Playa Jaco or Jaco Beach is a small town about 1.5 hours from the San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. It only has a small population of roughly 10,000 people, but the town is well known for tourism -- locally and from all around the world. The town is well visited by North American tourists so many people speak English in the restaurants and shops. The average temperature can be very hot, upwards of 36 Celsius and average daily highs of 32 Celsius with high humidity. Many expats reside in Jaco and according to the U.S State Department 70,000 Americans live in Costa Rica. Below you will find some tips for expats living in Jaco, Costa Rica from an expat living in Jaco.
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Go for a Hike in Jaco, Costa Rica
The best time to go for a hike is sunrise or sunset when the temperatures are bearable. There are many hikes in the area, but Miro Mountain should be on the top of the list. As you travel south on the highway towards Manuel Antonio leaving Jaco, there is a gas station on the right hand side before climbing the hill to Playa Hermosa. You will find a road across the highway from the gas station that will lead you up to an abandoned hotel-restaurant. The views are amazing and the locals have done some cool graffiti. This Youtube Video has some drone footage of Jaco and Miro Mountain.
Go Find a Waterfall in Jaco
The closest waterfalls are on the way to Bijagual. If you were a tourist, you would pay more than $50 for this waterfall tour but no need to pay when you can on your own. Across the highway from Maxi Pali on Calle Ancha you will find a dirt road that leads up the mountain, the hard roads will reward you with some beautiful views once you get to the top. There is a small restaurant run by a family that makes great sugar cane water and empanadas to fuel up before the adventure. The same family offers the craziest Tarzan swing in the area. On the left hand side of the road look for a huge gate that you have to pay about $4 to enter into the waterfalls. Once you get in it is worth it to hike to the bottom of waterfalls and hike up the waterfalls. The guided tours have set up ropes to help you climb and you can do some jumps off the rocks along the way.
Take a Tour of Jaco, Costa Rica
Jaco has many options when it comes to tours, which is why it attracts so many tourists. If you live here then there is no reason why you can’t join in on the fun. It is best to go during low season, August to November, so you don’t have to deal with the crowds. And, if you ask for a deal, you will probably get it. The tours in the area include ATV, zip line, crocodile tour, neo fauna, monkey tour, kayaking and there is a new ropes course adventure tour. All the guides for the tours speak English and Spanish.
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Catch some Waves in Jaco
You don't have to be a professional surfer to have fun in the beautiful Pacific Ocean, the temperature is very inviting. You can stand up paddle board, boogey board, body board, or, of course, surf. If you are learning you will want to head to the south end of the beach, because the waves get more advanced the further north you head up the beach. If you are looking for some professional waves, then you will need to go 10 Km south to Playa Hermosa (Beautiful Beach). The black sand beaches produce some giant beach breaks. Be careful out there.
Eat Like a Champion in Jaco, Costa Rica
The fruits and vegetables are where you find the real bargains as an expat in Costa Rica. There is a high tax on imported food in Costa Rica so groceries can be expensive depending on what you buy. Don’t buy your fruits or vegetables from the large grocery stores, because some of it is imported. Your best bet is to go to the market every Friday and some Saturdays near the soccer fields and the medical clinic. You will find fresh organic fruits and veggies -- just about anything you could ever want and more. If you can’t make it to the market, visit the fruitarias for the best organics. There is one marked on the map that has good prices and also one called El Pueblo in the middle of Calle Lapa Verde. The restaurants are great. If you are looking for a large cheap meal, go to one of the Sodas -- two popular ones are Maria Baja on the highway and Rustico downtown Jaco.
Party like a Rock Star
Jaco is well known as a party town and on the weekends many local people come from San Jose to have a good time. The beach town is popular for backpackers and you will find that crowd at Swell Bar. Wednesday is ladies night at Jaco Blue, which draws a crowd. On the weekend Holy Moly Disco Club at Croc Casino is good along with Orange Pub and La Loft.