Nicaragua will always hold a special place in my heart, so expect a plethora of posts about the land of Flor de Caña to be coming soon. But first, let’s talk BEACHES! In the surrounding area of San Juan Del Sur, you will find nine beaches that you can explore, surf, and enjoy being a beach bum  during your time in the south. I personally had the luxury of only visiting five of them, but each of the ones I have been to have a different personality and aspect to offer based on what you are looking for.

Playa Yankee
This beach is one of the more secluded beaches I have encountered. It is a wide stretch of land with good waves, beautiful views, and clear water. The only human encounter you will find on this beach is the small house before you enter the beach and the empty hut at the end of the beach that some of the local surf shops use for BBQ’s. This beach is usually $10 to get to usually one by using one of the town shuttles and has been the only beach where I have seen dolphins jumping in the distance!

Head to Playa Yankee and you will have the beach to yourself! Bring snacks/drinks because there is nothing there!

The tide comes up really high on the beach…here’s your evidence 🙂

❤❤ Such a beautiful and secluded beach ❤❤

Backpackers Tip: This is the best beach for camping, just watch out for sand flies!

❤ Camping at Playa Yankee with some of the crew from Hola Ola and our workaway ❤

Sunsets are just the worst in Nicaragua 😍😍

Playa Hermosa
The name says it all. This beach is so beautiful!!! If you only have time for one beach while you are in SJDS, I recommend you go to this one! It’s a $10 shuttle from any of the local surf shops and is the best location if you are looking to learn how to surf. The beach has a place to stay as well as a bar/restaurant.  The prices can range from $7-10 for food and drinks, so if you are on a budget like I am then I recommend grabbing a few $1 Tonas and some snacks from a local shop to hold you over.

Grab a table or hammock to leave your stuff and head to the waves!

There are surfboards for rent at the beach if you don’t have one!

There is a small area of rocks, so depending on the tide you have to be careful! I just love this picture.

My girl Dasha and I soaking up the rays at Playa Hermosa! We met in Granada and were inseparable for two weeks! ❤

Look at how beautiful this view is! My girl Dasha enjoying the view!

Stay for sunset! You won’t be disappointed.

Playa Maderas
This is the best beach to go to if you are really into surfing and can actually rip up the waves, or even get on your board (haha, I try!). The beach is small with a lot of rocks to the right of the beach, but the water is beautiful, the waves are great, and there is so much surfing to watch! There are two restaurants and a hostel on the beach, but they are expensive so bring your own stuff here as well! You can grab any shuttle from town for $5.

Look at all those waves back there!

Frozen drinks, salty water, and this view is all ya need!

Beautiful place!

Playa San Juan Del Sur
This is the first beach that you will see when you arrive to San Juan Del Sur, since the town sits right on it’s shores. This beach is perfect for sitting at one of the local restaurants and enjoying the sunset, or soaking up some sun during the day on the sand. Sadly, this is not the best beach to swim in as of November 2016. When I was here in November of 2015, it was a clean beach where a lot of locals and tourists alike would swim in. However, after the hurricane in November of 2016 the water became very dirty and the storm brought in a lot of trash so sometimes your ankles will feel trash floating around. Nonetheless, this is the beach of the town and is still beautiful to sit at and enjoy the sunset and sound of the waves. If anyone has or will be there after this blog has posted, please let me know if this has changed!

November 2015, when the water was more clear. What a beautiful sight at sunset!

Sunset in the background and Cristo in the distance.

This is the view of the entire beach of SJDS from the top of El Cristo.

I just love the sunsets in Nicaragua *in love*

Cristo watches over San Juan Del Sur as the sun sets

Playa Remanso
This was one of the last beaches that I visited and I regretted waiting so long to go! As soon as I stepped out of the shuttle and set my eyes on this beach, I fell in love! The view was beautiful, the beach was nearly secluded apart from a few locals, the water had just the right mixture of waves, rocks, and clarity, and there are so many areas to explore up and down the beach. Oh, and don’t forget the SUNSET! They were to die for! Sadly, in low season there are only a few shuttles that go here, but if you get a group together it’s easypeasy to head on over there for $5 each!

