Secret Cascadas near Nicoya

We needed a break from the beach and all that salt water… so our friends told us about a great waterfall and swimming hole on the way to Nicoya from Samara in a small town called Belen. Excellent, we headed up there got lost a few times, no addresses.. But the best way to spot the turn off is look for a bar called Bar Cascada (waterfall). And literally the waterfall is not far down the dirt road from that bar. You will hear the waterfall from the road. There is only a short walk to the fall. We spent the day there enjoying jumping off the rocks and hanging out with the locals. It’s definitely a popular spot with the Ticos.
Remember to pack out what you pack in. Stay green.

Budget House Hunting Costa Rica

Costa Rica is infiltrated with expensive luxurious vacation homes not ideal for someone on a budget looking to move long-term to this beautiful country.  When I mean budget I am talking $200-500 per month for rent and utilities. It is easy to find a nice western style home for several thousand a month and maybe even more in the dry season. There are a plethora of condos sprinkled throughout Costa Rica, if that is what you are looking for the amenities of American living- gated community, A/C, granite counters, pools, no locals, etc.. However, for my husband and I we wanted to be living in Costa Rica not an American community so conveniently located in Costa Rica. We wanted to be surrounded by monkeys, locals and the jungle and of course close to the beach. We chose an area twenty minutes south of Samara, Esterones, a small village where we have American friends and Tico friends the best of both worlds. Finding a “budget house” can be difficult if you want a few western luxuries such as a washer machine, closed in ceilings so the bugs don’t come in so easily (many Tico houses leave a gap between the ceiling and walls), screens on the windows, and a stove/oven. These type of budget houses are usually not advertised on the Internet and are found more easily by being in Costa Rica driving around asking the locals and by word of mouth. Leases are also not exactly used like the states no background, credit checks or reference checks. Most places I would say are month to month or leased by a verbal contract- Pura Vida Needless to say after 2 months of couch surfing and cabina living we found the perfect home for us! We needed to outfit the house pots/pans, dishes, sheets/pillows, food stuff. The house came furnished minus some living essentials. The best place to shop and stock up on things is to make the trek to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. In San Jose you will find a Price Smart (Costco- you will need a membership- $30/yrs or a friend with a membership) where you can get good cheese, alcohol, etc., Pequeno Mundo is another good place to go it is comparable to the Dollar Store in the States. They have a variety of things dishes, silverware, clothes, food etc. We also went to the mall in Escazu which has a home store comparable to Z Gallery in the states, but you can sometimes find good deals here for better quality. We purchased a set of dishes for 4 people for $20. Plus, there is a movie theater here so once done shopping it is always fun to hit up a movie since it is a rare thing to do in Costa Rica unless you live in a bigger city with a movie theater such as Liberia or San Jose. EPA is another good place for house shopping it’s the equivalent to Home Depot in the states, your typical large hardware store. http://www.pricesmart.com/ http://www.pequenomundo.com/index-en.html http://www.pequenomundo.com/stores.html http://www.multiplazamall.com/ http://www.epa.co.cr:9080/PortalEPA/inicio.do?codpais=CR

Playa Barrigona, Costa Rica

Living in Costa Rica comes with its perks like being close to epic surf and beautiful prestine beaches without the crowds you would typically see along California’s coastline. Playa Barrigona has become our second home. With white sandy beaches, palm trees to hide from the sun and good waves, it’s a paradise. In the dry season the beach makes for a perfect place to set up beach volley ball. And the palm trees are great for hanging hammocks.
Mel Gibson owns about 500 acres right up to the beach, thankfully he does not own the sand. To reach the beach in the rainy season you would definitely need four wheel drive as the dirt road can get horrendous in the rain. I have yet to encounter Mel but there are lots of Howler Monkeys playing in the palms. In the rainy season there is also a waterfall that can be enjoyed on the south side of the beach. It is especially nice to rinse off in the fresh water after playing in the salt water.