Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jaco, Costa Rica: Affordable and Awesome

Pura Vida! The Beach and Jungle on a Budget

Is Jaco a HugeParty? Gigantic.

Only 2 hours away from the San Jose airport, within the Puntarenas province of Costa Rica, you'll find this amazing beach town. The mix of daytime adventures, 2.5 mile long beach and interesting nightlife provides a traveler with enough opportunities to get a little crazy and make plenty of memories.

I traveled to Jaco with a group of friends from College for a week-long visit. It was affordable, a bit dodgy, and filled with great stories... some of which I'll highlight below, others I've been sworn to secrecy. Jaco truly is for HugePartiers, as it embraces the Costa Rican slogan Pura Vida ("Full of Life") with open arms.

Where to Stay?

Since the town is so small, you're almost guaranteed a place on/near the beach. A variety of hotels, condos and resorts blanket the town. We stayed three blocks from the beach in an extremely affordable 5-bedroom house that we found on Vrbo.

Zip-lining in the Jungle

The Zip-lining Crew, Jaco, HugeParty
As a first-timer, the Zip-lining Tour through the jungle was an amazing experience, I later found out the tour we took was for Advanced Zip-liners! For $50 we traveled 45 minutes up to the canopy and descended through twelve different zip-lines, some reaching 35-40mph. It was hot and humid, I certainly don't recommend doing this with a hangover. The staff was friendly and we felt safe the entire time. Watch the company's video here
Jaco Zip-lining, Quite the Rush!

Read more here after the jump...

What to Expect?

  • The Beach - A variety of options here. Learn to surf, mingle with locals, drink at a Tiki bar, or relax and take in the beautiful sunset. The beach doesn't feature gorgeous sand or the clearest water, but it has something for everyone. 
  • Local Food - Once we found Soda Jaco Rustico we ate every meal there, specifically... Casado. A buffet-style open-air restaurant, you wait in line for a large plate of meat/veggies/rice/beans for $5. It is amazing, HIGHLY recommend.
  • Green Season - Jan-Mar is high travel season, which means beautiful weather and expensive travel. We traveled the first week of December (higher chance of rain), but it turned out to be gorgeous (Upper 80s). Green Season (Summer and Fall) offers cheaper travel, with a weather risk (read: rain).
  • Cost - Relatively affordable. A full week of lodging and flights were less than $700, plus $40 round-trip car service to the airport. Beers were extremely cheap, food is too. Nearly every establishment accepted the dollar as well. 
  • Avoid!!! - Pros, Beach Bugs and American Food. Prostitutes are posted-up at every club, if she looks too good to be true, she costs money. Sandflys (Noseeums) will attack your ankles at dawn and dusk, leaving a trail of bites. Finally, why travel all the way to Costa Rica for Burgers and Subway? Embrace the local fare!
Sunset and Surfer, Jaco

The People and Culture

Imperial, Costa Rican Beer
Jaco is full of an eclectic mix of locals and ex-pats. Hangout at the bars long enough and you're likely to meet an owner, who is probably from the states. While the weekdays are filled with international tourists, the weekends see a surge in college students and twenty-somethings from San Jose. Note: You don't need to speak Spanish, but it will certainly help you converse with the locals.  

The Real Hermosa Beach
Take a 15 minute ride south to the original Hermosa Beach. This area features world-class surfing competitions, as well as a legendary bar called The Backyard. Worth the trip (especially Wednesdays), just be sure you're able to secure a taxi ride home!

Sushi at Tsunami

Looking for sushi? We found extremely fresh and authentic cuisine at Tsunami. Blue Marlin and other trophy fish were featured on the menu, for the price of a regular roll in the states. The place doubles as a club, so roll (pun intended) right into your night out.

Travel Quote?

"I like to see the world from my surfboard, one gnarly wave at a time." -Winston Churchill (1955)

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Party... Because life's short

1 comment:

  1. I visited Costa Rica a couple of years ago. I hit Corcovado in the south and rolled up to Manual Antonio. I was thinking about Jaco, but I skipped it. Next time I come I will go to Jaco first. Great tips.


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