Sunset picnic with The Peak House in Portugal

The Peak House: The Ultimate Surf Getaway in Sintra

Portugal

The Peak House: The Ultimate Surf Getaway in Sintra

We all know that the Portuguese are blessed. Blessed with good weather, blessed with pastel de natas, blessed with good wine, and definitely blessed with a long coastline offering waves for days. From North to South, Portugal is spoiled with amazing surf spots. A few of these surf spots can be found in Sintra and the best way to enjoy them is by staying at The Peak House. Are you up for a holiday with sun, sea, and surf? 

Welcome to The Peak House

Sintra is ideally located only 30 minutes by car from Lisbon. Well known for its palaces, it’s a popular town for a day trip from the capital. But as much as we love fairy tales, we love waves even more, so no day trip for us but a full week of surfing at The Peak House. Once you’ve made your way through the small streets of authentic Portuguese villages and rolling hills, you’ll arrive at a little oasis. The Peak House is like coming home. The vibe is so relaxed and welcoming, that you’d probably decide to extend your stay with them after a few days. Brothers Diogo and Duarte are the proud owners of this place, and will make sure you’ll love The Peak House just as much as they do. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and so is their taste in music. Life here is slow and simple. Relaxing, surfing, and eating, are basically all the things you need to do. What’s not to love about that? 

View over Sintra beaches with The Peak House

Surf & Turf

You say surf, we say where!? If there’s one thing that gets us going, it’s surfing (ha, surprise!). There are many different surf spots close to The Peak House. So no matter the conditions, there’s always a wave working close by. While Praia Grande is the most famous surf beach, it’s also the most popular one, where you’ll most likely have to compete with very talented locals. Thankfully, you’ve got the perfect surf guides to navigate you to the best surf spot for your level. Because whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate, Diogo and Duarte are there to help you improve your surf skills. As they are from Sintra themselves, you can’t have better guides to all the secret spots. We both got loads of tips from them and loved having them around to learn us more about the breaks and conditions. 

Explore Sintra

You can be as active as you want during your holiday at The Peak House. I mean, it is your holiday, right? So there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a morning surf session, an afternoon yoga session, and a find-me-by-the-pool session the rest of the day. However, if you do want to see more of Sintra, there’s plenty of fun stuff to explore. Most important thing is to get in touch with Svenja; our favorite tuk tuk driver in town (and The Peak House’s manager). She can show you all the highlights from the Pena Castle to the hidden beaches, beautiful forest hikes and everything in between. We can also highly recommend having lunch at Bar do Fundo, Raiz, and Agua e Sal. And definitely visit Cabo do Roca for sunset; it’s a sight you certainly don’t want to miss out on. 

Memories that last a lifetime

After days full of surfing and exploring (or doing nothing), there’s one thing left to top off the days at The Peak House. Because of all that makes you hungry. And while the dinners at The Peak House are definitely tasty, it’s their ‘special nights’ that are stealing the show. I mean, what can seriously beat sunset picnics on the cliffs of the Portuguese shoreline? Or homemade pizza nights? Good food, good company, and good memories is what it’s all about. And it’s exactly what makes this place so special. 

Live Simply at The Peak House

Like we said, there are many great surf spots in Portugal. But not many have, what The Peak House has. It’s not just the abundance of waves to be found, or the relaxing yoga taught, or even the beautiful surroundings of Sintra. It’s mostly the feeling of coming to a place you’ve known for years, even though you’ve never been before. We could’ve easily extended our stay here and will most probably return in the near future. Because, we too got The Peak House bug.
Love, 

Marthe

Sunset at Cabo do Roca in Portugal

Recap

Do you rather look at images than reading stories? No worries, we have a short recap of everything you need to know about our stay at The Peak House below.

Best time to visit

Between March and June, and from September onwards. Less crowds, better waves!

Best surf spot

Sorry, can't kiss and tell. You gotta come visit The Peak House and let Diogo & Duarte show you!

Surf conditions

Mostly exposed beach breaks that work all year long. Ideal conditions are with an easterly wind and NW swell. Praia Grande is the most famous and most consistent break in the area.

Surfer at Praia Magoito in Portugal

Must visit

Cabo do Roca during sunset

Best activity

A tuk tuk tour with Svenja, The Peak House's manager. She's also an amazing massage therapist!

Best restaurant

Bar do Fundo and Agua e Sal.

Photos by: J. Roeland & M. Barends©


Camping at Playa Oyambre in Spain

The Ultimate Surf Road Trip through France and Spain

Europe

The Ultimate Surf Road Trip through Europe

Back in 2016 we came across a blue Volkswagen van in Portugal. We took a picture and posted it on Instagram with the caption: “One day…”. I dreamed about a surf road trip through Europe for a long time. Doing it in a Volkswagen camper van was definitely high up on the bucket list. Little did we know that ‘one day’, arrived a few weeks ago!  

So, we got the chance to go on a surf road trip across Europe with Roadsurfer! Roadsurfer offers all types of camper vans and motor homes for all your off the beaten track surf adventures. All you gotta do is show up with your boards, wetsuit (hello, surfing Europe) and some fresh clothes, and you’re good to go on an adventure of a lifetime. We had our eyes set on the Atlantic Coast for this trip. Because, what’s better than waves for days, fresh croissants for breakfast, and stunning Galician coastlines? Right, nothing! 

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What you need to know before

embarking on your surf road trip

Before going on your surf road trip across Europe, there are a few practical things you need to keep in mind. In general, we don’t like planning our trips, but sometimes a bit of a plan comes in handy. Especially, when you’re just like us a rookie in terms of ‘vanlife’.

Wanna go on a road trip as well? Book your Roadsurfer camper van now with a €60 discount using the code MOKUMSURF!*
*valid till 31 July 2023

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Wild camping

Wild camping is not allowed in France and Spain. However, there’s some wiggle space here. You are allowed to park and put your roof up in most parking lots, as long as you’re not leaving anything (chairs/table/complete camp setup) outside and causing any nuisance. If that’s all a bit too adventurous for you, there are many campgrounds and special parking spots for camper vans. Definitely download the app ‘Campercontact’ to find spots during your road trip.

Toll ways

Driving through France and Spain? Be prepared for toll roads. Driving from The Netherlands we were up to almost a €100 of toll on our way to Hossegor/Biarritz in France. If you’re road tripping Spain’s coastal road you can avoid most toll roads, keeping the costs low. 

Pack light

There's very limited space in your camper van, so packing light is essential. We didn't pack light (hello, two camera gear bags, surf gear, AND suitcases), and we were constantly moving our stuff around when we wanted to cook or drive away. Roadsurfer can arrange basically anything you need, so all you need to bring is your surf board and some warm clothes for chilly nights.

The Ultimate Surf Road Trip Itinerary

There are many great spots to be found all over Europe, but if you’re going on a surf road trip, there’s one route you definitely need to follow. From the hollow tubes in Hossegor, to the city beaches of San Sebastián, Spain’s best wave in Mundaka, and the unspoiled beaches and uncrowded waves in Galicia. This is where we’ll take you!

First stop: Hossegor | Les Landes

We have visited Hossegor many times before, and we keep coming back to this wave magnet. There are so many waves on offer here, ALL YEAR long. Even in summer, when the swell is obviously smaller, you can still find many spots that work up some decent waves. Exploring the coastlines of Hossegor’s surroundings with a camper van is actually the best way to do it. There are many camp spots available, ranging from very basic to more luxurious campgrounds.

Camp spots:
  • Wild camping: parking at Plage des Casernes
  • Camper van parking: Aire Camping-Car Park de Seignosse
  • Camping: Les Chevreuils 
Surf spots:
  • La Graviere: Hossegor’s most famous spot and definitely not for the faint-hearted. This is an expert only spot with its steep, hollow, and fast tubes.
  • Le Sud: If you’re a beginner, Le Sud is your safest bet for a more forgiving surf session. It’s also quite a mellow wave, making it attractive for longboarders.
  • Le Nord: this is Hossegors big wave spot which can hold up to 6 meter. Definitely an expert spot only as well.
  • Seignosse: honestly, this is my favorite spot. There are multiple peaks here, offering you more forgiving waves than Le Nord and La Graviere, but a bit more challenging ones than Le Sud. Le Penon is perfect for intermediates and more advanced surfers.

The good thing about surfing France, is that there are so many good after surf treats. From fresh croissants for breakfast at L’Autre Endroit or big breakfast plates at Pacific Coast Cafe, to yummy lunches at Spot Palace and typical French dinners at Le Bistro Balneaire: you will be spoiled. Want a more extensive guide about Hossegor’s surf spots and places to eat? Make sure to check out our Hossegor Guide!

