Costa Rica-- Which beaches?

Old Aug 8th, 2009, 07:31 PM
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Costa Rica-- Which beaches?

Hi,
My family and I will be taking our first trip to Costa Rica in February. I'm starting to gather information to make our itinerary. We are staying in Jaco, but would like to visit different beaches close to there. We will have a rental car. My concern is the current. I have read on several websites that certain beaches are not good for swimming. As I'll have my 7 and 11 year old children with me, I would prefer calmer beaches. Can you please recommend beaches in the area (within an hour either way) that are good for swimming children? Thanks in advance!
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Old Aug 9th, 2009, 09:32 AM
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Why Jaco??? I am sorry. I always try to keep it positive. And if you are a surfer, this is where you will find some of the best waves on the Central Pacific coast.

But other than that, this would be my last choice. Especially for a family with young children.

There just ain't nothing special going on here. It is a junky little community. There is a ton of construction going on. Young surfer dudes and drugs. There is a bar in town known for the working girls, and there are lots of middle aged clients hanging out. The waves that make for great surfing, also make for dangerous swimming, particularly for the kids.

You could go an hour further to Quepos. You have to be careful of the currents here as well, but they are not as intense as Jaco. Just swim when the ocean isn't really cooking. Two of the properties often mentioned here, share a private beach in a protected cove. That would be Tulemar Bungalows and Buena Vista Villas. Otherwise, the second beach in the National Park tends to be a lot calmer.

Again. Sorry to be negative, that usually isn't my style. But why take your family to an unattractive town, with a beach that you are not going to use? There are just so many better choices in this beautiful country.

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer any more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
Travel Professional
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Old Aug 9th, 2009, 11:04 AM
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Wow. Thanks, Pat. I read on several websites that Jaco was beautiful. It's good to hear a different opinion. I will check for accomodations in Quepos. There is a Festival del Mar going on in February in Quepos. Is that fun? Thanks, again!
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Old Aug 9th, 2009, 01:24 PM
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Jaco has a rep for being seedy. I'd stay in Manuel Antonio - beautiful beach inside the park and lots of monkeys. Agree with Pat's recs and you might also check out Si Como No.
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Old Aug 9th, 2009, 02:32 PM
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If you think Jaco is seedy when you drive through it, wait until you see Quepos.
Jaco is a decent place if you enjoy good restaurants, good shopping, etc. The main thing is to base yourself out of Jaco and tour from there.
There are so many places close to Jaco in all directions.Check out the Canciones Del Mar website. The hotel is perfect for families. We stayed there for years until we moved on to a condo.
Manuel Antonio is just about perfect for you and the kids as well but besides the park????????
Just go and enjoy.
PH. You should be ashamed of yourself. When was the last time you were in Jaco?
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Old Aug 9th, 2009, 05:38 PM
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Actually, I stopped in Jaco in December. I think it has gotten worse. I don't think the new high rises have added anything positive. Jaco and nearby Hermosa have become a popular place for North Americans buying condos.

We had an office in Quepos for two years, and used to pick up clients in Jaco for some tours we used to operate in that area. So I am pretty familiar with this area. I know the hotel that you mentioned. It is okay. But if you must stay near Jaco, I would recommend the Club del Mar. Good beach, and it is not in town. It is very close by, on the main road.

I have been in and out of Jaco for almost twenty years. In the beginning, it was just a little run down. It really wasn't a place that most foreign tourists would go. It was the closest "real" beach to San Jose. Local folks would stay there, and the SJ day trippers were pretty common. While most of our local friends have clued in, some were terrible litterbugs. This beach was always very dirty. But the beach itself is looking a little better these days. I am guessing that the local hotels are working harder to clean it up.

But I don't know if it was the stoner that rode his bike into the side of my car (I was stopped at a stop sign) and then wanted to fight with me, the hooker banging on my car window, or the syringe I almost stepped on while walking on the beach (during a hotel inspection). All on different visits. Can't quite figure out where I got my negative opinion of Jaco!

I agree that the town of Quepos itself is nothing special. But you don't go to that area to hang out in Quepos. You go for the national park, the beaches, and the interesting hotels and restaurants along the road between Quepos and the park.

The Manuel Antonio / Quepos area is busier these days, to be sure. But I will still take it over Jaco anytime.

I am sorry if we disagree. But that is what these forums are all about. Everyone can share their opinion. If you check my posts, you will see that I rarely "go negative".

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer any more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
Travel Professional
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Old Aug 10th, 2009, 07:08 AM
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Thank you, everyone. All of your opinions are very helpful. I would still love to know specific beaches which are nice for swimming. I hear that MA has a few calm beaches. Any others that you could recommend? Regardless of where we stay, we do plan on visiting different cities and beaches througout the week. Thanks, again!
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Old Aug 10th, 2009, 07:29 AM
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The beaches in MA that are safe for swimming:

1. Tulemar beach inside Tulemar/Buena Vista Villas (but you still have to watch)

2. I've heard Biesanz beach is safe for swimming -- I assume it's similar to Tulemar

3. The second beach after entering the park -- Playa Manuel Antonio is PERFECT for swimming -- or at least it was when I was there. Beautiful too.

Other beaches in other parts:

1. Playa Conchal
2. Playa Penca in Potrero
3. Playa Flamingo

There are many more. The southern Caribbean side has some swimmable beaches I hear.
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Old Aug 10th, 2009, 07:58 AM
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The nicest and most swimable beaches would probably all be in the Nosara/Samara area. Playa Carillo IMHO is the nicest beach in the whole country.
It does tend to get a little warm in February so make sure you book a place with a/c.
We go up to Carillo for the day from Jaco. The roads have improved so much over the last 2-3 years that it makes driving relatively easy.
Did you check out the Canciones website. Peter, the owner, does not give rebates or commissions so the hotel is often overlooked in the travel books, etc.
Have fun.
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Old Aug 10th, 2009, 08:19 AM
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If you go Biesanz Beach, check the tides; we didn't, and when we got there after hiking down, there was very little beach. We were kicking ourselves. The one inside MA park is one of the prettiest that I've senn.
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Old Aug 10th, 2009, 10:12 AM
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Make that seen.
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Old Aug 10th, 2009, 10:56 AM
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Wow. Rog, you drive to Playa Carillo for a day trip? That is a heck of a day. You must really enjoy driving!

Regarding Biesanz Beach. I have only been a couple times. I guess both times was at low tide. I didn't realize that it disappeared at high tide. I will keep that in mind if I go again. It is a beautiful little beach. But be aware there are no services there. So you have to bring everything in, and bring your trash out.

My first visit there was a very long time ago. Long enough, that I flew to Quepos on the Sansa DC-3! Our taxi stranded us, and we got to talking with this guy that was hanging out there. His name was Barry, and he invited us to his house (actually, I think it was his parent's house) to use the phone to call another cab.

He was a real nice guy, we shared a beer on his deck. He told me that he worked in wood. I didn't think much about it at the time. But that was Barry Biesanz. He has since become quite well known for his free form bowls.

The beach at Portrero is nice. We had a great meal there at the Perro Plano (flat dog) restaurant. This restaurant is not named for the numerous flat dogs sleeping in the heat. It is named for a feature of the coastline that looks like an enormous sleeping dog. Very friendly Irish owners.

Sugar Beach in that area is also beautiful. This is just north of Flamingo. Hotel Sugar Beach is the only hotel on the beach. So there are no crowds here. If you are lucky enough to be here on a clear moonless night, the star gazing is staggering. There is not a lot of ambient light.

Hotel Sugar Beach has common partners with the Orquideas Inn. They have gradually rebuilt the property over the last few years. Very nice new rooms and suites, just steps from the beach.

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer any more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
Travel Professional
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 06:38 AM
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I am reading this two years after the initial conversation. Thanks for the information on Costa Rica! We are taking our three young kids down to Quepos for spring break this year. I see that there will be a full moon while we are there so I suspect we will have to be very watchful of our children while on the beaches. We would like to snorkel in the area but don't want to drive far to reach that destination. We are staying at Hotel Parador for five days so hopefully we can find something. Then we head up to Arenal for three days before we fly home. If you can share with me your experience(s) when you were in Costa Rica two years ago that would be great. Did your family have to get Malaria shots before your trip?
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 09:56 AM
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I stayed at Sugar Beach about five years ago and Pat is correct, the beach is beautiful. However, the ride getting to the hotel was a bit trecherous. Not sure if they have improved that road up the hill to the hotel or not but the hotel itself is definitely worth staying at.
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 09:57 AM
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Duh, didn't realize it was such an old thread.
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 01:12 PM
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Our doctor only recommended getting a Hepatitis shot for anyone traveling to Central or South America, so that's what we did. No shots were required though. We didn't find good snorkeling in the Manuel Antonio area although it's very pretty there - lots of sediment in the water when we did it.
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