Jaco- Dispelling of the Myth!
Before the wheels even screeched to a halt into Costa Rica we’d already been subjected to opinions regarding the Central Pacific town of Jaco. Given its close two hour proximity to San Jose and the well-developed paved roads towards the coast, it made it easy to see why this town was one of the first to be embraced by sun worshiping tourists and city-weary locals.
Ray and I came to Costa Rica with the incredible opportunity to work with Hotel Catalina during our time in Jaco, so we didn’t need to struggle with deciding if the rumors of this town were true. We were on our way despite of its ‘alleged’ over-saturation of tourism, seedy mix of nightlife and tacky main drag.
Truth was, once we arrived we found ourselves searching for the ‘hindrances’ like a private eye, and yet we kept coming up empty handed. The case we did end up solving was that Jaco has some unbelievable charm and character, and we are uncovering more treasures each and every day.
What struck us first even before setting on our sights on Jaco’s coastline was the ease and affordability of transport from San Jose. By either bus (around $5 U.S!), rental car or private transfer you can be whisked away from the boisterous city of San Jose and in just 90 minutes be lying on a vast lush Tropical beach of Jaco. If you choose to walk the 3km beach from end to end it will take you a nice chunk of your afternoon as you lazily amble along as
the water nips as your toes. No sellers on the beach to disturb you, no parasailing ropes to trip over and more than enough space to stretch out and call your own. The tides create a perfect balance with always enough walking room to be able to explore the town by beach or by road, whichever you prefer.
Many realize quickly that one of the biggest draws of Jaco is its accessibility by foot or even by bike and once in town the possibilities are endless. The varieties of restaurants are out of this worlds, and yes, clustered together is a KFC, Pizza Hut and Subway- but look past this and see the ultra-unique Taco Bar where you get to top your taco with their savory fixings your way, or the Green Room where you can enjoy craft beer and vibrant artisan homemade food while you listen to local music, or even just the local Soda’s (Inexpensive eateries serving typical delicious fare) sprinkled throughout the town…..and to top of the Jaco food diversity, is still one of the local favorites of Caliches Wishbone where their atmosphere is key and exotic ingredients always seem to inspire! Let’s not forget to mention the town also has two major supermarkets along with a few mini marts as there are a lot of hotels and hostels that provide kitchenettes/communal kitchens and to have such selection of produce is incredible.
The town is friendly, clean and inviting and every time we walk through we discover something new. In fact, just the other day we bumped into the Friday Farmers Market in town, or what they call a Feria. It was nothing less than magical. We were excited to be a part of something that the law mandates must be locally grown and only be sold at the feria, and you can’t help but feel good buying fresh and supporting the small-scale local farmers and makers. Walking away, we felt as though we came upon a hidden gem but yet- it’s all a part of the Jaco experience!
Although many come for their own personal real estate of ‘beach time’ even more come to attack the famous consistent year round surf breaks. Better yet, boards are affordable to rent ($10-$15 for 24 hrs) and surf shops are trickled all over the town. This is still considered one of the best places on the pacific coast of Costa Rica to learn how to surf!
Many guests we have spoken to that stay in Jaco use this as their starting point or ending point as it’s so close to other nature adoring activities like Manuel Antonia National Park,
Arenal Volcano, Monteverde and Carara National Park.
Perhaps you may just want to stay in Jaco and take a horseback ride amongst its shaded rainforest trails and visit the butterfly gardens or perhaps hike up into its backyard of Mt. Miros, only a few km’s up and you can see the spectacular view of what makes Jaco so all encompassing……
……or you can listen to the rumors, and leave more for all of us.
Alyssa & Ray Wyatt
Wyatt Hospitality Consutlants