Beaches

El Matador State Beach

I fell in love with Southern California, and it only took a week.

Last month my honey and I took a somewhat impromptu trip to LA. We usually mull over our destinations up to a year a head of time and then spend months planning. Maybe it was because of the tireless winter this year, or the depressing politics wearing away at us, but this trip was different. We decided in early February to get away and we on a flight in March. Let me just say, I could get used to this kind of spontaneity if this is what it produces.

We left California inspired and rejuvenated. And one of my favorite places was El Matador Beach in Malibu. The beach was a bit crowded, and the water freezing cold but nonetheless it was well worth the short drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. Just see for yourself...

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I have more highlights from this trip to come, so stay tuned!

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El Matador State Beach

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El Matador State Beach

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Space Program Europa at the YBCA

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How to Spend a Weekend in San Francisco

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The de Young Museum

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A Costa Rican Itinerary

What feels like too long ago, I spent nine glorious days with my sister in Costa Rica. When deciding on where to go within the country we couldn't decide between the Caribbean or Pacific coasts, and missing the rainforest wasn't an option so we decided to get a see of all three! If you are looking for a weeklong Costa Rican itinerary, here it is!

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When & Where to Go

If you are looking to visit many parts of the country as I did, January to April are a pretty safe bet weather-wise. This period is high season but unlike most major beach destinations in the region Costa Rica doesn't feel super touristy. Maybe it's because of the country's strong commitment to eco-tourism, regardless it was quite a treat!

We flew into the capital, San Jose, and spent an evening and half of the next day exploring the city before heading for the Pacific Coast (3 nights) by bas (check out bus schedules here). We decided to go the bohemian town of Montezuma on the Nicoya peninsula. One hour and a half bus trip, a sunset ferry ride, and a second 2 hour bus later and we were there! Next was off to the Rainforest (2 nights). We rode past banana plantations and into the mountains toward Santa Elena, Monteverde. After a day or so of hiking and ziplining across the rainforest canopy, we chose to leave the mountains early to head to laid back Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and spend our last days on the Caribbean Coast (3 nights).

 

Where to Stay

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We stayed in hostels throughout our trip, and we didn't book ahead for any of them except for Hostel Bueko in San Jose. Bueko is an awesome place a little way out of the city center. The key to finding a good hostel are reviews, reviews, reviews. But honestly in Costa Rica you just need a safe place you can lock up during the day while you are out exploring! When I return with more people in town I will probably opt for an airbnb

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What to Do

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Monteverde

Arenal Volcano & La Fortuna

Ziplining over the rainforest canopy

Hiking & butterfly watching

Puerto Viejo

Playa Negra

Punta Uva & Punta Cocoles

Surfing

Montezuma

Montezuma Beach

Montezuma Waterfalls

Tortuga Island & Snorkeling

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Where to Eat

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In Montezuma we managed to eat at Bar Restaurante Moctezuma not once, but twice! Sitting right on the Montezuma Beach the views are undeniably beautiful and they offer all 3 meals a day.

Tree House Restaurant & Cafe is literally a restaurant in a tree! It's a little touristy but has awesome ambiance. And if you are in the area you must go to Taco Taco, we ate there at least three times in the couple of days we were there.

There are many great restaurants in Puerto Viejo's town center, but if you are looking for a fun and more upscale meal try KOKi Beach Restaurant & Bar. The cocktail menu was great and the ambiance colorful and totally beach chic.

Other Things to Know

You will have to pay an exit tax of about $30 USD at the airport, have some cash ready so you aren't caught of guard. Public buses take longer than private shuttles but they are significantly cheaper and you get to see more of the country than you would with private transport. 

¡Pura Vida!

Amazing Beaches You'll Want To Add To Your Bucket List

If you Google 'world's most beautiful beaches' you are sure to find listicles naming pristine places in Greece, the Carribean Islands, the Phillipines and definitely Hawaii. But in addition to those dreamy destinations I want to share 5 beaches I absolutely adore. And once you see these photos I am sure you'll be adding them to your bucket list too!

In no particular order here they are...

Coastal Catalonia 

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Coastal Catalonia is the southeastern most area of Spain on the Mediterranean Sea. Well known for being home to the beautiful city of Barcelona, this area is all home to many stunning beach towns with even more impressive beaches than those of Barceloneta Beach (pictured above).

Costa Rica

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Costa Rica has some of the most diverse beaches, especially considering it is a small country. It is located on the Central American isthmus that connects North and South America. This geography gives it warm Caribbean waters (and vibes) to the east and cooler Pacific waters to the west.

Cote d'Azur 

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The French Rivera, or Cote d'Azur, is known for is pebbly beaches and oh so relaxed French-ness. The Riviera spans the southern coast of France so there are many beach towns from Marseille to Nice (pictures above) from which to choose.

Italian Riviera

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A bit further south of the French Riviera you will find the Italian Riviera. Rocky like it's French counterpart, it is home to Cinque Terre and many cliffside villages. At the base of the mountains are exquisite waters perfect for sunning beside and dipping in after an incredible Italian seafood pasta.

