Seabird Sailing Excursions – First Time Cruising Under the Costa Rican Sky
Sailing is one of my most favorite activities to do in Costa Rica. Yeison and I have gone on a few catamaran sailing tours but our favorite is the sunset tour because you get the best view of the spectacular Costa Rican sunsets. It’s truly an experience unlike any other and each time is different. No matter how many sailing tours we’ve done, they ewre all unique and special in it’s own way. No two boats are the same! Seabird Sailing The first sunset catamaran cruise I went on was in Coco, around the Gulf of Papagayo with my family and Yeison. There are several companies in Coco so there are plenty of choices if you’re looking to do one during your stay. We went on Seabird for their sunset cruise along with some other friends so our group pretty much had the boat to ourselves! It was the perfect activity to enjoy the afternoon out in the Gulf and for us to relax. The trip includes drinks and snacks along with high quality equipment. They also do morning tours which is better for snorkeling but we went anyways in the late afternoon. The catamaran is fully equipped and is a beautiful boat. Especially for catamaran cruises, we love having a private tour when there’s a big group of us because it’s more intimate and the attention is great. The Cruise They took us out around the Gulf and reached a spot where they asked us if we wanted to snorkel. This was just a few months after we moved to Coco so Yeison and I were still so new to the area, we had no idea where the good snorkeling spots were but a guide went with us to help us out. He pulled up a sea urchin for us to look at and we saw a few fish swimming around the rocks. It was actually right before sunset so the sky was unbelievably gorgeous. Made it just a tad hard to see anything in the water but swimming in the warm water under a beautiful sky was an unforgettable experience, especially doing it with my family! My dad’s such a great sport, so adventurous! As we got back into the boat, the sun was on it’s way down so we spent the rest of the cruise just relaxing and watching the night sky fall. Want more about Costa Rica in your inbox? Subscribe to us ! I was really happy we went on this sailing excursion because it was a great bonding time for Yeison and my family and a wonderful way to spend time together in an more intimate setting. The service of Seabird was great. They kept us full with snacks and never let us have an empty hand, always bringing us drinks and they were great snorkeling guides too. There’s plenty of room on the boat to have one fairly large party and for those who don’t want to be out in the sun or sitting on the deck, there is a cockpit in the middle with cushy seats. If you come to Costa Rica and are staying near the beach, you owe it to yourself to go on a sailing cruise. It’s definitely the best way to see a typical beautiful Costa Rican sunset! Check out their Facebook for more info. If you like this article you can like us on FB by clicking below If you enjoyed this post, check out these other ones: Blue Dolphin Sailing Kayak Jaco Sailing Boating around the Gulf of Papagayo
Manuel Antonio National Park- Smallest but One of the Most Popular National Parks
Manuel Antonio National Park has quite a reputation. As the smallest national park in Costa Rica, it consists of 1,700 acres of land and over 130,000 acres of water. Don’t let the size fool you, it has been rated as one of 12 most beautiful national parks by Forbes in 2011 and is one of the most visited parks in the country with thousands of tourists coming every year. For anybody who is coming to visit Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National park is probably the place they’ve heard about the most. Manuel Antonio National Park This park was established back in 1972 when Costa Rica decided to preserve the immense natural beauty and biodiversity situated within. There is such a wide and vast variety of wildlife and nature found there that it is considered one of the most biologically diverse hotspots in the world. There are four beaches in the park and are of some of the most beautiful in Costa Rica with crystal clear waters, white sand and lush vegetation all around. Location Manuel Antonio National Park is on the Pacific coast, 120 miles from San Jose, an hour drive from Playa