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All about my Costa Rica trip!

May 22, 2015

I’m still nostalgic over my trip to beautiful Costa Rica. Since then, I’ve had a few people asking me about details about what I did, and where I stayed so I figured I’ll do a round up here to make it easier on everyone ☺.

Poás Volcano

(in order of day):
Double Tree Hilton (San Jose)

Lobby at the Double Tree in San Jose

Outdoor pool at the Double Tree hotel

Hotel Presidente (San Jose)

Hotel Presidente

Volcano Lodge (Arenal)

Welcome drinks at Volcano Lodge

Outdoor pools at the Volcano Lodge

Note: One place to avoid if you’re going to Arenal is Arenal Paraiso Resort & Spa. We kept coming back to our room to find animal droppings on our bed, so we had to shift over to Volcano Lodge really late at night.
Parador Resort & Spa (Punta Quepos/Manuel Antonio)

Parador Hotel

That view!

*This was by far our favorite hotel – beautiful heated pools, scenery, spa, and gym.
Club del Mar (Playa Jaco/Jaco Beach)

Club del Mar

Club Del Mar at night

Pack plenty of comfy workout clothes (I depended on leggings), sneakers (or water shoes) for rafting, and canyoning, and extra bathing suits. By the end, every single thing I brought was drenched. There was almost no day where we didn’t get wet, either from activities, or from light rainfall.

Travel shampoo
Moroccanoil serum (travel size)
Dove travel size body wash
Sunscreen (I brought Neutrogena’s and L’Occitane’s Jenipapo Oil with SPF 15 for all over just because it smells amazing)

Tarte Lights Camera Lashes Waterproof mascara
Tarte Skinny SmolderEyes Waterproof Eye Liner
Becca Beach Tint (for lips and cheeks)
Revlon PhotoReady Insta-Fix Makeup

Day 1 and 2
Visited the Doka estate to learn about how they pick and process coffee.

Doka Estate


Showing the difference between different coffee roasts


Botas Lagoon near Poás Volcano

Went to the active Poás Volcano which was probably one of the most beautiful natural beauties I’ve ever seen.

Hiking after Paos

Views on the way to La Paz

Stopping for fresh strawberries on the way

From there, we went on another hike to La Paz Waterfalls Garden.

On the way to see the waterfalls


Macaw amore

Butterfly garden

Midday showers right when we started eating lunch


Mountain lion

Spotted jaguars

La Paz waterfall

Day 3
White Water Rafting on the Pacuare River with Rios Tropicales. I’ve never rafted before, but this three-hour journey was one of the most crazy and memorable things we did.

White water rafting with Rios Tropicales


The river is a Class III-IV, which makes it pretty rough but the guides were excellent and took care of everyone (and yes some rafts flipped over – you have to be prepared for anything on the river!). When you have moments of calm, the scenery is breathtaking, and there’s even a part between canyons you can jump off the raft and swim.

One of my favorite parts of the experience -- rafting in this serene space between canyons

Day 4
Canyoning tour, hike in Arenal National Park, and an all night soak in hot springs in the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort.

Canyoning was another fun trip for us. We were strapped into a harness and started from the top of a waterfall where we were taught to repel off the rocks and then led through a trail that consisted of unexpected submersion and what they jokingly called a Costa Rican tsunami:


Where's Shy?

We changed the pace for the hike where we learned about the most famous Arenal Volcano, and were finally led straight to Tabacon’s hot springs. This was such a treat after all our hikes and rafting from the day before (which we were thoroughly sore from). The spa uses water that’s naturally heated from the Arenal volcano. It’s the most relaxing experience ever, plus they have a full buffet waiting for you after you’re done swimming.

