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Costa Rica

    Central America

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    A Step Back in Time

    Location: Malpais Costa Rica

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    No matter how you spell it, it’s laid back.

     

    Getting here isn’t easy.  We found ourselves bumping along dusty dirt roads on the six-hour drive from Coco Beach.  With each passing mile we were transported back to another time.  A slower time.  Malpais is lost in time.  It’s time to slow down in Malpais Costa Rica.

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Rocky beaches

    Long just a fishing and cattle-farming village, Malpais (often spelled Mal Pais) has become popular among surfers and adventure travelers around the world. Recently, Forbes Magazine voted the beaches of Malpais and neighboring Santa Teresa as “One of the ten most beautiful in the world.”

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Our beachfront Airbnb

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Amazing sunsets

    I don’t know if I would put the beaches on my top ten beach list, but I would definitely rank it at the top for sunsets.  Our fabulous little hidden Airbnb offers a spectacular west-facing view of the Pacific and the nightly sunset show is sublime.

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Dusty roads

    Malpais means “bad land” or “bad country”, with the name originating from the dry dusty waterless conditions during the summer.  The town of Malpais is teeny, stretching only about 6km from the village of Santa Teresa to the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve.  Santa Teresa is about 2km from our Airbnb.  Because Malpais is so small (just a tiny convenience store, a church, a school and one restaurant), we walk to Santa Teresa for our groceries and restaurant needs.

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Surfer paradise

    This part of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula is often referred to as Malpais – inclusive of Playa Carmen, Santa Teresa and Malpais.

    Surfing is now king in the area, taking over from to the old days of farming.  Fishing still also reigns and fresh fish is available most days at the pier. Don’t ask what time though – when the fisherman come.  That’s what time.

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve

    In Santa Teresa shops and restaurants, hostels and a few hotels cater to the twenty-something surfing crowd.  Young kids outnumber us fabulous fifties 100 to one.  I can’t help wonder where are these kids all from and how do they sustain this lifestyle?

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Tide pools

    There is a long sandy beach at Santa Teresa (where most the surfing takes place) but in Malpais the beach is mostly of unique rock formations pocked with deep holes where both fish and humans soak the day away in the bathtub-like water.  Well, until the tide comes in and covers these pools until the next day.

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Tide pool

    No watch needed, your day consists of morning yoga, noon tide pools, dinner following the sunset.  Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

    What do you do if you aren’t a surfer in Malpais?  Relax. Read. Soak in the pools.  Yoga at sunrise and drink gin and tonic at sunset.

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Howler Monkey

    Monkey watching is another favorite pastime.  Howler Monkeys are abundant (and loud) and a family of ten visit our Airbnb often.  White faced monkeys (smaller and squeaky) also make their home in the trees around the area.  There are butterflies and birds galore.  There are iguanas and many other lizards.  A fascinating collection of nature, including wild horses, pass through our little paradise.

    Slow Down in Malpais Costa Rica

    Moctezuma waterfall

    Paddle Boarding

    Fresh catch

    You can hike about 3 miles from Malpais to the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve and beach.  Or rent an ATV and go to Moctezuma on the other side of the Nicoya Peninsula and make a visit to the Moctezuma waterfall (a past Sport Illustrated Swimsuit Edition shoot location). Its’ a lot of fun to rent stand up paddle boards and have a fun day out on the water.  Maybe consider a guided beach horse back ride, ziplining or go charter fishing.

    Or you can do nothing at all.  Just slow down in Malpais Costa Rica.  And that’s alright with me.

    Fabuloso!

     

     

     

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    Adventure Travel  --  Inspire

    Snorkeling Around the World

    Memorable Moments of My Fab Fifties Life

    Yesterday we spent the morning on a private snorkel tour from our beach here in Ocotal in Costa Rica.  We had a very enjoyable time on what was a really good value tour ($65 per person), and even though we didn’t see a lot of sea life, we did see a variety.  The water was bit murky but we saw a dozen or more varieties of fish, one eel, one sea snake, a puffer fish, starfish and lots of interesting sea anemones.

    Snorkeling Around the World

    Galapagos

    From the boat we also saw hundreds of “flying” devil rays, several dolphins and a turtle.  It was a lot of fun.

    It got me to thinking and comparing different snorkel tours we have taken over the years so I decided to  share about some of our various snorkeling adventures.  I’m not a diver but I really enjoy snorkeling and have enjoyed some

    Snorkeling Around the World

    Costa Rica

    wonderful opportunities in our travels.

