Wordy trip report on Jaco - yes, Jaco

Old Aug 1st, 2008, 01:48 PM
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Wordy trip report on Jaco - yes, Jaco

I know that Jaco is not one of the top spots, and a few people would recommend blasting it off the map before they would stay there, but I have to say, we really enjoyed it. I would describe it like Sayulita, Mexico a few years ago, not necessarily like it, but that same feel. A few things that are different about Jaco: the beach is no white sand, it's more coarse, which we all like better so that worked out. They drive on the beach, I mean drive whatever, we saw the regular sedans and family cars, but we also saw delivery trucks, dump trucks and once an 18 wheeler. We/I never felt unsafe in Jaco. We walked back and forth a lot, which was probably 1 – 2 miles depending on where we went and in the beginning I was very worried, but after a time or two, I completely relaxed, kept an eye on my surroundings, but I wasn’t paranoid anymore. And I tell ya’, we walked in and out of town so much that I actually lost weight on this vacation. Since we were back in our place by 9 most nights none of the “beware” things we read about affected us.
We arrived in Jaco, after a stop at the Tarcoles Bridge to see the Cros, which are spectacular, thanks to Luis. We stayed at the Bahia Encantada which is a Day Star Property, and it is beautiful. Our unit was on the ground floor, right by the pool and swim up bar and just steps to the beach. Our first night after getting unpacked we walked to Jaco Taco, which was great food, at a very reasonable price, and then walked back to the Bahia. The next morning we walked to WOW Surf and Mexico Joes internet center and then went to Super Mega for groceries. We did catch a taxi back because of the bags; otherwise we could have walked it. After a great day at the beach and the pool we taxied to Rioasis, which is excellent pizza! Reasonable prices here also. Saturday was more fun in the sun and then we caught a taxi to the very south end of the main street – by the Red Cross building, and made our way back north while shopping. We ended up at Caliche’s Wishbone for dinner, and we all really enjoyed the food and atmosphere.
Sunday was a tour day which we set up with Day Star. We went to Cararra National Park with a guide, Leo. Leo wasn’t necessarily into wild life because as he said “we will see that at Manuel Antonio”, but he was expert on the flora. He knew the Spanish, English and either Latin or Greek name of every thing we saw, and told us very interesting things about the trees – like the Strangling Fig. We did see leaf cutter ants, lizards, centipedes, Motmots, a Squirrel Cuckoo, a Lineated Woodpecker and could hear the macaws. I really thought my kids would be disappointed without all the wild life, but they both said they really appreciated learning about the forest and how important it is to the whole world. And I thought all of the different fungi were very interesting. We really enjoyed Cararra, it’s a easy walk and very pretty. It was very hot in the afternoon, so hot even I had to get in the ocean, which was so nice. That night we ate at Los Amigos, and I loved the hamburger. Sometimes you just have to have a burger. The people working there were great, and we had a chance to talk to a guy named Miner who helped us a lot with surfing advice. Again, very reasonable prices. DH and I went to Clarita’s for after dinner drinks, which was a nice break!
Monday, there was a pretty powerful storm in the morning which helped to start the day off on a cooler note, so we walked in and ate at Sunrise Café which was very good. The cool from the morning wore off and we headed back for the pool. That night we ate at Colonial – this was expensive, but we went for it; steaks, mixed drinks, desserts for everyone. Came to around $120, but the steaks were very good and so were the mojitos.
Tuesday was our day for Manuel Antonio, Leo picked us up at 7:15 and off we went. The palm oil plantations along the way are very interesting, and there is nothing like the two OMG bridges. The new ones will be done soon, so I was glad we got to go over them. We arrived at MA just as they opened, but before we even got in, we saw our first sloth. We were disappointed at Cano Negro that our sloth pictures didn’t turn out, but then we saw 13 at MA, so we have some great photos now. First thing in the park was a huge spider - I still don’t know what kind it was. We saw butterflies, grasshoppers, land crabs, lizards, iguanas, both sloths, a fortress tree, which was cool, the bamboo tree which is amazing and bats. Just as we were coming to another path we could hear the howler monkeys moving in the trees, we tried to figure out where they were, but it is so dense, that it’s hard to see anything. Then, we heard a noise and looked up – there in the tree was a Tamandua (anteater). Everyone was very excited, and I heard one of the guides tell his group that this was an interesting day; you would expect to see monkeys, which we hadn’t, but you would not expect to see the anteater. We never did see the howlers, but got some great close ups with the Capuchin’s. The walk up is beautiful and well worth it for the view from the top. As we were coming back down, after seeing more sloths, we got a great picture of the anteater who was going to town on a tree. We enjoyed the beach for a little while and then walked back out. I must say, when we came out on the public beach and saw all the vendors and traffic, I was happy to be in Jaco – like I said a lot like Sayulita a few years back or Puerto Vallarta 20 years ago, just a different vibe. Anyway, we had lunch at Puerto Escondido which was very good and headed back to Jaco. Spent more time and money in town and ate at Rioasis again.
On Wednesday, my husband got up early to surf, and I got up early to tape him. While he was out there waiting for the perfect wave, I thought I saw some flying fish and was able to randomly record where they were. Well, they weren’t flying fish, they were Ray’s of some sort jumping out of the water. We walked in to town and ate at Sunrise again and spent more money on souvenirs, and spent more time in the pool and at the beach, great way to spend your last full day anywhere. That night we really went for it – we went for dinner at the all you can eat Lobster Feast/Buffett at Hicaco. This is madness! My 15 y.o. ate 15 lobster tails, not that any of us were far behind. The food was excellent, just about anything that is seafood was available, plus salads and really good desserts. Everything is included in the prices – all food and drinks and the tip. Price is hefty though: $230 US for the 4 of us. We did it once; we probably won’t do it again. The 15 y.o. couldn’t eat again until the next day for dinner. Very rich!
Our last day, we walked in one more time and go the last and final souvenir and had lunch at Wahoo’s. This was our very least favorite place, food was so-so.
Luis picked us up that afternoon and I have to say, I know this sounds funny, but after spending all that time in the car with him and all of his stories, we felt like we were seeing an old friend when he got there.
We had reservations for our final night at Hotel Buena Vista in Alajuela. We loved this place. It is very pretty and has a coffee trail you can walk. The view from the restaurant, which we enjoyed, was spectacular. Harlem who works at the desk arranged for a taxi to come at 3:45 a.m., and the driver actually showed up at 3:30, which as it turns out was perfect timing. The trip to the airport is only about 15 minutes and when we got there it wasn’t very crowded which gave me a sense of relief because we still needed to pay the exit tax. After we got all of our stuff done and were out of all the lines, the crowds really started to come in, so I was grateful that we were there so early. Our flight left at 6:25. I agree with someone else’s post that I read, eat beforehand if you can, I got two breakfasts and two cups of coffee at BK and it was $18.00.
I’m saving up to go back next summer already!!!
kimshotts is offline  
Old Aug 1st, 2008, 06:25 PM
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Thanks for sharing with us, Kim. I'm glad you had a nice time in Jaco. I've never been there and had sort of eliminated it from my future 'to visit' list, but it's nice to get a positive perspective on the place!

