Botella de Leche, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Woops! Somehow this post got lost in the mix. It should have been safely nestled between returning from Nicaragua, and getting to Nosara. Enjoy!

After our near tragic return from Nicargua, we returned to our home base of Tamarindo.

Our shuttle didn’t arrive back into Tamarindo until 10pm, so we were pretty thankful that we had decided to stay for two nights. The thought of getting up early the following morning to take another shuttle seemed like a terrible idea.

P1030050Although our day in Tamarindo consisted of little more then doing laundry and regrouping, the place we stayed at was definitely worth writing about.

This wasn’t the first time we had stayed at Botella de Leche. We had actually stayed there for one night back in December, but because it was such a short stay, I never wrote about it.

Botella de Leche is one of the original surf hostels in Tamarindo. They offer a variety of room types at a really reasonable rate. The price point for this hostel is a huge selling feature, as everything in Tamarindo tends to be really expensive. The fact that this place is inexpensive AND has a pool, makes it a really rare find.

the pool

the pool

Outside each room is a hammock, which we are finding is becoming more and more an integral part of our Costa Rican lifestyle. Their shared kitchen is huge, and they offer free coffee in the mornings.

Although the property is small, they have managed to create a wonderful little oasis with papaya trees and other tropical plants growing inside the gates. It feels like you are leaving the dusty busy roads of Tamarindo behind and entering another world.

the kitchen and living space

the kitchen and living space

Botella de Leche is definitely geared towards surfers. You can book a variety of lessons and surf trip options with them. Although they aren’t the closest hostel to the beach, they make up for it with their accommodation and perks. If you are looking for a hostel in Tamarindo that is both affordable and relaxing, I would highly recommend Botella de Leche.

 

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

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Wild Panda: Our Favourite Bar in all of Costa Rica

Oh Wild Panda…how we love thee…

From our very first day in Tamarindo, I knew I would be writing this post. In fact, I sort of alluded to it here!

We love Wild Panda for so many reasons. I love it for their focus on healthy food and healthy cocktails, and Shaun loves it for their flat screen TV and the all day 2 X 1 Rum Pineapples. All this aside, the real reason we keep coming back is our history with this place.

The story about us and this bar actually starts way back in 2011, when Shaun and I last visited Costa Rica. There is no one better to recount this tale then Shaun himself. So, after a long absence from the blog, he has agreed to write all about our (extensive) time with Wild Panda.

You know it must be  good if Shaun is willing to tear himself away from surf and pool time to write a blog post!

Take it away Shaun!

The menu

The menu

So we happened to be Tamarindo three years ago and my brother and buddy Smit were trying to book a fishing trip and met this guy named Junior who at the time had a little booth type set up where he booked tours and what not. The boys got to chatting and Junior told them he was opening his cocktail bar later that week.

A classic shot...circa 2011

A classic shot…circa 2011

 Brad and Smit were pretty skeptical because there wasn’t much there, but they assured Junior they would come back and suck back a few cocktails.

Sure enough later that week Junior’s place was open and on one boozy night we hit up his cocktails. I hadn’t remembered much from that night but luckily the girls got lots of pictures. Funny how that happens…

quite a bit has changed!

quite a bit has changed!

Now fast forward to late November 2013, Kate and I had just arrived in Costa Rica for our big trip and we are enjoying our first night out in Tamarindo. As we’re walking towards the same area, we commented on whether his place might still be there. To be honest, I never expected it to still be open, let alone to see Junior. Sure enough though, Junior was there just chilling in the front. The place was now called Wild Panda, but it still had the infamous “Suck my Cocktails” sign. Junior obviously didn’t recognize us, but was impressed when Kate showed the pictures of the opening week three years ago. That was the first of many nights we spent at Junior’s Wild Panda bar.

The infamous Panda head!

The infamous Panda head!

During the Christmas break Junior probably made a small fortune off our friends and family who were in town. This included my brother Brad and Smit’s who were able to return to where it all began. We definitely missed the putting green he previously had, but the place has undergone so many upgrades and changes including a big TV and WIFI. It is a pretty sweet set up.

It also still has that really personal and friendly feel to it. You don’t see Junior there as much, but he has some really great staff that more than make up for it. Having a drink there is my favourite thing to do in Tamarindo.

Tourista Alert!

Tourista Alert!

So if you’re in Tamarindo check it out. Go grab a bar stool there and have a Rum Pineapple, get a picture with the “Suck my Cocktails” sign, or put the panda bear head on. Last time we were there they had T-shirts too. It’s the only T-shirt I’ve bought this trip.

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So there you have it! Wild Panda, it is the place to be in Tamarindo. Head on over there, grab a rum pineapple and say hi to Junior and his amazing crew!