View of Remanso from around the bay

Nicaragua will always be one of my favorite places for sunsets!

Evening bonfires at Playa Remanso

❤ Mermaid Life for EJ ❤

Long stretch of land with just a few shops there

Have any of you been before?! Which one is your favorite?! If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?! Get your butt to Nicaragua and check out the amazing beaches of San Juan Del Sur! They are some of the most beautiful that you will see!

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I am a firm believer in never saying no to free cash or gift cards when they are available for the grabbing, especially when traveling and funds are budgeted aggressively! If you are like me in that sense, and don’t mind a few detailed tasks then this post is for you! I have summarized and explained 5 apps that I have personally been using to earn cash and giftcards while traveling.

I have used the cash that I have earned from these apps to fund some of the following travel adventures: renting a surfboard in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, buying pad thai and fresh smoothies in Chiang Mai, Thailand,  paying for an entrance to a salsa club in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and so many more! Start using these apps today and you can earn more cash towards your travel fund or even extra cash while you are traveling!

Swagbucks
Swagbucks is an App that you can download on your phone, as well as a website that you can use on your computer. This website is a great way to earn money by answering surveys (I once won a $100 giftcard to Starbucks for answering a survey!), watching videos, checking out webpages, taking polls, and buying your every day needs! So far, I have aggressively been using this app for the past couple months and I have earned $300 so far (that is equal to 30 nights at a hostel in Nicaragua!). I have earned points by having videos run on my cell phone while I am doing other things such as cooking or getting ready in the morning,  answer surveys that I am qualified for on various products such as food, travel, health, alcohol, and I even earn points when I use the site to book my travel needs through various websites! I have read several blogs, and spoke to many people in various Facebook groups and there are people out there that can make $10,000 a year using this site!

An example of what the survey portion of the app looks like

The site uses a point systems, much like many other apps, and every 100 points equals $1. I usually save up to 2,500 points and then transfer $25 to my Paypal account. The site also offers gift cards that you can purchase using the points as well, but I personally always prefer to receive cash!

My goal this year is to earn at least $25 a week, which at the end of the year will equal to at least $1,300. That equals to about four flights round trip to Cartagena, Colombia or 85 nights at a hostel in Argentina! It seems like only a little bit each week, but it does adds up at the end of it all!

If you are interested in earning extra money simply by having videos run on your phone and answering surveys, then click here to sign-up today! For those who are currently traveling abroad while using this app, I suggest that you invest in a VPN because it is a USA company and it is strict about international use. Just a little tip I have picked up while using it!

There are 5 swagbucks video apps you can download and use to watch videos for points.

Click here to start earning cash today, and by using this link you get 300SB just for signing up! If you do end up signing up, I would be happy to share with you additional tips I have learned along the way- just comment below!!

AchieveMint
This app is an extremely easy way to earn some extra cash without having to do anything you’re not already doing. All you have to do is download the app by clicking here, enroll and sign-up, and connect the other health apps that you are already using. I have been an avid user of MyFitnessPal for several years and so it was easy to start earning points immediately with the app! Each time that I log my food, exercise, or weight change I earn a certain number of points to the total amount. You can also earn points by taking surveys sent to your e-mail and inviting other friends to make money too! Once you reach 10,000 points, then you redeem it for $10 (That is 20 Pad Thai meals in Thailand!)


Click this link to start earning money for being healthy today! You can start by downloading the app on your phone, or signing up on your computer!


Checkout 51

I had installed this app on my phone a couple of years ago, and completely forgot about it until right before heading off into the road. This app is best used in the United States and may not show offers while abroad. The idea is simple. You do your normal grocery shopping. Buy your apples, grapes, favorite cereal, eggs, or whatever and you save your receipt. I repeat. Save your receipt! Once you get home (or even before you head to the store), you can open the app and check out what offers you can get money back on. I usually always have at least one produce item that I can get money back on each week.

All you have to do is choose the items that you wish to redeem for cash, and then you take a picture of your receipt, and submit it! I would recommend that you keep the receipt until you receive the success e-mail from the company in your e-mail or push notification. Once you reach $20, you can request a pay-out and a check will be sent in the mail.