Plage les Casernes in Hossegor

Biarritz | Pays Basque

Beautiful Biarritz can’t be missed during your surf road trip through Europe. The good thing about Biarritz is that it combines all the good things France has to offer in one town. All year consistent surf, good wines, good food, the ‘je-ne-sais-quoi’ looks, and stunning beaches. While most of the French towns along the Atlantic are little holiday towns, Biarritz gives you city vibes with a holiday touch. The surf in Biarritz is definitely more crowded than all the other towns in Les Landes. But you know what they say; the early bird gets the worm. Go for the sunrise and sunset sessions to avoid the (surf school) crowds. Even though Biarritz isn’t really camper van friendly, there are a few options for you to park your home on wheels within walking distance of the town’s center and surf.

Camp spots:
  • Wild camping: is definitely not allowed here. There are regularly check-up’s if you’re parked with a van here.
  • Campervan parking: there are two options to park your camper van in Biarritz during your surf road trip. Either Motor Home Aire Millady, which is closest to town. Or Aire de Camping Car which is further away, but nicer with more green and quietness. Far from the surf though.
  • Camping: Biarritz Camping. Relatively close to town, but it’s a very busy camping with small spots. Also, dogs are not allowed.
Surf spots:
  • Le Grande Plage: it’s an exposed beach break with both left and right handers. Doesn’t offer much surf over summer, but can work well all the other months of the year. It’s a crowded spot, though.
  • Côte des Basques: during low tide this can be a fun spot for beginners and longboarders as it offers long, mellow rides. With high tide, however, it gets more challenging, so avoid surfing here then. For a fun surf here without any risks (read: tens of surf schools); make sure to catch the sunset and sunrise sessions.
  • Le Miramar: more of an intermediate/advanced spot, as it offers hollower and steeper waves than the other spots in town.

Planning a trip to Biarritz? Make sure to check out our Biarritz Guide!

San Sebastián | Basque Country

San Sebastián, our favorite city in Europe! A surf road trip isn’t complete without at least three nights in this cool place. The city is not really camper van friendly, so we would suggest booking a hotel or Airbnb for a few nights to properly enjoy it. San Sebastián is all about surfing, good food, good wines, and the typical Southern European outdoor living. Believe us, you wouldn’t be the first that gets hooked here.

The good thing about San Sebastián is, that it’s not just a beautiful city with lots of things to do, but it also has a surf beach right in town. It’s not the most reliable spot on the Basque Coast, and it does get pretty crowded when it works. But hey, who doesn’t like an early morning surf session before a day of city exploring? The surf is best to be enjoyed from September till May.

Camp spots:
  • Wild camping: definitely not allowed. Regular check-ups and fines here.
  • Camper van parking: Autokarabanak Paseo de Berio. It is about 4 km from the city centre of San Sebastián, but public transport is well arranged. Get here early in the morning, though, as it fills up quick.
  • Camping: only available outside San Sebastián. Wecamp south of the city or Camping Oliden north of town are worth checking out.
Surf spots:
  • Zurriola: San Sebastián’s main surf beach is Playa Zurriola. It’s a nice A-frame beach break, offering lefts and rights. There’s not much going on in summer, but the rest of the year it’s a fun intermediate wave. Does get very crowded.
  • La Concha: only works outside the summer months, and it needs quite a bit of swell to work. When it works, it’s a good spot for beginners.

As there are so many spots to eat and stay, San Sebastián obviously requires its own guide to share it all. So make sure to check out our Ultimate San Sebastián Guide when visiting this beautiful city!

View over San Sebastian in Spain

Mundaka | Basque Country

Mundaka is known for having the best wave in Spain. What makes this wave so special, you might think? This firing left hander can produce fast rides of over 200 meters, giving you perfect deep barrels and spaghetti legs by the end of it. It’s definitely not an easy wave due to strong rips, steep take-offs and the speed of the wave, so mostly suitable for good intermediates and advanced surfers. But even if you’re learning the ropes of surfing, Mundaka is worth visiting. Due to its location at the entry of a sanctuary, nature if absolutely stunning around here and there are many (surf) beaches around to explore.

And are you, just like us, a Game of Thrones fan? Then make sure to check out Gaztelugatxe when you’re not surfing. You might be invited for tea with Daenerys Targaryen at Dragon Stone.

Camp spots:
  • Wild camping: official not allowed, neither did we find a good spot.
  • Camper van parking: no official sites.
  • Camping: camping Portuondo. Might be our favorite camping of this trip! It’s quiet and green, super friendly staff, and the facilities clean and new.
Surf spots:
  • Mundaka: world-famous, yes. A bit fickle, as well. When it works, it’s an absolutely firing, fast, hollow wave that lasts for a few hundred meters. It does need the perfect conditions to do so, however. Best around low tide with a NW swell and south wind.
  • Laga: this wave is a lot more forgiving than Mundaka. Therefore, way more suitable for beginners and intermediates. It’s a bit of a drive from Mundaka itself, but the views will be worth it!

Surfers at Mundaka wave in Spain

Playa de Loredo & Playa de Somo | Cantabria

While you’re making your way down the coast, stopping at Loredo and Somo can be a whole lot of fun. These two towns share a big bay that’s spilling waves all year long. Though summers are small and crowded with surf schools and beginners, the rest of the year this place might surprise you. The town of Somo is a proper surf town, while Loredo is a bit smaller and low-key. Both towns, however, are directly situated at the long stretch of golden sand beach that goes on for about 8 km.

Camp spots:
  • Wild camping: there are different parking spots close to the beach
  • Camper van parking: Area de Somo
  • Camping: camping Derby Loredo has the best location right at the beach. Facilities aren’t the best and there’s very little shade to find.
Surf spots:
  • Somo: a sheltered beach break that has some of the most reliable surf in Spain. It’s very beginner-friendly, but also has a few more challenging peaks. Somo can be surfed during all tides, ideally with a NNW swell direction.
  • Loredo: as Loredo is even more sheltered than Somo, the waves are even more mellow and beginner-friendly. You might have some flat days during summer here.

Playa Oyambre | Cantabria

The surroundings of Playa Oyambre are reason enough to visit this place. The rolling hills, big beaches, and epic views wherever you are, are all postcard material. Add some very fun waves all year long, and you’ll understand why we’ve been returning here a few times already. It’s also a great spot for camping as there are many options, ranging from wild camping at a farmer’s land with hardly any facilities (but epic views) to campings with anything you could basically wish for. Most of these spots are only footsteps from the beach, so that’s definitely a bonus as well!

Camp spots:
  • Wild camping: the best spot is parking at a farmer’s land for €10 per night. Drive down the road passing the La Guerra bars towards the end of the cliffs.
  • Camper van parking: there’s no official spot, as most park spots don’t allow overnight stays.
  • Camping: Oyambre beach camping. Ask for the ‘surfer spot’ to set up camp on the little field above the beach (MUCH nicer than the campground itself). Gets busy here starting June to September, so book ahead in these months. 
Surf spots:
  • Playa Oyambre: a great beginner and longboarder spot as the waves are mellow and pretty consistent. Ideal conditions are with upcoming tide, with a NW swell and SW wind.
  • San Vicente de la Barquera: San Vicente is a bit more exposed than Oyambre and therefore, offers a more reliable beach break. This also makes the spot more crowded. The wave works best during low tide, with a NW swell and SE wind.

While staying in the area, make sure to visit La Ostrería de San Vicente for delicious seafood with ocean views and El Rayo Verde at La Gerra for sundowners!

Playa de Esteiro | Galicia

You’ve made it to Galicia! This is where the real fun begins. Galicia is well known for its unspoiled nature, waves, and great cuisine and wines, and all of that without the masses of holiday crowds. We walked empty beaches, surfed empty waves, and had sunset picnics at the most amazing viewpoints all by ourselves. It’s also the place where you’ll definitely need to start using a 4’3 or 5’4 wetsuit and might wanna bring some booties.

Your first stop in this beautiful part of Spain should certainly be Playa de Esteiro. The area is absolutely stunning and gives you a real taste of the remoteness Galicia has to offer. There are many beautiful beaches like Playa de Esteiro, Playa Caolin, and Playa de Bares. There are also many hiking trails on offer to explore the surroundings. As the area is quite remote, there are no campings around. Though wild camping is officially prohibited, you’ll see many people doing it outside the holiday season.

