Category: Travel

Australia – iPhoneography

Winter travels continued. From New Zealand, I headed to Australia and met up with an awesome girl named Vicki who I had met on my trip in New Zealand. We explored Sydney and the surrounding area like Manly Beach and Bondi Beach before renting a car to slowly drive up the coast to Byron Bay, a surf town full of character on the east coast. I said goodbye to Vicki in Byron Bay after spending 6 fun-filled days there and went to Brisbane for my last couple nights in Australia. Below are the iPhone photos I posted to my Instagram feed from my time in Australia. I left my big hefty camera at home (which I explained why in my Costa Rica post).

To see descriptions and stories from the photos, search the hashtag #jesszaisoz on Instagram. : )


Sydney, Australia.Sydney,  Australia Sydney,  AustraliaLovely coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee.Bondi Beach Coastal Walk Australia Bondi Beach Coastal Walk Australia Bondi Beach Coastal Walk Australia Australia_iPhone_0006New Castle, Australia. This pelican let me get so close!Australia_iPhone_0007Vicki and I had a blast quadding on the biggest sand dunes in Australia in Port Stephens. We stopped at Shipwreck Beach.Australia_iPhone_0008Port Stephens Australia quad bike sand dunesBelow two photos: Tomaree Head Summit Walk, Port Stephens. Oh la la!Tomaree Head Summit Walk, Port Stephens Australia Tomaree Head Summit Walk, Port Stephens AustraliaOne of the gorgeous beaches we encountered on our drive north to Byron Bay.Australia_iPhone_0013 Australia_iPhone_0014Byron Bay!Australia_iPhone_0015 Byron Bay, Australia Byron Bay, AustraliaBrisbane! Such a cool, futuristic looking city.Brisbane, Australia Brisbane, Australia

 Click to check out my New Zealand and Costa Rica adventures this past winter!

I’m back in the Okanagan now until the fall and am enjoying diving into my busy photography season! : )

New Zealand – iPhoneography

Next up in my winter adventures, after Costa Rica, was New Zealand. Again, I decided not to bring my professional camera (for reasons you can read in my Costa Rica post) and have fun with taking iPhone photos instead. New Zealand was amazing! For a small country, it sure has a lot of variety packed into it. I knew New Zealand would be beautiful but it still exceeded my expectations and bowled me over with all its stunning nature.

I did a one-month camping trip through Flying Kiwi that had a focus on hiking and biking. It was my first time joining a tour and I didn’t know what to expect. It ended up being awesome. Most of the people on the tour were traveling alone and everyone became so tight, including our fantastic guides. There was usually around 26 of us on the bus at a time, with some people only doing a week or 2 weeks and getting on and off in different towns. About half the bus was there for the whole month though. At one point we counted 15 different countries represented among us. There was a great mix of ages and personalities and I loved that we all became like a big traveling family for our time together. : )

We changed locations almost every day (I am pretty fast at putting up and taking down a tent now. haha) so we saw a LOT. I’m sure my friends probably got a little sick of the amount I was instagramming on this trip. haha.

I’ll write details above a few of the photos below but if you want more info about the locations, or stories behind them, you can check out the hashtag #jesszaisnz on Instagram, My Instagram username is jessicazais if you feel like following along on any future travels with me. : )

