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Shopping for Souvenirs in Costa Rica

Monday, February 15th, 2016

After eCosta Rican Coffee Beansxperiencing a Costa Rican vacation and the retaining memories of paradise, exotic locations, and all the adventures you had while in this beautiful country, you may want to invest in some souvenirs to bring home to friends and family or even to remind yourself of the sense of “Pura Vida” you found here. Chances are that throughout each venture you will find fantastic, one-of-a-kind Costa Rican keepsakes that you will want to bring home. Rather than waiting throughout your entire Costa Rican vacation to shop at an airport venue, we fully suggest that you shop along the way at each location you visit. You are more than likely to find unique and beautiful Costa Rica souvenirs that will give you a taste of what you experienced while traveling abroad. Below, you’ll find a short list of some timeless favorites!

Infamously Fresh Ground Coffee or Coffee Beans

Your friends and family will thank you when they find out that you brought back fresh ground coffee or coffee beans in several different flavors from some of the world’s most prestigious coffee plantations. Café Britt along with Doka’s Tres Generaciones are both award-winning and well-known coffee plantations that offer tourists a plethora of souvenirs. They not only carry the actual coffee itself in variation (light roast, medium, dark, and espresso) but also other souvenirs such as chocolate covered coffee beans, music, t-shirts, and books and information regarding the history of coffee in Costa Rica. These are premium blends of coffee from the plantations themselves so don’t hesitate to pick up more than one or two bags. Your luggage will smell great and each morning after you return home will feel like you brought back a light piece of paradise.

Indigenous Tribal Art & FolkloreChorotega Pottery

With a little bit of exploring it is not at all unusual to stumble upon towns that make their very own intricate masks, colorful and original ceramic pottery, or even delicate and stimulating textiles. Costa Rica is full of rapidly declining indigenous tribes such as the Boruca or Chorotega that still try to preserve their culture by continuing to create and showcase their many talents. Amongst the Maleku tribe of Costa Rica you can find jewelry and other handmade wooden keepsakes. Some tribes specialize in woven goods, such as purses or backpacks. No matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong when you pick up one of these rare and beautiful artifacts. These artisan crafts make incredible gifts and furnishing for houses.

Versatile Hammocks

If you’ve lived in Costa Rica long enough or your Costa Rican vacation was an eventful occasion, then you know that a sturdy hammock is not only practical but also necessary. You can find a beautiful hammock in almost any town in Costa Rica; some of them are manufactured by companies while others are made from local town artists or indigenous tribes. These hammocks can literally be easily packed up and taken anywhere. You can hang them from your home, your porch or even just between two trees. They are perfect for reading, relaxing, people-watching, sleeping, rocking in the shade or laying in the sun. They are portable, light and a beautiful souvenir that anyone would be happy to own.

Handmade Wooden Crafts

If you’re in search of a traditional and timeless Costa Rican souvenir, you will find that craftsmanship is very much alive in this small country. They wooden crafts you find in each town are usually made by local businesses or individuals so you are not only supporting this country when you invest in a souvenir but also the smaller local town business. You can find some of the most beautiful and exceptionally crafted bowls, jewelry, vases, coasters, salad spoons and many more made from exotic and rare Central American timber. These wooded souvenirs also make long-lasting and beautiful home furnishings for yourself, friends, and family members. You’ll find them anywhere; whether in a tourist town or while exploring un-discovered territory.

Souvenir Tips!

Keep in mind that haggling over prices in any town of Costa Rica is a completely reasonable thing to do. A lot of vendors will lower the asking price of a souvenir when simply asked for a discount on something that you like. Paying in local currency is best since the exchange rate of other currencies versus Costa Rican currency can change on a day-to-day basis.

FAQ’s & Answers When Relocating to Costa Rica

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Costa Rica has many attractions and not we’re nHammockot just talking about zip-lining above the cloud forest of Monteverde. There are so many reasons to relocate to this beautiful, paradise-filled country. Considering Costa Rica runs off of renewable resources, is extremely eco-friendly, has tendencies towards healthy living and obtains an abundance of the world’s most friendly people, it is not only a wonderful place in which to vacation but it is also top of the list in terms of retirement destinations. Due to the low cost of living, the versatile and luxuriant different landscapes, slow pace of life and year-round beautiful weather, it is truly a tranquil place to rebuild your life. A lot of expats and foreigners from all over the world come to this country to experience the “Pura Vida” lifestyle. However, before you decide to make a permanent move, it is best to test the waters. There is certainly no shortage of vacation homes, rentals and villas available so before you decide to completely relocate, you may have some questions that require realistic answers. Below you will find some of the most frequently asked questions when making the decision to move to paradise; we hope you find the answers to be accommodating to all your needs.