Camp spots:
  • Wild camping: parking at Playa de Esteiro for surfing, or parking at the cliffs of Praia do Picon for epic views. Look up “el Banco mas bonito del Mundo” in Google. 
  • Campervan parking: no official spot. If you need to get water or need to get rid of your waste; gas stations would be your best bet.
  • Camping: there are no campings close by. But if wild camping isn’t your cup of tea, you might want to consider spending a few nights at the Banana Longboard House.
Surf spots:
  • Playa de Esteiro: a consistent beach break that works almost the whole year through, offering both left and rights.
  • Praia Sarridal: another fairly consistent beach break with both left and right handers. It won’t work all year long, though; the best time to visit is either spring or autumn.

Surfing at Playa Esteiro in Galicia in Spain

Pantín & Praia de Doniños | Galicia

If you go surfing in Galicia, you most probably have already heard about Pantín. It’s the most well known spot in this area, and not without reason. Because of its almost perfect location, it picks up any swell coming through, giving you waves for days all year long. It is definitely no beginner break, so if you’re not an intermediate + or advanced surfer, I’d recommend checking out Praia de Baleo. Another great spot for all levels would be Praia de Doniños. This long stretch of golden sand beach has different peaks along it. It offers multiple A-frames with better lefts than rights.

Camp spots:
  • Wild camping: parking at Praia de Doniños & left up on the cliff of Pantín both offer stunning views and are footsteps from the surf breaks
  • Camper van parking: Aparcamiento autocaravanes at Praia de Doniños. Limited spots available, so be here early.
  • Camping: there are not many campings available in Galicia. The closest one to both spots is A Lagoa in Valdoviño. Not the most charming camping spot, but it has all the facilities you need and was recently renovated. 
Surf spots:
  • Pantín: due to its reputation, this spot can get crowded. Works best with a NW swell and SE winds. Can be surfed during all tides, but best with low tide and upcoming tide.
  • Praia de Baleo: this spot is more sheltered than Pantín and therefore a little more forgiving. It’s a beach break with both left and right handers that works best around low tide.
  • Praia de Doniños: a very popular spot, so this one can get crowded as well, especially on weekends and holidays. Nevertheless, a great beach break with multiple peaks that work all year through.

Make sure to stop by Chiringuito Doniños after your surf session for a well deserved cup of coffee, ice-cream, or ice-cold beer!

Praia do San Xurxo | Galicia

White sands and crystal clear blue waters; Praia do San Xurxo is your Galician paradise. One of the prettiest surf beaches around with the best water quality as there are no river mouths. The waves are mellow here, so it’s a good spot for beginners, longboarders, and intermediates. When the wind picks up, this spot attracts a lot of kite surfers, windsurfers, and wing foils.

Camp spots:
  • Wild camping: there are multiple parking lots next to the beach of San Xurxo which are suitable for wild camping. Especially the spot close to Club Ferrolvento is popular. Again, officially not allowed, so wouldn’t recommend it in high season.
  • Camper van parking: there’s no official spot at San Xurxo, but there’s one at the next beach of Praia de Doniños.
  • Camping: Camping As Cabazas is situated at the northern end of the beach. It’s an expensive camping with basic facilities, but you can’t beat the location of it.
Surf spots:
  • Praia do San Xurxo: an exposed beach and point break, offering waves all year long. It needs a SE wind and a NW swell, but will turn into kite surfer paradise when the winds are strong. It’s a popular spot, so can get pretty crowded when the swell is good and over the weekends.

Praia do San Xurxo in Galicia Spain

A Coruña | Galicia

A Coruña, our final stop during this surf road trip through Europe! This surprisingly pleasant city is a nice change of scenery after all the rugged nature and secluded beaches we’ve visited. Back to civilization after a few weeks of living the simple surf life in our Roadsurfer camper van. The good thing about A Coruña is that it even has a surf beach, so we didn’t have to say goodbye to early morning surf sessions just yet. Besides that it has a beautiful old city center, delicious food, and the longest promenade you’ll probably find in Europe.

Like any other city we have visited during this trip, A Coruña isn’t really camper van friendly either. The closest camping is outside of town, and overnight parking facilities are either far away or not easy to find. Nevertheless, A Coruña is a cool city to visit, even just for a day trip!

Camp spots:
  • Wild camping: official not allowed, neither did we find a good spot.
  • Camper van parking: parking lot at the Tower of Hercules.
  • Camping: the closest camping to A Coruña is Camping Bastiagueiro. Facilities are old, the price quite high, but the location close to the beach is pretty nice.
Surf spots:
  • Praia de Riazor & Praia do Orzán: the city beaches have quite the backdrop for your surf session. Best conditions can be found with a NW swell and offshore winds from the south. Like any other city surf break; it gets crowded here, including lots of inexperienced surfers.

Galicia is well known for their seafood, and if there’s one place you should sample it, it’s in A Coruña. We got the most delicious octopus and tuna empanadas at Ultramarinos Casa del Rio and can highly recommend visiting A Pulpeira de Melide for a seafood lunch with a cold glass of Galician Albariño.

A taste for more surf road trips

This was our first-ever van life experience. Did it disappoint? Absolutely not! We loved waking up in different spots every single morning and getting to live outside from sunrise till sunset. Europe is such a great place for a surf road trip basically any time of the year! There are so many surf spots to choose from, the camp facilities are in general really good, and it’s such a great way to explore off the beaten track areas like Galicia.

We are sold. And what do you think… wanna hit the road?

Love,

Marthe

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views during surf road trip in Spain

Recap

Do you rather look at images than reading stories? No worries, we have a short recap of everything you need to know about our surf road trip through France and Spain below.

Camper van

Wanna bring your road trip to the next level? Then rent a camper van or motor home via Roadsurfer!

Best camping

Our favorite camping spot was definitely Portuondo in Mundaka. The campground was nice and quiet, lots of greenery around, and great showers.

Best time to visit

For a surf road trip we'd recommend visiting either in spring or autumn. The waves will be better, the crowds less, and the weather still absolutely beautiful.

Roadsurfer van during surf road trip at Playa Pantin in Galicia

Road trip music

What's a road trip without a good playlist? We got the perfect one for you!

Best food

Food wise, you won't be disappointed during this whole road trip. From Biarritz, to San Sebastián to Galicia, it is foodie heaven. Our favorites? Pulpeira de Melide in A Coruña, La Ostreria de San Vicente in San Vicente de la Barquera, Ganbara in San Sebastián, and Maison Adam in Biarritz.

Best beach

The most beautiful beaches can definitely be found in Galicia. Our favorites? Praia Santa Comba and Praia do Xan Xorxe.

Photos by: J. Roeland & M. Barends©


Amsterdam canal views of the Brouwersgracht

The Sustainable Amsterdam Travel Guide by a local

The Netherlands

The Sustainable Amsterdam Travel Guide by a Local

Amsterdam, our beautiful hometown! It’s a shame we haven’t written one article about it, don’t you think? Up till now! We’ll share our local favorites and even show you how to visit our amazing hometown sustainably. Little people know this, but Amsterdam is actually one of the front runners in offering sustainable city tourism. And let’s be honest, a trip doesn’t get more sustainable than discovering your own city on a bicycle. 

Bicycle on the canals of Amsterdam

Sustainable activities in Amsterdam

So, let’s start with what you should do when visiting Amsterdam. The most obvious and easy way to visit our town sustainably is, of course, exploring it by bicycle! Because you haven’t been to Amsterdam if you haven’t been on a bicycle. Though we locals might be annoyed like crazy with tourists having no idea how our little bicycle city functions, I would still recommend exploring our beautiful city this way. It’s the perfect way to discover all the hidden and not-so-hidden gems of Amsterdam, while stopping for coffee, ice cream, lunch, bites, and drinks along the way. Cycling makes you thirsty and hungry, right? Most hotels rent out bicycles, and there are plenty of other shops around town renting them out (about €12,50 per day, does get cheaper if you rent them longer).

Is it raining cats and dogs? No worries, our public transport is completely green as well!

Visit the Noordermarkt on Saturdays

There’s a big organic market every Saturday morning on the Noordermarkt. It’s the perfect place to try local delicacies like Dutch cheeses, organic honey, or fresh oysters. Sample your way through the organic farmers market, stroll along the Lindengracht market (one street further), and search for one-of-a-kind antique gems while enjoying the diversity of people attracted by the market every week. 

Organic fruits and vegetables at the Saturday Noordermarkt in Amsterdam
Sustainable museum in Amsterdam The Hermitage

The Hermitage Museum

The Hermitage Museum isn’t only one of the most beautiful and historic museums you can find in Amsterdam but also a very sustainable one. One of the most admirable actions they take, is the collaboration with the Hortus Botanicus. Due to a pipe system between the two locations, the art of the Hermitage can be cooled, while the warm air this causes is transported to the tropical gardens of the Hortus Botanicus keeping the climate on point. The warm air turns into humidity which is then again transported back as cooled water to cool the art. Quite the sustainable circle, right?

