Jaco Beach, Costa Rica’s Surfer’s Paradise

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Jaco Beach,  Costa Rica’s Surfer’s Paradise

Surfing Costa Rica . Jaco Beach , one of Costa Rica’s top ten beaches with it’s black sand and big waves  attracts surfers from around the world.  Generally, it is known for it’s laid back lifestyle,  a small sleepy beach town where locals hang out with tourists to enjoy a cold Imperial “cerveza”, Costa Rica’s famous local beer.    Yet, now we see tall cranes and  construction equipment; evidence of the high rise Condo boom that has hit this once quiet little stretch  of dark volcanic beach.  Only 2 hours from the central valley- San Jose area makes it an easy drive.  Drive during the day light hours because the route is a winding, narrow mountain road, and heavily trafficked.  Also, one can catch a public bus from any public bus station and easily arrive to Jaco.  However, there is no landing strip  for small planes.

Although the town has only one main street, it seems larger  and one immediately senses the  busy hustle and bustle of tourism. Hundreds of surfers,  beach strollers, lots of young people from all over the world and also lots of young Costa Ricans.
Why travel to Jaco as part of your Costa Rican vacation?
As I said, the close proximity to the international airport in the central valley-Alajuela-San Jose area makes it an easy two hour drive. It is famous for it’s year round high surf-big big waves and the surfers love it.
What’s there to do when I get there?
Most come for the beach experience and surfing.  Big waves are what it is famous for.  The beach itself is black sand due to it’ s volcanic origin.
The small town of Jaco has lots small hotels as well as the larger and more luxury hotels, among them  The Best Western Jaco  with about one hundred rooms.  The local restaurant scene is varied:  from fresh seafood to authentic Italian pizzas and typical local foods such as tacos, rice and chicken, fried yucca, chayote with corn,  and of course coconut flan for  desert.
Imperial, Costa Rica’s infamous beer flows like honey.  The disco scene is alive with the latest pulsating Latin beats.
So if you are looking for a “fun and sun” filled  surfing town,  plenty of bars and discos- night life, and great waves for surfing during the day…you have found it at Jaco Beach.  Wall to wall souvenir shops and young tourist from all over world (Costa Ricans too)  flock here especially during holidays and school breaks.  The guys are  looking for the girls and the girls are looking for the guys.
And Surf boards can be rented in town.
With Jaco’s recent face lift (high rise condos  and several new high rise hotels) , the atmosphere is changing a little from the sleepy beach surfers hang out to somewhat of a “mini Miami Beach”.
If you are in Jaco to  experience an “eco-vacation”  there’s plenty of that too.  Ask at your hotel front desk for tourism companies offering horseback treks, sport fishing, jungle canopy tours,  birding and wildlife watching, and much more.
To see the scarlet macaw: take a tour to Carara Biological Reserve located 9 miles north of Jaco.  Get there as early a.m. as possible since these birds tend to be more active in the early morning or late afternoon.
The bridge crossing the River Tarcoles is a look out point to view crocodiles.  Binoculars are a big help to see them up close.  This river crossing is several miles (about 25 minutes)  before the Jaco turn off  ( it is easy to see on your Costa Rica map.)
Hard core surfers go 6 miles south of Jaco to Playa Hermosa where the annual international surf convention is held.  Taxi ride from Jaco cost around $5.50
A most beautiful beach is located about 10 miles south of Jaco (look for a small sign on right side of road…it’s easy to miss)  to Playa ESTARILLOS OESTE   Waves are big and strong.   The community is laid back with a mix of North American who live here and local Ticos.
Beware of undertows  which are common and strong.
What time of year is best to visit?  September and October are rainiest months.  December thru April is the dry season so this is the best time to visit.
But visitors seem to come here all year round.
Temperature are in 80’s range.  Most hotels have air conditioning.
What should I bring:  Backpack to carry essentials such as bottled water, binoculars, sunscreen, sunhat,  camera, etc.
Will I have internet access?  Yes, there are many internet cafes scattered around town, and the cost is nominal.  You pay per minute of use.
Recommendations:  Keep passport and  other important documents in the safety deposit box in your hotel.  Most hotels now have these in your room.
Don’t carry around large sums of cash in your wallet.   Don’t leave camera, binoculars, etc. laying on park benches, hotel restaurant seats, etc.   Petty theft can be a problem.
Can I drink the water?  No,  drink only bottled water  (which has a seal on the lid.)
Public Bus Schedule from San Jose Coca-Cola terminal depart to Jaco 6 a.m.  7 a.m. 9 a.m.
11 a.m.  1, 3, 5 , 7 p.m. Ticket costs $3.50   Takes around 3 hours
Resource: There is a cute small  hotel at Playa Hermosa catering to surfers  called Surf  Inn Hermosa
www.surfinnhermosa.com  One bedroom studio apartment around $100 plus tax of 16.3% per night   2 bedrooon ocean front apartment around $250 plus tax per night.
A taxi from Jaco to Surf Inn Hermosa costs around $5.50.  and takes only about 10 minutes
What to bring:  sunscreen, sunhat,  cool cotton clothes very casual, bathing suits,  mosquito spray for after 4:30p.m.  Camera,  and if you are a birdwatcher bring your binoculars
Surf boards can be rented in Jaco town.
Happy Travels,  Ann
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