Notes to myself on travel : Costa Rica / Nicaragua

You do not need so much stuff! Your stuff might make you feel good, but you really don’t need it – we forget. Rahaysa! Travelling light allows you to be more flexible, move more easily. I regret having a heavy bag way more than anything I missed. Sunscreen I had to buy and it cost way too much!
All you need is:
1 pair of pants for hiking / yoga
1-2 pairs of yoga capris
1 pair of yoga shorts
1 pair of cute shorts
1 skirt
2 dresses
2 tank tops
1 bra
1 tank top with built in bra
1-2 t-shirts
1 long sleeve for hiking
1 warmer long sleeve
1 cardigan type thing for evenings
Flip flops
1 bikini
1 wetsuit/spring suit / 1 piece
1 hat
1 bandana/headband/neck thing
1 towel
Coconut oil
Lots of sunscreen
Sunglasses
Hat
Journal and some colouring pencils – not lined – maybe a glue stick
Backpack (for day trips)
Refillable water bottle
Headlamp
1 book (you can switch it out, buy a new one, trade)
1 sarong/scarf/beachblanket thing. It works as all 3
Laundry bag
Dr.Bonners soap for everything
Shampoo/conditioner
Nail file
Razor
Hair clip, elásticas, a couple of bobby pins
Lip balm
Essential oils: Lavender, Citrus Bliss, Peppermint
Cell phone + charger + headphones
Fanny pack or small purse for going out
I did use my hammock a bit, and could have used it more, but most places have lots of hammocks.

Thoughts of my visit / places I visited:
Nicaragua
Free Spirit Hostel in El Tránsito:
This place is quite hard to get to, but once you arrive it is 100% worth it!
If you have a few people together the taxi is worth it – otherwise the chicken bus drops you off at the corner of the highway, and you have to wait for the next one towards the little village. There are only a couple in the afternoon – none in the morning, and there is no water or snacks for sale so if you do go this route make sure to have plenty of water. Then you need to walk a few blocks (this is why travel light!)
The hostel itself is very homey! Right on the beach, I loved it. There were only a few people staying while I was there so it was perfect, clean and well designed. All 3 of the Québécois owners were present, and friendly. Dinner was delicious and family style – Breakfast wasn’t as special – but eggs, fruit, and bread, all you need really. There is a great outdoor kitchen for people to use, pool, nice bar, yoga deck, hammocks everywhere – and right on this beautiful little beach. This was one of the highlights of my trip and I hesitate to share it, it was so special. Not to mention the amazing surf break!
These guys were professional and fun – I think I will host a yoga retreat here but I would need to make sure the breakfast is a bit more copious – more fruit, tea, and flowers, and ask that it be a bit tidied up. Some linen napkins would go a long way, flower centrepieces – just a few details to bring it up a notch. Towels too. Might be a good idea to bring my own cook?
Smoothies and alcohol available for purchase.
I also met the owner of Pozas, a new place opening down the beach, a bit higher end but based on Rob’s warmth and personality I’m sure it would be a wonderful place!

Surfing Turtle Lodge – La Penitas
Another place that is hard to get to, certainly, but its remote location is part of its charm. I took a taxi directly to the water’s edge (which was very expensive) and then a small boat picks you up and takes you a very short ride to the island for $1 – a horse cart will then carry your stuff for the 5-10 min walk to the lodge.
I think the experience here greatly depends on the people who are there. A nice place to relax, immaculate private beach (I skinny-dipped every morning I was there, not a soul on the ocean!). They have yoga 1-2 a day on a gorgeous palapa facing the ocean.
I had the privilege of seeing turtles released twice into the ocean!
I think this is a good project, I’m happy to support and I am in awe of what they have accomplished being an off-grid, solar powered lodge. The stars are absolutely incredible.
That being said, dorms and bathrooms were dirty and crowded. They are cheap though so if that’s your thing then amazing! Personally, I would not return unless I could have one of the little cabanas by the beach, with private bathrooms.