    Here is our list of Snorkeling Around the World – Memorable Moments;

    Snorkeling Around the World

    Maldives

    Sand  Island Maldives – My favorite snorkeling day ever was our morning on the tiny (50×75 yards) sand island about an hour boat ride from the island of Huraa in the Maldives.  Known for the spectacular crystal clear blue water, the Maldives are a divers paradise.  Our snorkeling day rewarded us with a vast collection of sea life, but the more amazing part of this day was the stunningly beautiful coral reef.  I’ve never witnessed anything like it before or since.

    Snorkeling Around the World

    Australia with Wally

    Great Barrier Reef Australia – Memorable, iconic and expensive, our day on the Great Barrier Reef out of Cairns was fun.  An overcast day made for some murky water and rough seas but we enjoyed this once-in-a-lifetime experience with a nice selection of interesting coral and fish including the resident Maori Wrasse named Wally (see photo). Read more about it here.

    Snorkeling Around the World

    Galapagos

    Galapagos Ecuador – Everything about the Galapagos Islands is unique and memorable – both on land and in the sea. One of our favorite trips of all time.  The day we snorkled in the Galapagos was the only time I have ever swam with seals who danced a playful ballet around us as we swam. We also encountered baby seals, beautiful turtles and small sharks.  Just one remarkable event in a very remarkable place.

    Snorkeling Around the World

    Dhow in Zanzibar

    Zanzibar – possibly my worst sunburn in my life occurred the day I snorkeled with my sister in Zanzibar.  My sister’s first time snorkeling and in our excitement we both forgot to lube up.  The waters off of Zanzibar are incredibly beautiful, but we actually didn’t see that many fish. As memorable as the sunburn was the rickety Dhow boat (traditional Zanzibar wooden fishing boat) that took us off the beach out to the snorkel area.

    Snorkeling Around the World

    Galapagos

    Hawaii – I’ve been to Hawaii so many times I’ve lost track and it’s here I’ve enjoyed some of the best snorkeling ever.  We went to Hawaii a lot when our kids were small, and for family snorkeling Hawaii can’t be beat.  Our favorites are;

    Molokini (Maui) – our favorite island is Maui and when in Maui snorkeling at Molokini is a highlight. Depending on the time of day you go, it can be pretty crowded but you will see such a great variety of colorful tropical fish it’s worth it. And if you can, book a tour that also goes to Turtle Island so you can see these magnificent creatures.

    Snorkeling Around the World

    Australia

    Captain Cook (Big Island) – We have snorkeled in the Captain Cook bay on the Big Island twice. Once we came on a tour boat and once we did the steep hike down (and eventually back up) to the bay.  The bay doesn’t have much coral but lots and lots of beautiful fish make the bay their home.

    Snorkeling Around the World

    Hawaii

    Kona Manta Ray Snorkeling (Big Island)– one of the funnest, most breathtaking and most amazing things I have ever done was the nighttime snorkel in Kona to swim with the amazing and giant (up to 20 feet wingspan) Manta Rays. These gentle giants are graceful and harmless and truly spectacular. Read more about it here.

    Snorkeling Around the World

    Thailand

    Black Rock (Maui) – my son Dane and I had a remarkable experience at Black Rock while snorkeling

    just off the beach. We encountered a solo turtle which let us swim and follow him for more than half an hour.  Just me, my son and this beautiful creature.  I’ll never forget it.

    Snorkeling Around the World

    Zanzibar

    Koh Phi Phi Thailand – very crowded and somewhat overrated was our snorkel tour adventure to Koh Phi Phi in Thailand. Although the beautiful blue water is warm and fun to swim in, we didn’t see much of a variety of fish and there were so many tour boats there it was ridiculous. We did enjoy the water though and most of all having fun with our adult sons in the gorgeous tropical Thailand waters.

    Snorkeling Around the World

    Maldives Sand Island

    There you go, our list of of favorite snorkeling around the world sites.  Some of our most memorable travel days have included snorkelin

    I hope you too will have the chance to visit one or more of these beautiful and amazing snorkeling places.  I have no doubt you will remember it forever.

    Fabulous!

    Manta Ray image from Pixabay

    Note – double click on any photo in this blog for a larger version!

