Photopost of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua – A Colorful Little Beach Town
San Juan del Sur is a fun little beach town in Nicaragua and it’s the one I always go to when I have to renew my tourist visa. Crossing the border is something all tourists need to do if they plan to be in the country for more than 90 days so I just head on over to Penas Blancas and spend some time in Costa Rica’s neighbor to the north. The last few times I’ve gone to San Juan, we didn’t do much besides grab a drink and walk around.This time, I took my camera with me to take some shots of this cute colorful town. It’s low season right now so the beach was fairly empty, there weren’t too many people in town but you can still see trucks full of surfers on the street corners and tourists with giant backpacks walking around here and there. San Juan del Sur is a popular destination for backpackers since it’s so cheap, there are a ton of other like minded souls and there’s a good amount of things to do in the area. It’s not too touristic to the point it makes you think that you’re not even in Nicaragua so there is a good mix of locals and foreigners. You can find a great variety of delicious food, lots of great surfing beaches nearby and it’s fairly easy to meet new people from all over the world. If you’re thinking about visiting Nicaragua and not sure where to go, San Juan is a great place for first time visitors. Just make sure you don’t tell them pura vida! Photo post of San Juan del Sur Click here to get more posts like this straight to your inbox!
Traveler Interview with Ivana and Gianni from Nomad is Beautiful
Travel is indeed beautiful and these two travelers, Ivana and Gianni are on an adventure discovering the beauty of a nomadic life and enjoying every second of it! Join us as we interview this multi-cultural couple about their decision to not only travel the world, but to better their health and lifestyle because of it. They are a huge inspiration to anyone who wants to do the same! Meet Ivana and Gianni from Nomad is Beautiful Please introduce yourselves. Where are you now and where are you from? Ivana: We are a Slovak-Italian couple who hit the road in October 2013 to enjoy what we love the most: travelling, writing and taking pictures. Gianni: We prefer to travel slowly and during the last eight months we’ve visited seven countries, starting with Thailand and continuing to Laos, Philippines, Borneo, Bali and Cambodia. Currently we are in London, but soon we’ll be heading to Slovakia, Czech Republic and Italy to see our families and friends. How did you come up with the tagline “Travels to delight the senses and replenish the spirit?” Gianni: Our story is related to a change of lifestyle. We quit smoking and drinking to save money for a RTW trip, which turned into a long-term journey. Ivana: We quit our bad habits and switched to healthier food and beverages, we started doing yoga and meditation more often, too. Since we don’t smoke and don’t drink alcohol, we can work on our mission to delight the senses, as we can taste more flavours and smell different smells more intensively than before. Caring about our soul and spirit just goes hand in hand with it, too. Why did you choose Thailand as your first destination for your big SE Asia adventure? Gianni: We had a big dilemma deciding between Thailand and India, but in the end the first option won. Why? Low monthly expenses and a reliable internet connection. We started blogging on the road, so we needed a place that would have it all. While doing research, I found out about Chiang Mai, which is one of the most popular digital nomad hubs in Thailand, if not in all of Southeast Asia. And that’s how we ended up in Thailand. Ivana, you’re from Slovakia and Gianni you’re from Italy. You two are quite the multicultural couple! Tell us about how you met Ivana: Well, that’s a very long story. But to keep it short, I’ll say this: we met in Prague in 2003 when I was doing a summer job there while still living in Slovakia and Gianni came for a vacation to the Czech Republic. We started a long distance relation, but it didn’t work and we split after one year. We were living our own lives, in different countries, without staying in touch with each other for seven years. But then, the bright side of social media put us back in touch when Gianni found me on Facebook. We reunited in London, where I was working at that time, went together for one week to Morocco. From there, I moved with one backpack straight to Frankfurt in Germany, where we lived together for two years before we started our trip. Well, that’s maybe not the shortest version, right? What are some of your best travel