  1. When considering retirement, where should one think of relocating?

If you’re searching for cooler, spring-like weather, which makes the need for air conditioning obsolete, you may want to consider Northern to Central Costa Rica. Grecia, Escauzu,or Santa Ana and other regions such as La Fortuna or Arenal are not only beautiful but comfortable due to the refreshing climate. You will find that each town has its own charms and no two cities are alike. You will also learn quickly that there is a large difference between a city and a town when you relocate down here. Some people like the small town feel while others prefer to be in the bustle of the city, near crowds of people and closer to the comforts of home that can be harder to find when you choose a beach town like Jaco, Tamarindo or Manuel Antonio. The smaller beach towns are usually located in the South, either along the Pacific Ocean or the Caribbean side of Costa Rica where the weather is much warmer. Either way, there is a place for everyone. You can find a perfectly quaint suburb in the city of San Jose or something more exotic in a renowned beach town, perfect for surfing like Puerto Viejo. No matter where you land, you can still find modern amenities and an abundance of housing options for whatever your comfort level may be.

  1. Is it easy to obtain residency?

Whether attempting to obtain permanent residency or temporary residency you are most likely going to need the assistance of an efficient and skilled immigration lawyer. To be on the safe side, it is best to find someone that understands the four different types of residency that most foreigners can acquire. These four include: “un pensionado” or retiree, “una rentisa” or one with an income or annuity, “una inversionista” more commonly known as an investor or those that obtain special work-related skills like executives or scientists. The fourth is a temporary residency that is one safeguarded to those that are married to a Costa Rican citizen, have a child in the country with a Costa Rican citizen or is expecting a child on the way.

  1. How accessible is healthcare?San-Jose-City-Costa-Rica

Costa Rica has an extremely affordable healthcare system and is rated to be one of the best in Latin American countries. Residents and tourists alike have access to some of the finest and most popular public and private hospitals. All those that are looking to relocate to Costa Rica should look into international health insurance but even without, often times healthcare is affordable and obtainable. Some of the more common hospitals have skilled staff members with bilingual specialists. The names of these hospitals include: CIMA, Clinica Biblica, and Clinica Catolica. They are the three that are affiliated with U.S. facilities and for the most part cost ½ of what healthcare costs in the United States. These top-notch facilities are mostly located in or near the city of San Jose so if you are injured further away in a secluded beach town or jungle-area there is no need to panic. These facilities often times have specialty helicopters to get you into their care as quickly and safely as possible.

  1. How long can I stay on a tourist visa?Map of Costa Rica

If you’re visiting Costa Rica from the United States or Canada, a tourist visa will run for up to 90 days. After 90 days within Costa Rica, you have a couple of options. In order to obtain another 90 day visa on your passport to stay in Costa Rica, you must temporarily leave the country for 2-3 days. This might be a trip back to your hometown in the United States or Canada or you can simply take a long weekend and vacation in the north towards Nicaragua or down south in Panama. If you’re thinking of making Costa Rica your home and want to avoid the hassle of obtaining a tourist visa every three months, you should seriously invest some time and money into temporary residency. After three years as a temporary resident, you will automatically qualify for permanent residency and can move forward towards creating a new home in this beautiful country.

  1. Which is wiser; bringing my personal possessions from home or buying new things?

Although there are companies that will gladly ship your possessions down to your new home in Costa Rica, it can often times be costly and a lengthy experience. This is truly a personal decision for each person. Depending on your attachment to sentimental possessions and your attachment to possessions in general, you may feel it is best to bring what is important to you and simply leave the rest behind. There are places to buy new appliances, mattresses, and household furnishings and you might even find that you like your new home to be freshly decorated with native, Costa Rican knack.

Cocos Island: Hotspot for Scuba Diving with Sharks

Friday, January 15th, 2016

If you’re searching for one of the world’s greatest locationcoco-island-divers to scuba dive with sharks, you can easily find Cocos Island approximately 340 miles off the pacific coast of Costa Rica. It is a lavish and secluded island that can only be found with the help of a trusty tour-guide. To get to this beautiful destination you will need to acquire transportation to San Jose, head south approximately 3 hours to the region of Puntarenas and from there you will get aboard a live-aboard dive boat

Situated 340 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, Cocos Island is one of the world’s greatest spots for scuba diving with sharks. A 34-hour boat ride takes thrill seekers to this lavish and secluded island, where scalloped hammerheads and whitetips school in billowing masses amid the nutrient-rich currents. This UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site was declared a national park in 1978, and offers divers unparalleled opportunities to swim with large numbers of marine predators.

