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Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

  Many people think that the Pacific side of Costa Rica is the better coast to visit. The remote Osa peninsula, the monkey-filled area of Manuel Antonio, and the touristy Nicoya coast all beat the Caribbean, which has more rain, less wildlife, fewer “modern” conveniences,…

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Many people think that the Pacific side of Costa Rica is the better coast to visit. The remote Osa peninsula, the monkey-filled area of Manuel Antonio, and the touristy Nicoya coast all beat the Caribbean, which has more rain, less wildlife, fewer “modern” conveniences, and uglier beaches. No matter where you go, the Caribbean side just won’t be as nice. Having now been to both coasts, I’m not sure what these people are talking about. Traveling down the Caribbean side, I did find it to be rainier, but it was no less beautiful and had many wonderful places to explore.

 

 

Tortuguero, the Costa Rican version of the Amazon rainforest, dominates the northern coast. This massive area is a series of rivers and canals that crisscross the jungle. It rains all the time, and although the beaches are beautiful, a full day of sunny beach weather is rare. To top it off, the currents are strong, and toothy barracudas and sharks roam the waters. Despite all that, there are many reasons to come here. The biggest draw is the large numbers of turtles that come to nest along the shoreline. The best time to see them nesting is in April and May. But even during the off-season, Tortuguero offers a few places to go hiking, lots of canal cruises, and an abundance of wildlife, this area is known for its birds. Tortuguero is not easy to get to nor is it cheap. It takes five hours to get there from San José and supplies are brought in by boat. It’s not a budget destination. But if it’s something remote and off the typical backpacker trail you’re looking for in Central America, Tortuguero is the place to go.

 

 

You’ll find great surf sites, deep sea diving, lots of people, and parties galore down the coast toward Panama. This part of the coast is a lot easier to get to and much cheaper than Tortuguero. Most travelers head for Puerto Viejo, the region’s main hub. This is backpacker central, and it’s easy to get sucked into the surfer/party life here. Puerto Viejo is a rocking seaside town with a strong Caribbean feel. The town is small, it’s easy to get around, there are beaches everywhere, and there are a ton of good restaurants, ranging from local “sodas” where you can buy cheap food, to amazing Western places with delicious baked bread or good sushi. You’ll be rocking to reggae as you wander along streets, as there are more Caribbeans than Spaniards in Puerto Viejo.

Near Puerto Viejo are two other towns worth seeing: Cahuita and Manzanillo. Cahuita, a tiny town situated right next to a stunning national park with the same name, is about an hour north of Puerto Viejo. Like Tortuguero, this is a place to relax. There’s one bar that gets lively on some nights, but for the most part, after a day of hiking, swimming, or surfing, most people just sit and read.

Manzanillo is only 12 kilometers from Puerto Viejo, which makes for an easy day trip. In fact, you can walk here from Puerto Viejo in about two hours, just follow the beach. The town is even smaller than Cahuita, and no one ever really visits. The reef system there is close to the shore, and this is the area’s main diving spot. Most of the people who come here are older couples, families, or retirees. Come here to dive and relax after all the partying and noise of Puerto Viejo.

 

 

After visiting Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, I can say that it’s just as beautiful, interesting, and majestic as the Pacific coastline. And since it rains more on the Caribbean coast, you’ll find far fewer people on this side. The huge resorts, overpriced meals and tours, and thousands of expats that flood all parts of the Pacific, especially the Nicoya Peninsula, are hardly anywhere to be found. So let them do what they want while you enjoy fairly empty beaches, cheap seafood, and lots of wildlife.

 

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Adventure Travel: Push the Limits of your Vacation

  A new year and a new you, time to push your limits like never before. I’m not suggesting that you put yourself in immediate danger but I am saying you should test your boundaries. Let yourself live and maybe you will improve your regular self. Exploration and self discovery rarely are found in a […]

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A new year and a new you, time to push your limits like never before. I’m not suggesting that you put yourself in immediate danger but I am saying you should test your boundaries. Let yourself live and maybe you will improve your regular self. Exploration and self discovery rarely are found in a pool or a bar stool, you’ll need to walk a few steps outside your norm to find what you didn’t know you were looking for.  Go on an epic adventure and see what life is really about.

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Exotic Transportation

Instead of renting a car, try a motorcycle or scooter on for size. This small adjustment to your normal itinerary can completely change your vacation. Let the wind rush through your hair and grab onto those handlebars tight as you vroom through the streets. Can you feel the power between your legs? Have you lived like this in a long while?

A small adjustment to the standard vacation can really turn things upside down. Side note: don’t rent a motorcycle if you have never ridden one before, maybe start with the smaller engine on the scooter. You can still feel the rush without seeing the inside of the local hospital.

