Jacó Beach – Costa Rica’s First Resort!
Jacó has been on the map for surf dudes and party animals for a good long while, but it is also well-established for a range of visitors – from families to Spring-breakers to singles to honeymooners – with accommodation for all budgets and entertainment for all tastes.
The first time I visited Jacó was by following a last-minute urge for a weekend at the beach. Bikini and a few changes of clothes were hurriedly shoved in a bag with my toothbrush and off we drove. After all, when time is limited, Jacó is the beach to hit as it is less than a two-hour drive from the capital and the closest beach to San Jose. This then, is the key to the town’s popularity for locals and tourists alike – doesn’t everyone want to save their vacation time for the beach and not sweating in a car over a long journey over a potholed road?
We arrived hot and hungry at night, dumped our few belongings in a nondescript, but reasonably priced cabin and headed out into town. What major soccer game necessitated finding a bar with a large screen, I don’t remember, but I found myself happily stuffing a burger and fries washed down with an icy Imperial on a bar stool; people watching as I ignored the sporting action. I noticed a couple and was struck by how much younger the pretty Latina was than her white male companion, then it dawned on me that there were quite a few similar pairings…of course! Prostitution is completely legal in Costa Rica and these middle-aged North Americans were enjoying the company of their attractive partners for a price. If this is your idea of a vacation, then Jaco’s the right place!
However, we awoke to a sunny day, the rays blinding us through the gap in the curtains and nudging us up and out to clear our sleepy brains with a beach stroll. Now Jacó isn’t your prettiest of beaches; the sand is kind of brownish and the rolling waves aren’t crystal blue, but it is still a tropical beach and the water is warm and welcoming. The water though can be really rough at times! A contact lens was lost before the swimming was abandoned and the waves left to the surfers who clearly had a much better idea of what to do with them than we did.
And here is Jacó’s other great attraction; not only is it a short drive from the Central Valley, but it has waves that surfers travel specifically to Costa Rica to ride! With surf dudes come surf hangouts – bars, discos and burger joints have sprung up to serve the waves of young 20-something males who want to surf all day and party all night. The vibe might not be for all, but if you do want a vacation where you are surrounded by familiar food, people that could come from your home town and the chance to party, party, party then Jacó could be just what you are looking for! Nearby Playa Hermosa and Playa Herradura are also popular surf spots, but they are quieter if you don’t want to be in the thick of things.
What can I do there? There is no end of fun stuff to keep you busy in Jacó if want a break from surfing. You can ride horses, bungee jump or even head to Carara National Park and see some local wildlife. It is worth a stop en route to Jacó at the Tarcoles River Bridge that passes through the Carara Park and to see the crocodiles that lounge along the polluted river’s bank waiting for tourists to buy them chickens to throw in the water. Ready your camera for that shot of the croc diving for the bird!
Where should I stay? Accommodation ranges from the lowest to highest budget with plenty of hotels that are removed from the hustle and bustle of the town and allow the visitor a true feeling of escaping from it all!
How do I get there? To reach Jacó, you simply take Route 27 from San Jose to Orotina and from there to Herradura on Route 3 and on to Jacó on Route 34. Have change ready for the toll-booths on the way.
Reporting by Sara Ford
• Freelance writer for Vamos Rent-A-Car