I looked at the photos from your other post. Loved the ant eater! What a great sighting! We saw one on the Osa peninsula last year, but it was obscured by tree branches so we didn't get anywhere near the incredible view you did.

Sounds like you really had a great trip!
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Old Aug 1st, 2008, 07:32 PM
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Oh, that is so not fair! The one thing my daughter wanted to see was an anteater, and we were hot on the trail of one but never did see it. What a great photo!
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Old Oct 3rd, 2008, 07:41 AM
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Thanks for all your information. We are planning a trip for next summer and we are considering staying at Bahia Encantada. Your post was very informative. How did you arrange for the driver (we are new to CR travel)? We are planning to rent a car, but it might be nice to have a driver.
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Old Oct 13th, 2008, 05:52 AM
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Sorry it took me a while to respond, I haven't checked the board in a while. We hired Luis based on recommendations on this board and TA ([email protected]). We hired our tour guide directly through Day Star. Both were wonderful!
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Old Oct 13th, 2008, 01:01 PM
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Jaco sounds interesting, and I plan to be there early next year.I recall a post sometime ago about a person getting very ill from eating something from a street vendor, possibly in Jaco.Did you have any experience getting food or drinks from a street vendor ? Does anyone have any recommendations on this ?
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Old Oct 13th, 2008, 03:50 PM
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"I recall a post sometime ago about a person getting very ill from eating something from a street vendor, possibly in Jaco.Did you have any experience getting food or drinks from a street vendor ? Does anyone have any recommendations on this ?"