Have you ever been to Wild Panda?

Pura Vida!

Kate (and Shaun)

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Our Favourite Places in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

After four visits to Tamarindo, you can imagine my surprise when I realized that I had never done a “Favourite Places” post for it. Blogger Fail. Who knows why this slipped through my fingers, but nevertheless, the week we spent here allowed for the perfect opportunity to get one done.

There are so many places I could have chosen for this post. I actually had to cruise around the town to do some additional taste testing for the restaurants who made the cut, all in the name of research of course. Thankfully it paid off, and I’ve managed to narrow it down to our top three picks.

199591_10150118390849102_7536690_nCR Paradise: When we talk about people that we like to visit while in Costa Rica, Michelle and Steven of CR Paradise are at the top of our list. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without these two. They helped me navigate everything from booking a snorkel tour for a zillion people at Christmas, to getting over the border to Nicaragua. Any time I have a Costa Rica related question I know I can email them and they’ll have answer for me super quick.

They are literally a one stop shop for surfing trips, airport transfers, zip-lining, car rentals, turtle tours, waterfalls and everything in between.

What really sets CR Paradise apart is their level of integrity. They aren’t just going to try and sell you a tour to make a buck (like many people in Tamarindo will do). They’ll be honest with you about the pros and cons, and make sure you are getting the adventure that best suits your needs.

If you are heading to Tamarindo, and looking for a tour company, I can’t recommend them enough. Make sure you tell them Kate sent you 😉

P1020888Nogui’s: We find that most of the beach front bars in Tamarindo are tourist traps. Travellers are lured in by the thought of eating dinner right on the beach, but are then faced with high prices, and lack lustre food. Nogui’s authentic and delicious Costa Rican cuisine makes it stand out from the rest.

Before I even start talking about Nogui’s, I highly suggest you click this link to their website. Their home page beautifully describes their history, and the history of what Tamarindo was like back in the 70’s when it opened. Nogui’s is truly a Tamarindo original, and has grown along with the town itself. Once only open for dinners by reservation, Nogui’s is now open all day serving up a huge menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So, if you are visiting Tamarindo, make sure to make time to check out Nogui’s. I would suggest snagging one of their bright yellow Adirondack chairs right on  the beach and indulging in one of their famous pineapple, ginger mint juices with a side of their delicious ceviche.

P1020886Green Papaya: Shaun and I have already decided that our final meal in Costa Rica will be at Green Papaya. We’ve eaten here several times, and each time we go our meals are insanely delicious.

Green Papaya is a little off the beaten path, but well worth the trek off the main strip. You’re not only guaranteed a delicious meal, but super fast and friendly service.

Mom and brother Sean enjoying the swings at Christmas!

Mom and brother Sean enjoying the swings at Christmas!

Something that is often hard to find, especially in Tamarindo.

The restaurant has a great design. Guests can beat the heat by sitting inside on big wooden carved stumps (more comfortable then it sounds!). Alternatively guests can opt to sit outside on swings. Seriously! How could you pass up the chance to eat dinner on a swing? Well let me tell you, most people can’t. So get there early, or you will be swingless!

Chicken Tacos....NOM

Chicken Tacos….NOM

As far as suggestions are concerned, you just can’t go wrong with their chicken taco’s. Then again, their chips and salsa, chili, and burrito’s are amazing as well. This is the only problem with Green Papaya, to delicious things to choose from!

My most recent discovery about Green Papaya is their coffee bar. Finding a good coffee on the main strip in Tamarindo can be a little challenging. I’ve already written about my love for Cafe Tico, but Green Papaya certainly gives it a run for its money.

So whether you are looking for taco’s, coffee or swings, Green Papaya is certainly a must visit in Tamarindo.

Well, I certainly feel better now that I’ve got that done! Check out our other favourite places here. As always, if you are looking for other recommendations for Tamarindo, or elsewhere in Costa Rica leave a comment below or visit our Facebook page.

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

The Best Place to Watch the Sunset in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

As I mentioned before, we’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Tamarindo, and feel like we’ve pretty much got the town cased.

This includes knowing where the best place to watch the sunset is.P1020864

Actually I should back up a bit, and explain the phenomenon of sunset watching.

Here in Costa Rica, sunset watching is an event. At around 5:30, beaches become crowded with tourists and locals alike who are taking a moment to appreciate the beauty of what is unfolding. It’s actually a really magical thing when you think about it. Even as I write this, I feel sort of deviant because I’m sitting by the pool while everyone is heading down the beach. Note to self…time blog writing better!