Why walk when you can get pulled in a tuk-tuk, a rickshaw or by some local bovine. When I’m in NYC I always take a hansom cab ride around Central Park, this may not be too exotic for most but to me it’s fantastic. A hansom cab is a horse drawn carriage that tours you around Central Park. I’ll always remember the time my wife and I first visited New York and we took our first hansom cab ride. A cold February night had us in a romantic mood, so we hailed a hansom cab and got all cozy under the blankets. Our driver gave us a wonderful tour and we still talk today about that night.

Step Outside your Resort Walls

How about instead of sitting around by the pool, you venture outside the all-inclusive resort. Take a stroll through the town, or maybe a jungle hike. Get the blood flowing and your heart beating. Take in the clean air and beautiful surroundings. When I travel, I usually bring my hiking boots because I look for adventure at every turn and couldn’t imagine just sitting around a pool all day. Although, I have had some of my best vacations just sitting round a pool, but that’s another article altogether.

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Look for Adventure

Every vacation destination has brochures and pamphlets advertising their local attractions, these are great places to start. I usually tend to ask locals for advice or do some previous research on fun activities. But, you would be surprised at some of the awesome adventures that await just around the corner. Zip lines, waterfalls, ancient ruins and guided tours are just the start. Some of these tourist attractions are just traps and ways to suck money from the weary traveler. That’s why I do the added legwork and some light planning to find my true adventure.

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Travel for Adventure

Ditch the all-inclusive resorts and head out for adventure completely. Instead of sitting by the pool, try snorkeling in the ocean or white water rafting down a rushing river. Adventure awaits you at any experience level so don’t let your greenness deter you from an adventure. If you search hard enough, you can find a journey for every expertise level. My kayaking skills are lacking but that won’t stop me from trying. All I know for sure is I won’t get better at kayaking by not kayaking. Grab life by the proverbial balls and live it.

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Extreme Dream

This is not for everyone, but can be for some. Skydive, cliff jump or bungee jump, to start your vacation. Obviously do it with caution and only after you have done some proper research, but hell man, live it up. There is nothing like a little adrenaline rush to get that blood pumping through your veins. I’ve done it all and haven’t regretted an instance. Sure, skydiving may not be for everyone, but the same adrenaline rush I get from jumping out of a plane, you might get from eating exotic fruits. Each his own and you make your own adventure, as long as you are living it up; I’m cool with it.  White water raft down a river or cliff dive into the ocean, life awaits. 

Now I’m not saying that chilling by a pool at a resort can’t and isn’t fun, what I’m trying to say is maybe spice it up a bit. Sitting by the pool all day is perfect after you hiked 10 miles and bungee jumped off a bridge. We only get one ride on this planet so you should enjoy every step you take.

Travel on my friends; enjoy your ride, wherever it may take you.

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6 Pro Travel Tips from Adam Richman

If your New Year’s resolution is to travel more, get ready to feel inspired. With technology and air travel connecting our world more than ever before, it’s not as tough as it may seem to turn your “Places To Visit” Pinterest board into a reality. To prepare to get up close and personal with the […]

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If your New Year’s resolution is to travel more, get ready to feel inspired. With technology and air travel connecting our world more than ever before, it’s not as tough as it may seem to turn your “Places To Visit” Pinterest board into a reality. To prepare to get up close and personal with the world around you, take a look at these tips from travel expert Adam Richman, host of Travel Channel series like Man vs. Food and Secret Eats. Richman also recently teamed up with Capital One’s Priceless Surprises program to surprise four lucky Massachusetts cardholders with trips to Rome, London, Paris, and Hong Kong. Now, he’s ready to help SELF readers plan out dream adventures of their own with the below travel secrets. Happy exploring!

1. To avoid crowds, be picky about which travel times you choose.If you have enough schedule flexibility to fly on off-peak hours, take advantage of it. Popular travel dates and times (like Saturday mornings, Sunday nights, and pre-holiday rushes) lead to congested airports and flights, which is no fun for anyone. “Choose your travel times carefully, ” Richman suggests. “[See] if you can take a red-eye [flight] out the night before a desired date.”

2. Be kind at the airport, no matter what.“Keeping a level head is extremely crucial,” Richman explains. Nobody loves the tension that comes with long lines in crowded airports, but treating others with respect is one way to keep things in check. “Being kind and polite has helped me as much as any kind of traveling savvy,” Richman says. “Also, have your boarding and your deplaning routine fairly down to a science, so you can get on and off the plane with ease.”

3. Strategically coordinate the outfits you pack.The best way to save space in your suitcase is to make sure everything you pack matches. “A friend of mine who works in the fashion and magazine industry recommended that I always pack in the colors of black, white, blue, and brown,” Richman says. “That way, everything goes with everything. I’s kind of a classic combination, and then you have the opportunity to go to multiple venues.”