The Plastic Whale

An amazing concept to create awareness on the massive plastic problem we have in the world, while in the meantime, you get to discover Amsterdam by boat. The Plastic Whale foundation organizes a big clean-up boat event after two festive events in Amsterdam (Gay Pride and Kings Day), to restore all our canals to their natural beauty. 

If you’re visiting Amsterdam the rest of the year, Ecoboats Amsterdam, offers a similar experience. 

Boat tour through the canals of Amsterdam
DGTL sustainable festival in Amsterdam

Visit a festival

Who knew visiting a festival could be considered a sustainable activity in Amsterdam?! Two of my favourite Summer festivals are considered to be some of the most sustainable in the world! DGTL and Welcome to the Future show the world how it’s done. Being sustainable doesn’t stop at recycling plastic cups, but continues throughout the whole preparation and experience of those festivals. From renewable energy sources, to the prevention of food waste, eliminating residual waste, and offering vegan food options, they try to be fully sustainable and 100% circular.

Sustainable shopping mecca

Shop till you drop is obviously not the most sustainable way of spending your city trip, unless you skip the high street shops and follow the treasure hunt of sustainable shops around the city. For organic and locally produced groceries, visit Marqt. For secondhand gems make sure to stop by Episode, Laura Dols, and the Monday morning market at the Noordermarkt. Salon Heleen Hülsmann has the most beautiful designer vintage pieces and is definitely worth the visit. Looking for sustainable body care and home perfumes? Visit Marie Stella Maris. Stop by Sukha for sustainable basics and beautiful knits, while secretly adding a few homeware gems to your basket.

Sustainable thrift shopping in Amsterdam at Laura Dols
Sustainable beauty salon Beauty Bewust in Amsterdam West

Sustainable self-care at Beauty Bewust

Exploring Amsterdam can be exhausting; so much to do, so little time. Most definitely if you’re doing it all on a bicycle, right? We got the solution for that. Book yourself a sustainable treatment at Beauty Bewust. This cute little beauty salon in Amsterdam West (within walking distance from our hotel pick) is everything you want after a long day of exploring. Sarah’s treatments are all done with sustainable products that actually work. I highly recommend trying the Vitamin C treatment; I left her salon glowing for days.

Conscious Hotel Westerpark in Amsterdam

Hotel Pick: Conscious Hotel Westerpark

We loved the location of this Conscious Hotel joint in Westerpark. You’re only a hop and a skip away from the fun and beautiful neighborhoods the Jordaan and Haarlemmerdijk, and you basically got a whole park available to walk/run/chill when you roll out of your bed. The hotel itself is all about sustainability. From water-saving showers to sustainable cleaning services, to green energy and organic foods and drinks in their restaurants. Conscious Hotels takes sustainability seriously and it shows through the whole experience you’ll have when staying with them. Another big highlight (especially in summer) is their terrace with sun all day long. Breakfast can’t be beaten with a spot like that. 

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Sustainable Restaurants in Amsterdam

Being sustainable as a restaurant can be accomplished in many ways. It’s easy to think that only vegan is the way to go when talking about sustainability, but there are other ways of minimalizing your ecological footprint as well. One of the first, and most progressive sustainable restaurants in Amsterdam is De Kas. By now, we can call it an institution as it has been paving the way for many years now. De Kas is a place you should definitely visit while visiting Amsterdam. Set in a beautiful greenhouse, they cook only with local products and produce from their garden. Do make reservations in advance!

Sustainable food at restaurant Yerba in Amsterdam

Yerba

Whoever thinks of sustainable restaurants as tree-hugging gathering spots hasn’t been to Yerba. This plant forward restaurant offers a completely plant-based menu, but doesn’t rule out the carnivores and pescatarians among us. Their root to seed approach brings you creative dishes that are absolutely delicious. They work with local suppliers and adjust their menu to what the season offers. A must-try is their Okonomiyaki; we literally licked the plate till it was clean again. But also their other dishes were very tasty and a feast for all the senses. A great place for Sunday brunch or a nice dinner any day of the week!

Vegan Junkfood Bar

The Dutch are pretty proud of their snack culture. Kroketten, frikandellen, kapsalon, or a patatje oorlog (fries war); we all have a few favorites on which we indulge, most probably at midnight after a night out. The only downside of this snacking feast is that it’s not sustainable AT ALL. It’s supposed to be cheap, and we all know what happens to the supply chain when that’s the main goal. Up till now! The Vegan Junkfood Bar changes the ingredients by focussing on plant-based only without compromising on taste and texture. They might not be open at midnight, but we don’t mind snacking any other time of the day for some vegan deliciousness.

Hamburgers at Vegan Junkfood Bar in Amsterdam
Vegan restaurant Mediamatic in Amsterdam

Mediamatic

Are you looking for a unique dinner experience? Then make a reservation at Mediamatic. You’ll dine here in tiny greenhouses overlooking the IJ and the old city center. The setting is absolutely magical, especially once the sun is setting and everything is bathed in golden light. The staff here gives you the warmest welcome and continues their impeccable service throughout the night. There’s a set 4-course vegan menu with surprising flavors, textures, and combinations. It was absolutely delicious and a feast for the eyes. I do have to say we weren’t completely satisfied yet after the four courses, so if you’re a big eater you might want to plan in an extra dessert somewhere else afterward.

Amsterdam in all its sustainable glory

As you can, see there are plenty of options to experience Amsterdam sustainably. Whether you’re here for a day trip or have a few days to explore; Amsterdam got so much to offer. This sustainable Amsterdam guide will take you off the beaten track, away from the typical tourist spots, so we actually have more to offer than smoking weed and the Red Light District. 😉 Enjoy our beautiful green city!

Love,
Marthe

This post contains affiliate links. When you book through links in this post, we may earn a commission.

Sunset view over Amsterdam Central

Photos by: J. Roeland & M. Barends©

Recap

Do you rather look at images than reading stories? No worries, we have a short recap of everything you need to know below.

Best time to visit

Amsterdam is best enjoyed during Spring and Summer, so come visit us in between April - September

Sustainable Hotel

Conscious Hotel Westerpark is located in a really nice area in the city centre!

Currency

Euro

Canal houses in Amsterdam

Best Sustainable Restaurants

Definitely Restaurant De Kas. Such a special experience in the middle of the city enjoying absolutely delicious food.

Best Sustainable Activities

Strolling around the city exploring all the beautiful neighbourhoods is actually the best thing to do. Add a visit to the Noordermarkt on Monday or Saturday, a beauty treatment at Beauty Bewust, and a visit to The Hermitage to that and you'll be one happy sustainable camper.

Weather

Dutch weather can be as unpredictable as can be. Make sure to pack a raincoat and a warm sweater, even in July.


Playa Santa Teresa in Costa Rica

Santa Teresa: The Ultimate (Surf) Guide

Costa Rica

Santa Teresa: The Ultimate (Surf) Guide

Santa Teresa might just be the most popular beach destination in Costa Rica. If it’s surfing, relaxing, good food, and palm-tree-lined beaches you’re after, then Santa Teresa is where you need to be. The town is scattered around a 3 km road with lots of delicious cafes and restaurants, cute boutique shops, and many quad and surfboard rentals. It is touristy, and it might take you a few days to appreciate the hustle and bustle of this little town, but it definitely has a bit of charm left. The fact this town has dozens of different surf breaks for different levels definitely adds to that charm. Because, whether you’re a beginner or a pro; Santa Teresa will spoil you with plenty of waves!

Where to stay: Lucero Surf Vacations

A good night’s sleep is important, especially when it’s waves you’re chasing. Your ultimate surf getaway would be Lucero Surf Vacations. This Bali-inspired spot is just a short walk from multiple surf breaks and has everything you could possibly want. Comfy beds, a refreshing pool, a wholesome breakfast, and a great surf teaching team ready to show you around! We really enjoyed our stay here because of the welcoming vibe, but also because of its location. It’s in the middle of town and basically everything (food and surf) is within walking distance. We could’ve easily hung around for weeks and just follow the rhythm of eat, sleep, surf, repeat. 

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Where to stay: The Green House

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Santa Teresa’s main street, this beautiful place feels like a jungle hideout. Even though the walk down the hill is only 5 minutes (a bit longer uphill ;)), you feel miles away from basically anything. Wake up with the sounds of tropical birds and howler monkeys, while nipping on your Costa Rican coffee and seeing the sun rise above the hills. Can you ever wake up grumpy when that’s the start of your day? We guess not!
The design and interior of the houses just walked out of one of my Pinterest boards. It’s just so beautiful and well-thought-through. Having your own little plunge pool to cool down, multiple little seating areas, and a full kitchen, makes this an ideal spot to stick around longer (remote working, anyone?). You might think, is there anything that makes this place even better? Well yes! They are an Ocean Friendly Business and part of the Nicoya Water Organization. Douze points from us!

