Have you had a chance to try stand up paddleboarding? It is at the same time as easy as it looks and harder than it looks. But it is both enjoyable and good exercise, making it worth a try for sure!

3 people paddleboarding

I own a SUP, and trust me the first day I tried it, I spent more time in the water than on the board. Determined I loaded the board up the following morning and headed to the beach. I was prepared to spend the next few hours falling off the board and climbing back up. What surprised me was as soon I stood up, Bam! I made it halfway down the beach without falling. I love this activity.

Paddleboarding is an offshoot of surfing which originated in Hawaii. The act of propelling oneself on a floating platform with the help of a paddle or pole goes back thousands of years and in countries as disparate as Peru, Israel, Italy, and China. But the modern form of stand up paddle boarding was first practiced in Hawaii and entered the world’s vision during the mid-1900s. From there it headed east across the ocean to arrive in California in the early 2000s. California served as the catalyst for worldwide adoption. By 2005 there were paddleboard races, tours, yoga, and fishing from a paddle board. This is a sport that literally anyone of any age can do, making it a popular activity anywhere there is a body of water.

paddleboard surfer

Stand up paddleboards (SUPs) are longer than surfboards, generally 8 to 12 feet long. Though thicker than surfboards, they are made of lighter materials like epoxy and fiberglass wrapped around a foam core, and in the last few years, inflatable boards have been introduced. These are durable yet light making them easy to transport.

5 different types of paddleboard

You should start with a board that is 30 inches wide and 11 feet long. Always start in calm, flat water. You can go to a bigger board if you still feel unstable after several tries. Get the board out into water deep enough so that the fin doesn’t hit the bottom. Start out on your knees, and take a few strokes on each side with your paddle. Grip the paddle with one hand on the top of the paddle and the other on the center of the shaft. Hold the paddle in front of you, with your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Slowly, stand up with one foot at a time and stay in the middle of the board with your feet straddling the stringer hole about shoulder-width apart. Keep a slight bend in the knees and your core centered over the board. Bury your paddle in the water and pull past your paddle. Do a few strokes on one side and then switch to the other. Tah-Dah!! You are a paddleboarder!

man resting on a paddleboard over a reef

Paddleboarding is an all-body workout that also improves your balance and is very calming. Plus, it’s a low impact activity, so you don’t have to worry about damaging the muscles and joints you’re trying to exercise. You can burn 300-400 calories an hour at even a casual pace—twice what you would on a moderate-paced walk. On the other hand, a SUP is great for relaxing. Just lie down on your back, look at the sky, and chill. You may even unwind so completely that you fall asleep, so it’s a good idea to wear a personal flotation device.

girl doing yoga on a paddleboard

SUP is most enjoyable when practiced in calm water. Waves are not your friend when you are first learning to balance on a bobbing object. Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste is the perfect place where you can practice and hone the sport, with very calm waters, the morning is the best time before the afternoon breezes pick up. See you at the beach.

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You have been dreaming of the “Pura Vida” Lifestyle. Sunny days, spectacular beached, wild and adventurous mountain treks and don’t forget about the trip to the rainforest. You have been to Costa Rica enough times to know that you want to make the move; you made the decision that moving to Costa Rica is the right thing to do. So, what do you bring?

Moving to Costa Rica
You could bring just about everything you own, but really? One of the reasons you are coming to Costa Rica may be to get away from it all, so why bring the past to the future. Just bring your clothes!

Playa Hermosa, Costa rica
All joking aside, yes there are some things that you should bring. I highly recommend you bring your health records and dental records, we have great healthcare in Costa Rica. Important files, this is a must just because you are starting a whole new life, some items from the past may still be pending or may need in the future. I.E. past tax filings records, investment portfolio information, thing like that.
If you are into a certain type of music, bring your CDs and player, remember this is a Latin country you may not be able to find the genre you like. Me as a retired chef, I love the simple style of cooking in Costa Rica, fresh and authentic. However, there are many times I want to spice it up a bit. Some herbs and spices are not easily found in Costa Rica, as in Asian and Indian ingredients. Try finding black mustard seeds here, Nope, but if you happen to know where it can be found in Costa Rica, PLEASE let me know!!

Playa Del Coco, Guanacaste Costa Rica
Should you bring a car to Costa Rica? People often ask me that.  I say forget it, it’s a car, buy one here, the sticker shock on the importation tax is enough to send you to the doctor. When I moved here over 10 years ago I filled a container full of stuff thinking I was going to need it. Most items needed up either being given away or sold on the cheap or are still in boxes.

Moving to Costa Rica
If you are moving to a home or condo that is partially furnished, even if fully furnished, you may want to bring new sheets and towels, the type and thread count you love. The same goes for some specialty cooking utensils or pans that you just can’t live without.

Most importantly when moving to Costa Rica for the Pura Vida lifestyle, is to take close look at everything you have and really think about it, “do I have to have this to make me happy”? If the answer is yes, then bring it. The rest just give it away or sell it but don’t bring it, it just gets in the way.
Simplify your life, it’s the Pura Vida Lifestyle

Guanacaste Pura Vida

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If you are not a coffee drinker (because you have been living on the moon), you will likely become one when you move to Costa Rica because, frankly, you cannot live here without drinking Costa Rica coffee. It is the national beverage (alongside Imperial beer), and no one—and I mean NO ONE—lets a day pass without a cup. I have a nice hot cup of coffee right next to my computer as I write this.
Coffee time is a social event each afternoon between 3 and 4 o’clock. And coffee is never taken “pelado” or by itself. It is always accompanied by a tortilla, bread, pastry or a cracker of some sort.