Shaun and I have experienced this sunset phenomenon in many places throughout Costa Rica.

ya we were THOSE people (Shaun will hate that I posted this!)

ya we were THOSE people (Shaun will hate that I posted this!)

In smaller towns we are one of a handful of people who are enjoying the view, in others, it’s a gong show. Tamarindo is one of those places where sunset time is often just crazyness.

Don’t get us wrong, our first night in Tamarindo back in November, we rocked it tourista style. Beers in hand we took countless sunset photos. Selfies, couple shots, yoga poses, kissing photos, name a classic tourist sunset photo and we did it.

Now a days, the need to take 100 photos of one sunset has subsided, and we can appreciate the view without needing to document the moment. That is, if we can manage to see the sunset through the hoards of kissing couples and yoga posers.

See the cliff way off in the distance? That is where we were heading!

See the cliff way off in the distance? That is where we were heading!

So, as I was saying, knowing what Tamarindo sunsets can be like, we made a plan to watch it from somewhere a little different.

Playa Tamarindo is the main beach in town, but if you head south a ways you will end up in Playa Langosta. Right between the two beaches is a rocky cliff. That my friends, is where we were heading.

So with a plastic bag of cold beers (cause that is how we roll), we headed out on our adventure. We made our way down the beach, dodging photo takers, navigating rocks and even photo bombing a wedding. After about a 20 minute hike, we made it. We were two of about 8 people who had the same idea. A far cry from the 100’s of people we could see lining the beach.

P1020858To say this was a good idea was an understatement. Not only were we able to watch the sunset in peace, but we also got to watch the waves crashing up against the rocks as the tide came in. It was one of those moments that you know you are going to remember forever.

So, if you are in Tamarindo, and looking for a peaceful sunset watching experience, you now know where to go. It is certainly a bit of a hike, but it is well worth it.

What is your most memorable sunset?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Returning to Tamarindo, Costa Rica

After our couple days in Samara, we headed back to Tamarindo for a week. If you’ve been following the blog, you may think to yourself…Tamarindo? Haven’t these guys been there a zillion times?

Well technically three times now, but yes, we do keep coming back.

During the crazyness of travel, life can seem pretty chaotic. We often find ourselves longing for a place that feels like home. We’ve come to realize, that for us, Tamarindo is that place.

For those of you who know us, know Tamarindo or know both, this may come as a surprise. Tamarindo is a very busy little town, full of people, and full of party. Not necessarily a place that fits our relaxed “in bed by 8pm” approach to travel. In fact, if someone were to ask me where I would recommend they go during their trip to Costa Rica, Tamarindo would be much further down the list then some of the other places we’ve visited.

But we have a soft spot for Tamarindo, and the longer we are in the country, the larger it grows.In previous trips to Costa Rica, we’ve always stayed in Tamarindo, and have been able to see the town develop over the past 6 years (since our first visit). Tamarindo is the first place we stayed when we landed back back in November, and it is going to be the last place we stay before getting on the plane in April.

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We are comfortable with the town, we know where the deals are, we know which restaurants we like, heck we even have a cat that we pretend is our own! We have come to know several people in the town, and any time we visit we take a moment to pop in to say hello.

Familiarity, comfort, friends, these are all things that you miss when travelling. When you find a place that gives you a little taste of those feelings, it is always going to keep you coming back.

So, at this point in our adventure, we found ourselves back at Villas Macondo for a week. Laying by the pool, visiting with Bearly Bear, and enjoying our time to regroup before our big trek up to Nicaragua.

How do you find ways to feel “at home” while travelling?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Una Pipa Porfavor

 Before I start today, I wanted to let everyone know that I had the opportunity to guest post over at “Diana’s Costa Rica Blog”. Diana, and I have so much in common, it’s pretty amazing. Check out my contribution at: http://dianascostaricablog.blogspot.com/…On with the show!

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So I know coconut water is a “thing” back home.

I have read all about it. You know, electrolytes, post-workout charge up, hot yoga beverage of choice, magical elixir etc…I get it, but I just can’t do it.

Any time that I’ve thought about jumping on the band wagon, I’ve bought a little tetra pack, taken a swig, and then thrown it out. To me, it tastes like garbage swamp water.

That is, until I discovered the magic that is fresh coconuts on the beaches of Costa Rica.

I feel like I have the process of buying a “pipa” down to an art form. Since it’s becoming pretty much a daily occurrence for me, I figured I would share it with you guys.

Mom and I enjoying some Pipa's on Tamarindo beach

Mom and I enjoying some Pipa’s on Tamarindo beach

In most towns you can find locals selling coconuts on the beach, but they are not all created equal. In Tamarindo for instance, most of the pipa sellers carry pre-shucked coconuts around in buckets of water. These coconuts are fine, but I find they don’t taste as fresh, and are often warm from being lugged around the beach all day.