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Where to Surf in Santa Teresa

Surfing Santa Teresa can be done year-round. Even though the swell season runs from April to September, the rest of the year won’t go flat at all. December till February is a bit more beginner-friendly as the waves are cleaner and more mellow. However, if you wanna get barrelled, surf double overhead waves, and work on some gnarly and hollow breaks, then book your 6-month surf sabbatical for April. 

Mal Pais

Situated South of Santa Teresa starting at Playa Carmen, you’ll find this sleepy fishing village with some very decent reef and beach breaks. It’s a fairly easy wave but can get more challenging when the swell picks up. There are some long rights and shorter lefts available which can be good for the more advanced beginners who’d like to learn how to catch green waves on their own. The reef breaks at Mal Pais are a bit trickier as the take-off is faster and there can be some shallow rocks. Also, when it gets bigger the waves do close-out. It works best during mid tide with a S-SW swell. 

Surfing Playa Santa Teresa Costa Rica

Playa Santa Teresa

This is the main beach of Santa Teresa which basically stretches from Playa Carmen in the South to Playa Hermosa in the North. There are many beach breaks along this stretch which can get pretty crowded when the surf’s good. Fun breaks can be found at Zeneidas, Selinas, and Rocamar, but there are plenty more if these don’t look like something for you. It mostly caters to intermediate and advanced surfers, as the waves can be hollow and powerful with rapid takeoffs. With some decent swell, you’ll be able to find some fast barrels here as well. It works best with upcoming tide, from low to mid tide, with a SW swell.

Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa is North of town and offers a long stretch of beach with multiple breaks. It’s a popular spot for surf schools and in general, offers good beginner waves. The waves here just keep on rolling in, so it’s a good spot to work on your pop-up and catch lots of whitewater waves if you’re a beginner. It works best during incoming tide from mid to high tide. 

Playa Hermosa near Santa Teresa Costa Rica
Surfing at Playa Cabuya Costa Rica

Cabuya

On the other side of the peninsula, you can find the spot Cabuya or Cedros. This spot can work as an almost perfect right-hand point break and is often a bit more mellow when the swell is big in Santa Teresa. It needs a midsize or bigger swell coming from the South to properly work, but when it does you can find some really clean fun waves here. We’d recommend surfing this spot with higher tide due to the reef you need to pass when paddling in and out, but it can be surfed on low tide as well if you can’t be bothered (or have some booties with you). 

Surfboards for rent in Santa Teresa Costa Rica

Surf shops & board rental

When we arrived in Santa Teresa we just broke both our boards the week before. With a surf trip planned around the Nicoya peninsula, you can imagine our joy. Not. We did find two good spots in Santa Teresa where you find lots of different board options including a few more performance ones. If you’re looking for Al Merrick or Hyptokrypto’s, then visiting Nalu is a good idea. If you wanna have lots of options differing from Rusty, to Firewire, to Takayama, then make sure to pay Kina Surf Shop a visit. Both shops are also great if you ran out of wax, broke all your leashes, or messed up your tail pad! Rentals are between 15-25 USD per day, depending on the type of board. 

Where to eat

If you wanna have a low-key meal then Eat Street is a great option. The different food trucks offer things like tacos, pizzas, burgers, healthy bowls, and pastries. You can go here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and have your belly filled with good stuff. We really enjoyed the Asian-style bowls here; the price-quality was definitely good (especially as Santa Teresa is proportionally more expensive than the rest of Costa Rica). 

Food at restaurant The Bakery in Santa Teresa Costa Rica

The Bakery

The Bakery is an institution in Santa Teresa. I bet you’ll get this place recommended by everybody who you’re telling you’re going to Santa Teresa. And it makes good sense! Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, The Bakery is always a good idea. We loved their Spicy Tuna Sandwich, their Mahi Mahi burger, their pastries, their fresh bread, oh, who are we kidding, what not!?

Katana

This place is definitely worth a visit. It might be a bit weird to have Asian food when visiting Costa Rica, but if you don’t feel like rice and beans for a night, this is a great alternative! When you’re there make sure to go for the Katana Duck and their Butter Chicken; both are absurdly good. After eating those I was already debating if we could return the next day for the exact same meal. 

Butter Chicken at Restaurant Katana in Santa Teresa

Ani's

Serving you all the Bali vibes with their colorful smoothie bowls, yummy sandwiches, and good coffees. Ani’s is a relaxed cafe with really nice staff and lots of delicious things on its menu. Famous for their bowls, but definitely don’t miss out on the rest. 

Manzú

Do you have something to celebrate? Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, or just life in general; having dinner at Manzú will definitely give you a celebratory feel. Start on the beach during sunset with your feet in the sand and a cocktail in your hand. Then dine under a sky full of stars and indulge in all the delicious things Manzú has to offer. The team is incredibly friendly and really makes your evening even more special. 

Manzu restaurant in Santa Teresa Costa Rica
Pizza at Restaurant Amici in Santa Teresa Costa Rica

Amici

The best pizzas in town can be found at Amici. Paper thin, well covered with lots of delicious ingredients, baked in a huge wood oven; we’re telling you, they’re nailing the pizza game at Amici. If pizza isn’t your thing, don’t worry; we had some really good gnocchi and pasta here as well!

When all you need to do is surf and eat

Even though Santa Teresa can be dusty, muddy, busy, and loud, it is definitely a place that can grow on you. It definitely has all the backpacking surfing vibes and we totally understand that people tend to stick around a little longer than planned. There won’t be a place in Costa Rica where you can find so many different and such good food options as here. It might actually also be one of the best spots to learn how to surf. I mean, surfing with whales playing in the background and monkeys playing in the jungle backdrop is one of the best things in life, right? So guys, make sure to put Santa Teresa on your travel bucket list and enjoy everything this town has to offer!

Pura Vida,
Marthe

This post contains affiliate links. When you book through links in this post, we may earn a commission.

surfers on the beach of Santa Teresa Costa Rica

Photos by: J. Roeland & M. Barends©

Recap

Do you rather look at images than reading stories? No worries, we have a short recap of everything you need to know below.

Best time to visit

If you like blue skies, mellow waves, and a touristy vibe in town; visit between December and February. If it's waves you're after, then visit Santa Teresa anywhere between March and September.

Our hotel picks

Don't mind spending the extra dime then definitely stay at The Green House. If it's proper surf vibes you're after then Lucero Surf Vacations is your spot.

Currency

Colones or US Dollars. Remember to pay the currency which is asked to avoid crazy exchange rates.

Best food

Breakfast at Ani's, lunch at The Bakery, dinner at Katana.

Best surf spots

Beginner: Playa Hermosa
Intermediate: Mal Pais or Cabuya
Advanced: Anywhere ;) but success guaranteed at Zeneidas

Weather

An almost always steady 28 ºC or 82ºF.
Dry Season: December - April
Rainy Season: May - November


Drone photo of Art Villas in Uvita Costa Rica

The coolest hotels of Costa Rica

Costa Rica

The coolest hotels of Southern Costa Rica

When we moved our asses to Costa Rica to embark on this big surf adventure, we honestly had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We had never been to Costa Rica before, had little knowledge about its culture, its people, or how beautiful this country really was. But it surprised us in many ways, and it still does. 

One of the highlights of this country is of course its nature, but also the role nature plays in its approach to tourism. Eco-tourism is thriving in Costa Rica. This also means there are quite a lot of special, unique, hotels that will make your trip through Costa Rica even more of an adventure. While most tourists tend to hang around the North of the country, they are actually missing out on the best part. Southern Costa Rica has the most beautiful national parks, unspoiled beaches, uncrowded waves, and undiscovered gems. We decided to do a little field research on the coolest hotels in Costa Rica in order to elevate your trip to the next level. 

Art Villas | Uvita

If there’s one place in Costa Rica that needs a spot on your bucket list, then it’s Art Villas. After a steep, bumpy, ride uphill you’ll arrive at this jungle luxury hideout. You know what we say, right? Bumpy roads lead to beautiful hidden gems! And that’s absolutely true for Art Villas. Do arrive by 4×4 though, otherwise, it will be a long, steep, uphill walk with your suitcases. 

Drone photo of Art Villas in Uvita Costa Rica
Art Villas in Uvita Costa Rica

Pinterest worthy

At Art Villas, they’ve thought about everything. Plunge pools with a slide? Check! Gym with plenty of equipment? Check. A massive kids’ room with anything your kids can dream off? Check. Just to name a few things. But what really does the magic is the way it’s set up. Surrounded by nature, with endless views, and the unique design of both the Coco pods and the houses suitable for bigger groups. It’s what Pinterest boards are made of.