Cup of Costa Rica coffee
Coffee is made by roasting the seeds of the coffee tree, a large evergreen shrub that has glossy deep-green leaves. When in bloom, the limbs of the tree are covered with small white blossoms that emit a delightful jasmine fragrance. After only a few days, the flowers are replaced by clusters of green “cherries” that progressively grow and change from green to red or yellow when they are fully ripe.
Although there are about 70 different species of coffee trees only two species, Arabica and Robusta, account for about 98 percent of the world’s production. The finest coffees come from the Arabica varieties, especially those grown at higher altitudes, and that is the only coffee grown in Costa Rica. Robusta, which is used mostly for instant coffee, has a higher caffeine content and is more neutral in taste.
What is involved in producing quality coffee? Seedlings are started in a nursery designed to provide just the right amount of sun and shade. After about six months, the seedlings are transplanted to the field, the soil of which has been prepared with fertilizer and minerals. The coffee seedlings are planted in rows that follow the contour of the slope.

Costa Rica coffee fields
The trees require constant attention throughout the year. This includes weeding and the regular application of fungicides and insecticides to protect against pests and disease, such as the bean borer and coffee rust. It takes at least two years for the young plants to begin to produce. Harvest time starts in September and ends around the beginning of February, depending on the year. The cherries are handpicked. Only the red berries are chosen the first few times around, and then every berry is picked regardless of color during the final gleaning.

Coffee beans ripening and turning red
Coffee cherries are usually processed using what is called the wet process. In this process the cherries are placed in a pulping machine, which removes the soft rind or shell from the beans. The seeds are next placed in tanks for a duration of one to three days which causes the remaining shell and the slimy membrane covering the bean to ferment and fall off. Then the beans are washed and spread out in the sun to dry. The drying process is done in hot-air dryers by the larger, more mechanized coffee processors. The layers of dry skin around the bean called the parchment are then removed mechanically in a tumbler. The fermentation, which occurs during the wet process, together with the use of only fully ripe cherries produces a mild coffee of excellent quality.
The next step, roasting, is crucial to the quality of the coffee. During this step complex chemical transformations take place within the bean, liberating the characteristic coffee aroma. The roast can be light, medium, or dark, depending on the flavor desired and the brewing method used. However, overroasting can cause the bean to have a shiny appearance and results in a bitter coffee with little aroma.

Coffee roaster in action
Proper grinding is also essential for producing good-quality coffee. The grind is determined by the brewing method to be used. Unless you buy whole beans and grind them yourself, most of Costa Rica’s coffee is finely ground.
While coffee makers are widely used in Costa Rica these days, most Ticos swear the best tasting cup of coffee is made via “chorreado”, or poured though a basic cloth filter. In this technique, the coffee grounds are placed in a fabric “sock” which is suspended over the cup, and boiling water is poured slowly through the grounds. This method gives the coffee a much richer flavor.

Typical Costa Rica coffee maker
You can tour a coffee plantation and witness the whole process firsthand. The most popular tours are Café Britt near Heredia and Café Doka near San Pedro de Poas. Both farms produce delicious coffee, and you will more than likely buy some of their products after taste testing at the end of the tour. There are many delicious coffees can be purchased at any grocery store just like the I do. Some good brands are 1820, My first choice all the time, Café Rey, Tarrazu, Montaña, and Volio which is my second choice. My two choices are based on flavor and price.

1820 brand of Costa Rica coffeeCafe Volio a very popular local brand of coffee
Mmmmm. Gotta run. My second cup of exquisite Costa Rica coffee is brewed and its aroma is beckoning.

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You would not believe the number of foreigners moving to Costa Rica every year. Many people making the move desire to “bring my car” or “bring my baby” as I have heard some refer to their favorite mode of transportation, but is this really a good option? Let’s look at some of the reasons you are better off not importing a car to Costa Rica.

Car being prepared for importing to Costa Rica
The Importation Tax: Are you ready for sticker shock? Hold on to your chair as you may fall out of it. The importation tax for a previously owned used car can be as high as forty-five percent of the value of the vehicle. “Ok, I can deal with that,” you say, “because my car is really old but still runs great so that tax won’t really be that high”. Actually, it could be even higher as Costa Rica is trying to prevent old vehicles being imported into the country.

Yes, cars are expensive in Costa Rica, especially new ones. Why? You may ask. All cars are imported into the country.  None of the big brands (Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai or Ford, you name it) are manufactured here. Costa Rica has a really great public transportation system, you can go almost anywhere in this country, that is, if your willing to learn the routes and wait for a bus.

New Toyota 4x4 in Costa Rica
Repair and Maintenance: Toyota is not Toyota, Ford is not Ford. What? I know it sounds strange, but the cars that are sold in North America are not made the same way as cars that are sold here. Each Country has its own legal regulations, especially the US for emission controls and safety features. For example: even though Toyota Forerunners are sold in the US, the models that are sold in Costa Rica are most likely not from the same plant. When you need replacement parts you may not be able to get them here in Costa Rica. Then what do you do? It is just like Ford trucks and cars, yes, it is the same make, however, the Fords that are sold here are manufactured in Brazil, not the US. Again, different parts are used. I personally know some people that had to have parts shipped in from the US to get their cars fixed.

Mechanic repairing a car in Costa Rica
To avoid the hassle and frustration I recommend buying a car or pickup; new or used, that was originally sold here in Costa Rica. Believe it or not, there are some really great independent mechanics here that can just about fix anything, even without the proper part. I know I had it done on a car I bought that was not originally sold in Costa Rica. Did it work well, yes it did, but I always wondered when it was going to fail again. Luckily, I sold that car before I would have had to have it repaired again.

A lineup of used cars for sale in Costa Rica
When thinking about bringing a car to Costa Rica, take a second and third look at the long-term cost, especially with the importation taxes being so high.

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