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How Much Cash Do I Bring To Costa Rica?

Surf CR logoIn my 50+ trips to Costa Rica I would always be concerned with how much money to bring and then exchange once I’m there. These are my recommendations. I would take down $300 in USD in twenties and some ones for tips when you get there. Then I use the cash and get change in colones. Be advised that it is 687.50 colones to one dollar (on July 6, 2022), but a restaurant or store may give you only 650. That is still better than the currency exchange at the airport. When I’d run out, I would get more colones out of the ATM. The best exchange rate will be with the bank (you need your passport for that) and then the big grocery stores give the current rate. The toll operators also give change in colones, but don’t give them anything larger than a twenty dollar bill.

A lot of stores will have a calculator and they decide on the amount in colones if you give them dollars. It is not worth arguing with them since they also may factor in the time and resources (gas) to get to the bank and exchange dollars back or deposit them. Some banks can be an hour away and the wait time in them could be hours.

Now some situations call for bringing a lot of cash, like paying for a house rental or buying a new surfboard. It is easier to get it the U.S. than using the ATMs in Costa Rica. First most ATMs have a max of $200 withdrawal daily. You are also getting charged the ATM fee there and at your home bank (in most cases—some credit unions give refunds). And if you get colones you already lose on the exchange rate as the buy and sell price is about 25 colones difference.

If you are bringing over $1000, make sure you hide it well. or make sure your room has a safe. Hide some of it in a different place. Get travel insurance that covers theft. I would not carry it on me when I am out. And I would rather pay the international wire transfer fee than carry a lot of cash in the first place. However, each traveler has a different risk tolerance.

Send me a note and I will tell you three of my favorite places to hide money. You can find the tide charts on our website for the whole year, crsurf.com/costa-rica-surf-report/costa-rica-tide-charts-2022. Safe travels!

Kids Saving the Rainforest – August 2022

KSTR LogoDaniHi Quepolandia Readers! It’s Dani, your spokeskid for KSTR, back again for another article!

I’m back in Manuel Antonio for the summer, and I am volunteering at Kids Saving the Rainforest. Today I am going to tell you about our Nursery and Rehab Center.

In the Nursery, we have several different baby animals. We have 4 baby racoons, 6 baby opossums, 2 mice, and a lot of birds! All the animals in the nursery are super gentle, loving and adorable—and they each get their own special care routine. The raccoons need to be bathed 3 times a week, to keep them clean and healthy—and they get special food like a smoothie, made just for them! The smoothie has carrots, papaya, and banana. Sounds good, right? We also feed them fruit salad, containing watermelon, papaya, banana, potato and other fruits and veggies.

In the rehab center, we have 3 baby squirrel monkeys who lost their mom, and we’re going to release them soon! We keep them separate from the other animals, so they have minimal contact with humans. We have a baby Capuchin monkey, named Afronzito, who lost his tail from a shock from a power line. He’s healing now, but we probably won’t be able to release him—because he’ll have a really tough time in the wild without a tail. He’s really skittish—so we want to get him more used to the volunteers, so we can care for him. We also have 4 baby macaws, who lived in the Gaia preserve, but they were abandoned by their mother, so we’re taking care of them at the sanctuary until they are old and strong enough to be released at the Gaia again!

All the animals in the nursery, rehab center, and in the sanctuary, get enrichments to keep them busy, and to keep their wild instinct. On Friday, we made a climbing course for a baby racoon out of bamboo and rope! The mice got enrichments too—we stuffed a piece of bamboo with peanut butter, raisins, and honey, and then closed the ends off with cardboard so they can work for their treats! For Afronzito we stuffed a Kong with raisins and peanut butter, and froze it—so he has to use his tongue to break into the raisins…his favorite part!

Any donations you can make at kstr.org will help us take care of the babies—can’t wait to share another update with you—thanks, and Pura Vida!

Spanish Sucks – August 2022


Crunchy Vietnamese Salad

Chef's corner headerThe sweet-tangy fish sauce dressing is key to this refreshing chicken salad that can be served either as a starter or a light meal.

Ingredients for 4 to 6 servings


  • 3 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of Asian fish sauce (Nam Pla)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of white distilled vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of water
  • 1 red chili pepper, finely chopped or to taste

Combine these ingredients until sugar is dissolved and set aside.


  • 2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken meat
  • 2 cups of shredded cabbage
  • ½ cup of shredded carrot
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • Small amount of vegetable oil for frying
  • ½ cup of coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup of coarsely chopped herbs such as mint, basil, or saw-toothed cilantro (culantro coyote)
  • ¼ cup of coarsely chopped unsalted peanuts


  1. Fry half of the red onion until crispy and set aside.
  2. Combine all salad and dressing ingredients.
  3. Top with fried red onion and peanuts.
  4. Feel free to garnish with more lime wedges and chili peppers.