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Isla Chiquita Glamping

Another one that’s serious bucket list material, is Isla Chiquita Glamping. There is truly no place like it. From the moment you set foot on this tiny island, you’ll feel like you arrived in paradise. Not just because its lush nature is absolutely beautiful, but also because Isla Chiquita Glamping takes every little detail into account. The staff goes above and beyond to give you the best experience while staying with them and will make you feel at home the moment you get out of the boat. At home might mean sleeping in a tent, but don’t be fooled… this is next level glamping.

Glamping tent at Isla Chiquita Glamping in Costa Rica
Drone view of Isla Chiquita Glamping in Costa Rica

Island life

Does staying on a tiny island sound a bit claustrophobic to you? Don’t worry, there are plenty of activities to keep you occupied! Get on a SUP or grab a kayak for a relaxing paddle around the island before breakfast. Walk around the island for some guaranteed howler monkey spotting. Join the yoga class, get a massage, or dive in the pool. And definitely, do a bioluminescent kayaking tour!

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Sunset view at Studio Moss of The Green House in Santa Teresa

The Green House | Santa Teresa

Most of the hotels in this list can be found in off the beaten track locations. But there are some real gems to be found in some touristic spots as well. That’s why we can’t withhold you The Green House in Santa Teresa. The three houses Mint, Myrtle, and Moss are a design dream, hidden up in the hills of bustling Santa Teresa. With a big comfy bed, a kitchen, and a balcony with plunge pool overlooking the jungle hills, The Green House is a great spot to stay when visiting Santa Teresa.

Planning a visit to Santa Teresa? Make sure to check out our Santa Teresa Guide!

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Igloo Beach Lodge | Manuel Antonio

Fast becoming an Instagram hype, Igloo Beach Lodge is definitely a unique place to stay. Based in the ever-popular Manuel Antonio, this place is located very well if you wanna visit the most famous national park of Costa Rica.  The white igloo-shaped rooms covered in jungle plants are a feast for the eyes, just like the whole pool area and little cafe that comes with it.

Drone view of Igloo Beach Lodge in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica
Igloo beach Lodge hotel in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

Pipas and pool days

Being welcomed with a “Pipa Loca” (young coconut with rum), our stay at Igloo Beach Lodge was very relaxing and welcoming. The rooms are very comfortable, with big bathrooms and soft beds. Rolling from our bed into the pool for our morning swim during sunrise, and having a yummy breakfast at Casa Planta was the ideal start to our days in Manuel Antonio. Do expect a bit of a party vibe, especially on the weekends. The fact they’re only footsteps from the beach makes this the perfect stay in Manuel Antonio.

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infinity pool at Oxygen Jungle Villas hotel in Costa Rica

Oxygen Jungle Villas | Uvita

Houses made of glass surrounded by jungle, an infinity pool overlooking the Pacific, and daily tucan visits. Doesn’t that sound like the ideal holiday spot? Oxygen Jungle Villas in Uvita is one of the coolest hotels in Costa Rica. I mean, did you ever sleep in a glass house, to begin with? This adults-only resort is everything if you’d like to get pampered. The food is delicious, the views priceless and the service outstanding. Add all the animal encounters, the waterfall in the garden, and some outstanding spa treatments, and I believe you don’t need any other reason to leave ever again. 

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Congo Bongo Eco Village | Manzanillo

Unique? Definitely! Surrounded by nature? Absolutely! Congo Bongo ticks all the boxes of a one of a kind experience off the beaten path. Enjoy the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica from your jungle home at Congo Bongo Eco Village. White empty beaches, crystal clear blue waters, punchy waves to surf, and wildlife in basically every single tree. The Caribbean coast is a must-visit on your Costa Rica itinerary, and staying at Congo Bongo just as much. 

Planning a visit to the Caribbean? Make sure to check out our guide!

Playa Manzanillo in Costa Rica
Congo Bongo hotel in Costa Rica

Jungle vibes

I felt like stepping into Pippi Longstockings jungle home while entering Congo Bongo Eco Village. The collection of seashells, local art, beach gems, empty perfume bottles, and reused plastic artifacts take me back to my favorite childhood series. There are several houses set around the property, but while sitting on your front porch you have no idea there’s actually any sign of civilization anywhere near. You are surrounded by the jungle and its sounds. While typing this there’s a hummingbird flying (and pausing) just right in front of me. When I look around I see the most colorful butterflies flying around, I hear sounds of birds I’ve never heard before and the howler monkeys are playing in the trees just out front. Basically, the only thing you have to do at Congo Bongo Eco Village is lie in the hammock and look around.

Friends, family, or couple hideout

You can rent one of the bigger houses with a group of friends or your family, or feel like Tarzan and Jane with just the two of you. All houses have a fully equipped kitchen, a big outdoor sitting area, rain showers, and big comfy beds. Craving a jungle hideout only footsteps from a paradise beach? Then Congo Bongo is your way to go.

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Finca Exotica | Carate

When driving towards Finca Exotica it really feels like you’re driving towards the end of the world. The bumpy road through lush jungles, along rugged coastal lines and beautiful lagoons, will bring you to one of my favorite hotels in Costa Rica. Finca Exotica is a sustainable eco-lodge at the gateways of Corcovado National Park.

Restaurant of Finca Exotica in Carate Costa Rica
Red macaws at Finca Exotica hotel Costa Rica

Barefoot luxury

Finca Exotica just breathes barefoot luxury. Everything is well thought through. Their service is incredible, the food is delicious and everything is in line with nature. They first grew the bamboo in order to build the houses, they grow their own fruits and vegetables, they reintroduced many species of trees and plants in the area while nurturing everything that was already there. No wonder Finca Exotica’s garden feels like a mini Corcovado National Park (their neighbor) with such great variety in flora and fauna. Nose bear and anteater encounters are just daily business. And never in my life have I seen so many red macaws in one place. I can’t recommend this place enough if you love nature and feeling special while enjoying it.

Sola Vista Eco Lodge | Punta Banco

This is the ultimate honeymoon spot in Costa Rica. If you like nature and ocean views, this truly is one of the most unique experiences you can have in Costa Rica. The all-bamboo houses have 360-degree nature views and daily visits of basically all animals of the jungle. You feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, while you’re actually two footsteps from the little town of Punta Banco and the beach. Waves roll in just out front, with even more surf spots down the beach and the world-famous Pavones left-hander just 6 km away. 

Sola Vista Eco Lodge hotel in Costa Rica
room view at Sola Vista Eco Lodge hotel Costa Rica

Wildlife visits and ocean vistas

The open-air cabinas have everything you need, combined with the best views in town. Wake up with ocean views and monkey sounds in the most comfortable beds you can find in any hotel in Costa Rica. While taking a shower outdoors you might be able to spot some tucans or nose bears sliding down the trees. After a long day of surfing, there’s no better place to enjoy the sunset than your deck. Both houses are equipped with a kitchen, and you can even ask Denise & Renato to stock up your fridge before arrival.

Renato and Denise are the best hosts you can imagine, who would love to help you out with fun activities to explore the beautiful surroundings. Good times guaranteed at one of the most beautiful hotels in Costa Rica. Sola Vista Eco Lodge is calling your name!

Rancho Burica | Punta Banco

Literally, at the end of the road, Rancho Burica might just be the last destination of Costa Rica before the Panamanian border. One of the few places in the whole country that is actually positioned right at the beach, with a wave out front. The accommodation might be basic but accommodates both those on a shoestring with their dorm, as adventurous couples or families with their ocean view private rooms. Every single room is footsteps from the beach, and you will fall asleep with both the sounds of the waves and of the jungle.

Drone image of Rancho Burica Costa Rica
surfer with pelicans on a wave at Rancho Burica Costa Rica

Nature runs the day

There’s a waterfall in the garden, hammocks everywhere, and relaxing decks from where you can spot flying stingrays or jumping humpback whales in the Pacific depending on the season. Rancho Burica is also involved in the local community project to protect the turtles, which means you might be able to witness one of their baby turtle releases. The vibe at Rancho Burica is relaxed with family breakfasts and dinners, which makes it very easy to socialize with the other guests and staff. Careful, you wouldn’t be the first to extend your stay.

Would you like to go here? Check out our surf retreat!

Most beautiful hotels in Costa Rica

All of the places above have stolen our hearts. Maybe it’s the close proximity with nature, the paradise set up, or the best sunset views, that has made us feel so special while staying at each of these hotels in Costa Rica. It for sure is the incredible hospitality, the personal touches, the unique character of all of them, and the “can-I-pinch-myself”-feeling we had while enjoying these hideouts. So, are you planning a trip to Costa Rica? Make sure to put these hotels on your to-do-list!

