Tag Archives: Surfing

Getting it Together on the Road: Sayulita, Mexico

Let’s talk about my trip to Mexico that I didn’t tell anyone I was going on over four months after I’ve returned!

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I’ve been kind of vocal to my therapist friends that 2015 wasn’t my year. I started this year with such high hopes. Everything was working out! I had everything I wanted! I had goals! Then shit doesn’t go according to plan as things are apt to do in life and I was forced to re-evaluate everything.

March and April were pretty dark months in my life if we’re being honest. I had never been broken-up with for someone else before (to my knowledge) and when you’re already dealing with self-confidence issues, it really screws with your head. (What screws with your head even more is when said ex-boyfriend who lives across the country SHOWS UP AT YOUR APARTMENT THE DAY AFTER YOU GET BACK FROM MEXICO. I can’t make up the shit that does down in my life sometimes but that’s what happens when you date a kid who went to film school.)

So… back to Mexico. After the dark miles of 15-18 in my marathon in May, I was admittedly feeling a lot better about my life but just didn’t feel like myself quite yet. I had wanted to go to Sayulita for a while, I had some flight credit and I was working with my therapist to figure out how to be okay on my own and make decisions for myself. The opportunity to go surfing for a few days in Sayulita came up so I just kind of didn’t tell anyone and went.

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I’m honestly admittedly sometimes a shady person in the fact I like to just do things and not tell anyone about it. It’s how I deal with not wanting to feel judged for my decisions, not that I should be judged for going on vacation but if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I put way too much importance on what people think.

Okay, so I’ve been way too open and candid on this post so far so let me tell you what to do in Sayulita and more importantly, where to eat.

Where to Eat

  • Yeikame Traditional Mexican
    This is Pre-Hispanic Mexican food. I think I ate here twice during my stay in Sayulita. I got the vegetarian blue corn sopes with a bazillion salsas the first time and then I got fish tacos before I headed to the airport to come back to SF. You get popcorn before your meal which is interesting. They also have a neighboring ice cream shop that is traditional Mexican ice cream but it was a little icy for my taste.sayulita - 33

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  • Orangy
    If you’re looking for a healthier breakfast, snack or lunch in Sayulita, this is your place. They have smoothie bowls (but not acai, as the owner told me acai is insanely expensive to buy in Mexico), yogurt bowls, smoothies and fresh pressed juices. They also have a bunch of vegan and gluten-free treats as well.

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  • Mary’s Tacos
    Maybe the best fish tacos I’ve ever had, minus the hatch chile ones my dad and I made. But those were made with love so that’s probably why they tasted so good. Literally nothing is as delicious as anything my dad makes. ANYWAY, this place is great. They also have all the salsas which is my type of jam. I ate here twice as well during my stay. I also got the veggie tacos one night and they were the bomb. Super big portions and super cheap but it’s Mexico so that’s obvious.

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  • Naty’s Cocina
    Nata’s was right across the street from my bungalow but I never seemed to be around when they were open until my last day there. Each taco is less than $1 (!!!) and they do breakfast and lunch. The tacos are super huge and it’s basically just Sayulita’s version of Chipotle as far as toppings go (you pick whatever you want) except you don’t have to pay extra for guac.
  • Chocobanana
    If you want gringo breakfast food that isn’t as good as any gringo food you would get in the US, go here. But if you need a sweet and cold snack after surfing all day, you should go here and get a chocolate covered banana.

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  • Wakika Heladeria
    Clearly it was my goal to eat every ice cream-type concoction in the entire town of Sayulita while I was there. Wakika is known for their paletas (ice cream popsicle things) but they also have gelato and chocolate-covered bananas. I had a pistachio one after surfing one day and I was super impressed. And I am an ice cream connoisseur if you’ve ever looked at my Twitter profile so I feel qualified to make decisions as far as ice cream goes.

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  • El Fortin
    Of course I started craving acai while I was in Sayulita. This is the only place I found it. I ordered a large because I was starved and feeling aggressive about acai. They were nice enough to add a packet of Vega One Protein Powder for me too because I knew I wasn’t getting enough veggies or protein during my trip. Clearly I was not the first person to ask for this because the girl smiled and nodded when I handed her the packet. They also have the best Americano in all of Sayulita and I bought a bag of their beans for my dad.

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  • El Itacate
    These were the best steak tacos of the trip. They also came with pickled beans and grilled onions which were a tasty touch.

