I just spent a week in Jaco, Costa Rica.
Overall, a fabulous experience.
Jaco is an interesting town to travel to. For one, Lonely Planet hates it. First city I’ve spent time in that didn’t get any sort of shining review, for at least something. I never really visit cities based off of LP reviews, but my experience seemed to be the opposite of their review. Chum and I flew down as part of the All You Can Jet pass by JetBlue.
A note on that. JetBlue did something really innovative and downright kind by offering a very cheap all you can jet pass. Really treasure that I got to do things like hang out in Jaco for a week because of it.
So Jaco is a surfing village turned ‘smart real estate’ investment for retirees. It has great waves, a nice but not amazing but amazing beach (which is a good thing) and some dang cool options for when it comes to vacationing.
Something I really look at with communities I visit is the sustainability of the local economy. Jaco seemed to be really figuring out if it was staying a locals surfing village or becoming a resort spot. What results is a pretty fun place to visit. Local flavor but accesible to tourists.
We stayed right next to two good friends of Chum. Looking back, this made all the difference. Everything seemed to just work out and be easy to get to do.
We started off the week with a zip line tour, which turned out to be a highlight for me. I’m generally not a fan of the adventure tourism stuff like skydiving. This was super fun. We went surfing in the morning and I did my usual ‘catch any wave I wanted but not be able to stand up’ surf routine. I stood up a couple times, equally, I stood up, being too big for my board caught the front tip underwater and endo’ed hard. We went on an ATV tour (getting a bit scammed into the longer tour, not realizing it until too late) which was fun but overall pretty tiring. I don’t like the ATV tours because I always feel like it is destroying something, and it isn’t how I would like someone to treat the place if I lived there.
The food was up my alley. Lots of rice, beans and meat. Ice cream and
The cultural shocks were: no addresses. Everything is legally known by distance from the ice cream store. No joke.
Prostitution is legal, which we didn’t check out but found it a bit odd. We met up with a friend who was talking about going to bars and people not knowing if she was working or not. Talk about an awkward dating scene.
Stray dogs everywhere. Not something new but they seemed to all have their areas and seemed both unhappy and very happy at the same time.
The ‘watchies’ were ‘crack addicts with construction vests.’ They were the unofficial keepers of you car when you were dining. When you got back to your car, the watchie was there to show you how nobody attacked it, in part due to their brave guarding. They had their territories, umbrellas and demeanor that just made me laugh.
I ended up getting a bunch of red spots all over my chest and back. At first I thought bed bugs but I think it was something in the ocean.
The food was quite good and similarly priced to what you would pay in the states. The cheap locals spot was about $4 for a plate of rice, beans, plantains and a juice. The most expensive meal was a raw tuna over rice and avocado which ran about $20. Surprisingly drinks were always about $6-8 for a beer or something mixed.
There was a split of local spots and tourist spots. Price was about 2x.
Would I go back? Yes, if I had some friends to go with. Not about to live there, but really appreciated everything that Jaco is.
I would add more photos but the WordPress iPad app is crashing every time I try. Onward!