Riviera Maya

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And the so called Mexican Riviera (aka Riviera Maya)... *swoon*. Last year I fell in love with the beaches (and everything else) in Tulum and nearby Coba. These beaches are unspoiled, and if you are traveling from the US like myself, easy to get to. I mean just look at these waters! Who doesn't want to be there right this moment!?!

So there you have it, 5 bucket list worthy beach destinations! Which beaches would you add to this list? Share them in the comments below!

Overcoming My Fears in Paradise

I have a fear of heights and this acrophobia comes up pretty often while I am travelling and this trip was no exception. While in Mexico my partner and I visited some of the beautiful Mayan ruins and Yucatan cenotes which challenged my fear and proved to me once again that I am more courageous and capable than I realize.

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I had my first minor scare when visiting the ruins in Tulum. This beautiful place is the only coastal ruins site in the Yucatan and sit atop cliffs overlooking the sparkling Caribbean Ocean. Hiking the ruins were not a big deal until we came to climbing down the steep wooden steps to reach the beach below. I held the rail and scaled the steps slowly, fortunately escaping the scalding sun outweighed my slight hesitation and before I knew it I was in the water.

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A couple of days after our visit to the ruins we boarded a bus to Coba, a small town south of Tulum with ruins we heard we could climb. The Coba ruins were very different from Tulum's; they were shaded by forest canopy with structures intact enough to easily identify (like recreational ball courts!). It was here that we climbed the Ixmoja pyramid. I didn't expect these ruins to be as high or steep as they were but I really wanted to see the view from the top. The climb up and down were far more difficult than the steps in Tulum (that I had since forgotten), and as soon as I made it to the top I found a safe place to tuck myself away. But I have to say, standing above the all the trees was an incredible sight.

Looking back now I see each adventure in Tulum was a ramp up our to our afternoon at the Coba cenotes. My honey and I decided hire a cab driver to take us to two: Choo-Ha and Tamcach-Ha. Choo-Ha is a relatively shallow underground swimming pool-like cenote while Tamcach-Ha is 30 feet below grade with an additional 40 foot water depth.

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After a quiet swim in Choo-Ha we headed over to the far more "exciting" Tamcach-Ha. I began down the long, wooden spiral staircase but halfway down I panicked. The drop seemed far too high and a very shaky and frantic version of myself rushed back topside with my partner not far behind. After many minutes, the two of us in our bathing suits negotiated my way back down the stairs in an embarrassingly slow fashion.

A tour group was already diving from the 10 and 20 foot high diving boards. While I composed myself on the large platform at the water's surface my boyfriend went for a swim. I watched the old, the young and everyone in between jump from the 10 foot board, I even watched many (including my brave man) jump from the 20 footer. After nearly a half hour of just watching I began feeling some serious FOMO. Maybe it was the scared 10-year old that took the plunge or watching my boyfriend go up and down several times, but I realized that I wanted to be the type of person who could make that jump. I didn't want to go homing knowing I didn't do something I had the chance to try. And I didn't want to be ruled by an irrational fear. I wanted to make that jump, or at least try to. So I climbed up those scary stairs, stood 10 feet above the water (it seemed higher by the way!) and after a few minutes looking down at the water, deliberating my sanity, I jumped!

I JUMPED!

And it was terrifying, and a little painful, but I did it and it was INCREDIBLE. 

This little experience was big for me. I learned more about the woman and partner I want to be. I want to make memories a push myself outside of my comfort zone. It's that little step that did just that for me.

Tulum's Best Beach Clubs

Tulum has some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, and while the beaches alone are enough for a dream vacation the abundance beach clubs only make Tulum better! My sweetie and I bounced around a few clubs on our vacay and these are a few of our favorite places to lounge around cocktail in hand.

Zazil Kin

Zazil Kin beach club was our favorite spot in all of Tulum. Not only were the beaches the most pristine (I'm talking about you Playa Pescadores) but the club was the least pretentious and the people watching the most interesting! After accidentally stumbled on it our first morning in Mexico we came back 2 more times and chose to spend our last day there as well! 

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The club, like most beach clubs in Tulum, is an extension of the hotel. But unlike a lot of places most of the club business comes as "walk-ins" and they maintain a large section of beach beds specifically for those not staying at the hotel. Beds are rented for the day (around $5 USD) which includes one cocktail and lots of lovely palm tree shade. And I highly recommend making sure you are around for their 2 for 1 happy hour! I particularly loved the beach bar including the very Tulum-esque bar swings. The bar serves snacks and daily specials depending on what the local fisherman bring off their boats.

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Om Tulum

Om was exactly what I imagined Tulum to be, hippy at heart with a little bit of polish. The restaurant/bar has a fantastic terrace that overlooks the beach and while we were there they had the best caribbean tunes playing that we came back with an entirely new shazamed playlist!

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Coco Tulum

Ahhhh Coco Tulum... what can I say that the pictures don't already!? Coco ranked the chicest of all the places we visited in Tulum. The all white everything somehow popped against the white sand and all the details made me go camera crazy.

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Tulum has so many incredible spots packed with personality, these are just a few clubs I know for a fact I will return to again and again!

Where to Eat in Tulum