Jaco, Costa Rica
Jaco is located in the Pacific Coast province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica. It is considered to be one of the more developed beach towns and the ultimate getaway for sun-seekers and surfers. There are an abundance of surf shops, adventure tours, hotels and restaurants affordable for budget travelers as well as those who like to live more luxuriously.
Just south of Playa Jaco lies six quiet miles of Playa Hermosa. Just be aware that there are two beaches named Hermosa. One is located in the province of Puntarenas, while the other Playa Hermosa is in Guanacaste. We spent some time wandering and exploring this desolate black-sand beach. You can find the most amazing landscape views and animals along the shoreline.
Lastly, we visited Manuel Antonio National Park which is about an hour drive from Jaco. It is renowned for its diversity of tropical plants and wildlife, from sloths and white-faced capuchin monkeys to hundreds of bird species. Although we did not see any sloths, we did encountered a family of capuchin monkeys and crab-eating raccoons. You can find many hiking trails that meander throughout the park. We explored Cathedral Point Trail that circumnavigates around Playa Espadilla and Playa Manuel Antonio with many breath-taking points of interest. You'll need to bring bug spray...some friends were eaten alive here!
Here's a quick recap of our travels:
- Tiger's Surf School: This was my first time surfing and Tiger's teaching method worked for me! He is very step-by-step and patient. If you are a little more experience, he might take you further out to catch a bigger wave. He is also CPR certified. I highly recommend his classes. He's also a super cool guy to hang out with.
Soda Jaco Rustico: A great spot for local fast food. They rotate their menu daily and everything was delicious. Average price per plate is about $6-8 USD with a drink. I particularly loved the iced tea.
Soda Marea Baja: This was my favorite place to eat. They rotate their menu daily and the fish ceviche was very good here. There's an all you can eat salad bar and free refills on beverages. We ate here almost every night.
TacoBar: This is a chain restaurant that serves amazing Mahi Mahi fish tacos with an all you can eat salad bar. The swings around the bar area creates a nice hang-out atmosphere.
Caliche's Wishbone: This is a pretty nice restaurant for a dinner date. The menu is diverse from arroz con pollo and fish tacos to pizzas and rice bowls.
Shakas Playa Hermosa: We walked by this place and decided to go in for a drink. I really liked the fish and mango ceviche and they also make a really good ginger mojito.
Sancho's Taqueria: This place is a few minutes from Manuel Antonio National Park. There's a nice out-door balcony seating area in the back that overlooks the hills. Food and service was great.
Cafe Bohio: This cute little coffee shop was another one of my favorite places to hang out. They do not accept credit cards and have no public restrooms. Other than that, they serve a refreshing cold brew and iced tea.
Miro Mountain: Located on the south side of Jaco beach across from the gas station is a driveway that leads to a trail. It's a short hike up where you will find the ruins of an abandoned restaurant with cool graffiti. Cost is free, just bring water and bug spray.
Manuel Antonio National Park: This beautiful national park is home to an abundance of fauna and flora and access to white-sand beaches. Admission is $16 for foreigners and definitely bring bug spray.
Salvaje Swimwear: My friends met the owners, Lauren and Anna, on the beach one day and discovered that they have a swim shop in town. They ordered several custom made swimwear from them. The quality felt solid and they had many cute prints and colors to choose from.