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What to Do

  • Surf
    Duh. That’s like the whole reason Sayulita is a town. The break is pretty gentle and consistent which is perfect for beginners or people who want to tune up. And the water is WARM! After surfing in cold water the entirety of the year before this trip, it was nice to only have to wear a bikini and a rash guard and not a wet suit and booties.If you’re looking to rent equipment or take a lesson, I suggest Lunazul. Everyone there is beyond amazing, knowledgeable and so, so nice. They also made a comment that a lot of single girls from San Francisco end up in Sayulita so clearly I’m not original in my escapism.

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  • Stand-Up Paddle Board
    I’ve admittedly been stand-up paddle boarding for a couple years now but I’ve never done it in the ocean. It’s kind of hard to get out into the ocean (you have to paddle out like you’re on a surf board then try and stand up and not get knocked over by a wave in the process) but it’s so fun and relaxing. I would just paddle around when the surf was flat. There’s some hidden beaches you can get to from the main beach of Sayulita. Allegedly Kim and Kanye West rent a house on one of them every now and again. You can rent a paddle board at any beach stand or at Lunazul.
  • Shop
    I basically went to Mexico with my only goal being to surf and buy a pair of huaraches but unfortunately only one of those came true. Despite the fact I didn’t get new beautiful handmade sandals and somehow ruined my existing ones with some sort of oil, there are a ton of boutiques with beautiful handmade jewelry, gifts and clothes. I want to go back and buy a painted skull to hang above my couch so if I’m watching TV and there’s an earthquake I get impaled (joking about getting impaled, but I do want a painted long-horn bull skull for my apartment).

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Where to Stay

  • Aurinko Bungalows
    My bungalow was basically bigger than my apartment, had a hammock (!) and was like $50-some dollars a night. It was clean, super safe and two blocks from the beach. It’s kind of loud at night but it’s Mexico so what are you going to do? You can also see large lizards on other rooftops which are scary if you’re me.

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Where to Drink

  • Sayulita Wine Store
    Mexico’s wine scene is just starting out, really. They’re more known for tequila (obviously) but if you want some wine — and to try Mexican wine — stop by this store.

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  • Le Zouave de Hafa
    This place is super hipster and has real sexy vibes. Come for a margarita made from fresh pressed juice.

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Chat with me:
Have you ever traveled to escape all the feelings? Am I the shadiest human ever? Have you been to Sayulita — did I miss anything in my guide?

Surfset Review

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First off, I want to thank every one of you who read Tuesday’s post. Each and every one of your comments, shares and texts about it made my day. It’s a piece of writing I’m genuinely proud of so I’m happy it resonated with you.

One of the best parts of living in a real city and not Pittsburgh is there are a TON of new gyms and workouts to try. (Side note: I miss Amazing Yoga and my monthly unlimited pass more than you could ever imagine.) I’d read about Surfset on blogs before and thought that I would love this type of workout and it would hopefully improve my surfing next time I got on a board (aka as soon as the waves out here stop being flat). Basically Surfset is kind of a mix of yoga, pilates and actual surfing moves (pop-ups, fake duck dives, etc.) on a 6-foot foam board balanced on stability balls.

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You can see the board set up here and also me doing a fake-ish plank.

Apparently Surfset was also on Shark Tank, which I know about from their website. My only knowledge of Shark Tank comes from Good Morning America which also brings me all of my knowledge about Dancing with the Stars, The Bachelor and all other ABC shows I don’t watch besides Scandal.

I took the class at Sweat Republic in the Marina District, a few blocks from my house. Both instructors I have taken from have been great. The playlist is awesome and an hour is gone literally when you feel like you’ve just walked in the door. They offer a lot of great feedback and different modifications for different levels. My core and arms were definitely sore the next day.

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Attempting dancer’s pose.

If you’ve ever done yoga on a paddle board it’s vaguely similar. I officially haven’t done yoga on a paddle board but maybe drunkenly tried to be a show off and do a few poses on one once and promptly fell into the lake. Anyway, I have fitness class ADD and typically am miserable 10 minutes into a group fitness class but I actually look forward to Surfset.

Special thanks to my girl Kay for all the photos. If you don’t follow her blog you should really start now.

Chat with me:
Group fitness – yay or nay? Have you tried Surfset? Do you have any questions about it for me?

Guest Post: “Never Say Never” by Noelani

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It’s no secret I’m constantly girl/friend-crushing on someone. During my trip to Nicaragua, I definitely hit it off with Noelani, the manager of Chicabrava. It didn’t hurt that she was my age, from my favorite state and was doing something I always wanted to do – following her passions and not doing the typical 9-5 drudge. I asked Noelani to write a guest post [my first ever!] about her journey so you can learn how awesome and inspirational she is, too.

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The gorgeous Noelani.