Cocos Island fast facts

  • The island is uninhabited
  • Cocos receives approximately 275 inches of annual rainfall
  • Best time to see large numbers of hammerhead sharks is May-November (rainy season)
  • Visitors dive from a custom live-aboard boat for the 10-day trip
  • Accessible via San Jose to Puntarenas, where live-aboard boats depart
  • Named the world’s most beautiful island by Jacques Cousteau
  • Recommended for advanced divers due to strong currents
  • Most of the dive sites are volcanic islets with a max. depth of 130 feet
  • Average water temperature is  72-83 degrees; wetsuits required

Diversity of aquatic lifediving-with-rays-coco-island-costa-rica

Circling masses of hammerhead sharks are the main draw of Cocos Island, but divers can also expect to cross paths with other species including tiger, silky, Galapgos, blacktip and whitetip reef sharks that scour the underwater seamounts for food. Though slightly less common, whale sharks – some reaching over 18-feet in length –also swim through the strong currents surrounding Cocos Island. Divers often glimpse graceful manta rays, marble and eagle rays, as well as green sea turtles, dolphins, parrotfish, moray eels, jacks and snapper.

Popular dive sitesdiving-isla-del-coco

There are nearly 20 dive sites around this volcanic seamount, which is home to some 260 species of fish. Pelagic sea life among the submerged pinnacles is especially abundant between 60 and 90 feet. Bajo Alcyone is the most notable site for massive manta rays and scalloped hammerheads, which can number in the hundreds at this cleaning station. Dirty Rock is another dynamic site known for its pelagic marine life and thriving masses of hammerheads and other apex predators. Night dives at Manuelita promise close encounters with unbelievable numbers of whitetip reef sharks as they hunt their prey.

Costa Rican Stand Up Paddle Board

Friday, January 1st, 2016

 Stand-Up-Paddle-Board-Couple Stand up paddle board, more commonly referred to as “SUP” is a new and innovative form of exercise and an incredible thrill if you love the water and have a desire to put your skills to the test on the Pacific Ocean. Paddle board is not only an amazing workout but it can be an incredibly leisurely activity as there are many different levels to accommodate all levels; from beginners to the more experienced. Stand up paddle board takes many forms. You can usually book a tour to explore mangroves and picturesque waterways, work on your balance before taking on waves to surf, or even join a SUP yoga class that allows you to experience original and challenges forms of exercise. There are all sorts of inventive waves to explore SUP and if you’re just beginning, you may want to take advantage of the following tips.

SUP Beginner’s Guide: Avoid the Waves

Stand up paddle boarding can be extremely challenging so it is a must to start off where the water is calmest. Often times you can find a class or an instructor in your specific area that already knows the hidden beaches or bays that offer the gentlest waves. Even if you’ve engaged in other forms of water sports throughout your life, it is never a bad idea to learn how to maintain your balance and properly paddle all within the realm of safety. Within no time at all you will be balanced, flexible and paddling with ease. Soon enough, you’ll be ready to paddle with the pros!

Everyone Falls So Get Back Up!Stand-Up-Paddle-Board-Sunset

It is important to remember that everyone is prone to falling off their board at one point or another. Even the most experienced stand up paddle boarder has had their fair share of wipeouts. This, however, is not discouraging as falling off is expected and can actually be quite fun. By falling off, you are engaging in an extra workout by getting back on the board every time, cooling off in the water, swimming amongst fish, and learning to laugh at yourself as well as taking note of your mistakes. If you have concerns or worries, you can modify your SUP experience by paddling on your knees, wearing a life-vest, and attaching an ankle leash for safety precautions.

Choose a Skilled Guide or Teacher

When you are first starting off as a student in stand up paddle board, it never hurts to go with an experienced, veteran paddle boarder. A good SUP instructor gives you safety instructions, shows you proper operation of your board and paddle, guides you into calm waters, can prepare you for what you may experience, and supports you every step of the way. Encouragement can be really important when taking up a new hobby or trying to enhance skills that you may already possess. There is nothing quite like the help of a professional to cheer you on and keep you safe.