memories so far? Gianni: We love to step out from the plane and to breathe in new air and see a new airport, new streets and to taste new food. But to highlight the moments we’ve been keeping in our memories and our hearts, I would mention kayaking and swimming in a waterfall in Laos, ziplining in the Philippines and meeting a local healer in a village in the same country. Ivana: For me personally, one of the strongest moments was meeting Diane, a small girl who has been suffering from malnutrition in the Philippines and participating in one of the biggest Hindu festivals with the family we were staying with in Ubud, Bali. We spent some great moments with them. What made you guys decide to quit drinking and smoking in relation to traveling? Ivana: The initial idea was to quit smoking for our health. We had tried hard for many years before, but what we had been missing all that time was strong motivation. Then one day, Gianni got an idea to quit and save that money for a one-year trip around the world. Since both of us were quite active travellers, it gave us a big kick to start to think about the trip and save seriously. Gianni: Yes, we made a plan, we followed it, we read a lot of travel blogs to get inspired and that’s how we managed to cope with withdrawal symptoms and we have not touched cigarettes or alcohol since then. I love your photo essay section with fun themes such as “photos of people reading” and “monks doing mundane meditations” How did you come up with that idea for themes instead of a general photo essay? Gianni: It’s more challenging, more interesting and funnier when you keep an eye on a subject you want to focus on. Also in a way, that helps us to train our photographic eyes and to see details that we would not see if we would just go around and click without even thinking about what we want to communicate through our photography. Tell us what’s next for Nomad is Beautiful? Ivana: We are about to start our four-month tour in Europe, which includes UK, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovenia, Italy and Greece. And after that? Stay tuned on our social media to get more updates! Blog Facebook Twitter Google+ Instagram Bio: We are Ivana and Gianni, a digital nomad couple who broke their old habits to live a new, healthy lifestyle on the road. On our journey, through our stories and photographs, we show you places where you can replenish your spirit, take good care of your body, enjoy eco adventures, eat and drink healthy and live mindfully while being on the road.
How to Travel in Playas del Coco for $50 a Day
I’m sure you have heard that Costa Rica is expensive. I’ve mentioned it a few times in my past articles including a list of products that are more expensive in Costa Rica than the United States, however I also published a piece on how Yeison and I live in Costa Rica for $1500 a month. It all depends on your standard of living as to how much your monthly expenses are but we live comfortably and don’t spend a lot doing it What about traveling? Although Costa Rica is more expensive than other Central American countries to travel in, you can perfectly keep your budget and not break your wallet. It is quite possible to find great deals, cheap tasty eats and free things to do. This applies to Playas del Coco as well, one of the most expensive places in Costa Rica. There are several ways to cut your expenses while traveling here if you look around. It may take a bit of work however, start researching well before your trip date and you can drastically reduce your expenses. How to travel in Playas del Coco for $50 a day Accommodation If you are flexible in travel dates, try to come during green season (April-Dec) as rates are cheaper. Dry season rates are more expensive. The weeks of Christmas, New Year and Easter are known as peak season which is the most expensive time of the year. You will need to steer away from the generic travel search engines like Hotels.com or Expedia as you’ll see the average price for one night is around $100. Try these options instead. Couchsurf - Join couchsurfing.org and you can find a good handful of people who are open to hosting couchsurfers in Playas del Coco (sorry guys we used to but we’re leaving soon so our couch is closed). Couchsurfing is a great way to stay for free, meet new people and get advice and tips from a local. Rent apartments - Renting an apartment is a popular choice in Coco and usually you can find a good deal. On Airbnb you can find fully furnished condos for $50 a day and most of them come with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a pool. For a local contact, check out Cocorelax. They have condos and a house for rent. Hostels - Choices are limited when it comes to hostels in Coco but there are a couple scattered around town offering a bed for around $15. They may not be the nicest, but it’s a good price when all you need is a place to sleep and shower. It’s hard to find them online but if you walk towards the beach from downtown Coco, you will see signs close to the soccer field. House Sit/Rent a room - Many of the North Americans who live here are snowbirds meaning they come down for the winter months and go back north during the summer months. Most of them own a condo or a house and then find someone to house-sit for them when they’re gone. - This a fabulous option if you’re traveling in Coco long term. One of my friends rented a room in a house for $200 a month and he enjoyed the entire property, used the bike and was even able to foster a dog while the homeowner was in Canada. That’s less than $10 a day! - The best months to do this is rainy season here, so April – Nov. when all the snowbirds are gone. Check out some Facebook groups to get in touch such as House Sitting World. There are a few other budget places that are as low as $25 – $30 a night. Check out Hotel M&M or Cabinas Coco Azul for a couple of ideas. Food It’s OK if you don’t like Costa Rican food. Actually in Coco, there are only a couple sodas and the rest serve various cuisines like American, Italian and seafood so you have a few choices. The prices for eating out in Coco are the same as what I experienced in the States, about $10 a plate. Even the sodas here are expensive! It’s hard to find a place that sells food for less than that but there a couple around town that are cheap and very good. My favorite places to go are: Le Coq - This is a Lebanese place that sells plates starting at 2000 colones (~$4). This is one of my new favorite places to eat. They have great dishes like falafels, wraps and now they’re serving baklava, yum! It’s cheap and will definitely fill you up. Ticos Bakery - You can find breads, pastries and sandwiches and you have to try a potato enchilada or empanada here (not the Mexican ones). They are so addictive! You can get a couple of pastries and fill up easily for a few bucks. Tacos de los arcos - Who doesn’t love a good taco? This new Mexican taco place is fabulous and the price is even better. Tacos are 500 colones (~$1) a piece and their pastor taco is the best. They share the space with a smoothie place so you can get a couple tacos and a smoothie for cheap. Gusticos - This little soda is inside Super Compro (one of the supermarkets) and they serve traditional Costa Rican food. You can get breakfast here for as low as $3 and it comes with a big plate of gallo pinto, eggs, toast and coffee. Lunch specials are around $5 with various dishes. The most expensive restaurants are the ones on the beach. You’ll notice that they are frequented mostly by tourists, not locals so steer clear of those ones if you want to stay under your budget. If you want to enjoy a beer or a cocktail, most of the bars offer Happy Hour from 11 AM to 7 PM. A beer is around 1000 colones ($2). One of our favorite sodas is Los Pelones but it’s not super cheap at $6 for breakfast and $8 for lunch/dinner. A new soda opened up called Alo Tico and it is moderately priced around $7 with taxes and a small dessert included for dinner. To check out the supermarkets in Coco, we have a grocery store comparison article. You can read about the four (yes four) supermarkets that are here and their variation in prices. Transportation If you’re not renting a car, you can get around Coco fairly easily. Luckily it is a small town where most things are within walking distance. If you don’t feel like walking due to the heat or laziness, you can rent a golf cart or a bike. High season rates for golf carts are $45 for 24 hours and are considerably cheaper in green season. There are plenty of taxis available which you can find all lined up by Auto Mercado and throughout downtown Coco. Activities and Tours This is what’s going to burn a hole in your wallet. Tours are expensive, especially if you don’t have a car or any form of transportation. If you’re truly on a budget and can’t afford to spend $50 – $100 on a tour, then your best bet is to do what’s available and free: go to the beach. Coco beach - Coco beach is very suitable for swimming. You can also lay down a blanket, relax on the sand, read a book, have a picnic, take photos or walk along the beach since it is fairly long (3 km). - You can buy basic fishing gear at the Jobo on the road to Ocotal including bait, the reel and line and try your hand at shore fishing. - You can rent kayaks on the beach for about $10 an hour. One place is Cafe