I’m an island girl, living in a big world. My name is Noelani, which means ‘Heavenly Mist’, after the dewy sprinkles that come before and after rainbows. Rainbows are a frequent phenomenon on Big Island of Hawaii, where I was born and raised. I say phenomenon because they truly are fantastic. To me, seeing a rainbow is like to seeing dolphins in the ocean, no matter how many times you’ve been blessed with the sight it always feels new.

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Noelani checking out a rainbow.

I suppose this is an opportune moment to segue into my life’s philosophy – anything feels new if you approach it with new eyes. That’s what I strive to do everyday, wake up with a palpable excitement and gratitude for life that keeps myself, the earth, and those around me happy, healthy and motivated to make the world a better place.

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Noelani kayaking.

I’m aware that that all sounds quite lofty, hence the key word, ‘strive’. My other philosophy is to just do my best. That’s all any of us can do, right? I moved away from home at 17 years old, ready to leave the island and yet so naïve to the intense world that would greet me. I had visited the mainland a few times prior, but the longest I had ever been away from the Big Island was a two month study abroad I did in Tokyo, Japan in the summer of my 16th year.

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Noelani riding a longboard barrel in Nicaragua.

I suppose it was that trip that got me excited about what I’d find out there. I was awarded a scholarship to live with a host family in the suburbs of Tokyo, attending an all girls high school and sharpening my Japanese (I had studied the language since I was 8 years old). The experience was mind blowing, but also sheltered. Being a white, 16 year old under the eye of a conservative Japanese family, exploratory liberty was out of the question.

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Since that first trip out of the country my life has been nothing but defined by investing in the freedom of exploratory liberty. Ten years and a full, expired passport later, I’d say it’s been a good run. I’ve lived in California, Mexico, Spain, Nicaragua, Japan (again…went back to get the behind the scenes), Oahu, Chile, and Nicaragua again (yeah, I’m back). I’ve visited all of Central America and various parts of Europe, Scotland being amongst my favorite, met countless wonderful people, (and a few bad apples too), eaten amazing food, daydreamed many a long bus ride by, and left a piece of my heart every place my feet have walked.

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Noelani shredding the waves.

I have lived in Nicaragua for nearly two years now. That’s a long time for a girl who doesn’t usually spend more than 4 months in one place. I studied abroad in Managua in 2007, so I already had a connection to Nicaragua. But two years ago when I got an email inviting me to move to the country to start a medical project I never would have predicted I’d still be here, let alone be here doing what I am now. But never say never, right? Anyhow, a wise and resilient friend once said to me, wherever you go, there you are. And here I still am, in Nicaragua, managing an all-women’s surf camp in San Juan del Sur and teaching yoga at a charming little studio just blocks away from my apartment. What a journey. Two years ago I left for an innocent little surf trip to Chile, and here I am, calling Nicaragua home. Kind of makes me wonder where I’ll be two years from now…

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Noelani in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua.

Chat with me:
What would you do if you could follow your heart?

Getting it Together on the Road: San Juan Del Sur

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Confession: I am a former geography bee champion. I competed in the National Geographic Geography Bee in 6th grade, was on my high school Geography Bee team and took an AP class AFTER-SCHOOL in high school for Human Geography and scored a 5. Bet you didn’t think I was that smart, did you? Concord University in West Virginia actually wanted me to come study geography and run cross-country (not a big deal – their team is all walk-ons for the most part, I think). So basically, somehow my brain is wired to love cultures and traveling and maps and things like that.

I read about Chicabrava in a Refinery29 article about best places for a solo trip. I decided at the beginning of the year that I wanted to take a trip somewhere by myself. I went surfing in Hawaii, was decent enough to get up on my first couple of tries, so I decided – sure, let’s go to Nicaragua. Funny enough, I didn’t know where Nicaragua was on a map. Don’t blame me, we all know we don’t learn enough about Central & South America in American schools. (Heck, we don’t learn enough about Canada. Or really anything for that matter.)

San Juan Del Sur is on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua, about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Managua, the capital and home of the major international airport in the country. The drive is kind of cool, you pass Lake Nicaragua and the two big volcanos. It’s definitely a surf town and it’s one of those little places that make you forget you’re not in the US. The expat influence is pretty huge and you’re definitely not the only gringo or gringa around.

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This is what the tail end of 14 hours of traveling looks like. Oh, and Lake Nicaragua and a volcano.

There’s a lot of shopping, mostly touristy-places or shops filled with weird stuff that’s either outcasts from major clothing factories (saw lots of counterfeit Hollister, actually) or Central American stuff that isn’t really my style of effortless cool. (Am I a jerk for saying that’s my style?)