Anytime you purchase food made by someone on the street where there is no facilities to wash hands or clean dishes, cooking utensils, etc you will run a higher risk of contracting disease
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Old Oct 14th, 2008, 08:18 AM
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It sure is nice to see something positive said about Jaco.
We base ourselves out of Jaco every year for 4-6 weeks because it's so central to everything that we want to do.
We find the restaurants to be excellent. New Years eve is really spectacular in Jaco with the fireworks.
Glad to hear you enjoyed yourselves.
Roger.
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Old Oct 14th, 2008, 09:10 AM
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kim, glad you guys had such a great trip. What exactly happens in Jaco late at night? I know it has a bad rap for drugs and prostitution, but do you think people overexaggerate it? Sounds like a wonderful vacation.
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Old Oct 14th, 2008, 08:32 PM
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Enjoyed your report. Glad it came back TTT. Love the post title!
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Old Oct 15th, 2008, 07:53 PM
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I too am glad to see your report ... it all sounded so familiar. I have been to Jaco twice and my daughter is returning for her 4th time next month. I realy enjoy the town ... the food has been great. We actually stay just south of there by 5 miles at Hermosa to catch the great surf, but just love Jaco for the restaurants and to do groceries. And I feel that if you go into town aware and without any bling hanging off of you, there is 'no problemo'. I haven't acutally gone in there late at night. Always stop at the grocery and get bags of Rey coffee to take home. This year my daughter will bring bags home as Christmas gifts ... not bad at $1-2US ... ppl will love you. Yes there is always the Britt coffee too. Jaco should be more embraced ... it is chill, a surfy kinda town and yup great food.
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Old Oct 17th, 2008, 06:33 AM
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VG, that is Jaco's reputation, but we were never approached by anyone-probably because we were always together and are "middle aged", but to be honest we never saw anything that looked like drug deals. We did happen to see one very unattractive "working girl" one night, but that was it. We had braced the kids, but now that I look back, there really wasn't any reason to worry. I never wore any jewelry in Arenal or Jaco, because I left it at home, but I think next time I will feel comfortable at least wearing my wedding ring.
We really enjoyed Jaco, the food and the people and will absolutely go back.
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Old Oct 17th, 2008, 09:12 AM
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Thanks, kim!
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 08:58 PM
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Jaco has gotten some bad reports previously, and has endured it's growing pains as has quckly become the #1 destination in Costa Rica.

A lot has been done in the last 8 months to really clean Jaco up, and it's new Mayor and Municiplity have taken an aggressive, pro-active intiative to clean it up, and hav, e done a great Job so far.

There is more to see and do in the Jaco Beach and Los Suneos area than any other part of the country. An enormous variety of Accomodations from the nicest Condo Rentals, Home Rentals, and Hotels, to over 100 Restaurants, shopping, major grocery stores, Hi speed Internet access, nightlife, casinos,beaches, the best fishing in the country and the all around best choice as a place to spend your Costa Rica vacation.

It is also the closest Beach town from the airport in San Jose' being only 1hr and 45 minutes. The drive is through very scenic rainforest mountain range on perfectly paved roads for the whole journey.

If you want the best possible, fun filled, and enjoyable Costa Rica, Jaco is the top choice to so so.

Hope this information helps.
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Old Nov 9th, 2008, 08:57 PM
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Great review, Kim! We spent 4 days in the Jaco area a few years ago and had a wonderful time, so it really surprised (and saddened) us to read so many negative reviews recently. I'm glad to hear that the situation is improving. Jaco is a fun town, in a great location for excellent daytrips. Is Planet Food still open? We had lunch there every day - our kids still talk about it.
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