Apoyo Lodge – Laguna de Apoyo
This place is absolutely stunning – and very hard to get to. When I visited the last 2 kms of road were very difficult to drive on and arriving at night was not good. The owners are working on rebuilding it – just be aware and specify a higher vehicle.
The lodge itself is gorgeous – the lake breathtaking. I was here for less than 24 hours and am eager to return. They are fully vegan here and prepare meals in a wonderful open aired kitchen and dining area. Yoga in the morning is lovely facing the lake. The water here is turquoise, and fresh, and has an almost salty taste because it is rich in minerals being a volcano crater. This is deep in the protected jungle area so there are some bugs – be open and aware. Both owners are warm, and welcoming. There is a short but steep hike to be done right there, leading to a gorgeous view of the lake. I look forward to visiting again.

Livit Water SUP – Granada
I took a gorgeous SUP tour in las Isletas of Granada with Chris, a Canadian who has moved with his wife to Granada. We went at sunset and it was gorgeous! You can paddle through the little islands, see volcanoes in the distance. The boards are of great quality and the staff too. This is a few minutes outside of Granada but a beautiful reprieve of the city and a great way to tour the area. They also offer SUP yoga classes.

Hotel Xalli Ometepe
This was a gorgeous little hotel – and the service absolutely fabulous. Carlos and Pablo were amazing, as well as the other staff. Well -located in that it is right between both Volcanoes. I watched the sunrise on their beach every morning, over Volcano maderas.
Breakfast is included and is very good. The property is lovely and has plenty of hammocks. They rent scooters, bicycles and organize tours. I went for a nice horse ride with Roberto and I hiked Maderas with a guide thanks to them. It must be noted however it is very difficult to get around on the island without a vehicle as taxis are INSANELY expensive and the buses are seldom. There isn’t anything within walking distance of Xalli.
Maderas was a very challenging hike, but I loved it. I drank 3 L of water and 2 snacks plus a lunch. Know yourself well and make sure you bring enough – hotels recommended only a sandwich and 1.5 L – definitely not enough for the 8 hour hike we did.


My hotel was more expensive than I wanted to pay, but for some reason it was all I could find. The Island in general was beautiful, but I feel like I stayed too long at 5 nights. Next time I will try the Hostel Santa Cruz – it is within walking distance of a few places to eat. I enjoyed the food at Hotel Paraíso – but other than that was not really impressed.
I did take a Chicken Bus to Chaco Verde it’s a wildlife reserve- a lovely walk around a lagoon, access to a gorgeous beach, and a very nice little butterfly garden. The bus was easy to take here and an adventure in itself. I had lunch at the reserve with a view of Lake Nicaragua, the fresh fish was good.
I also enjoyed Pizza night at El Zopilote – make sure you bring a headlamp since you have to walk up and down the long path to the hostel in the dark.


I also took kitesurfing lessons with Sun KiteSchool – and it was great! A wonderful place to learn. We only had wind 2/5 days I was there however, so it is hit or miss for Mother Nature. Because the winds aren’t too crazy, and the water is not salty I felt it was a good place to learn to kite. Sonia and Emanuelle are great, too. I’ll be back.
In general I found Ometepe very beautiful, but overpriced. 3 nights is probably plenty to return.

Chales House San Juan Del Sur

I was pleasantly surprised at this little place! For only $20 you get a small room with private bath, a good fan, clean and centrally located. The woman who owns the place is not friendly but the man is! I would definitely stay here again, a great deal with no frills, but I didn’t need any!
I loved the Cervezeria, a craft brewery with good snacks and a little beer garden.
I did Sunday Funday, but only because I was there. Not worth sticking around for in my opinion, but a unique experience all the same. Drinks are not included so it turns into an expensive and boozy evening.


El Gato Negro was awesome! Great smoothies, comfortable seating, colouring pages, and tons and tons of interesting books.

Buena Vista Surf Club – Playa Maderas
This place is undeniably gorgeous! With meals served family style and a chic lounge area with a yoga deck overlooking the ocean, this resort is a great place to stay. The little Cabanas are awesome, you are sleeping in the jungle for sure. It’s a bit higher end, but worth it I felt, especially if you were sharing with 2-3 people.
The staff here are volunteers though, and the ones there during our stay lacked enthusiasm. The owner was extremely helpful in the time leading up to my stay and even while I was there, responding to my emails within minutes. The food here was good and it was a nice way to meet people, to eat together. It’s a shame the owners weren’t more present, because other than that the place is a gem.