     

     

     

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    Central America

    La Fortuna Costa Rica on a Budget

    Low cost ideas in beautiful La Fortuna

    Location: La Fortuna Costa Rica

    As full-time travelers we are very cognizant of staying on budget.  We always say we are not on

    La Fortuna Costa Rica on a Budget

    Toucan

    vacation…this is our real life.  And to continue living in this manner, we must stay within our means. So we were looking for low-cost ideas in Costa Rica, and we found you can enjoy La Fortuna Costa Rica on a budget.

    Here in beautiful La Fortuna Costa Rica there are dozens of guided tour options to some really amazing places.  Everything from Bird Watching to Ziplining.  From Cycling to River Rafting.  Our entire Costa Rica budget could be blown here in our first stop.

    La Fortuna Costa Rica on a Budget

    Beautiful Arenal Volcano

    Since we practice frugal travel, we came up with this list of less expensive and almost free things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica on a budget.  If you too are a budget traveler, you might find these suggestions useful;

    Hike to La Fortuna Waterfall – From our Airbnb we walked about 4 miles to the La Fortuna Waterfall  it’s a pretty steep road and it was a great workout.  We were blessed with clear blue skies and spectacular view of the volcano, which rarely comes out of the clouds.  Arriving at the waterfall our entrance fee was $18 but worth it to walk down the

    La Fortuna Costa Rica on a Budget

    La Fortuna Waterfall

    500 steps and enjoy the cool waters of the falls.

    Sloth Watching/Bird Watching Tour  – We paid $60 for an early morning guided tour to search for sloths. The great thing about this tour is you have a guarantee that you will see sloths and if you don’t, you get all your money back! And the tour

    La Fortuna Costa Rica on a Budget

    Smiling Sloth

    includes a full breakfast! We saw four sloths and one baby too.

    Breakfast at Arenal Oasis with Bird Watching – have a breakfast for less than $5 at this hidden oasis and enjoy a spectacular display of birds while you eat.  Arenal Oasis has strategically placed feeders and we saw a huge variety of amazing birds including Toucans while we ate. Arenal Oasis also has a night

    La Fortuna Costa Rica on a Budget

    Toucan

    walk that sounds fun, but we didn’t do that.

    Tabacon Thermal River – just outside of La Fortuna in the small area known as Tabacon you can find a FREE hot springs experience in the thermal river.  This river completely changed after the last eruption of the Arenal Volcano and now is a flowing thermal river. Read more.

    Springs Resort with Tubing on the River – For $68 we enjoyed a full day at the gorgeous Spring Resort.  Rooms here cost a minimum of $500 a night – way out of our price range – so getting a day pass was much

    La Fortuna Costa Rica on a Budget

    Tubing on the Arenal River

    more within our budget.  A day pass provides you access to all the dozens of thermal pools as well as use of their changing rooms and showers.  Oh and the view! Wow! Worth a million dollars.

    La Fortuna Costa Rica on a Budget

    The Springs Resort and Spa

    Tubing at Springs Resort- For an additional $35 at the Springs Resort and Spa we had a blast tubing down the Arenal River with a guide and other guests.  Super safe with just enough “rapids” to make it exciting.  The River was very warm and we really felt it was worth the money.

    Self guided cycle tour – there are many options for GUIDED cycling in the area, but if you are an experienced and confident cyclists you can set out on your own with a bike rental.  Several kinds of bikes are available for rent around La Fortuna for one day or longer treks. Read more.

    Sodas – no this isn’t a drink.  A traditional fast food and delicious restaurant in Costa Rica is called a

    La Fortuna Costa Rica on a Budget

    Lunch at Soda Del Rio in La Fortuna

    soda.  Here you can get the choice of the day, or one of several “typico” plates that will include your meat of choice, rice, beans, vegetable, salad and probably a fried banana .  All for about $6.  You can’t beat it.

    Yoga – Looking for some zen while in La Fortuna? Take one or more of the amazing yoga classes with Amanda at La Fortuna Yoga .  For $10 I enjoyed  one of the best yoga classes I have ever had.  Amanda offers multiple classes most days including Vinyasa and Hatha.   I went to four classes during our week in La Fortuna.

    People come to Costa Rica for the beaches – but spending some time in the beautiful rain forest and the small town of La Fortuna is a great way to enjoy the amazing nature of Costa Rica.  And you can do it on a budget!

     

     

     

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