Where to Eat in Whangarei

We spent a couple of months in Whangarei, exploring the area by foot, bike, and campervan. While we were working on our van and enjoying nature, we needed to eat, and thankfully Whangarei has a wide range of restaurants and bars. Based on our attempts to sample everything, here’s where to eat in Whangarei by neighborhood.

Tips for Eating Out in New Zealand

Before you go out to eat in a new country like New Zealand, you want to know the local norms. So, here are some things to know before you eat out in Whangarei and New Zealand in general.

dining times

Restaurants close early in New Zealand. Even in the big city of Auckland, people go out to dinner early. If you leave it until 8PM, your choices for dinner are limited. They don’t wake up as early as French Polynesians, but Kiwis do eat dinner early.

etiquette

I would say it’s about fifty-fifty whether you order at the counter before you sit, or order at your table. Either way, it will usually be obvious when you enter the restaurant, bar or cafe. Regardless of how you order, you will always have to pay at the counter. Sometimes you pay when you order, other times you pay at the end. Don’t expect anyone to bring you a check. Just get up when you’re finished and go to the register to pay. This is consistent with other countries in the South Pacific, but very different from North America and Europe.

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Popular food and drink in new Zealand

Kiwis love their coffee, and coffee culture is evident everywhere. From sit down cafes to coffee trucks, you can get a good espresso-based coffee almost anywhere. We’ve been partial to the flat whites, which is a latte with less foam. It’s going to be difficult adjusting back to our black coffees at sea.

Kiwis also love their pies, but not the fruit pies we’re used to in The States. These pies are savory, like steak and mushroom or mince and cheese. Many cafes sell pies for breakfast and lunch, and most Kiwis have a favorite place for pies, with annual rankings and all. You can even buy pies in the frozen section of the supermarket to heat up at home, which is convenient.

Seafood is abundant here, especially snapper. Everywhere we go, snapper is the fish of the day. It’s either in season or it’s really easy to catch. Or both. We’ve also had amazing mussels and salmon, both of which are much bigger than we’ve seen anywhere else in the world.

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Eating in Tahiti

Updated March 15, 2023

Since we live in Tahiti now (just kidding), we’ve had two months (and counting) to sample the island’s many food and drink options. Read on for my recommendations of where and what to eat, plus a guide to eating in Tahiti.

Tips for Eating in Tahiti

First, keep in mind that French Polynesia is on its own timeline. Everything opens and closes early. Think 6am for breakfast and 11am for lunch. We arrived at a restaurant serving Sunday brunch at 8am and the place was packed. So get there early. The good news is, unlike other parts of French Polynesia, everything doesn’t close at lunchtime.

Sunday is another story! Barely anything is open on Sunday besides church and the beach. If you want to eat out on Sunday, reserve at one of the few open restaurants in advance.

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Costa Rica Visa Run From Panama

Before we left Bocas del Toro, we decided to take a brief trip to Costa Rica. We’ve never been to Costa Rica and it’s quite close to Bocas. Also, we have been in Panama for over four months, and don’t want to rush through the rest before our six month visa expires. The plan was to spend three days and nights in a cute Costa Rican beach town, lazing about in a hotel, seeing some sights, and relaxing. It was supposed to be an easy Panama to Costa Rica visa run. Fun? Yes. Easy? Not a chance.

Leaving Panama for Costa Rica
Leaving Panama for Costa Rica

Costa Rica Visa Run Started Off Great!

The trip to Costa Rica from Bocas town on Isla Colon was easy, and faster than we expected. We took two water taxis and two buses, and had escorts who led us to check out of Panama, and across the bridge to check in to Costa Rica. Clearing in was easy and we arrived at our hotel in Puerto Viejo early. We also didn’t realize we’d be in a different time zone, so we were even earlier! Panama – Eastern Time Zone; Costa Rica – Central.

We had heard many good things about Costa Rica. Pura Vida. And, despite a few big issues, we liked Costa Rica.

Fun Fact! Costa Rica was the last country in Central America I hadn’t visited. Although one night in El Salvador hardly counts.

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Colombia’s Zona Cafetera Highlights

We loved Colombia’s Zona Cafetera – coffee zone- so much we returned for a longer visit five years after our first. It’s a top tourist spot for many reasons including its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site and some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. While there, we visited some of Colombia’s nicest towns and saw amazing nature and wildlife. If you’re considering a visit, read about Colombia’s Zona Cafetera highlights.

Filandia Rainbow
The scenery is beautiful in Colombia’s Zona Cafetera

Getting to the Zona Cafetera

There are many ways to get to Colombia’s Zona Cafetera, and we have done most! By air, domestic flights arrive to three separate airports (it’s a big region): Armenia in the south, Pereira central, and Manizales, north. We flew into the Manizales airport years ago from Bogota, and this time we flew out of Pereira airport back to our boat in Cartagena.

Buses are very frequent and affordable throughout the country, but I get carsick so wasn’t up for that this time. We drove from Medellin, with a stop in Jardin, and went the indirect way, which I wouldn’t recommend unless you’re adventurous, have a lot of time, and/or a four-wheel drive.

Visit the Metropolis of Manizales

A university town in the mountains with a great cable car system and nearby hot springs, we visited 5 years ago and you can read all about our fun times exploring Manizales! This is the furthest north of the Zona Cafetera and one of the three airport hubs of the region.

Stay in Salento

We stayed four nights total in this beautiful town and it was the perfect length stay for us. Salento features a variety of restaurants and accommodations and is an ideal base for touring Colombia’s Zona Cafetera highlights.

Salento town Colombia
Pretty Salento has lots of hills

Salento is charming. With a beautiful town square and well-maintained colorful buildings, it’s a pleasure to stroll the streets, although keep in mind, it’s built into a hill so it gets tiring.

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Top Things To Do In Jardin Colombia

One of the nicest towns anywhere, Jardin, Colombia has charming squares, friendly people, and loads of attractions. We spent a few days enjoying the laid-back vibe and excellent outdoor activities and fell in love with the place! This post features our top things to do in Jardin.

Jardin church and town
Jardin’s church and town from above

About Jardin, Colombia

Legend has it that the town of Jardín got its name from the first settlers who spotted the valley which was beautiful jungle and called it “garden.” Unlike many towns in the Antioquian region, Jardin retains much of its architecture and landscape of 140 years ago. As a result, the colonial architecture predominates, attractive to the eye.

Getting There

A quick trip from Medellin, Jardin is surrounded by rivers and is still known for its lush green landscapes. We rented a car in Medellin and drove the 2+ hours south from the city. A lot of visitors take the inexpensive buses which run every hour each way direct. It’s a relatively easy trip, and once you’re there, all the top sights are in walking distance. Unlike Villa de Leyva, another of our favorite Colombian towns, we didn’t need or use the car for the top things to do in Jardin.

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