4. Pack healthy snacks on the go.You ever know when you’ll be stranded someplace without any healthy eating options, so it’s always wise to pack your own fuel. “It’s very funny that at 30,000 feet people with the most strict dietary rules just let them go,” Richman says. “Normally when I sit down to dinner, I don’t have rolls, I don’t order bread, but suddenly I’ll have an in-flight meal with bread and butter. It just doesn’t make any sense.” Richman suggests fighting this phenomenon by stashing snacks like chicken jerky, turkey jerky, healthy granola bars, and raw almonds. “If I’m going to get [food] in an airport, I’ll usually get something like some kind of salad with chicken or some kind of simple turkey sandwich,” he explains.

5. Arrive with a sense of curiosity.“You know that expression that every gym teacher told us that made us roll our eyes, ‘You get out what you put in’?” Richman says. “It’s so true though. Ultimately, if you have an open heart and an open mind, and a willingness to go beyond the typical tourist places, and you do so with respect towards the environment around you, then you’re often rewarded by some of the most remarkable finds.” Don’t be afraid to (safely) push past your comfort zone. “Be humble, stay curious, stay hungry, and don’t get complacent.”

6. Be open to wherever your adventure takes you.Travel has the uncanny ability to bring out parts of our personalities we rarely display at home. “There’s that line from the song ‘Bittersweet Symphony,’ where he sings, ‘I’m a million different people from one day to the next,'” Richman says. “The thing about travel is that there are different places that elicit different sides of us that we might not necessarily be able to access in our day-to-day.”

Full article available from Self.com 
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Skiing vs Snowboarding: How to choose

Skiing versus snowboarding is an age-old discussion or at least a few decades old. It’s winter, the snow is falling all around and you can’t decide which winter sport you want to try. Sure, you have friends who have done both and they all give you differing opinions as to which sport you should give […]

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Skiing versus snowboarding is an age-old discussion or at least a few decades old. It’s winter, the snow is falling all around and you can’t decide which winter sport you want to try. Sure, you have friends who have done both and they all give you differing opinions as to which sport you should give a try. Skiers will tell you that snowboarding is for kids and snowboarders will tell you that skiing is lame. Who do you listen to and how do you choose?

 

I’ll be your impartial observer who gives you both sides of the story and you can decide your own fate. I’ll dictate some good talking points and some funny observations I’ve made in my over 20 plus years of winter sports participation. That’s all I’ll classify my activity as, I’m not an Olympic athlete nor am I completely uncoordinated. I am however a decent athlete and more than competent at both sports.

 

Snowboard

Style:

When discussing snowboarding, fashion is number one. Snowboarding culture is closely related to skateboarding, including their style and general demeanor. Snowboarders wear baggier clothing, the funkier the better with multiple clashing patterns. Snowboarders think they are cooler than they are and that attitude to important if you wish to emulate their style. Baggy pants and loose fitting jackets are the norm and you’d benefit from a cool beanie, like the hipster wear.

Vernacular:

The way one speaks is definitive to their culture and snowboarders definitely have their own traditions. Get ready to drop more “Dudes” and “Bros” than you are accustomed to. A snowboarders’ verbiage is similar to surfers and skaters. Also, break out your high fiving hand and be prepared to slap a few.

Boots:

The boots may be the classic difference between the two sports. Snowboarding boots are softer and cooler than ski boots. Snowboard boots are also much easier to walk around in, which makes a huge difference. These boots resemble normal winter boots except they are generally thicker and stiffer.

 

 

Ski

Style:

Skier style is more focused on speed and function than form. Skiers normally travel at a higher velocity than snowboarders so their outfits are tighter and more aerodynamic. You’ll notice bright colors and smoother fabrics, which help with speed and control.  

Also a huge difference between the two is skiers have poles. Poles help with balance and increase in the ease of moving on flat ground, which is a huge disadvantage to snowboarders.

Vernacular:

Skiers will speak of moguls and black diamonds, which will hardly be spoken by a snowboarder. Moguls are the bumpy sections of harder slopes and black diamonds reference the hardest and steepest courses. Snowboarders tend to stay away from black diamonds and tend to hang in the snowboard park. Skiers tend to speak in perfect sentences and mention lattes often.

Boots:

Once again the biggest divide between the two are the boots used. Ski boots are extremely stiff and almost impossible to walk around. Snowboarders will habitually make fun of the duck like walks of skiers. Ski boots are stiff to give the rider much more control at high speeds.

 

These are just a few of the differences between skiing and snowboarding, now it’s up to you to chose your poison. Skiing or snowboarding, it’s a tough decision, why not try both, and see what fits your style better.

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