I did stumble on a super-cute store called Auric. Auric sells a lot of their own designs and it is very Brandy Melville-esque – most stuff is one size fits most. They have a lot of handmade cheap jewelry that doesn’t look cheap, denim shorties, tanks for guys and girls and fun leggings.

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Auric in San Juan del Sur.

If you forgot your rash guard or want a new swim suit, check out the Chicabrava shop. They carry a lot of prouducts from Billabong and Roxy, as well as some of their own designs.

A week or so before I arrived, SJDS opened its first raw-foods café, Buddha’s Garden. They have a lot of great salads, raw pizza, “zoodle” dishes and a multitude of smoothies and fresh juices. Buddha’s Garden also has raw treats like a Chakara-inspired layered cheese cake and a TiRAWmasu.

Nicaragua is known for their amazing coffee. Stop by El Gato Negro for a coffee, latte or tea and grab a breakfast sandwich or lunch while you’re there. If you plan on getting your coffee to go, be sure to take your own cup because they don’t do takeaway service as to protect the environment.

If you’re in the mood for tacos, try Bad Ass Eats like I mentioned in an earlier post. Most beaches also have their own taco stands. If you want traditional Nicaraguan food (read: rice and beans), there is a market in town you can wander through with lots of open seating and open kitchens where you can get some Central American staples.

There are a lot of street snacks too, but for the most part, they are gone by the end of the day. Look around for a guy selling coconuts for a dollar a piece (Emily, remember that time we paid like $7 for a coconut in Miami?) There’s also a woman who sells fresh mangos with the option to get this spicy sauce and salt in the bag as well. I tried a bite of a sauced-up mango and it was pretty delicious but I was also in salt-overload from the ocean so I stuck to the classic.

On one of the side streets, there is a woman who posts up every night to sell barbecued chicken. Apparently it’s really famous and delicious so if you have a chance, try it.

If you’re in SDJS, you’re likely there to surf or go to the beach, and if you’re not, you’re doing it wrong. (Kidding, kind of. Who doesn’t love the beach?)

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Playa Madreas.

If you need surfing lessons, stop by Chicabrava. They do private lessons and I promise you’ll get up on a wave by the end of the day. My fifty-something year old father could get up on a wave on his first day (albeit in Hawaii, where the waves are a little gentler) and these girls are all amazing instructors.

Survivor: Nicaragua was filmed in San Juan Del Sur. This luckily brought a lot of infrastructure to the town and the nearby beaches. Playa Remanso, Playa Hermosa and Playa Maderas are all popular beaches with good surfing. Just don’t take anything valuable – theft is not an uncommon occurrence.

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Me beside a Chicabrava truck that was used in Survivor: Nicaragua.

If you want your hangover to get started around 7 p.m., head out on a catamaran tour. You can book one at most any tourist-y place in town and they offer an open bar (beer and rum drinks – and the rum in Nicaragua is both very good and very cheap). They take you out on a 3-4 hour tour and you anchor at a private beach where you can swim to shore. Make sure you take a friend who is a strong enough swimmer to lug a bag of beers to the beach. I also had the most epic ceviche of my life on said catamaran tour.

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Catamaran chillin’.

Recently, a Canadian-theme bar opened in town, The Loose Moose. You can get a Molson and then make bad judgment calls after a few too many of their huge sangrias that are $5 and very strong and order a poutine. I also can get behind drinking at any bar with lots of hockey jerseys and we know my love of Canadians. If you want to interact with the locals, this probably isn’t the place to go though.

If you’re in the mood for live music, try the Black Whale. They have a stage in their outdoor area and a pretty diverse crowd. A drink will only set you back a few dollars.

Want an epic sunset with your mojito? Try El Timon for happy hour which has both seating in the sand and under a roof if you’ve had a little too much time in the sun.

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San Juan del Sur sunset.


  • If you’re a snacker like myself (or anyone super-active), pack your own snacks. I suggest always traveling with nuts and protein powder, along with granola/energy bars and apple sauce packs if you think you need the extra fruit/fiber/natural sugar. All of those things are difficult to find there.
  • Most places take American currency; so just stop by the ATM before you leave home.
  • Pack sunscreen and deep woods bug repellent – the bugs get really bad in the summer and rainy season.
  • If you’re looking to find a business online, check Facebook – many of the local businesses use Facebook rather than a dedicated .com address.

PS: Did you win my NuttZo giveaway?

Chat with me:
Have you ever been to Nicaragua? Do you want to go? What subject were you best in at school?