Most people started their trip in Auckland but it was booked up so I got picked up in Christchurch instead. The first night we stayed south of Christchurch at a sheep-shearers farm. The sheep outnumber New Zealanders (AKA Kiwis) 10-1. New_Zealand_0001 Lake Tekapo ChurchThe incredible glacier-fed blue waters of Lake Pukaki.Lake Pukaki, New Zealand Lake Pukaki, New Zealand Lake Pukaki, New Zealand Mount Cook hike Mount Cook hike Mount Cook hike Moeraki Boulders New ZealandThe fascinating Moeraki Bolders.Moeraki Boulders New ZealandMilford Sound = breathtaking views.Milford Sound New Zealand Milford Sound New Zealand New_Zealand_0013Queenstown! Such a fun city. Nature and adventure sports abound!Queenstown, New Zealand Queenstown, New Zealand New_Zealand_0016 New_Zealand_0017 New_Zealand_0018 Fox Glacier, New Zealand New_Zealand_0020 New_Zealand_0021Punakaiki Beach Camp. My favourite campsite we stayed at in New Zealand (Lake Pukaki comes second). Amazing area to explore.Punakaiki Beach CampPancake rocks, PunakaikiPunakaiki, New Zealand Punakaiki, New Zealand Punakaiki, New Zealand Punakaiki Beach CampAbel TasmanAbel Tasman, New ZealandNew_Zealand_0028Tent prank shenanigans. I was especially impressed with the tent up a tree. Luckily I avoided getting pranked myself and was a double-agent instead. In one tent “All is fair” was written and the next, it was finished with “in love and war.” There was also an open can of sardines in each tent.Tent prankFrom the South Island, to the North Island via a ferry.New_Zealand_0030Selfie with some Maori dancers and fellow traveler, Frida from Sweden.New_Zealand_0031Bay of Islands, North Island, New ZealandBay of Islands, New Zealand Bay of Islands, New Zealand Bay of Islands, New Zealand New_Zealand_0035 New_Zealand_0036Cathedral Cove (following 6 images). One of thee coolest beaches I’ve ever been to.Cathedral Cove, New Zealand Cathedral Cove, New Zealand Cathedral Cove, New Zealand Cathedral Cove, New ZealandThe beautiful and colourful geothermal pools of Wai-O-Tapu.Wai-o-tapu, New Zealand Wai-o-tapu, New Zealand Wai-o-tapu, New ZealandTongariro Alpine Crossing – amazing and challenging 19km day hike! Such a highlight! Tongariro Alpine Crossing New Zealand Tongariro Alpine Crossing New Zealand Tongariro Alpine Crossing New Zealand Tongariro Alpine Crossing New Zealand Tongariro Alpine Crossing New Zealand Tongariro Alpine Crossing New Zealand Tongariro Alpine Crossing New ZealandA celebratory glass of wine after finishing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.New_Zealand_0051 New_Zealand_0052Back to the South Island!New_Zealand_0053 New_Zealand_0054I had the honour and pleasure of swimming with 100+ wild dolphins in Kaikora. One of the most incredible experiences of my life thus far. Words can’t express.Kaikora, New Zealand Kaikora, New ZealandCoastal walk in Kaikora, New Zealand.Kaikora, New Zealand Kaikora, New Zealand Kaikora, New Zealand Kaikora, New Zealand Kaikora, New ZealandBruce Bay. The tradition is to write a message on a white rock and leave it with the others. Our guide left this one.New_Zealand_0062

After New Zealand I continued on to Australia. Click here to check it out. : )

Costa Rica – iPhoneography

As some of you know, I take the winters off and try to travel as much as I can in that time. I love the two extremes of working really hard from April to October and then relaxing and playing hard from November to March! This helps me recharge and get ready to do it all over in the spring and give it my all. I love my job so much and I also love to live life so this is the perfect balance for me right now.

As much as I would be thrilled to have my professional camera with me while traveling, I’ve been leaving it at home more often on trips for two main reasons:

1) It’s a bit like having a baby with you in that it’s heavy and you can’t leave it unattended. Since I’m a fish, I’m usually at the beach as much as possible (especially surfing now that I finally took lessons and have fallen in love with it!). So when I have my good camera, it stays locked in my room a lot and I have to make specific photo outings to go back and get photos of the places I saw and liked when I was enjoying them… which, for me, kinda takes the creativity and spontaneity out of taking photos. Capturing things in the moment is what I love most, which is why I love weddings and portraits so much. : )

2) I go into photographer mode. Big time. If I have my good camera with me, I find it very hard to put it down. I go into photographer mode and before I know it, I’ve witnessed most of the views through my camera lens instead of making real memories in the moment.