la Playa - On certain nights, it’s common for bars to have live music so you can grab a drink at the beach and enjoy some tunes. Also on some days, there are music performances or shows in the park. Check What’s up Coco or El Coco Connect’s Facebook to keep up to date with all the happenings around town. Playa Ocotal - Ocotal is another beach fairly close to Coco. You can bike there or grab a taxi which will cost a few dollars. - You can rent snorkel gear (snorkeling is good here), kayaks, canoes and other equipment Playa Hermosa and Playa Panama - These are two beaches about a 10 minute drive from Coco. Both beaches are similar to Coco with calm waters to swim in. You can take a little beach hopping day trip by taking the bus or a taxi and both beaches have fabulous views to watch the sunset. Art Gallery - If you like art, there is the Hidden Art Gallery near Coco (about 15 minute drive) and they have various exhibits of Costa Rican artists. On Saturdays they have a vendor fair where you can buy specialty foods, beauty products and more. The entrance fee is free but if you don’t have a car, you’ll need to take a taxi here as the fastest and easiest option. Yoga - Yoga is the hot trend right now and doing it on the beach is even more popular. On certain days, there are open yoga sessions at the park. Check Impulso Sano Yoga & Wellness center to see their schedule for yoga classes and beach sessions SUP (stand up paddle boarding) - SUP is pretty fun and is super popular. If you’ve never done it before, it’s a great activity that’s also a good workout. To try it out, Pacific Coast SUP has 1 hour lessons for $30 at Coco beach Unfortunately, there are very limited options when it comes to tours less than $50. There is one boat tour called Arroyo Adventures that has a cruise for $40. It’s actually a great price since it’s all day including food, taking you around the Gulf of Papagayo, kayaks and snorkel gear. Other cruises run around $70 or $80 for half day tours. Enjoy Coco without spending too much You can perfectly travel in Coco spending less than $50 a day and still have an awesome time. There are a couple things about Coco you should definitely try to take advantage of such as scuba diving or boating around the Gulf of Papagayo. There are plenty of secret beaches here and many opportunities to see some marine wildlife. It’s great to travel on a budget but sometimes it’s completely worth every penny to do something you would never have the chance to do otherwise. Costa Rica is a wonderful country with so much to see and it’d be a shame to miss out on a great experience. Budget your trip wisely, do the proper research before you come and you will see that your money can stretch out further than you’d imagine. Think outside the tourist box and you’ll be surprised at how much you can save! Want more posts like this? Click here to get them straight to your inbox! More tips Tim Ferris is a guy who has a blog that I love about making a four hour work week and his article on how to Travel Hong Kong, Paris and NYC for $50 a day is where I got the inspiration to make this post. He also has a fabulous book about traveling on a budget called Vagabonding. Check it out for top notch tips!
Romantic Destinations in Costa Rica For Couples to Fall in Love All Over Again
Costa Rica is a country filled with everything to fall in love with: amazing wildlife, breathtaking natural landmarks, beautiful landscapes, gorgeous beaches, friendly people, easy going lifestyle, delicious tropical fruit and the list goes on. It’s become a popular destination for every kind of traveler, especially couples. There are plenty of fabulous activities for couples to experience together and there are certain places in the country that has romance written all over it. If you’re looking to rekindle that spark in your relationship or just want to spend a vacation of a lifetime with your loved one, Costa Rica offers the perfect mix of intimacy and adventure. All of these places have something special about it and make you feel like you’re in the ultimate paradise. So what are you waiting for? Find out which one of these romantic destinations is the perfect one for you and your special someone to have a luxurious romantic getaway! Romantic Destinations in Costa Rica Arenal Arenal Springs – Source The Arenal Volcano area including La Fortuna and Nuevo Arenal is chock full of romantic places for couples. Some of the most luxurious and extravagant hotels in the country are in Arenal such as the Arenal Springs Resort, Arenal Nayara, Arenal Kioro, Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, Hotel Kokoro and the Lost Iguana Resort. All the hotels offer