Easy! All you do is take a picture of your receipt and click the items you want to redeem!

Click here to sign-up today and download the app!

Ibotta
This app is similar to Checkout51, but there are so many more items you can receive cash back on! You can receive cash back on items bought at stores such as Stop and Shop, Best Buy, Target, and even the Dollar Store! There are over 50 stores and 20 categories that you can search through to receive cash back. Download the app by clicking here and start today!

This is an example of a few of the many grocery stores that offer rebates.

Once you have the app download, all you have to do is search by category or store, and click the items that you have purchased and want to receive cash back for. Once you choose to submit your receipt, you will have to upload a photo of the original receipt, click the items, and at times you will also have to scan the bar code of certain items that you have purchased. For example, if you are redeeming cash for an apple there will be no bar code to scan, but if you purchased Chobani yogurt you will need to scan it.

They offer items that you actually buy each week!

This is a must have app if you do any shop at all. If you don’t use this app, you are actually throwing money away! For example, just this last week I bought Pop Chips at PriceRite for $1.50. The app offered $3.50 for redeeming the coupon on it’s app. I received a free bag of chips and $2! No way I can say no to free money!

Once you have reached $20 you can redeem the cash via PayPal or Venmo or even choose among the many gift cards that they offer as well!

Click here to download the app or register on your home computer and start getting cash back today!

Shopkick
Shopkick is such an easy app! All you have to do is download the app here, turn on your geolocater, and you are ready to go! The concept of the app is simple. You accumulate a certain amount of kicks (ex: 2,500 kicks equals $10 gift card) by walking into certain stores, scanning products in a store, or having the cashier scan the bar code in the app when you purchase items at certain stores. I earned 50 kicks just for walking into BestBuy!

Example of some of the stores that participate

Imagine you are in a shopping area that has several stores in the app, you can earn 1,000 kicks easy each day! The kicks can be redeemed each day (ex: walk into Best Buy everyday for one week and you receive 350 Kicks). If you do that for a little under a month, you have earned yourself a free gift card to a select amount of stores!

These are some of the gift cards you can redeem your kicks for!

Download the app here and start earning money for simply doing things you are already doing: walking and shopping! You’d be a fool not to accept free money!

I hope these apps are as helpful as they have been for me! If it’s free money, why not take the few minutes or even seconds to complete a simple task and get that cash! Happy Travels everyone and comment below if you have any questions or comments below in regards to any of the apps! Click on the sign-up links below and start earning that travel cash!

Swagbucks
Checkout-51
Achievemint
Ibotta
Shopkick

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Drinks at a rooftop bar in Bangkok, Thailand paid for by Swagbucks!

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Dancin Around The World has been volunteering in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua for the past month at Hotel El Pacifico. Last year I was in Nicaragua in November, and after leaving the country I knew in my heart that I would be back again. I absolutely love being in Nicaragua. I am completely drawn to the food, the people, the culture, and the landscapes. There’s just something about this country that calls to me!

Typical day at El Pacífico 🙂

 

In order to travel and stay in one place long term, without spending a lot of money, I headed to workaway to find an opportunity.

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EJ (right) from Asheville, NC and Tabea (left) from Germany

Garfield: the unofficial mascot of the hotel

 

For those of you who do not know, workaway is a website that backpackers/travelers use to find volunteering positions around the world at hostels, hotels, farms, vineyards, etc. You can create an account here. All you have to do is sign-up, pay the fee for one year ($29 for a single person, $39 for a couple or two friends), and create a profile and description about yourself and what you offer. Once you have signed up, you can start contacting business based on countries, cities, and/or type of work. The general gist in each location is that you will be required to work a certain number of hours per day (4-6 depending on which opportunity  you get) and in return you are provided a bed, and if you are lucky food as well. Each business will list exactly what they offer and the amount of work that is required of you within the description.