We also walked up to this bar – I think it was called Artisan, or Artisano, to get there there is a path in the jungle just a few steps away from BVSC. And the view for the sunset was just breathtaking from the infinity pool. An amazing experience for sure!

Costa Rica
Playa Guiones / Nosara
The Costa Rica Yoga Spa is where I spent the longest – and thank goodness. This place is just amazing. The food, the food, the FOOD. May be some of the best I have ever eaten. They have an onsite garden where they get most of their vegetables and the freshness and love that goes into the food is so obvious. Perched on a mountain you can see the beach in the distance and be serenaded by howler moneys and birds. There’s a short hike behind the hotel, as well. Yoga in their rancho, and the massage I got was also amazing. Dorms, rooms, and bathrooms are clean and airy. Although it is not walking distance to anything this place is absolutely spectacular – a gorgeous, healthful home away from home. I will never forget watching both the sunset and the moon set over the ocean with my Costa Rica family!
La Luna
This restaurant looks like something out of a dream – or certainly a film – I had to pinch myself as we sat on the beach in front a white building. The food was good, too, very large portions!
La Casa
The ambiance, the food, the people, everything about this little gem was just perfect. Our waiter was charming and efficient, I enjoyed the food and the drinks too! There is a little gallery on site with moving photographs and a boutique selling lovely things for ladies. A must see. Owners are lovely souls and it shows through all that they do!
Miss Sky Ziplining
Very professional and fun! The guys were great and the lines were long offering wonderful views. Wasn’t too fast which was perfect for me.
Kaya Sol
Although the pool and dining area were good, my private room was not soundproofed at all – I could hear the 2 neighbouring rooms sneeze! That wasn’t too bad since they gave us earplugs, but I didn’t really appreciate having to walk to the bathroom in the night. So I would stay here again in a different room perhaps, the location to the beach is great and they rent bikes.
Bodhi Tree
I just came here for yoga but it took my breath away. There are 2 or 3 studios on this place and the views the landscaping are all fantastic. The yoga class I did was excellent – complete with high quality yoga equipment.
Harmony Villas
A lovely spot for yoga as well. I enjoyed a smoothie and an energy ball in their lush gardens. The yoga was of excellent quality here too, great props and views.

Gypsy Cab Nosara
Picked me up at the airport and safely delivered me to my hostel. It’s a little ways to Nosara so it was nice to be in an air conditioned Van. Terratours on the way back stopped for fresh fruit which I thought was a nice touch.

I would say the most challenging part of my trip was transport alone – I took taxis in a lot of cases to save time and because I didn’t want to get too lost on my own. If I had to change anything it would have been to find people to move around with a bit more. Taxis would be affordable if shared and buses less daunting when in a small group.
Staying in hostels where there are common meals is a good idea if you are a lone traveller. I’m sort of an in -between traveller – I want to rough it – but only to a certain extent. Many people on the road for a long time want to save money at any cost – I like to have a happy medium. Travelling for 3-4 weeks is a good amount of time, too. It takes a few days, at least a week to warm up to it. To remember how easy it can be to talk to strangers, to share experiences, to wear the same thing and to just have dirty feet.
I enjoyed both Costa Rica (the part I saw) and Nicaragua so much more than I thought I would. Remember to relax and stay open, the universe does have your back and things work out, unlike you thought they would but in beautiful and sometimes unexpected ways. Evolved perfection.
I regret, if anything, not taking more pictures. I wish I had taken a photo of Lydia, the woman on Ometepe who gave me a massage and came to take 2 yoga classes from me.I should have taken a selfie with the old man I walk with through Houston airport. They didn’t bring him the chair he needed so I took his arm and we navigated the maze like hallways together. He told me of his son who has a lawyer and that he was in the US for only four days to fix his teeth. Smartly dressed and dashing.

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