spectacular views of Arenal volcano and many have spas, hot springs, luxury rooms. They’ll pamper you and your loved one like you’ve never been pampered before! Indulge, relax and enjoy each others company in the luscious rainforests of Arenal. Some activities couples can enjoy are canopy tours (ziplining), rappelling, hot springs, visiting La Fortuna waterfall and the spas. Soaking in the natural hot springs of Arenal is an absolute must! Manuel Antonio National Park Manuel Antonio is another premiere destination in Costa Rica for couples. The beaches are world recognized for being not only some of the cleanest, but the most beautiful. It is easy to have a day filled with wildlife encounters as monkeys, sloths and iguanas are commonly seen throughout the park. Manuel Antonio national park is also known as one of the most beautiful national parks according to Forbes and you can spend an exciting day para sailing, scuba diving, horseback riding. Relax at the end of the day by watching spectacular sunsets on the beach. Some of the most romantic and luxurious hotels in Manuel Antonio are Hotel Parador, Tulemar, Gaia Hotel, Hotel La Mariposa and the Falls Resort. Their views are just stunning and it almost makes you not want to leave the hotel! Gulf of Papagayo There is a reason why so many celebrities are visiting Guanacaste lately, particularly the Gulf of Papagayo. The Gulf of Papagayo boasts the best of everything Costa Rica has to offer: beaches, wildlife, nature, great weather and natural landmarks. You can be snorkeling with sea turtles in the morning and then having a drink on the beach in the evening watching the sun go down. If you’re looking for a personal and private vacation with your loved one, the Gulf of Papagayo has a myriad of hidden beaches that you can easily have all to yourself. Talk about intimate! Some of the most extravagant and lavish hotels in the Gulf are the Four Seasons Resort, Hilton Papagayo, Andaz Papagayo Peninsula Resort, Hotel Riu and the Occidental Grand Papagayo. Santa Teresa Picture taken by Mor Doanis, Source Santa Teresa is another popular destination in Costa Rica, particularly with surfers and pure beach bums. With three beautiful beaches all in a row, Mal Pais, Santa Teresa and Playa Carmen, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the wild side of Costa Rica. There’s a little bit of everything for couples who want adventure, relaxation, a bit of thrill and more. Santa Teresa has a few highly rated restaurants for the foodie couples and the beach views are like no other. Cozy up with your partner and enjoy a romantic evening on the beach. Jaco Playa Jaco and the town itself may not scream romance but if you venture outside a bit, you can find some of the most exciting activities, not to mention amazing views and a ton of wildlife. For the outdoorsy and adventurous couple, they will have a blast in Jaco. They can try their hand at SUP (stand up paddle boarding), kayaking, sunset sailing, fishing, canoeing, hiking, surfing and exploring waterfalls. Surfing is a must at Playa Jaco and there a few surf and yoga camps that offer camps and lessons. For a romantic getaway, don’t look for hotels right in Jaco. Instead, look for a place that is near Bahia Herradura or just on the outskirts of town. You’ll be amazed at how secluded and intimate it is! Hotel Doce Lunas is a 4 star luxury hotel just a couple minutes drive out of Jaco and it feels like you’re in the middle of the jungle, not near a bustling beach town. Playa Conchal Playa Conchal is one of the most famous beaches in Guanacaste. It’s known for having Caribbean like characteristics with white sand and clear blue water. It has one more special characteristic with little pieces of shells instead of sand! Right behind Playa Conchal is the Westin so it is a popular place for weddings, anniversaries and honeymoons. With such stunning water and scenery, this is one of the best places for a romantic destination in Costa Rica. However, it is not as private since there is a resort right next to the beach. Playa Conchal is commonly crowded, full of families and other travelers so if you and your loved one aren’t looking for the ultimate private vacation, Playa Conchal is a great option. It is also close to Playa Flamingo, another popular white sand clear water beach. Want more Costa Rica in your inbox? Click here to receive updates! No matter where you go in Costa Rica, you and your partner will have a wonderful time. You’ll leave with many fun memories, feel closer than ever and fall in love with the country and even more with each other! Where are your favorite romantic destinations in Costa Rica? Share them in the comments below!