Jaco and just south of Quepos. Beaches The four beaches are Manuel Antonio, Playita, Espadilla Sur and Escondito and all are within the park. The most visited beaches are the one picture above and below, Playa Manuel Antonio and Playa Espadilla Sur. Both are very family friendly and there’s activities for everybody whether you want to surf, do yoga, sunbathe or play with your kids. You can walk on the rocks at Playa Manuel Antonio and explore some of the tidepools. There are some fantastic coral reefs around the area and snorkeling is possible to do here but you need to bring your own equipment. There is a point called Punta Catedral which is the highest of 236 feet and is found in between these two beaches. It is reachable by an hour long hike with an amazing view of the whole area. You will see many people surfing at this beach, para sailing, fishing, sailing and boogie boarding. The waves are higher so all that is possible but at Playa Manuel Antonio, waters are more calm and perfect for swimming and bathing. Wildlife The wildlife here is one of the best. Over 100 species of mammals and 180 species of birds can be found in the park and it is common to see white face monkeys, the endangered squirrel monkey, iguanas and lizards and 2 and 3 toed sloths. The short walk through the national park allows for many opportunities to see a wide variety of wildlife. We saw several families of white face monkeys, a sloth, squirrel monkeys and lizards and iguanas. We were fortunate to see a white face monkey hunting, catching and eating a lizard! It was an amazing part of nature that was incredible to see. Awesome wildlife encounters like these are common in the park. The white face monkeys are obviously used to humans as we saw several sneaking around some people and stealing their food. They have no fear and have come as close to us that we can reach out and touch it. They’re incredibly curious, one was playing with Yeison’s Go Pro and another looked through a telescope. Other animals you can see are toucans, racoons, coatis, and out in the water it is possible to see dolphins and whales. No matter what day you go, you’ll be guaranteed to see some monkeys at the very least! The Park The park has become a huge tourist destination and you’ll see lots of vendors, souvenir stalls and tour guides offering their services. If you want to hire a guide to walk with you through the park and point out things, look for one in a green shirt and more often than not, one will come up to you at some point. We didn’t hire one because we’d run into the guided groups at the trail and look on with them if they saw a sloth or something interesting. Entrance to the park with a big hotel right next to it The entrance of the park has currently relocated and you need to walk through the souvenir stalls to the entrance. You must buy a park ticket which is at a the Coopealianza office at the front of the park. It is $12 for a foreigner ticket and $3 for a Costa Rican (bank fees if you use a credit card). You might walk to the entrance thinking it is a bit odd to see so many businesses and hotels located right at the entrance of a national park. Tourism at Manuel Antonio has exploded and development has expanded into parts of the rainforest, but they work to keep the impact minimal and low. Infrastructure is quite modern and up to date with nicely paved roads and buildings. If you drive there, there is a parking lot near the end of the round-about that you have to pay for. I was actually shocked at how touristic this area is since I wasn’t used to a scene like this in Costa Rica. It almost felt like I was walking down Waikiki in Hawaii with so many people! Yeison and our friends visited Manuel Antonio a long time ago when there was no nice road or barely anything there so it was a shock for them to see it so developed too. The office to buy tickets As always with any popular tourist destination, there will be people trying to rip you off so ask around first to see how much things really cost. Don’t go flashing your money about and use your common sense. The park is open Tues – Sunday from 700 Am to 4 PM. It was fairly crowded when we went in the month of February due to it being the height of dry season. Want more national park guides like this? Subscribe to us ! Tips for Visiting The hike from the entrance to Playa Manuel Antonio