To really get a delicious pipa experience, you want to look for a vendor who is selling the whole coconuts, the ones that still have their green outer shell on them. I’ve found the best ones are often sold out of the back of pick up trucks, and are kept in coolers of ice. If you find one of these, you are in business.

Carlo works his magic

Carlo works his magic

So, you have located a pipa truck…now what? Well, the magic words “Una pipa, porfavor” will get you what you need. Get your 500 colones ($1), ready, and watch the magic unfold.

In these photos Carlo, my favourite Pipa seller in Playa Coco, brandished a gigantic machete, and carefully lopped off the top of the coconut. He worked fast, and managed to make a small little hole in the top without losing a drop of the delicious coconut water inside. It is an impressive sight to watch.

delicioso!

delicioso!

Just like that you have some delicious coconut water to enjoy. It tastes so fresh, and crisp compared to what you buy back home. It’s the perfect perk up after a long afternoon in the sun. I always start by eating the little bit of coconut meat on the “lid” of the coconut, and then dive into the water.

So at this point, sit back, relax, and enjoy, but don’t go far! There is more fun to be had!

Lots of people will just throw the coconut out once they’ve finished the water, but if you are looking for a little snack, and some healthy fats, the coconut meat is a great snack.

The machete is wielded once again.

The machete is wielded once again.

Head back to your pipa vendor, and he/she will help you out!

First they cut one of the hard ends off. This will become the spoon. Then they give the centre of the coconut one big schwack with their machete. Using a baton, they continue to hit the blade until it breaks the coconut in half. It is a violent process, and an impressive feat.

Perfect afternoon snack!

Perfect afternoon snack!

Using the little spoon they created at the start, they scrape the meat loose from both sides of your coconut, and pour it all into one of the halves.

And just like that, you have a beautiful little treat for your afternoon!

Pipa’s are one of the many things I have found during my travels that feel like a treat, but still keep me healthy. And at $1 a pop, you just can’t go wrong! Just remember, they will always taste best when consumed while enjoying the view of the beach!

beach view!

beach view!

Do you like coconut water? Have you tried fresh coconut?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

The Christmas Slump- Travel Workouts Week 4

Turns out, even in another country, working out through Christmas is a challenge!

I feel like my Christmas season didn’t really start until December 22, the night before my family arrived. So I had the luxury of being able to avoid an entire month of shortbread, nog, and all other goodies that come along with the season. I was actually feeling pretty healthy coming into this week.

Since we were back in Tamarindo, I decided to make full use of their gym facilities. Gym’s are few and far between in Costa Rica, so I wanted to take advantage of it while I had the chance. The first morning at the gym I bought I week long pass. I figured this would be another way to encourage me to workout everyday, as I wanted to get my money’s worth.

Once I got my pass all set up, I jumped on the treadmill, then the elliptical, then the spin bike. Uh-oh, old Kate habits kicking in. I didn’t have a workout plan, and was just doing mindless cardio to pass the time. I did a couple HIIT intervals to shake it up a bit, but after about 40 min stopped, and went to the weight area. I wanted to lift some heavy weights, and target muscle groups that I have difficulty reaching using just my workout bands.

But again…I had no plan…So after 15 min of a wimpy little circuit I left.

This pattern continued over the next two days. Steady state cardio, short little weight session, and done. Combine this with an over indulgence of Beer, Wine, Costa Rican Egg Nog, and tons of delicious food, and I was feeling not so good about myself.

On the fourth day, I woke up, feeling awful, and realized, I didn’t want a gym workout, I wanted to make one up for myself. For those of you who know me, this is a huge deal, as I used to love the gym! Those days are gone. I wrote myself up a Tabata style workout that incorporated my bands.  I was a sweaty, tired mess by the end, and felt the light at the end of the tunnel. The follow day I rocked some bootcamp style circuit training using the stairs of our condo. Again, feeling so much better about my progress.

After two days of more effective workouts, I’m feeling like I’m getting back on track.  We have guests until the 6th, so I know eating healthy will be a challenge, and the beverages will likely continue to flow, but in the meantime, at least I know I’ll be rocking some great early morning sweat sessions!

This experience is truly a testament to the amazing life skills picked up during my 30 day challenge with Wholly Fit. Even from afar, the continue to motivate me, and help me strive for greatness.

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This was me right before I uploaded this blog…got up at 6:30am and rocked a 10km run. Thanks to Shaun who rolled out of bed to take this photo for me.

Miss you Wholly Fitters!

How did your workout regime pan out over Christmas? Did you fall of the wagon? Are you back on track?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress