretty humbled by his gesture. Its actually, for a bracelet, really nice. Its a good reminder of the good times surfing at Guiones. After Kate saw my bracelet she decided she wanted to buy a similar one. Warner let her pick her colours and made her one to match mine.

We got him to give us his email address, but he said he doesn’t check it often. He told us that he doesn’t need email or Facebook, all he needs is the waves, his stand and the people who stop by to talk to him every day. 

If you’re heading to north Guiones you have to go see Warner. Go have a chat with him or check out all his stuff. He’s a wicked dude.

Gracias Shaun, Warner and Natalia for making this post possible!

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

 

Travel Workouts Week 15- TRX and Kettlebells in Nosara

Ever since the Around the World Running Blog Relay began, I have been running like crazy. It’s been great motivation, but, as a result, my strength training routine has fallen by the wayside.

When I read about the TRX and Kettlebell class at the Wellness Centre in Guiones, I knew I would have to try it out.

P1030131As some of you may have read, I rocked a TRX class back in Tamarindo and loved it. The thought of adding kettlebells to the mix sounded amazing. It’s funny how having the opportunity to add actual weight to your routine is such a treat when you are travelling!

I arrived at my first class and was instantly delighted by the temperature of the room. It had been a HOT one in Nosara that week, and although the room didn’t have a/c, it was in the basement of the wellness centre and was nice and cool. I find sometimes classes with a/c can get too cold and aren’t ideal for working out, this room was great.

Our class was taught by Tinis, a gorgeous Tica surf instructor who really knows her stuff. The more classes I attended with Tinis, the more I came to really appreciate her teaching style. Technique is super important when working with TRX and Kettlebells, and she spent ample time making sure everyone in the class was rocking it. No matter whether it was your first time, or your fiftieth time, she had her eyes out to make sure no one hurt themselves. I was also amazed at how she could tailor the class to suit everyone’s goals and levels. She could balance teaching a new student the technique for kettlebell, while guiding others through a TRX routine, all the while, motivating all of us to push ourselves to get the most bang for our buck.

P1030114

Tinis teaches Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2pm. There is another class at 12:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays taught by someone else. Drop in is $10 for visitors and $5 for locals. Ten bucks is an awesome deal for this type of class, as you are guaranteed to get your money’s worth. 

I try and get most of my workouts done early in the morning or later in the afternoon when it isn’t as hot out. For those who are looking for a mid-day workout, this class is truly ideal. Doing a cardio class mid-day is not only exhausting, but  the intense heat here in Costa Rica could make it potentially dangerous. Tinis’ class is the perfect way to get in a great workout that is focused on getting stronger, feeling the burn, but without over exerting yourself.

So, if you are in the Nosara area, check out the TRX and Kettlebell class at the Wellness Centre. Tell them I sent you!

Want to learn more about TRX? Check out this article that Tinis is featured in!

Check out more recaps of my travel workouts here!

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress