Posts Tagged ‘white sand beach’

Marvelous Manzanillo

Posted in Costa Rica on February 1st, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

On Thursday, January 28th, we had a delish brunch at Bread and Chocolate (I got an everything bagel with spicy chipotle cream cheese… it’s spicy!… for 1,000 colones) before hopping on the 11:45am public bus to tiny Manzanillo. The ride took about 40 minutes and cost 490 colones. It stops a lot; this is how locals get to the grocery store if they don’t have a car.

Manzanillo is a dinky 2 block town that is quiet and empty on the weekdays, and suddenly turns into a bbq beach party for locals from all over on the weekends. Manzanillo has about 200 residents and the town is centered around Maxi’s bar/restaurant near the fantastic white sand beach. There’s a school, a few sodas, 2 grocery stores, and a handful of places to stay in the town.

Playa Manzanillo, Costa Rica

We stayed at Cabinas Faya Lobi where we had a double room with a hot water shower, mosquito net, communal kitchen and free bottled water for $25 a night. There is no internet in the town, only one computer with a dial-up connection that seems to be perpetually down at a Cafe Ooh-La-La.

The afternoon was spent swimming in the ocean and walking south down the beach into the forest on a trail where we immediately saw 2 howler monkeys!

Howler Monkey - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

Not far down the trail you can find Punta Manzanillo which provides a fantastic view.

Punta Manzanillo, Costa Rica

After refueling at our hotel we  headed to Maxi’s restaurant for dinner. I got the vegetarian caribbean plate of onions and peppers in a tasty sauce with cabbage salad, rice and beans, and fried plantains for 2,400 colones. It was way too much food for me. Ryan got a chicken with rice dish with salad and fried plantains for 3,250 colones. The 10% tip and 13% tax are not included in the prices. It was ok but we didn’t think it was worth the price when we can just use the kitchen at Faya Lobi.

Street - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

On the way back we stopped at the grocery store to buy beer and a bar of soap (460 colones). The evening was passed drinking beer and playing chess. We met two other travelers from Portland who are on the first leg of what will be a 7 month trip. There was a rock ice limon beer left in the fridge so we tried and it was nasty! It tasted like a glass of salt water with lemon, or a tequila shot gone horribly wrong. Awful.

Sunset - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

On Friday, January 29th, we hiked through the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve. Here’s a post just on this mini-adventure: Hike through Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

We were sort of worn out from our hike in the Reserve, so most of Saturday, January 30th, was spent hanging out on the beach. It’s much more crowded on the weekends because a lot of locals drive here to picnic, bbq, and enjoy the beach. For dinner we made guacamole and I chopped up a huge carrot to eat it with instead of chips. Not peeling or cooking the carrot turned out to be a mistake; it made me sick for days.

Playa Manzanillo, Costa Rica

By Sunday, January 31st, Ryan’s toe that was bit by the ant had swelled up like a sausage (see the post about our hike in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve). He also discovered 4 massive mystery bug bites on his arm. I’ve never seen bug bites so big, they were like 50 cent pieces! Ryan was buying himself these mini ice cream sandwiches every night from the same store. The first night they cost 200 colones. Then they cost 300 colones. Then 350! That’s a 75% price increase in 4 days. That’s what happens when you shop at local stores; the prices are never marked so items end up costing whatever the clerk feels like charging you.

Sunday was our last day in Manzanillo. It was a good last day because we got to see 2 toucans from our hotel, as well as some kind of firefly-like bug at night!

Toucan - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

Five lazy days in Puerto Viejo

Posted in Costa Rica on January 26th, 2010 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

We’ve been laying really low the last 5 days because Ryan has been really sick (probably from eating questionable chicken) so from January 22nd to the 26th we spent our mornings in the hostel and our afternoons relaxing and people watching on the beach.

Beach crowd - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Locals arguing - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Ryan was relegated to a diet of powerade, ramen, and pizza, but I continued to be adventurous and try various foods including rice and vegetables with fried plantains and salad for 2,500 colones from Sunrise Backpackers (tasty, large plate of food), a veggie burger from Veronica’s for 2,500 colones (it was just ok), cheese pizza from Pizza Boruca for 850 colones (good and cheap) and pb&j with salad for 2,200 colones from Bread and Chocolate (very good).

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

The dog that lives at Hostel Pagalú, we think his name is teddy, has a funny habit of walking around and around this tiny palm tree in the yard very very slowly. He’s a sweet dog, we think he is a rescued stray. There are a ton of stray dogs here and they’re much friendlier than the strays in Indonesia.