Hike to Arenal Volcano before dipping in the hot springs

Day 5
Private transfer to Manuel Antonio, a beautiful beach town. I should note here that of all the physically demanding things we did, nothing got to me except this 5 hour car ride of winding roads and mountains. I almost got really car sick half way there, I had to switch places with the guy in front just because I was getting so dizzy. But anyway – the good part is we were greeted with cool watermelon juices and warm face towels right when we got to Parador Hotel. We had the day off to enjoy the pools at the resort. The second day we took a hike at the Manuel Antonio rainforest, where we got to spy on sloths, snakes, monkeys, lizards, and toucans. We ended the hike at a beach where we were able to rest and lay out for a little while.

Day 6

This was supposed to be our day off, but my friend Fatima and I visited the tour desk at the hotel and booked ziplining and horse back riding through the jungle. The horse back riding trail ended at the most beautiful waterfall where you can swim if you want (realistically there’s not a lot of space to swim, although the water is shallow enough if you want to try).

Zipling fun

Horse back riding


Riding to waterfalls

Day 7 and 8
Jaco beach. This was supposed to be another beach day for us, but Jaco is more of a surfer’s beach. The water was at low tide when we got there, and it’s mostly dark sand and rocks. Here Fatima booked surfing lessons and I rented a boogie board for the day.

Most of our meals were included with the tour and we ate a lot of rice and beans, eggs, potatoes, and fresh fruits (pineapples, guavas, and watermelon), which I surprisingly never got sick of.

Burritos and nachos at Jaco

Fatima and I started a bad habit of having cake and tea every night at Parador too…

Nightly rituals

I also have been really recommending the tour company who put our itinerary and accommodations together so last minute for us – Lars at CRS Tours was amazing and on call whenever I needed him while I was there too. If you want to book your tour through them (at a very reasonable price), email him at (our Adrenaline & Relaxation package inluded bilingual guides, a SIM card for your phone, and plenty of meals).

Last sight on the way to the airport!


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10 things I’m taking on this flight!

December 19, 2014

I’m way too excited about my tropical vacation today! I have to leave for the airport in like 15 minutes, so let’s see how fast I can tell you about my in-flight essentials :).


1) BluePrint Orange Grapefruit Lemon juice – Packed with all kinds of antioxidants and vitamin C to help support healthy cells and keep skin happy. I already drank two of their drinks this morning (their Carrot Lemon, and Kale Apple Lemon) which just gives me a little boost of nutrients. All their drinks are 100% juice and help to keep skin hydrated especially during these colder months.

2) Snacks (Belvita Soft Baked Breakfast Biscuits and Clif bars) – I always need snacks on a plane and I’m trying to go a healthier route with snacks that have fiber and protein like these two!

3) BareMinerals Ready Compact with brush – This is a buildable compact foundation that I take with me for a quick pick me up (it helps too if I’m feeling oily but it’s not like a powder that will dry you out). I use it in Golden Tan.

4) Aquaphor – Lots and lots of Aquaphor for my lips and eyes.

5) Van Cleef & Arpels California Reverie perfume – a bite size perfume because I never travel without one. This one is a light and refreshing one from Van Cleef I’m currently obsessed with.

6) Skyn Iceland Icelandic Relief Eye Pen – A quick pick me up for tired eyes for during and after my flight. I love that you can apply it directly from the tube and it has a nice, cooling effect that depuffs and refreshes.

7) Emergen-C – Another in flight essential to keep my immune system ready for the long haul.

8 ) Colgate Wisps – Ask anyone and they know I’m addicted to these. Any oral hygiene junkie will love you for introducing you to these if they haven’t tried it yet. Perfect for in between meals because I’m too lazy to get up and brush my teeth everytime I’m done eating.

9) Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream – I NEVER ever travel without this. It smells so medicinal and is a little sticky but nothing hydrates your skin better on a flight or otherwise.

10) Yogi Lemon Ginger tea – I’m obsessed with anything and everything ginger (and tea). I love Yogi tea especially because each tea packet has a nice message written on it. Tea for the body and soul 😉

What are your flight essentials! Let’s see what else I pick up on my travels! See you on the flip side.