Focus on the Horizon or a Non-moving ObjectConquering-Waves-Stand-Up-Paddle-Board

There is a rule of thumb while paddle boarding: don’t look down. When you are solely focused on the waves or the placement of your feet, it is easier to fall of your board. By starting at the horizon or concentrating on a focal point that doesn’t move, you will be able to manage to stay on your board longer and concentrate. This is particularly important if you are engaging in a sport like SUP yoga where balance is key.

Common Destinations for SUP in Costa Rica

The following places are both great places to learn the fundamentals of stand up paddle board and put your skills to the test:

    • Playa Herradura, Jaco
    • Lake Arenal, La Fortuna
    • Playa Manuel Antonio, Manuel Antonio
    • Maracas, Quepos
    • Playa Avellenas, Tamarindo
    • Pavones , one of the longest beach breaks in all of Costa Rica

 

 

 

Manuel Antonio Welcomes Back the Ceviche Festival This November

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

Ceviche-Costa-RicaThere is quite a celebration to schedule on your calendars that all the locals and the tourists of Manuel Antonio and Quepos will be attending. November 13th through the 15th is the weekend of our second annual Ceviche Festival. Locals and tourists alike will all come together and create a fiesta like no other as we revel in the many different flavors, varieties and different forms of ceviche that will be made available for tasting. We are hosting this year’s Ceviche Festival at the Marina Pez Vela in Quepos. All are encouraged to come by for the incredible food as well as a host of other family-oriented activities that will be going on that weekend.

Anticipation and Excitement Surrounding Our Annual Ceviche Festival

The locals and tourists of Manuel Antonio and Quepos are looking forward to hosting this event for the second time. We enjoy extending the tradition of bringing cultural individuality to others through some of our typical foods, such as ceviche, to help celebrate Costa Rican cuisine and the history of this area. This Central Pacific area is home to some of Costa Rica’s most famous fish ports and is overflowing with fresh seafood. This festival was stemmed from the Costa Rican Institute of Pacific Ports and the Travel Expo Show. We wish to continue on the success from last year’s event!

Highlights and Abundant Seafood at Our Ceviche Festivalceviche-ingredients

Ceviche can seem like quite a revelation to those that are not native or local to our Manuel Antonio or Quepos area. It can be made from several different types of fresh fish, including fish that is caught and sold locally. Some of the main sources most commonly used are Snook, Mahi Mahi, Seabass, and other forms of white, meaty fish. Alternative forms of ceviche can be made from shrimp, octopus or even squid for the more adventurous culinary types. It is typically a light and refreshing dish that you can find around town on various restaurant menus or even at local events like La Feria or ceviche trucks parked on the side of the road. Whatever seafood you choose to cook with is marinated in citric lime juice for several hours and actually cooks the meat. Chefs from all over can get creative as once the seafood has been cooked, it is usually served with red bell pepper, cilantro, onions, and a wide range of spices. For a little cultural variety, some chefs like to add ginger, hot chili peppers, tabasco or other forms of home-made hot sauce to their ceviche. There is truly something for everyone.

Inventive New Ceviche Ingredients and Creationsceviche-Manuel-Antonio

For those that like to be super creative and extend their culinary genius, our event will also feature ceviche dishes that have ingredients included such as, mangos, peaches, bananas, and other vegetarian-friendly ingredients. The variety of ceviche dishes only adds to the fun as this ceviche event is also a tournament to be mediated by a selected panel of judges that will have the pleasure of distinguishing a winner and awarding them one by one in a variety of categories. Don’t be shy to tell us what you think! Bring your adventurous spirits, appetites, family and friends down to the Marina Pez Vela and enjoy an afternoon of culinary adventure and family fun. Help us make the Ceviche Festival an annual tradition!

Traditional Ceviche Recipe

When making your own ceviche at home, test out this traditional recipe and don’t be shy when making your own substitutions or changes according to taste.

Ingredients:
1 pound of white fish (examples: Seabass (Corvina), Mahi Mahi, Snook
1 cup of freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
1 small white onion, diced
½ bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 handful of cilantro, chopped finely
Salt and pepper to taste
(optional – 1/4 cup ginger ale )

Instructions:
1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and let fish marinate/cook for at least 2 hours. Tip – the longer the fish “cooks” in citric acid, the more intense the flavor will be.
2. After approximately marinating/cooking for 2 hours, serve cold on a bed of shredded lettuce with tortilla chips or crackers on the side. Additional garnishes include cucumber or avocado slices.

 



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