My Philosophy Self

Most nights I go to bed around 9:00 pm and wake up at 5:00 am. That said, my schedule varies widely due to being an independent massage therapist and completely submerged into the ebb and flow of tourism. I rarely have a set schedule and more often than not my work is on call, tourists want a massage now!  It can be frustrating as well as rewarding but after 22 years of living in Manuel Antonio I understand how the game works. Sometimes my intention for the day is altered by a last minute call for work or something having precedent over my desires…meaning life. The little things that happen frequently when maintaining a functioning house, vehicle, marriage, or juggling the bureaucracy of living and surviving in a Costa Rican beach town. The old adage “Murphy’s Law” seems to occur more often than not and staying flexible mentally for me is a part time job. My reality is that my 50-year-old self can occupy hours upon hours in my garden, odd jobs around house, or even in front of the computer writing my peace as the world turns. Yes indeed my 30’s and 40’s have passed me by and most of my closest friends are raising families and doing their best post-covid selves, as aware of their isolation as I am. Mid-life crisis is indeed a reality however I do not feel like I am part of that. My wife and I are currently building a bed and breakfast and re-inventing our future but at times like these I whole heartedly feel like the world is much different now that the restrictions of Covid has passed us by, a recent nightmare of the early 2020’s. At times I feel isolated but I have always felt that to be my best self my process of living is about producing daily “pain and self-discipline” as a means to remain inspired. Then finding the peace and power to go about each day with positivity and faith no matter the outcome. It is a personal mental choice that goes beyond the standard of comfortable routine and repetition. I sometimes feel lonely and desperate even with a caring wife, fruitful occupation, and financial security. Although childless I doubt my feelings of emptiness and longing for an intangible something will change. I believe my feelings are simply a part of life for those who take the time to wipe the slate clean and look at exactly what one does on a day-to-day basis and how important these things will be on our death bed. What will the most important aspects of our lives be just hours before we pass on? A morbid thought perhaps but also an honest question for those of us that feel like these decades of living, of unraveling are coming to an end….and it could be tomorrow. What should we do more of or less of? I don’t know but I am curious.

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By Jack Ewing

Costa Rica was still a third-world country when I first came here over 50 years ago, and part of me wishes it still was. Some of my most treasured memories are from that period in the early 1970s when I worked on a large ranch on the Caribbean side of the country. It was only accessible by a narrow-gauge railroad called the Northern Railway. I hadn’t been there long when I met a great guy, an Englishman by the name of Johnny James who came to Costa Rica in the 1930s, before the concept of the third world had even come into being.

I once accompanied him on a four-day adventure, during which I learned much of what I know about the Caribbean side of the country. It all began in a place called El Cairo in a restaurant owned by Juan Quiros Ching. No sooner had we finished our coffee and empanadas than the owner of the burro carro, our mode of travel for the first leg of the journey, walked in and shouted to Johnny that he was ready to go. The burro carro was a small platform with four railroad wheels. It was drawn by a mule. During the hour it took to reach the creek at the end of the spur, Johnny talked non-stop. “Years ago,” he began, “the immigration of Chinese to Costa Rica was prohibited by law. But what can I say; you know how it works. Laws are for common people like you and me, not for the wealthy, especially not back then. At the beginning of the century lots of Chinese were brought here to work as indentured servants in the households of well-to-do Costa Rican families. After a certain number of years of unpaid service, their debt was fulfilled, and their masters had to free them. Most took the last names of those same former masters and eventually acquired Costa Rican citizenship. Just like Juan Quiros”, Johnny continued. “He and his wife were betrothed as children and came to Costa Rica from China at the age of ten or eleven. To put it bluntly, their parents sold them to a rich Tico. They had to work for fifteen years to earn their freedom. Then they moved out here to the jungles of the Caribbean, along the railroad, and proceeded to make their fortune. They worked their butts off, but today they’ve got the business, a farm, and a pile of money”.

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That’s Fishin’ – August 2022

Welcome to the August edition of That’s Fishin’ for more tales of the high seas from World Record setting Snook, monster Marlin, Trophy Roosterfish and the ever-present Tuna and Dorado keeping the lines tight of our visiting Anglers from around the world.