is not very long (~30 minutes depending on how long you look at the animals) It is not necessary to wear hiking boots Bring your swimsuit. If you don’t want to wear it walking through the park, there are changing stations Keep your food in a closed bag at the beach so the monkeys don’t get it Go in the morning to avoid large crowds Bring binoculars and a camera with good zoom Try to pay with cash for the ticket to avoid extra fees Bring your own water and snacks – it’s expensive to buy there Many hotels will have shuttles going to and from the beach so if you don’t have a car, ask your hotel Temperatures are in the 80′s all year round with typical tropical dry and rainy seasons If you like this article you can like us on FB by clicking below This post is part of Travel Photo Discovery Mondays. If you like this post, you might also enjoy: Barra Honda National Park Rincon de la Vieja National Park Arenal Volcano National Park Poas Volcano National Park Palo Verde National Park
The Basic Survival Tips You Should Know for Your Trip to Vietnam
Vietnam is now a popular tourist destination for people all over the world, and the larger towns and cities cater well for foreign visitors. Of course, where there are tourists, there are many looking to take advantage of those without the local knowledge. This includes things like hard-sell tactics in the markets, which can intimidate European and American visitors. Here are some more things to be aware of if you are paying a visit to Vietnam in the near future: - If you use taxis, make sure your driver has – and uses – a meter. Using un-metered taxis is a good way to get ripped off. Try to agree on a price beforehand, and don’t listen to any silly surcharges en-route. - It’s actually very rare for foreigners to fall victim to serious crimes, as the punishments for crimes against tourists are strict to stop the country getting a bad rep among rich travellers. Exercise common sense while out and about – make sure your cash and cards are safe at your hotel, and always be vigilant in crowds. - You’ll find ambulances scarce and state hospitals aren’t up to the same standards as we would expect in Europe or the USA. There are a few international hospitals springing up in the big cities, so make sure you have decent travel insurance and keep the details on your person. - You must have protection against malaria and the illnesses like dengue fever. Most towns have a basic clinic and a pharmacy. Surprisingly, avian influenza (bird flu) is still a big concern in Vietnam. Don’t approach birds, especially in the rural areas. - Other common and preventable health problems for visitors to Vietnam are heatstroke and diarrhoea. Too much sun and dodgy food are the culprits, so try to drink lots of bottled water, wear a hat and use sunscreen. Make sure food is well-cooked, don’t drink the tap water and avoid alcohol, at least for the first few days. Shopping malls are air-conditioned, so take a few minutes to cool down in them if you need to. - The main language in Vietnam is Vietnamese, as you’d expect. It’s a tough nut to crack, with five accents and a tonal base, so anyone who tours Vietnam will struggle at first. It does, however, use the Roman alphabet, so you can read signs and maps, and write out addresses and names. A lot of younger Vietnamese people have some English, and older people might have a working knowledge of French, so there’ll be someone who can help you. - The currency of Vietnam is the dong and the notes come in denominations of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000. The coins are in 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000 denominations. US dollars are widely accepted, but street exchange rates aren’t that great. If you use $50 or $100 bills, you’ll get a better deal. Don’t put your trust in tatty dollar bills, though, as they might not be accepted. - Outside of Vietnam you might have a hard time getting hold of Vietnamese dong. What most people do is to take money out from an ATM when they get into the country. Cash machines are appearing in more places in Vietnam, especially in larger towns and cities. You’ll also see that many shops accept major credit and debit cards, like Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and Cirrus cards. Travel with a mixture of dollars, dong and traveller’s cheques if possible.
Meet Raphael from A Journey of Wonders
Today we are talking to Raphael from A Journey of Wonders. He’s a Mexican traveler who wants to set stereotypes straight and encourage other Mexicans to go out and see the world. He has some great photography, excellent personal and thought invoking essays and great stories to tell on his blog so be sure to check him out! Meet Raphael from A Journey of Wonders Selfie at Iguazu Falls, Brazil Please introduce yourself. A little bit of your background of you and your blog. Hi, I’m Raphael, a Mexican-born world-traveler who just recently started his blog, A Journey of Wonders, to chronicle my adventures, provide useful and practical advice to middle-class people like me to travel more and of course, to bridge the gap between the different cultures of the world in order to create a better global understanding among nations and individuals. Let’s just dive right in. Tell us a bit of your life growing up in Mexico and when was that moment when you knew you wanted to travel? To be honest, I wasn’t much of a traveler until 2012 when I left for Europe to study abroad and the travel bug grew in me. Before that, I was a very average guy who didn’t really have any interest in traveling within my own country. Whenever I saw my friends showcasing their photos of their latest trip to NYC, I never felt any jealousy or wanderlust, it was just not for me. Europe changed me for the good and now traveling is my passion and my job is to encourage more people to pursue it! Guanajuato, Mexico Travel moments: share with us some of your best/worst, favorite, etc. My favorite moment is the time I climbed the Great Wall of Chine, therefore completing my goal of visiting the 7 New Wonders of the World before turning 30. It was the epitome of two years of traveling and it sure brought me an immense sense of satisfaction. You can read all about my journey to the Wonders of the World here (http://journeywonders.com/2013/10/28/seven-new-wonders-of-the-world/ ). My worst experience is probably the time that I visited New Delhi’s Akshardham temple. Due to strict security measures, I had to leave my backpack, cellphone, passport and photo camera with the driver the hostel set up for me. I entered and everything went perfectly, however, upon exiting the temple, the driver was nowhere to be found! I panicked for what seemed like hours (although I’m sure it was only 20 minutes) before the driver came back, turns out he was hungry and left the premises to eat something before coming back to pick me up. Suffice to say, he didn’t get any tip from me and I actually reported him to the hostel. I still shudder to remember my panic upon thinking that I lost my passport and being left stranded in New Delhi of all places! Rajasthan, India I once got stopped for one hour at the Santiago airport because the border agent suspected me of being a drug dealer due to my “sketchy” itinerary plans. After convincing her for one hour with my story, she insisted for me to strip naked in order to make sure that I was not smuggling anything. Suffice to say, I managed to get her number in the end. Sadly, I never got to courage to call her after this experience! You have been to a great number of countries. What are some of your favorite places and where is a place that you know you’ll never go back (if that exists) Easter Island, no doubt about it. Clichéd as it may sound, that place surely is magical, especially because of the unique Rapa Nui culture and the fact that I visited during low season so I was the only guest at my hostel and got invited by the family for dinner every single day. Hearing their stories sure was more fascinating than the impressive Moais themselves. The place I would never go back? Though call but I’ll probably go with New Delhi. Don’t get me wrong; I totally love India, just not their capital. Chaotic, polluted and filled with con artists and other type of criminals. Just shameful. Extremely shameful. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia Tell us 3 reasons why we should visit Mexico besides the all inclusive resorts and tell us 3 places in Mexico that are slightly off radar that we should visit. Because Mexico has the highest number of Unesco World Heritage Sites in the continent! Seriously, the amount of cultural learning that one might have in Mexico is practically endless! My three most recommended places are Guanajuato, a romantic colonial town that has a museum showcasing the unique Mummies of Mexico. If you cannot afford traveling to Egypt, this is your best option! Another good option is my home town of Acapulco (http://journeywonders.com/2013/12/28/acapulco-home-sweet-home/ ), it used to be a very touristy place, much like Cancun is right now, but tourism has slowly died which is good because this city is able to maintain its pure Mexican style and today, if you visit, you’ll be surprised to see a city with amazing beaches without any kind of American influence. A true masterpiece, I must say. Tiger Kingdom, Thailand Last but not least, are the magnificent Mayan Ruins of Palenque, sure, Chichén-Itza is objectively more beautiful and touristy but Palenque is the one place where you can truly be transported to Mayan times, with its lush jungle captivating your senses on the way to the Pyramids. It is truly a breath-taking experience! Do you meet many Mexican travelers on the road? What are some of your experiences