Love,

Marthe

This post contains affiliate links. When you book through links in this post, we may earn a commission.

Sola Vista Eco Lodge hotel in Costa Rica

Photos by: M. Barends & J. Roeland ©.


Paradise beach in Cahuita National Park in the Caribbean Costa Rica

Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica: The Ultimate Guide

Costa Rica

Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica: The ultimate guide

When arriving in Costa Rica you can choose to either go right or left; explore the Pacific or the Caribbean coast. With paradise coastlines on both sides, it’s almost impossible to make a choice. So just don’t. Do both! Head to the Caribbean Coast and be welcomed by Bob Marley tunes and little cocktail bars serving up Piña Coladas and Margaritas. If you are looking for proper holiday vibes, then the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica is where you should be. While Puerto Viejo might be a typical tourist town, when you cycle out of town you come across empty stretches of beach and jungles full of wildlife. There’s so much to do, explore, and discover, so tag along!

Surfer at Playa Cocles on the Caribbean Costa Rica

Get your Caribbean surf fix

We wouldn’t be Mokum Surf Club if we didn’t mention the surf here. Surf’s definitely up on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. While most surf spots in Costa Rica can be found on the Pacific side, the Caribbean side doesn’t stay behind. Though the surf isn’t as consistent as on the Pacific side, the Caribbean side can be on fire as well. From December till April, the Caribbean swell picks up and can give you some serious sizable and powerful waves. July can also surprise you with some good swells, so if you’re around that time of year, make sure to keep an eye on the forecasts. The main spots are Playa Cocles, Playa Negra, Isla Uvita, and Salsa Brava (called for a reason). The Caribbean surf isn’t particularly for beginners, but if you wanna give it a try, check out the surf schools on Playa Cocles.

Be careful of croc and shark visits, however.

Sea Kayaking in Punta Uva

A fun activity when you feel like you’ve seen enough beaches and enough Piña Coladas is kayaking in Punta Uva. Rent a kayak and explore both the beautiful bay and the little river that goes more into the jungle. Guaranteed sloth spotting on this little field trip!

Sloth in Punta Uva Costa Rica
Cycling around the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica

Go Dutch - Cycle between Cahuita and Manzanillo

The perfect way to get around the Caribbean Coast is by bicycle. Explore all the little towns, rest at the pretty beaches, and munch in one of the many restaurants you’ll come across during your tour de Carib. I would advise renting a bike for your stay here, as it makes you so much more flexible to visit all the gems the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica has to offer. Spend a day at Playa Cocles, Playa Grande, or Playa Manzanillo, watch the locals play soccer on the beach while the sun sets, eat some fresh Ceviche, and cycle back all happy and relaxed.

Cahuita National Park on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica

Cahuita National Park

When visiting the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica, a visit to Cahuita National Park is a definite must-see. This beautiful National Park is a collection of rugged paradise beaches with white sand and crystal clear blue water. Some parts of the National Park are perfect for wildlife spottings like nose bears, different types of monkeys, and lots of different colorful birds. Bring yourself some food, lots of water, and lots of sunscreen, and you’re ready for a day of exploring this tropical paradise.

Where to eat

Jerk chicken, fresh ceviche, and plenty of tropical cocktails to choose from. They definitely know all about the good life on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. Start your day at Puerto & Co. Whether it’s the vegan concept or the excellent WiFi that will lure you in, or none of the above, you can’t go wrong at Puerto & co. The staff is incredibly friendly and welcoming, so it’s pretty easy to stick around a little longer. Really good coffees, fresh tea, delicious smoothie bowls, and cakes that make you drool. Yep, we’re fans!

Puerto & Co restaurant in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica
margaritas at Madre Tierra in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Madre Tierra

This two-story restaurant is the perfect hangout for your daily dose of cocktails and Caribbean fare. We did a Margarita battle across town and came to the conclusion Madre Tierra knows how to mix up the best one. We tried a few other cocktails on their menu as well, and one was even better than the other. However, it’s not just the cocktails that should lure you into Madre Tierra. Their yummy food with dishes like breadfruit gnocchi with coconut shrimp sauce and Mahi Mahi with ginger passionfruit drizzle, are just what you need after a day of beach exploring.

Koki Beach

Although Koki Beach is mentioned in basically every travel book, I’m not leaving it out of our Caribbean travel guide. We try to introduce you to all the hidden gems, but this discovered gem was just too good to leave it out. We tried a whole bunch of stuff from their menu (all seafood), and everything was just finger-licking good. Their grilled pulpo however, was from another level of goodness. You may wake me up for that one any time.

Koki Beach restaurant in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica
breakfast at Bread & Chocolate in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Bread & Chocolate

The name says it all. Bread and chocolate might be two of my favorite foods ever, and also the things I miss the most since we’ve been living in Costa Rica. But… Bread & Chocolate makes up for that! They got bagels! And about 6 different chocolate cakes, which unfortunately I haven’t been able to try all. So I guess that means we have to return. Perfect spot for breakfast or lunch, or just cake.

Where to stay

The absolute best place to stay on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica is Congo Bongo EcoVillage. We already mentioned them in our Coolest Places to Stay in Costa Rica Guide, and not without reason. These jungle houses are located close to Manzanillo and are a true nature lovers’ dream. One of the most important features of Congo Bongo is sustainability and this is something you’ll encounter in every part of your experience at Congo Bongo. 

The houses are big with a very private feeling as you’re surrounded by lush greens. The only visitors peeking in might be the howler monkeys or the nose bears, and they stop by regularly. The beds are big and comfy, there are indoor and outdoor showers, and the beach is just a hop and a skip away. 

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House Congo Bongo hotel In Costa Rica

Caribbean charm in Costa Rica

So yes, the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica should be on your travel itinerary. I mean, who can say no to paradise beaches, wildlife abundance, sunset cocktails, and good surf? I certainly can’t. It’s a beautiful part of Costa Rica with such different vibes to the rest of the country. A trip to this part of the world just wouldn’t be complete without a few days of Caribbean charm.

Pura Vida,

Marthe

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Tropical beach in Cahuita National Park Costa Rica

Recap

Do you rather look at images than reading stories? No worries, we have a short recap of everything you need to know below.

Best time to visit

For surfing between December and April.
Not a surfer? Then September and October are the best months to visit the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica.

Our hotel picks

Definitely Congo Bongo EcoVillage in Playa Manzanillo.

Currency

Colones or US Dollars.

Remember to pay the currency which is asked to avoid crazy exchange rates.

Congo Bongo beach at Playa Manzanillo Costa Rica

Best Margarita

Absolutely Madre Tierra.

Best surf spots

Beginners: Playa Cocles for lessons. Careful for the strong currents.
Intermediates: Playa Cocles
Advanced: Isla Uvita and Salsa Brava; you gotta try to tame the beast at least once in your life.

Must-do activity

Visit Cahuita National Park for the day and enjoy pristine beaches, wildlife, and amazing nature all along.


Surfer during sunset at Playa Popoyo Nicaragua

The ultimate Southern Nicaragua surf guide

Nicaragua

The ultimate Southern Nicaragua surf guide

Rumour has it that surf’s up in Southern Nicaragua (map) these days. Not found by the crowds just yet, warm water waves most of the year, and a coast line scattered with good surf spots. It’s where the off shore winds blow all day long and never badly influence the waves. The place of dust and dryness, the place of smiles and friendly faces. Sounds like the perfect spot for a week of eat, sleep, surf, repeat, right? The Southwest coast of Nicaragua is renowned for some of the best uncrowded surf breaks in Central America, so it’s time to shine some light on these gems!

Popoyo surf in Nicargua
Sunset at Playa Guasacate

General Southern Nicaragua surf info

The surf in Southern Nicaragua is good all day long, so be ready for multiple surf sessions a day. Regardless of swell direction, tide or swell size, there’s always a break working. Do bring your shorty on this surf trip, as the water can be freezing. Especially during sunrise and sunset sessions, a little summer suit isn’t a luxury. Southern Nicaragua has an abundance of surf spots ranging from hollow beach breaks, long point breaks to racey reef breaks, so every surfer can eat their heart out. Best time to visit is between April and October, with its prime months being between May and September. However, we went in March and had perfectly fun waves and some bigger swells as well.

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Playa Maderas

Playa Maderas is the beginner surf spot in Southern Nicaragua. The consistent beach break attracts a lot of people who are trying their first steps in the world of surfing. It works best with a Southern/South Western swell. Playa Maderas is probably the most crowded surf spot in Southern Nicaragua, so be aware of the flying foam boards and some fast moving locals. The place is easily accessible by car or foot depending on where you’re staying. There’s a few beach bars selling basic drinks and food. But if you’d like to have something good I would recommend going to Machete Market Cafe. Great coffee, good vibes and delicious food!