I’ve noticed that families start early in this part of the world. We’ve seen tons of pregnant young teenage girls and older teens with multiple children. There is also constant PDA no matter where you look; a stark contrast to Indonesia where even holding hands in public is looked down upon. The people here seem very happy despite the poverty and terrible living conditions that affect many of the locals.

Locals - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Local girls - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

One night, after eating dinner at Ali Baba, we were approached by a hippie looking old white dude. He told us he was a comedian magician and he entertained us with jokes and card tricks for about 15 minutes. He had us laughing a lot, so we gave him a donation of 500 colones. My favorite joke was “How many deadheads does it take to change a lightbulb?” “None, they just let it burn out then follow it around for 20 years.”

There are wild horses that roam the beaches here. The stray dogs like to herd them.

Wild horse - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

On Sunday, January 24th we saw eels, crabs and an octopus under some coral at the beach when the tide was really low. While there we played fetch with 2 stray black lab sisters who insisted on fetching the stick as a team.

Stray dogs - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

On Tuesday, January 26th Ryan started to feel better so we rented bikes again and rode to Playa Cocles. We watched the surfers and collected shells.

Surfers - Playa Cocles, Costa Rica

I bought a coconut from an old guy with a machete for 430 colones. It was yummy.

Drinking from a coconut - Playa Cocles, Costa Rica

We rode on to Playa Chiquita and I bought a watermelon from some guys in a truck for 1,000 colones. We parked our bikes and walked south along the beach. We saw the same fishing yellow lab again and we collected a lot more shells.

Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day. We’re going to the Jaguar Rescue Center where we will see sloths, monkeys and snakes!

Sunset - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Bike ride to Punta Uva

Posted in Costa Rica on January 24th, 2010 by Vagablonding – 2 Comments

We heard that Punta Uva, 6km south of Puerto Viejo, is one of the best beaches in the world, and THE best in Costa Rica.  Of course we had to check it out.

On Thursday, January 21st we rented bikes for the day for 2,000 colones each, and headed south. On the way to Punta Uva we stopped at the end of Playa Cocles to take a break from the hot sun.

Playa Cocles, Costa Rica

Playa Cocles, Costa Rica

We rode on to Playa Chiquita for some swimming. Ryan made friends with a super cute yellow lab that was fishing for something and jumping around in the waves with us.

Dog - Playa Chiquita, Costa Rica

After our swim break we stopped at a store for a guava juice (615 colones) break. Next we grabbed some food from a place just before Punta Uva. I had rice and beans with salad for 1,800, and Ryan had the same with chicken for 2,500. We didn’t know it then but this turned out to be a terrible idea.

Post-lunch we finally got to Punta Uva. We were already pretty sunburned but we ignored it (oops) and frolicked in the sun and water anyway. Punta Uva is an incredibly gorgeous white sand beach lined with palm trees stretching to the water. I even tried my hand at climbing one, but I kind of sucked at it.

Punta Uva, Costa Rica

Climbing a Palm Tree - Punta Uva, Costa Rica

Before it got dark we rode home and turned in our bikes. We went to Bread and Chocolate for dinner where I got a fantastic Mattwich (sandwich with cream cheese and avocado on wheat bread made at the restaurant) with salad for 2,500 colones. Ryan had a turkey bacon sandwich with fruit for 3,200 colones and a pineapple yogurt smoothie for 1,400 colones. We also split another one of those tasty mint chocolate brownies; we earned it!

Sun, Sand, Sloths, and Sandwiches in Puerto Viejo

Posted in Costa Rica on January 22nd, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

The hot water in our place at Coco Loco Lodge didn’t work and the wifi didn’t reach our room so we decided to move. After looking at a few places we decided on Hostel Pagalú which we moved to on Wednesday, January 20th. We LOVE this new place! for $28 a night we have a clean and nice room with a double bed, ceiling fan, bathroom with an amazing hot water shower, lovely common area, free wifi, and a common kitchen. This is the nicest hostel I’ve seen; I highly recommend Hostel Pagalú.

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Kids - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

On Tuesday, January 19th we spent the day taking a long walk south down the white sand Playa Cocles  and through a forest path along the ocean. We sat and watched surfers for a while; one surfer was doing handstands on his board. We also saw three sloths: one in palm tree, one in a more sloth-friendly tree, and one dead sloth on the ground, with it’s back leg still clutching a branch :(

Sloth - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Island - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

When we returned we went to dinner at Soda Flip Flop where Ryan got a hamburger for 1,200 colones and I got nachos for 1,500 colones. Then we went to the Mega Super grocery store to buy bread, jam, a mango, and beer before turning in for the night.