When searching for an opportunity in Nicaragua, I knew I wanted to be right by the ocean and so I focused on San Juan Del Sur. Since I had already been to this city, I knew there would be ample amount of things to do, I already knew my way around, and it’s a beach town. It’s been on my bucket list for sometime now to work in a beach town, so I was super stoked when an opportunity came up! I applied for about five positions in the San Juan area by sending an e-mail about how I could help their business and what I had to offer. I received two rejections because they were already full, two did not reply at all, and one offered me a position. When I sent the e-mail to each business, I told them about all of the things that I could offer their business and why they should choose me. If you are looking for positions, I highly recommend making yourself stand out as best you can! For example, I mentioned that I had over five years of customer service, I speak fluent Spanish, and I have experience in organizing events and teaching latin dances. If you speak the language of the country you are looking for an opportunity in, it helps a ton!

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Wendy from Ghant, Belgium taking over the kitchen with her skills

 

El Pacifico Hotel is where Dancin Around The World has been volunteering for the past month. It is a hotel with twelve rooms, a pool, bar, and a view of El Cristo at all times. There are usually around six volunteers at a time and duties include checking clients in and out, making breakfast in the morning, washing dishes, chatting with clients, and tending bar. The deal with this hotel is pretty sweet because there is minimum cleaning required. In return for volunteering five hours a day for six days a week, you receive a bed and groceries to cook each week. When you’re traveling, the highest expenses are accommodation and food, so having these things covered saves so much money. More funds for cerveza and shuttles to the beaches!

EJ and I enjoying one of the local beaches on our day off!

 

My time at El Pacífico has been one of my fonder traveling moments and a place that truly started to feel like a home. The other volunteers became a little family to me as we would share our day with each other, cook and eat meals together, share rum on the beach, and enjoyed spending time together. I feel so blessed to have met so many great people, shared so many wonderful memories, and was able to be in a great town for the month of December without having to pay a ton of money! I truly am going to miss this place.

Our Christmas tree and white elephant gifts 🙂

Christmas dinner with the other volunteers

 

If you are looking for a way to travel for free than workaway is the best way to do it! Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions on the experience or how you can do it too!

The ladies of El Pacífico 💜💜

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This past year I have visited 95 cities and I can say without a doubt that Buenos Aires remains my favorite city so far. The moment I stepped off the bus, and my foot touched the concrete of the city, I was in love. If I had the opportunity, I would move there today! The city has all of my favorite things that I look for in a city that I want to live in, along with some added bonuses that come along with it being a major location in Argentina!

Food

When I travel I like to experience the country and culture through my tastebuds. What better way to travel than to eat your way through everything, right?! The food in Argentina in general is amazing. Chimichurri, choripan, emapanadas, asado, alfajores, yerba mate, and the list could go on. Let’s put it this way, I haven’t found or tasted a food yet in Argentina that I wouldn’t devour in three minutes flat!

My mouth is watering just looking at this photo

Ohhh heavenly Choripan

Nom Nom Nom- no words needed.

Can you tell how much I love chimichurri. This stuff is orgasmic! HaHa

Alfajoooooooooores!!!!

The best lomo I have ever tasted in my life!

You can’t be in Argentina without enjoying Mate!

Architecture

After stuffing my stomach with local food, I usually love to take long walks around the city to digest all the yummyness in my stomach. Let me tell you, the streets of Buenos Aires is my favorite place to do it! Everywhere I would turn while getting lost in the city had the most beautiful and diverse architecture. I am usually not one to admire architecture, but I loved everything that I set my eyes on in this city, and even more when I learned the history and explanation behind some of them!

Puente de la mujer. This is my favorite view in Argentina. The bridge depicts a woman and a man dancing Tango. How beautiful is that?! Even the architecture is poetic.

🙂 🙂 🙂

El Ateneo Grand Splendid: the most beautiful bookstore I have ever laid my eyes on.

I sat in this very spot for hours devouring the literature and the architecture. No words to describe how much happiness this day brought to me.

Music and Dance

If you are reading this blog, you must already know that I am a dancer and have a huge appreciation for dance in general. If you appreciate dance or music, Buenos Aires is the place to be! There were so many days that I would find myself standing for an hour in front of one musician absolutely mesmerized by their skill, and if there was dancing happening in the streets I literally could not be pulled away! Let’s just say I have quite the obsession going on. Apart from the street musicians, the city is alive with so many different dances and places to dance the night away. I was happy to find that there are so many salsa spots to dance in the city, and that there are so many good dancers! It was absolute heaven. If you’re into the arts- get your butt to Buenos Aires and you can see for yourself how captivating it is!

