Jungle Canopy Tours in Costa Rica – Helpful tips

Whenever you imagine Costa Rica, you automatically think about waterfalls, exotic birds, sloths, crocodiles, snakes, and those cute (but deadly) frogs. You may wonder where the best place and time is to go see these things. While we were in Costa Rica, we went on two canopy tours and there were so many others we did not have a chance to see. Here are some helpful tips based on our time there.
Continue reading “Jungle Canopy Tours in Costa Rica – Helpful tips”

Costa Rican Food

We often say we merely travel for the food.  When scoping out a new place to visit, one of the first things we look for is good food.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Tokyo was like that; we just wanted to eat everything we saw in anime.  Seriously, I went to Japan with a food bucket list.  We deliberately sought out taiyaki and ramen, and we really did just go to Osaka for the food (okonomiyaki followed immediately by takoyaki).  We looked forward to the amazing breakfasts served at our ryokan, and we couldn’t get enough of all the little street vendors.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

The truth is: we’re from Portland.  Portland is a serious foodie town, and we’re no exception.  We love to eat.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

So when we went to Costa Rica, I couldn’t wait to find out what kind of food they would have.  With this trip being largely a surprise, and with no anime to provide clues, I didn’t know what to expect.  I suspected tropical fruits and perhaps something with a Spanish flair.

We quickly found out that rice and beans are their thing.  Served with every meal, it provides the foundation of their diet.  We had it with our morning omelets and for lunch.  We had it before venturing out to Isla Tortuga and after our canopy tour.  And at our resort, we could count on it having a permanent spot on the buffet line.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

The resort of course offered other delicacies, and we ate almost all of our meals there.  They were included, for one, so that saved on costs.  But we also discovered that they actually served really good food.  Tamales, plantains, steak, salad, rice, pork, fish.  This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill Sizzler; they had top-class chefs pumping out phenomenal meals en masse.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

They also didn’t take the easy route of figuring out one menu and feeding that into a nightly rinse and repeat.  No; every day had fresh offerings.  And very much like the shows also offered by the resort, each night featured a theme, complete with appropriate decorations and music.  We saw Costa Rican food, Spanish food, Japanese, ocean, Mexican, French – and everything was done well.

And if we ever tired of the offerings there, there were two additional restaurants on the resort premises.  These were even a step above the buffet (if that’s possible), meals that would typically be reserved for a very special occasion.  Check out this seafood platter I ordered (I couldn’t resist)!

Even the snacks passed around the pool were amazing.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

And the desserts!  We ate so much because we wanted to try absolutely everything… and then we shoved everything aside so we could squeeze in some of the delectable desserts.  These differed each day, too, so I couldn’t even trust rotating through them over the course of the week.  Like the beans and rice, rice pudding seemed to be a dessert staple, so once I tried that by itself, I had the brilliant idea of trying the warm concoction over some ice cream – yum!

In fact, we were only disappointed with one meal, and that’s only because we missed the official buffet time.  The poolside cantina sadly left much to be desired after all we had come to expect; this “calzone” served with french fries (yeah) was dry, chewy, and greasy.  Needless to say, we learned to not miss mealtime again.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Forgiving that, even the meals we had away from the resort were delicious (and accompanied by beans and rice).  The soda served authentic streetside comfort food, and our B&B in Alujuela was simply superb.  Aside from the one meal, we were met with only yummy food.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Seriously, I think we could just eat ourselves around the world.  I love a variety of cuisines, and I’m fortunate to live in a town rife with restaurants and food carts catering to just that.  I admit I’ll miss that beans and rice staple, in all of its minor variations.  And I can’t wait to see what other countries have to offer our taste buds.  Until then, I’ll sample what I can locally and dream of the foreign culinary excellence from afar.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Driving in Costa Rica – What you should know

Driving in Costa Rica is definitely different than driving in the U.S. Do not go there expecting expansive freeways going in every direction. Picture more back country roads going over mountains with no room to pass. Expect every trip to take about twice as long as it would in the U.S. Big trucks have trouble making it over the mountains so you take turns passing them. I remember seeing lines of 6 cars at a time passing a truck and getting over at the last minute before oncoming traffic appears. Use good judgement when passing other vehicles, be predictable, keep a little distance in front of you in case something happens you have time to react. Doing these things will help keep you safe. Have I mentioned there are very few guard rails?

Continue reading “Driving in Costa Rica – What you should know”

6 Drinks You Should Try in Costa Rica

Who doesn’t like a good drink?

Whenever we travel, we like to have a regional specialty.. in fact, we want to try as many local drinks as possible!  We knew Costa Rica would have plenty of tropical beverages to slake our thirst.  If you’d rather not try to figure out how to ask, “what do you recommend?” in Spanish, try these.  Or if you can’t make it down to Costa Rica, try making them at home! Continue reading “6 Drinks You Should Try in Costa Rica”

Isla Tortuga Banana Boats and Snorkeling – Costa Rica

For my 40th birthday, I wanted to do something pretty awesome. I always enjoy doing some kind of boat ride whenever I travel. So we took this cruise from Puntarenas to Isla Tortuga. What a beautiful trip! The boat ride was nice with a loaded bar, a couple of mini pools to stay cool, and awesome views. It couldn’t get much better…… Continue reading “Isla Tortuga Banana Boats and Snorkeling – Costa Rica”

Trouble in Paradise

I just got back from an amazing backpacking trip in Alaska, so I haven’t had much time to prepare a post this week.  Apologies for the short one.

When you’re left with only a few hours at the resort, what do you do to pass the time?  Stuff yourself with more rice and beans?  Order another fruity, morning cocktail?  Seek out the beach cat?

We decided to have a little impromptu photo shoot. Continue reading “Trouble in Paradise”

Have you ever zip-lined before? Not like this! – Costa Rica

For my 40th birthday, I knew I wanted to do something epic. I wanted something that would challenge my fears and push the limits of my comfort zone. While I have been zip-lining before, it was kind of like a ski run down the kids training slopes compared to this. My first impression was WOW! The views were incredible. It was beyond words that could adequately describe it. I was speeding over the jungle canopy 500+ feet below and could hardly breathe at times because of the wind combined with my speed. Brianna thought that her helmet would fall off, but the helmet wasn’t going anywhere. Continue reading “Have you ever zip-lined before? Not like this! – Costa Rica”

Is an All-Inclusive Resort Worth It?

With ordinary, long-term travel, you aren’t likely to stay at anything that could remotely be dubbed a “resort.”  Every dollar spent is another closer to needing to fly back home, so you aim to make it stretch as far as possible.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

But our trip to Costa Rica was to celebrate a big milestone, so it warranted a little splurge.  Furthermore, we’ve always wanted to experience the all-inclusive live – at least once – so we thought, why not? Continue reading “Is an All-Inclusive Resort Worth It?”

Have You Ever Kissed a Crocodile? – Costa Rica

No, we never kissed a crocodile and don’t ever plan to. We did get the chance to pet one when we went on a crocodile tour down the Tarcoles river in Costa Rica. The tour was an unexpected part of our trip, but those usually are the best kind of adventures. We stopped to go look at the crocodiles from the highway bridge, but as soon as we parked, we were instantly approached by people offering a boat tour down the river. The decision to go wasn’t difficult and it became one of the highlights of our trip. We would highly recommend it if you happen to get down there. It was epic! Continue reading “Have You Ever Kissed a Crocodile? – Costa Rica”