July provided some solid all-round fishing with some great species variety. There were Wahoo showing over the Offshore Reefs with plenty of fish in the 20-30lb category, and a few larger specimens also. Huge congrats to Reg Talbot from England who landed a huge 60lb Wahoo aboard GOOD DAY which measured 65” in length, just an epic fish by anyone’s standards. There was a surprise Tuna bite for much of late June/early July when the Tuna schools pushed close in and were popping up only 10-15 miles Offshore right in front of the Marina Pez Vela. Most fish were in the 30lb range but there were some larger 50-80lb Tuna mixed in also giving our Anglers some excellent action and some amazing aerial scenes of the Tuna feeding on Flying Fish and Ballyhoo bait schools.

The Dorado fishing was excellent throughout July, the seasonal rains have been keeping a steady supply of debris such as logs, floating trees etc at the current breaks 5 to 15 miles Offshore where the Dorado like to hang out. There have been lots of Dorado in the 5lb to 15lb class with the odd 30-50lb Bull Dorado also.
We have been seeing Sailfish on most Offshore trips and this should continue through August. The Blue Marlin fishing during day charters in July was better than it was during June with most Marlin in the 150-180lb range but with some larger fish mixed in also. Huge congrats to Satch from North Carolina who had the family fishing trip on a lifetime in mid-July catching a 250lb Blue Marlin aboard GOOD DAY which his 12-year-old son tagged for the GRAY FISHTAG RESEARCH program before releasing it. Memories made for a lifetime! The Blue Marlin Fishing at our Offshore FADS & SEAMOUNTS has been firing on all cylinders with boats HOG WILD & CARIBSEA posting some incredible Marlin catches during June and July with the bite not expecting to slow down during August.

Closer to shore, August should continue to provide excellent opportunities for Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, Wahoo and Dorado plus Snapper and Grouper for those who want to try bottom fishing.

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¿Qué Pasa en Quepos? – August 2022

Bienvenidos… Welcome to our piece of paradise, we are sure you are going to love it. There are so many wonderful things Costa Rica has to offer and we are here to guide you. So get out, explore and enjoy your vacation. Our beaches are amazing to surf, stroll or just tranquilo. We also have many National Parks to visit and experience all the wildlife each area has to offer. I recommend a trained guide so you don’t miss anything. They really do enhance your tour with their extensive knowledge of the parks and the wildlife. National Park Day is August 24 so be sure to celebrate it and enjoy nature.

August brings in the beginning of whale season here in the Southern Pacific. This is when the humpback whales come to give birth and is the best time to view them. Marina Pez Vela has a fleet of boats to get you out and up close. Book your whale watching tours with Brisa Elegante or Sunset Sails and experience the majestic mammals and their calves frolicking in their environment.

In August there is a lot of reasons for a fiesta. International Beer (cerveza) Day is Aug 5 and National Rum Day is Aug 16 so “cheers”. We also want to wish all you mothers an incredible Mother’s Day, Aug 15. Thank you for all you do. So don’t forget to make those dinner reservations or maybe book a Spa Day treatment for that special woman she deserves it.

Welcome to our newest advertiser, Osa Property Management.

We want to thank Robert Simpson for this month’s pineapple cover shot.

We hope you enjoy our magazine and it helps guide you through this paradise we call home. You can always follow and share us here or on Facebook/Quepolandia.

Peace and Enjoy…D


I woke up early today. The clock said 4:40. I am not a religious man but when I am in a creative artistic mood my mind does funny things. I have never done this before and I wouldn’t label myself as a religious man but I opened my laptop and typed in bible quote 4:40. The screen read “LUKE 4:40 While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them.” I found it prophetic as I make my living through massage and the passion I have for my career is a central focus of my life. My intention of this article was going to be about the two pieces of paper I had removed from my refrigerator the night before. One says “Enough is a Feast” the other “When all of your wishes are granted many of your dreams will be destroyed.” To add to my intellectual material for this article today is my wedding anniversary and I am finishing a week-long cleanse that I do several times a year. The cleanse is my way to drop a few pounds, treat my body and mind with care, and to sharpen my senses. I am lucky enough to have my writing desk in a location that I can see the sunrise when it cracks the horizon and shortly after the scarlet macaws, toucans, parrots, and a variety of other birds take stage. At 50 years old I am almost brought to tears today, this morning my life seems so enchantingly rich and my level of gratitude is bursting at the seams.

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That’s Fishin’ – July 2022

Welcome to the July edition of That’s Fishin! There is never a dull moment here in the Fishing World at the Marina Pez Vela, it has been a great Fishing year so far with everything from world class tournaments and pro anglers visiting us to locals and visiting families taking their kids fishing for the first time. Magic happens constantly when spending time out on the water and it’s the reason we love what we do and keeps us coming back for more.