SOLUTION: iPhoneography! It’s not all about the tool you have, it’s about capturing the moment and being creative with what you have and I’m quite content taking iPhone photos on most of my trips these days. The quality is good enough that I still like the photos, but not so good that I get in “professional photo mode.” As someone who usually travels alone, I love to share my travels with friends and family back home with Instagram. Most of my friends back home have kids or jobs that don’t offer them as much free time to travel, so, although they sometimes meet up with me for a week of my trip, I travel solo most of the time, making new friends as I go (which is part of the adventure!).

I’m perched at the end of the diving board, about to dive into my busy season and I thought it would be fun to share some of my Instagram feed with you from my trips this winter. First stop – Costa Rica… with a pit stop in Montreal first. This was my 5th time in Costa Rica and it won’t be my last. It feels almost like a second home now. I love the stunning nature, the friendly happy people who know how to enjoy life in the moment, the lack of huge cities (hello cute beach towns!) and the Pura Vida lifestyle. Pura Vida, simply translated, means “The Pure Life.” It’s used as a way to say hello or goodbye, “cool,” “awesome”…. anything positive really! To them, the Pura Vida lifestyle is about living without stress, enjoying the simple things in life and being positive and grateful. This lifestyle really resonates with me.

I hope you enjoy! If you’d like to read more of the stories that go along with the photos, you can find me on Instagram, username: jessicazais

You can also search the hashtag: #jesszaiscostarica to jump to my Costa Rica photos.


Montreal Pit-Stop! I visited a dear high-school friend, Jessie and her daughter and partner for a few days and had the best time with them.Montreal-iPhonography-1 Montreal-iPhonography-2Montreal-iPhonography-4The Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal is stunning! I love this city. Coming from Western Canada where there isn’t much old architecture, I felt like I was in Europe!10_2014_0105 Montreal-iPhonography-3 10_2014_0102Off to Costa Rica! I took a small plane from San Jose to Montezuma and the runway was right beside the beach.11_2014_0036I did a 2 week surf and yoga retreat at the amazing Anamaya Resort. Below is the view from one of the yoga platforms, my open air shower and the hut I stayed in with 4 other girls. This was my splurge of the trip and it was well worth it.Anamaya-Resort-1 11_2014_0039 Montezuma1 Montezuma-3-2 Montezuma-3 11_2014_0201One of our surf instructors from Young Vision Surf in Montezuma shimmied up a coconut tree to get us fresh coconut water to enjoy!Montezuma-4 Santa-Teresa-1 Anamaya-Resort-3 Montezuma-5I am still a total novice surfer but holy crap do I ever enjoy it! Montezuma-6 Anamaya-Resort-4 Montezuma-8 Montezuma-7 Montezuma-9 Montezuma-waterfalls Montezuma-10 Santa-Teresa-4Off to new adventures after my amazing 2 weeks surf and yoga retreat. The following photos were taken in a variety of places. If you’re really curious you can search the hashtag: jesszaiscostarica to discover them. : )11_2014_0532 Santa-Teresa-2 Nosara-2 Nosara-3 Nosara Guanacaste 11_2014_0692 Manuel-Antonio-1 Manuel-Antonio-2 Dominical 11_2014_0836Coolest hostel ever! The Flutterby House in Uvita. I stayed in the tree house below one night and then some cool dorms (see pirate flag) the next. This place made me think of the Lost Boys from Peter Pan if they made a hostel.Flutterby-House-Uvita Fluttervy-House-Uvita-3 Flutterby-House-Uvita-3 Flutterby-house-Uvita-2Organic market in Santa Teresa.Santa-Teresa-7 12_2014_0030 Santa-Teresa-8 Santa-Teresa-9 12_2014_0121Yoga on the beach!Santa-Teresa-5

Stay tuned for posts on the other places I visited this past winter; New Zealand and Australia.

: )