Interview with Wes and Brittany from EatSleepLiveEcuador
If you’re looking for information on visiting or living in Ecuador, Wes and Brittany are a couple living in Ecuador and have some great resources and information on their blog, EatSleepLiveEcuador. They’re currently living there right now, sharing their travels and adventures in this South American country. Read more about them here! Meet Wes and Brittany from EatSleepLiveEcuador Please introduce yourself. A little bit about you and your blog. Hi! We’re Wes and Brittany and we’re the faces behind EatSleepLiveEcuador.com. We are have been married three years now, and are originally from the States, Brittany from Maine, Wes from Wisconsin. Our blog follows our daily life and travels here in Ecuador. Our motto is “Follow us as we discover what it’s like to Eat, Sleep and Live in Ecuador”- hence the name:) What are your travel styles like? Since we’re a young, newly married couple, we would definitely have to put ourselves more in the ‘budget’ travel category. We want to do and see everything, but get the best deal as well. Don’t get us wrong, we do “go all out” from time to time, but our general rule of thumb is to be budget friendly. As far as our traveling time frame goes, we definitely like to “stop and smell the roses” so to say and take our time when visiting new areas. Here in Ecuador there’s so much to see and do, we would be doing ourselves an injustice is we raced to see it all. Every place has a story and we want to know what that story is. Share with us some of your favorite travel moments and favorite countries Brittany- I have traveled quite a bit, but I would say one of favorite countries I’ve traveled to was Austria. When most people think of taking a European vacation, they tend to visit big cities like London, Paris or Madrid. The truth is though, they really don’t know what they’re missing out on. These less “popular” countries are gold in my book. For example, Austria was absolutely stunning! Everywhere I looked seemed as though it came out of a magazine. The country was extremely clean, the people were very friendly and the landscape was truly breath-taking. Let’s just say that as a photographer, it was not hard to find my next ‘shot.’ Wes- I’ve traveled quite a bit as well, even before we were married and I have to say Greece was probably one of my favorite places to visit. The architecture was amazing, the weather was great and the history in that country can’t be compared. The gyros were amazing as well! You guys are living in Ecuador now. Tell us about your first trip there and what made you want to stay? Our first trip to Ecuador was in January 2013. We were living in the States, working typical 9-5 jobs and really wanted to try something new. We both love traveling, but since we were newly married, didn’t have the time, nor money to do much traveling. We are definitely goal oriented people though and decided in the summer of 2012 that we were going to make a goal to move to another country by January 2013. We know that may sound a little crazy, probably because it is, but we were willing to see if we could accomplish it. Six months later, we were on a plane to Guayaquil. We loved everything about Ecuador-the fresh fruits and veggies, the low cost of living, the friendly locals and most importantly, the variety of places to see in such a small country. Many don’t realize Ecuador isn’t just the Andes Mountains. It also has a beautiful coastline, desert and is home to the Amazon Jungle- How cool is that?! What was the hardest part of moving to Ecuador? Anything you wish you would’ve known before you moved? The hardest part about moving to Ecuador was leaving all of our family and friends, but that’s what you sacrifice when moving abroad. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for us to make some great new friends with the locals here in Ecuador. The gringo population is also quite large, especially in the bigger cities, so it’s always nice to meet some expats around town. There are many questions we had about living in Ecuador before we came. We tried “googling” most of our questions, but many we just couldn’t find a satisfying answer to. Let’s just say when came, we really had no idea what to expect. For this reason, we started eatsleepliveecuador.com. We knew how frustrating it was when we weren’t able to find answers to our questions, so we wanted it make it easy for others. This way, we hope to help our readers find answers to their questions and get an idea of what to expect here in Ecuador. Give us 3 reasons to visit Ecuador Ok, well if we can only pick three, we would have to say: #1- The landscape as a whole. While most countries only offer 1 or 2 different terrains, Ecuador offers a variety. From the Andes Mountains that run directly throught the middle of the country, to the stunning beaches on the coast, to the Amazon Jungle in the east, Ecuador has a variety of sights, all worth exploring. And don’t forget, Ecuador’s home to the unique Galapagos Islands! #2- The architecture. Believe it or not, Ecuador has lots of beautiful colonial style buildings, especially in the bigger cities like Quito and Cuenca. If you’re a photographer, you will hit the photo jackpot here. #3- The culture. History buff or not, Ecuador has lots of culture and history to be explored. Depending on the area of the country you are in, you can get aquainted quite quickly with the locals, learn about their traditions and see what part of the country their family originated, just by observing their traditional clothing. Are you currently working? Honestly, we do a little bit of everything to support our love of travel. We currently teach English online, manage a few blogs other than our own and we also do social media management for other websites. Basically, we do whatever it takes to allow us to continue living and traveling here in Ecuador. Tell us about plans for 2014 travel plans As far as our plans for 2014, we just want to continue traveling and exploring new areas of Ecuador. We also plan to hopefully make our first trip to the Galapagos Islands this fall and finally make our way down to Machu Picchu in Peru. Blog Facebook