with that? Do you find yourself gravitating towards connecting with other Mexicans? In Europe and South America, I only met Mexican students who were on an exchange and took some time off to travel around the area. Sadly, the percentage of Mexican world-travelers is quite low. The reason for that is because most Mexican spend their holiday time within the country or in the United States of America, a small sizable portion of them go to Europe but they do so on organized tours so the chances of actually meeting them at hostels is null. Part of the reason I started this blog was to encourage Mexicans to travel abroad by themselves, without wasting their hard-earned money on the middleman and, in essence, travel more with less. What are some of the misconceptions people have about Mexico? Not exactly misconceptions but more like overall generalizations that are really off base. In the mind of the average tourist, Mexico is a strange mixture of bloody gang wars and all-inclusive beach resorts where nobody speaks Spanish. The truth is that those two generalizations are not the real Mexico. The real Mexico, to me, is the colonial cities, the magnificent pyramids and of course, the exquisite food and culture that one can only find here! Taj Mahal, India You have a post about dating someone from another country…have any experiences to back this up? Well, without being specific about all the candid details, let me tell you that I’ve either dated or “dated” (if you know what I mean!) women from all continents now except for Oceania (and Antarctica, of course). And no, I swear I don’t go chasing after those encounters, they just happen in the most natural way! Promise! Lastly, tell us your plans for 2014 I’m moving to Cancun this march for work-related reasons and I hope to save some money in order to visit Central America during the summer and go to New Zealand at the end of the year on a work holiday visa. I literally cannot wait to see what the future has in store for me! Blog: http://journeywonders.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JourneyWonders Twitter: https://twitter.com/journeywonders If you like this interview, check out some other travel bloggers: Where’s Sharon Ruthie’s Routes Frankaboutcroatia Hostelsandhotrollers Whywasteannualleave
5 Reasons Why We Loved Visiting Playa Jaco
Playa Jaco was the first beach town in Costa Rica to really explode in terms of growth and development and has given many opportunities to the town. However, as always with an increase in popularity with tourists you get some bad along with the good. Maybe you’ve heard not so good rumblings before but it’s always more great things than bad. There are many aspects about Jaco that will make you fall in love with it, beyond what is on the surface. We spent a week in Jaco as my first time there and Yeison’s first time in over 5 years. It has changed considerably since his last visit and he barely recognized half of the town. I was the fresh pair of eyes to observe and experience Jaco without any previous bias and despite what the rumors may say, Jaco is still a marvelous beach town in Costa Rica. Why We loved visiting Playa Jaco 1. Variety of Food One thing Playas del Coco lacks is variety of food and competition. As you walk through Jaco, you’ll see restaurants for all types of food: Italian, sushi, Mexican, Mediterranean. High quality international cuisine. The amount of businesses keep prices moderate and wallet friendly. We went to several sodas where you can get a casado and drink for around 2400 colones (~$5 dollars). 2. Scenery and Weather The nearby Rio Tarcoles keeps the jungles and hills surrounding Playa Jaco nice and green, even throughout dry season. Everything looks like a desert in Guanacaste since it’s incredibly hot and dry without water for many months of the year. Green is just so much prettier to look at than yellow! 3. Bird Watching It was common to see sightings of beautiful and colorful birds such as toucans and macaws around Jaco. You can hear the macaw lovebirds (they mate for life) and catch glimpses of the pairs flying from tree to tree. I love that it was normal to see them which is unusual for me! I’m used to seeing just howler monkeys around Guanacaste. Even though I’m not a huge bird lover, it’s impossible not to be fascinated by these gorgeous creatures. 4. Diversity of Activities Playa Jaco itself is not the prime place for nature and wildlife lovers but you need to go outside town just a couple kilometers to be in a jungle paradise. For outdoor lovers, there are a plethora of activities to enjoy such as hiking, kayaking, SUP, waterfalls, surfing, and more. If you’re interested in the outdoors but don’t want to get down and dirty, you can take ATV tours, boat cruises, ziplining, go horseback riding, sailing and much more. You can find activities for the mountains, ocean, jungle and river! 5. Infrastructure I have to admit, I was blown away by Jaco’s infrastructure. There are some very nice and modern buildings, high rise towers, and the street is in great condition. They even had parking lines! It’s hard to believe Jaco is a beach town in Costa Rica if you’ve seen what the other beach towns are like but it’s a refreshing change. Potholes? What are potholes? If you like this article you can like us on FB by clicking below Have you visited Jaco? What did you love or not love about it? Share in the comments below!