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Today’s flight essentials…

February 13, 2014

Another day, another flight. There are some things I don’t board a plane without:

Travel essentials

1) Perfume
, in this case Lovestruck by Vera Wang, a gorgeous gift from my friend Maryam. It’s a mix of pink guava, mandarin, tuberose, lotus and the cap is the prettiest lil bouquet. I also like to use those little perfume dispensers they give you at Sephora to spray perfume in to make it carry on friendly.

2) Secret Clinical Strength Invisible Solid
– I wish I could pass these out to everyone on the plane. Nothing worse than BO in confined places, but I digress. I learned at an event recently that there are three different types of sweat: from exercising, from heat/environment, and the last one is stress. Exercise sweat comes from the eccrine gland which is mostly water, but stress seat smells the worst cuz it’s cause from completely different gland, apocrine, which has more nutrients, which means more bacteria and odor. Running to catch a flight? You’re more likely to be emitting stress sweat. Not only does this deodorant have heavy duty protection, it’s also one of the smaller deodorants to throw in your purse.

3) Reach Total Care dental floss
– I’m kinda a weirdo about flossing. I can’t eat any snacks on a small flight without flossing right after. This one is more gentle on my gums too.

4) Acuvue Moist 1-Day contacts
– I can never sleep on flights so I just assume I’ll be up, in which case if I am going to wear contacts, it has to be a really moisturizing one to combat the dry plane air. These are the best. THE best. No contact case needed.

5) Lifeline Eye Firming Complex
– I’ve been taking the travel size amounts of this line with me in the last few travels, and it’s been keeping my skin so soft. It contains growth factors that help produce more collagen, as well as vitamin C, and super antioxidant Matrixyl 3000 and hyaluronic acid. (The full size eye cream is $97, but the travel kit which contains a mini eye cream as well as day and night cream costs the same).

6) Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
– Not only do I always always travel with this, I don’t even leave home without it. I’ve written about it before, but it keeps my skin so hydrated and soft. It’s a tad sticky, and it smells a tad medicinal, but it’s repairing properties makes it easily forgiveable for me. Probably why this is Elizabeth Arden’s award winning staples.

7) MAC Fix+
You should just have this in your makeup kit regardless. It refreshes your skin, or sets your makeup — whatever you want it to do really. When I met Bollywood makeup artist Mickey Contractor at the IIFA awards years ago, he always kept this handy to keep skin looking fresh after long travels and long days. I just learn from the best :).

What do you keep with you when you travel?

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I’m eStylista’s Jetsetter of the Week!

September 9, 2013

If you guys have a minute, check out eStylista’s Jetsetter of the Week (I’m featured this week!). I share some of my favorite travel memories and must-haves:


Click to read:

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Travel essentials: The Perez Beauty Case is the best thing to happen to me.

January 17, 2013

I’m not what you would call…the most organized of peoples. I hate to admit that, but there are many layers of “organized chaos” in my life. People think I’m joking when I dedicate almost all my Friday nights to just cleaning out my closet– without it ever completely being done. It’s a big priority for me every weekend though. So you can iamgine how my makeup stash(es) look like. I finally resigned to having a random bag just dedicated to traveling so I won’t have to pack and re-pack my makeup for every trip, but it usually ends up a mountain of a mess where I can’t find jack when I need it. Recently, however, I’ve been introduced to a game-changer: Mocha Moon’s Perez Beauty Case. You just have to see to understand:

Perez Beauty Case by Mocha Moon, $39


I can see everything I have and make sure I take everything I need at a glance. Here are some of the deets:
1) Two transparent removable pouches that fit easily in your purse, handbag, or carry on for touch ups
2) Soft, sleek faux leather for the ultimate product that looks good and feels good to the touch
3) Lightweight design holds all your makeup and saves some serious space in my carry one
4) Organization Bands that eliminate digging and put makeup and makeup brushes at your fingertips, and helps ensure you don’t leave anything behind!
5) Compact size: 4″ x 7 ½” x 4″

And in case you’re wondering what makes up my essentials for a bachelorette party weekend in Miami:

Perfumes, glosses, eye makeup essentials...