July offers opportunities for almost all of the primary Offshore fish that we catch here. This time of year has traditionally been known as ‘meatfish season’ with good catches of Tuna, Dorado, Wahoo, Grouper and Snapper all possible right now. Different tactics need to be deployed for each species, we catch the larger Tuna out deep alongside megapods of Spinner or Spotted Dolphins, just seeing these huge dolphin schools can be a life changing experience in itself! For the Dorado we look for Debris lines where branches, tree trunks and the like gather offshore after being washed out of the rivers during the heavier periods of rain. Dorado love to hang out along these debris lines and the great thing is very often it happens only 6-12 miles Offshore. May-August typically provides the best Wahoo fishing of the year close to Quepos and to target these you need to head to the Offshore Reef pinnacles. Deep diving lures such as Rapala X-Raps, Nomad DTX’s work great, as do Skirted Bait type set ups and never forgetting the trusty old cedar plug! For the Grouper and Snapper fishing, this primarily takes place by bottom fishing in 200-400 feet of water using squid, livebaits or jigging is a popular method also. In addition to the meatfish, there will be Sailfish and Marlin out there too, the Sail fishing was fairly slow during May/early June but things change very quickly here and I would expect there to be some good Sail fishing coming soon in addition to some great Marlin fishing that we usually get in July on day trips. There is literally sometime for everyone at this time of year.

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KSTR Monkey Jam Fundraiser

How to Find Waves Around Quepos and Manuel Antonio

Surf CR logoSo you are a surfer who is visiting Manuel Antonio with your family or friends. They don’t surf but they don’t mind if you wake up early and go for a session before breakfast. How do you know where to go?
The first thing to check is the tide. Manuel Antonio is a high tide break. At low tide is mostly closes out. The only spot that does work well at low tide is the Quepos river mouth. To get there, you drive to Quepos and head towards the Pez Vela Marina. Right before the marina there is free parking and you can see the break straight out front. Be sure not to leave anything in your vehicle as break ins are common.
The Quepos rivermouth needs some swell in order to work and is mostly a longboard wave unless it gets to be chest high or bigger. When there is a massive swell, it still is not that scary and is a left breaking wave that you can ride for 300+ yards. There are a few locals who dominate the peak, but there is a second peak farther to the north and on the inside that is easy to sit on. And you could surf the break at mid tide or high tide, but after catching a long ride it is harder to get back to the peak. At low tide you can belly it to the sand bar and then walk up to the top of the break and use the river mouth rip to take you right back to the peak.

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Spam Musubi

Chef's corner headerFrom the aloha state of Hawaii, this sweet-savory combo of sushi and processed meat is the ultimate quick bite lunch on-the-go.


  • 1 can of spam (can substitute with firm tofu)
  • ¼ cup of thick teriyaki sauce (or mirin, sugar, and soy sauce)
  • 2 cups of Japanese short grain rice
  • 5 sheets of nori seaweed folded into thirds, letter-style and then cut with scissors


  1. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear and cook in rice cooker or deep pan in 2 cups of water. Cook until water is absorbed, fluff with a fork and allow to cool.
  2. Open the can of spam and slice horizontally about seven times. Clean and save the can.
  3. Spray a non-stick frying pan and fry the spam for a few minutes until slightly crispy. Brush spam abundantly with teriyaki sauce.
  4. Line the empty can with plastic wrap and place 1/3 cup of cooked rice in the bottom and top with one slice of spam. Press down firmly before pulling out the plastic wrap. You should have 2 compact layers of rice and spam.
  5. Wrap in 1 piece of cut nori and press down using the rice side to make it all stick together.


Spanish Sucks – July 2022



By Jack Ewing

Years ago, I was hiking in the Hacienda Barú rainforest with my friend, Juan Ramón. Though uneducated he had a vast knowledge of the environment, which had partly been passed on to him by his father and grandfather, and the rest he had learned through personal experience. “Juan”, I commented, “I was thinking that earlier we passed through an area where there were lots of gallinazo trees, then there eight scattered ojoches, over there are half a dozen jabillos, and right now we are admiring three big ceibos. I wonder why they grow in the same general area like that”.

“They grow in places they like”, was his simple reply.

His way of putting it was not the least bit scientific, but his answer really made sense. Perhaps certain species thrive in soils with certain nutrients that are abundant in some locations and deficient or absent in others. Different species may need different trace elements. I’m sure that many other environmental factors were in play, but his answer still made sense to me. I thought of people having cravings and remembered a time when Diane and I both were struck with an irresistible urge to eat radishes. For a week we couldn’t get enough of them. We ate them at every meal. We ate them as snacks, whole, in salads, and even in sandwiches. After about a week, the craving simply went away. We figured that our normal diet must have been lacking some essential nutrient that was readily available in radishes.

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