Beaches in the Nicoya Peninsula

Mariko Izumi in tambor Costa Rica

We have been living in Costa Rica, near Tambor on the Nicoya Peninsula, for a couple of months now. I’m here to say – it doesn’t matter where you live, life will throw you some challenges and obstacles. No matter if you’re in a city full of people, cozy at home in the mountains, or adventuring in a tropical paradise – challenges follow. The difference of course is what you are doing in between those challenges, and how you are maneuvering those challenges. But nonetheless real life is everywhere.

With that said, today’s blog post is going to focus on one of the major upsides to living in Costa Rica. That is to say, hopping from beach to beach in the Nicoya Peninsula and the benefits to each one.

Three beaches we love in the Nicoya Peninsula:

  • Playa Tambor , Tambor Bay
  • Playa Hermosa, Santa Teresa
  • Playa Tortuga, Tortuga Island

Playa Tambor, Tambor Bay:

The bay is our preferred and most regularly visited beach because the water is calm at all times of the day. The beach is vast, and slopes very gradually into the water so it is perfect for young kids. The sand is dark brown so you don’t get that picture-perfect Caribbean white sand look. However the kids don’t seem to know the difference when it comes to hours of fun with their sand toys.

My four year old can play on her own without me having to hold on to her for dear life for fear of a big undertow swooping her up. It is also is never too busy and as mentioned, there is so much flat beach area. It’s a really calm place to be for the day. The water is so still that sometimes my daughter and I will swim past the very small break in the waves, and just float for an hour. We float in the water taking in the view of the palm trees on the shoreline, the small fishing village across the bay, and sometimes the multi-million dollar yachts lounging in the bay. 

If you’re there in November, you can watch a volunteer group release baby turtles into their forever home (the ocean!). It is an absolutely adorable and memorable experience. Lastly, in addition to a fun and relaxed day, there are restaurants at the entrance of the beach. Tambor Tropical is a charming spot with a wide ranging menu of both American and Costa Rican food. We also love Henry’s which is good for some traditional pizza. Both spots are nice for a casual drink!

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Adventures in Costa Rica

Part-time living in Costa Rica, with a young family and lots of plans.

A slow moving breeze, aqua blue water flickering in the sun and a multiple array of butterflies is what I am currently looking at. This is the “pura vida” and as of this afternoon, we have decided to make it official, and live here for a few months instead of return home to British Columbia. I have some mixed feelings because I LOVE where we live – in the mountains with the deer and fresh air – but mostly, I am so happy and confident with our decision because  in a nutshell, there is no better time to test out these waters than when the whole world is slower, and travel is not as free flowing as usual. 

canadian family of four living costa rica
Mariko, Tiger, Kevin and Yale about to embark on an adventure in Costa Rica.

There were a few factors that solidified our decision. Firstly, the new and ongoing strict travel restrictions for entering Canada and within Canada means that our main business Sturgeon Slayers, will continue to experience a downturn in client bookings. Secondly, and on a much happier note, there is a local school here that seems to have been pulled out of a children’s fairytale, with a focus on international affairs and offering everything from the usual art, math and gym classes to the not so common, “Mindfulness” class – all set within the raw nature that Costa Rica is so famed for. We actually visited this whimsical school a few years ago when Yale was still a baby and talked often about how enriching it would be for her to attend. Well, the stars have aligned…

Yale starts school tomorrow and although I feel a bit nervous about it (new school, new kids, new language, new culture, and wayyyy more hours of school per week than she is used to), she seems to be super excited and has asked me about 30 times a day since we’ve considered sending her if “tomorrow she gets to go to school”.

Lastly, our family owns a home here, so it is not a stretch to secure accommodations, nor an additional expense. As it pertains to work that we do still have ongoing at the moment, we can execute from wherever we are, and we will also take this time to explore other means of income and pivot once again if the opportunity presents itself.

working remotely in the rainforest
Working remotely in our Costa Rican office. i.e. our backyard.

We are a family that already has a tendency to move towards adventure and spontaneity and move just a little past our comfort zone, and so this next “plan” only seems fitting as the next chapter. I invite you to embark on this journey with us and get a little glimpse into what it’s like – maybe for entertainment purposes, or for your own adventure planning down the road. Whatever the reason may be, welcome, and let’s go! 

childhood unplugged in costa rica
Yale, almost 4 years old. Soaking in the pura vida in Costa Rica.

Toddler Travel and Pregnant in Costa Rica

Toddler Travel

I consider myself an expert at toddler travel as Yale (my toddler) and I have been traveling extensively since she was 6 weeks old. Most recently, we just got back from one of our many trips to Costa Rica. I’ve been going to Costa Rica for over a decade, and now that my parents have a house there, we are frequenting the Pura Vida nation even more. Which is AWESOME – obviously! This time around though, there was a little extra development thrown into the mix to make things extra…interesting. I am 5 months pregnant with my second child, AND “dad” had to stay home to work so I was traveling as a single parent with my super dynamic, super hilarious, SUPER active toddler. 

Everything went pretty smoothly, so I’m not here to playback anything dramatic, but I am here to impart a few pieces of advice on toddler travel and traveling while pregnant. I’ll also give a quick rundown of some new fave spots and aspects of travelling in Costa Rica. 

toddler travel costa rica
Toddler travel: Yale holding her (my) coffee and her monkey, approx 5:30am, about to take our first flight of the day.
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Santa Teresa, Costa Rica: Beachy Heaven

Yale and I loving life on Playa Hermosa in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.

Santa Teresa is what surf and hippie dreams are made of. It’s built up enough that you can explore a cornucopia of restaurants, bars and little nooks to hang out in, but it’s kept raw enough that the focal point is still the wild and free ocean, and during dry season, you’ll get nice and dirty from the dusty, unkept, main road. It’s relaxed enough that people from all around the world come to stay for a cheap hostel stay, but magical enough that influential and wealthy people like Giselle and Brady have a vacation home in the area. 

My baby enjoying life in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.

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Family travel: my favourite baby carriers for adventuring and at-home use

Yale in the Deuter pack, while sturgeon fishing.

My favourite baby carriers and backpacks for family travel, adventuring and at-home use.

It’s no secret that travel is one my most fundamental spiritual, practical and lifestyle mainstays in life. I travel for business, and I travel for pleasure and more often than not, I travel for both. Since having a baby, not much has changed, but the main shift has been literally having a small human hanging off me at most times, as I move through the world. Because of this shift, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time sorting through ideas on what kind of baby carrying devices make sense for me, as a mother, an outdoors person and a traveller.  Below, are my top four carriers or backpacks that I find useful in different situations of motherhood and family travel, that I hope you’ll find helpful too.

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As is commonly known, the trademark expression used in Costa Rica is “pura vida”, and once you’ve experienced life here – whether it be one week, or an entire lifetime – it is abundantly clear that this is a no BS expression with regards to the country that breeds fresh air, fresh food and happy people.

I first visited Costa Rica in 2007 and immediately knew it would be one of my favourite countries in the world. On this most recent trip a few weeks ago, my love for the country was even more solidified – possibly because I was there with my whole family (including baby), possibly because I met and worked with some locals, possibly because I’m going through a time of my life where I appreciate the “pure life” even more.  Regardless of the reason, I am totally feeling the country on a whole other level and am excited to go back soon.

Boats in Tambor, Costa Rica.

Tambor, Costa Rica.

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