Waves at Playa Maderas Nicaragua
Playa Majagual in Nicaragua

Honestly, Playa Maderas wasn’t really my cup of tea. It might be the time of year (beginning of March), but the waves weren’t that inviting. Closing out and messy, plus a whole bunch of idiots having no idea what they were doing. While watching it for a day I lost count of the (almost) accidents happening here. I’m sure it can get amazing here as well, but honestly, there are better spots around.

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Balcones de Majagual

If I ever had to write a book, get something done without distractions or simply just want to escape reality I would book a trip straight to Balcones de Majagual. Up in the hills of Playa Maderas this gorgeous place is just pure tranquility. The Japanese inspired design of the houses is serious future house goals. There are several houses with space up to 8 people, which makes it the perfect spot for a surf trip with friends. The beds are super comfy, the kitchens are well equipped with basically anything you can think of, there’s a bbq on your outdoor terrace overlooking the Pacific and an infinity pool to cool down in. Need anything else? We guess not!

We do have to warn you. A reoccurring pattern in our quest for beautiful destinations seems to be those difficult dirt roads, which often require a 4×4. Balcones de Majagual is no exception in this and a 4×4 is not just a luxury, but needed (unless you love to carry your bags up a 70% incline hill).

Sunset view from the terrace at Balcones de Majagual Nicaragua
Sunset at Playa Guasacate

Playa Manzanillo

Manzanillo is a fickle left hand reef point break that might be one of the hidden gems of Southern Nicaragua. The swell does need to be big enough and coming from the South-West in order for it to wrap into the bay, but if it does it might just become your favourite wave in the area. On its best days it can offer three barrel sections and a long ripable face to follow. Manzanillo works best on mid tide.
Only accessible by boat or if you feel like splurging by staying at the 5 star location Mukul.

Playa Colorado

Playa Colorado is a river mouth break that mostly goes left, and occasionally right. The wave is known for its big barrels and becomes better once the swell gets bigger. You won’t be the only one chasing barrels however, as the wave is getting more popular and known. Playa Colorado works on all tides (preferably South-West swells), giving it a different character depending on your moment of paddle out. In general it’s a powerful and consistent wave, hollow, racey and ripable, waiting for you to give you the barrel of your life.

Barrel wave at Playa Colorado Nicaragua
Surfer at Panga Drops at Playa Colorado in Nicaragua

Panga Drops

In case you wanna ditch the crowds, you might want to check out Panga Drops, at the Northern end of Playa Colorado. It is definitely not as consistent as Playa Colorado, but definitely worth keeping an eye on, on busy days. Playa Colorado is a private beach and is accessible either by boat, walking from Playa Gigante or if you stay in the community of Hacienda Iguana.

Playa Santana

If you like your barrels then Playa Santana is where you wanna go. Even if you don’t want to get barreled, this is where you will get barreled, so the locals say. This A-frame beach break wave turns on at mid till high tide, and keeps on working till outgoing mid tide, more or less. Even though it can be a powerful, punchy wave, the spot is suitable for both intermediates and more advanced surfers. Playa Santana is accessible by foot, car and boat.

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Playa Santana in Nicaragua

Malibu Popoyo

Located between Playa Santana and Popoyo you can find one of my all time favourite surf hideouts; Malibu Popoyo. Ideally my holiday would look something like that famous eat, sleep, surf, repeat, and that’s exactly how you roll at Malibu Popoyo. Waking up in a comfy bed, twice a day surf sessions with a surf guide, delicious food (oh, how I miss their breakfasts), napping by the pool, watching the sunset on the beach with a cocktail in my hand. Pure happiness. The spacious rooms with king size beds and rain showers are literally all you need after a day spent in the ocean.

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Swimming pool at Malibu Popoyo Nicaragua
Surfing at Popoyo Nicaragua

Surf at Malibu Popoyo

As for the surf, Jared is your guy. Whether you’ve never surfed before, or like your waves gnarly and barreling, this guy knows where to take you. Staying at Malibu Popoyo includes daily surf trips, so whatever wave you are looking for, Jared will bring you there. Because of the amazing collection of rental surfboards at Malibu Popoyo you can travel light and pick your HyptoKrypto, Mayhem or Slater Design on the spot and even swap boards depending on the conditions.

Popoyo

The beach of Popoyo has several breaks for different levels, but the main draw of this place is the Popoyo main break. A world class, always working, beach break with picture perfect A-frames. Lefthanders, righthanders; this wave is spilling goodness all day long.
About 200m left from the main break, towards Playa Santana and Magnific Rock, there’s a more friendly beginner break. Or if you feel like Popoyo’s main break got nothing on you, you can always give The Beast/The Outer Reef a try. A monstrous wave that only the best expert surfers can handle. Even from a distance this wave was intimidating.

Surfers at Popoyo beach in Nicaragua
Fina Popoyo beach bar in Nicaragua

Make sure to grab some sundowners at Finca Popoyo, a beach bar overlooking the main break and The Beast. Stunning sunset views and frozen cold beers guaranteed.
Popoyo is accessible by car, foot or boat, depending on where you’re staying.

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Playa Guasacate

Playa Guasacate is your perfect hangout if you wanna surf every day without too much effort. No need for boat trips if you don’t feel like it, no need for cars or motorbikes to get to the spot, everything you need is on walking distance. There’s the river mouth spot for beginners/intermediates which works best on mid to high tide.
And then there is Popoyo’s main break. A two minute walk (and a little swim through the river with high tide) from your bed and you’re on one of the best surf spots of Nicaragua.

Surfers at Playa Guasacate Nicaragua
Two Ten Surf accommodation in Playa Guasacate Nicaragua

We stayed at TwoTen Surf Home, which is a brand new place with little houses as close to the Popoyo surf spot as you can get. You got your own little kitchen, hammocks swaying in the wind, and the sound of the waves as background music. Basically anything you need without breaking the bank.

Just down the road you can find The S’cool Yard and Club Surf Popoyo, our two favourite food spots in town. The S’cool Yard is a laid back bar with a skate ramp and some seriously good burgers and Asian fare. It reminded us a bit of Pretty Poison in Bali, but then without the hype. Club Surf Popoyo is your not so standard Italian restaurant. Really, really, yummy pizzas, pastas and tiramisu. Their seafood tagliatelle is so full of flavour and comes with crunchy focaccia, a dish I could seriously consider eating every day.

Playgrounds

Playgrounds is living up to its name; a fun and playful wave suitable for both intermediates and advanced surfers. It’s a reef break and offers some of the best ripable waves of Nicaragua. The wave mostly breaks left, but can have some short right-handers as well. Playgrounds is only accessible either by boat.

Surfer at Playgrounds Nicaragua
Surfer at Lance's Left Nicaragua

Lance's Left

This break works best during low to mid tide and can hold some very long lefts. It does need a bit of swell in order to hold the almost 300-500m rides. However, Lance’s Left is a fun, consistent, break for all skill levels and does break on almost all swell sizes.
Accessible by boat or if you walk around the point of Playa Astillero during low tide. Be aware of petty theft here, so don’t leave anything at the beach.

Bring on the Nicaragua surf days

This was our first visit to Nicaragua, but definitely not our last. We loved the rawness of the landscapes, the little dusty towns, the endless stretches of coastline, the constant waves, the friendliness of the people. It’s a whole lot cheaper than Costa Rica as well, which makes it a more budget friendly option or just a reason to extend your holiday a little longer. Even though planning a surf trip isn’t what it’s used to be these days, we wouldn’t waste a second doubting on a trip to surf in Nicaragua. So, see you when we can Nica waves!

Love,
Marthe

Recap

Do you rather look at images than reading stories? No worries, we have a short recap of everything you need to know below.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Nicaragua for surfing is between April and October

Our hotel picks

If you are on a bit of a budget TwoTen Surf home is your best pick, but if you wanna go for proper holiday vibes than Malibu Popoyo and Balcones de Majagual is where you wanna go.

Currency

Nicaraguan Cordobas or US Dollars.

Water temperature

Between 24ºC or 75ºF in January/February to 29ºC or 84ºF in June - October.

Best surf spots

Beginners: Playa Maderas or Magnific Rock
Intermediates: Playa Popoyo, Lance's Left
Advanced: Playa Popoyo, Playa Colorado, Playa Santana, Manzanillo.

Weather

An almost always steady 28 ºC or 82ºF.
Dry Season: December - April
Rainy Season: May - November

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