This guy was SO good! He has been in this same exact spot for years.

Tango dancing in San Telmo on Sundays….such a beautiful dance.

Even through artwork dancing speaks

Live alternative spanish…this kid was a rockstar!

Spanish rock in the streets…i watched these guys for awhile. Such good music!

Salsa dancing competition at one of the salsa clubs in Buenos Aires….AMAZING!

In the summer there are free live music concerts, and to boot it’s mostly famous musicians!

Colorful

Seeing as Buenos Aires is such an artistic hotspot, there is no surprise that the city is splashed with color. If you head to the popular neighborhood La Boca, you will be surrounded by color in all it’s glory. It is a beautiful sight to set your eyes on.

Music and color in one 🙂

Beautiful – artwork lines the streets everywhere

Stunning. My favorite photo I took in La Boca.

The famous La Boca streets

Mafalda journey throughout the city

🙂 Happiness 🙂

Could this statue be anymore Argentinian? Haha!

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Path of Gods- Almafi Coast, Italy

The Path of Gods Hike was such a breathtaking experience that I did not expect when traveling to Italy. I found out about the hike from another traveler and from the moment I began the hike I was in awe. The entire hike is along the Almafi Coast so you have views of the ocean and several of the towns along the coast. I suggest you make sure to take breaks throughout the hike so that you can just stop and enjoy the view. At the end of the hike make sure you take a dip in the ocean to cool off from the heat!

 

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Breathtaking views

No wonder people flock to the Amalfi Coast. I’m in love with this view!    

Tongariro Alpine Crossing- Tongariro, New Zealand

This is one of the most unique hikes I have ever experienced around the world! The hike lasts between 8 to 10 hours and throughout it you will experience all four seasons. Wear layers! You can check out a full description of the hike here.

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Feeling zen in front of Mt. Doom

This is a hike of all seasons. Be prepared for the wind!

Look at these views of the volanoes!

The colors of the Emerald lakes in this hike are beyond any thing I could have imagined.

El Chalten, Argentina 

El Chalten is a town made for hikers! There are several hikes that can be completed from this town, including the Famous Fitz Roy hike that many hikers dream of completing. My particular favorite was a small hike to a waterfall, but to be fair instead of walking there I rented a bike to get there. It is still a must see location! Pack a lunch, bring a journal or book, and spend the afternoon mesmerized by the waterfall!

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Everywhere you look in this town you are surrounded by snow covered mountain peaks while the sun beats on your back. HEAVEN!

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My favorite spot in the world.

Dois Irmãos- Two Brothers Moutains- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

This hike is the more lesser known hikes within Rio de Janeiro. The more popular hike is at Sugar Loaf, but you have to pay a hefty price to hike it and it is usually packed with tourists. If you head to the other side of the city, opposite of Sugar Loaf, than you can experience a lesser known hike that costs nothing to enter, and provides you a unique view of Rio de Janeiro!

Views of favalas at the beginning of the hike

Most of the hike you can barely see the views. With each step around a corner, a view or Rio is a pleasant surprise.

View of the non-touristy side of Rio.

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Enjoying the views of RIo

Iconic Rio de Jainero.

The sun was so hot we could only stand to be there a few minutes before heading down! I could feel myself getting burnt!

Pacaya Volcano- Antigua, Guatemala

This was the hardest hike for me personally, due to the elevation of the volcano. In this hike you leave early in the morning, hike between 4 to 8 hours in the day depending on how fast your group is, and camp on top of the volcano. At 4:30am the next morning, you hike up about another hour to the top of the volcano so you can see the sunrise and Acatenango Volcano erupting. I personally had a hard time with this hike and spent the evening vomiting out of my tent, but for the few moments I was able to look up and see the lava spurting from the Volcano it was beautiful.

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View of Acatenango Volcano from the camping site

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You are literally hiking above the clouds!

These are my top five favorite hikes around the word that I have completed so far, but I am sure as I travel more and more I will add a ton more to it! What are some of your favorite hikes? Comment below with any suggestions of hikes anywhere in the world you have for me!

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