From left to right: 1) Benefit See & Be Seen Sasha perfume vial; 2) Benefit Laugh with Me Lee Lee perfume vial (BOTH which I’ve already gotten a ton of compliments on..these smell heavenly and are a perfect size for travel); 3) Buxom mini lip polish in April; 4) Shiseido Lacquer Rouge in RS 404 – Disco (magenta) and 5) RD 203 – Portrait (nude beige)


From top to bottom: 1) Laura Geller Inkwell Waterproof Gel Liner (This does NOT smudge — even after a day at the pool); 2) Bobbi Brown lip liner in Soft Rose; 3) It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer in Tan; 4) Japonesque Heated Mini Lash Curler; 5) BareMinerals Stroke of Light Eye Brightener; 6) Laura Geller WOW Factor All in One Mascara in Black (you have no idea — this gives so much gloss to lashes and body without getting clumpy…love); 7) Joey Healy Brow Structure Clear Set.


Assorted: 1) Lancome Hypnose Star (another mascara that coats lashes like no other); 2) Nanoblur (a European-craze that’s come stateside: pore-blurring and line-reducing in one); 3) BeautyRX Skincare by Dr. Schultz Gentle Exfoliating Eye Therapy Cream; 4) Reach total care plus whitening mint floss; 5) Laura Geller Lip Pops Lush Waterproof Lip Gloss in Palazzo (this tastes like candy too!)


Left to right: 1) Bare Minerals Precision Face Brush; 2) Smashbox blush brush (was part of a set); 3) Benefit High Brow Glow; 4) Lise Watier Feline Eyeliner HD; 5) LaVaque Tweezers; 6) Anastasia Covet Waterproof Eyeliner in Noir (new obsession and the latest from the brand!); 7) Joey Healy Duo Brow Brush; 8 ) Anastasia Covet Waterproof Eyliner in Azure; 9) It Cosmetics No-Tug Waterproof Eyeliner in Brown


Assorted Mess: 1) BareMinerals READY SPF 20 Foundation in Golden Tan; 2) Laura Geller Dream Creams Concealer & Highlighter Palette in Regular/Tan; 3) Laura Geller Ombre Baked Blush in Peach Blossom; 4) Lise Watier Portfolio; 5) Joey Healy Luxe Brow Powder in Raven; 6) BareMinerals Correcting Concealer SPF 20 in Medium 1; 7) Benefit Hellow Flawless Oxygen Wow Brightening Makeup in Beige; 8) Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit in 1; 9) Ruby Kisses HD Set N Forget Setting Powder in Banana; and 10) Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Shine in Wink (the latest from Burt’s and something you all NEED to own…post on this soon!)

Seriously, these are all some of my current favorites — what are some of your travel essentials? And let me know if you have any questions about the products above :).

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Travel essential: Caudalie Beauty Elixir

July 5, 2012

We’re all allowed at least one diva product, right? Like those things that you won’t actually melt without, but life just feels better when you have it? Well, yeah, Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir spray is mine.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir

I wanted something that helps me freshen up while traveling, and I found this from Caudalie, which has slowly made its way from my travel bag to my everyday purse. The toner spray ($18) is a radiance-inducing blend of grape, rosemary, peppermint extracts and vitamin E to soothe skin and tighten pores. I’ll spray it before/after plane rides and when I need a pick-me-up. You can also use it to set your makeup (sort of the same reasons I love MAC’s Fix+ Spray ($10), which a very jet-lagged Mickey Contractor put me on after spending a whole day with him in Toronto for the IIFA awards). But even the scent of Caudalie’s feels like it has some relaxing aromatherapeutic benefits (it smells a little lavender-y to me!). Yes, I’ve also devised a way to discreetly apply before take off and after landing (window seats, FTW!).

Note though, that its formula does contain alcohol/fragrance which might not mesh all that well with the especially sensi-types. If you’re into something even more light, consider some good ol’ Evian Mineral Water Spray ($11). Granted, it doesn’t come with all the skin-awakening ingredients, but is refreshing all the same.

Anyway, since we’re on topic — what would you consider your diva product?


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