Forest - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

On the morning of Wednesdsay, January 20th we moved to Hostel Pagalu. After that we went to lunch at a place called Bread and Chocolate which we heard was fantastic. It is. I had a delicious veggie sandwich with a huge salad for 2,500 colones, and Ryan had a blt with fruit for 2,500 colones. We split a mint chocolate brownie for 1,000 colones and it was probably the best brownie I have ever eaten. The chocolate is so good because it’s made locally.

Bread and Chocolate Veggie Sandwich - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

We spent the afternoon hanging out on Playa Negra the black sand beach  just chillin and swimming. I found a stick and played coconut baseball for a while,  and a super cute stray bud dog hung out with us for a bit.

Stray dog - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

We went to dinner at Soda Flip Flop again where I got a spicy fish taco for 1,450 colones and Ryan ordered spaghetti boloñesa for 2,600 colones.

Then we headed to bed. Tomorrow we are going to rent bikes and ride further south to Punta Uva, supposedly one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Sunset - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Posted in Costa Rica on January 18th, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

Ryan and I made a last minute decision to take off to Costa Rica for 18 days. So far I think we made the right choice :)

Beach - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

We arrived at the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica on Sunday January 17th at 7:30pm. After some searching, we found the driver of the shuttle that we had arranged to take us to our hotel, the Costa Rica Guesthouse, for $22. We only spent one night. The single room with a king bed and private bathroom cost us $45. The rooms were clean and nice, but we were very itchy in the bed. The shared bathrooms looked nice and clean and if I were to stay here again I’d save money and go with a single room with a shared bathroom.

We were supposed to get up early on the morning of Monday, January 18th to catch our 6am bus to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. I set our alarm to wake us up at 4am, but then we slept in until 5:10am. Oops. I rushed around throwing our things back in our packs while Ryan went to the front desk and managed to convey to the clerk in his very limited Spanish (far better than my non-existent Spanish) that we needed a taxi. The taxi arrived at 5:30am. The driver had a fast and crazy driving style and we flew to the bus station in about 10 minutes. I had a huge shit-eating grin on my face the whole time because I love an adventure! After paying the $3 cab fare, we bought two tickets to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca for 4,290 colones each.

Out the window of the bus we could see some stunning lush scenery, including vast cloud forests with waterfalls and rivers. This is truely a gorgeous country. The bus ride took 4 hours and we managed to sleep for a bit of it. The buses don’t have bathrooms but we did take a 15 minute break in Limon about halfway through the ride. The public buses look pretty similar to Greyhound buses inside and out, but without a bathroom in the back.

At 10:10am we arrived in Puerto Viejo on the southern Caribbean coast. The weather here is sunny and fairly hot, but definitely bearble. Our accommodations here are at the Coco Loco Lodge where we have a clean one bedroom bungalow with a full kitchen, double bed, bathroom, and porch with a hammock (yay!). The room is $55 a night which is more than we’d like to pay but since this is high season most places are booked up so we have to take what we can get.

While waiting for our room to be cleaned we took a stroll around the village. The highlight of this walk was the momma sloth and baby sloth we saw chilling in a tree right outside the place we got lunch! I was so excited; sloths are my favorite animals. Our lunch was excellent too: falafel sandwiches for 2,000 colones each.

Sloth - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

After our walk we went back to our room and got ready to go to the black sand beach. The ocean is too rough to snorkel but we had a blast alternating laying in the hot sun and playing in the waves to cool off. Unfortunatly, laying in the sun was so comfy we both fell asleep and got a little sunburnt. Oops.

Beach sign - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

When the sun started to set we headed back to our room to clean up and then went to dinner. Ryan got a slice of pizza from Pizza Boruca for 875 colones, then we went to Soda Flip Flop where I got a grande red bean taco for 1,500 colones and we split a plate of chips with some delicious guacamole for 1,500 colones.

We hit up the Super Mart gorcery store on the way home to buy juice, a mango, beer, and water. Everything except fruit products are more expensive here than they are at home. You’re not supposed to drink the water in Puerto Viejo (which I found out after already drinking some earlier in the day, oops AGAIN, hopefully I don’t get sick), though the water in San Jose is safe to drink. But, of course, beer is always a good choice. Travelers should note that there is some forced recycling in place here: you can’t buy bottled beer without bringing in an empty bottle to exchange for it, so if you don’t have a bottle either pay the steeper price, or go find one!