Jaco Beach, Costa Rica
Jaco Beach, Costa Rica
Jaco Beach, Costa Rica

Playa Jaco, Costa Rica

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Sep 24, 2021

Summary: Playa Jaco (aka Jaco Beach) has a population of approximately 10,000 and is a popular surfing beach and spot for retirees, expats and digital nomads. Jaco is about 1.5 hours by car from the airport (SJO). Foreigners living there have lots to say about what it's like to live in Playa Jaco. Tip for Newcomers: head to the beach at sunset to meet people.

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What do I need to know about living in Playa Jaco?

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When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Playa Jaco, they said:

"Relax, enjoy and slow down. Life at the beach is carefree, easy going and free of many stresses. Take in a sunset, have a fresh cup of local coffee and chat with a Costa Rican local and/or expat. Visit the feria (public farmers market) on Friday morning. Watch a local futbol match or take in many of the Artify Jaco murals and local art galleries. Enjoy the great restaurants which the area offers, visit the beaches and national parks within an hour of the area for day trips," commented one expat who made the move to Playa Hermosa de Jaco.

"Be ready to live, love and relax. This is a beautiful country and we live in paradise," remarked another expat living in Playa Hermosa de Jaco, Costa Rica.

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How do I meet people in Playa Jaco?

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When we asked people living in Playa Jaco about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"The Jaco area has several ladies groups, brunch groups for expats and locals alike. Family surf day in Jaco, painting classes, surf competitions, or relaxing at the beach for sunset all draws expats anxious to meet up with others and speak with locals on a social level," added another expat who made the move to Playa Hermosa de Jaco.

What is life like in Playa Jaco?

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When we asked people living in Playa Jaco what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Tourism in the area is very high so work takes a strong priority to keep everyone happy and returning to the area. However, family is a very strong factor. Many Costa Ricans from the Central Valley visit on weekends and holidays. It is not uncommon to see families and friends relaxing at the beach with a picnic and hammock, enjoying the breeze and socializing. Surfing is a major sport in the area so surf lessons are high on the list for a fun activity. Hiking Miro Mountain is a popular activity which includes wildlife spotting, camera opportunities, and general fitness," said another expat in Playa Hermosa de Jaco.

"It is a beach town. Most people are retired from North America. The beach is beautiful. All people go to the beach for walking, socializing, etc," added another expat who made the move to Playa Hermosa de Jaco.

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Is there a lot of crime in Playa Jaco?

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We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"Petty crime is a problem at the beach areas of Costa Rica. If you leave your possessions unattended at a restaurant, beach, inside your vehicle, this is an opportunity for theft. Be aware of your surroundings and keep your possessions close. Do not leave items unattended in your vehicle such as luggage, purses, computers or cell phones. Do not flaunt large amounts of money or wear expensive jewelry. Common sense is key and many have no problem with crime by following simple rules and taking precautions," added another expat who made the move to Playa Hermosa de Jaco.

Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Playa Jaco accepting of differences?

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"Yes it is a very diverse town. You will find restaurants owned by locals feature traditional CR dishes, European bakeries, authentic Italian restaurants, Moroccan, Thai and gourmet restaurants. This mix of restaurants is what makes the area exciting and appealing to all walks of life. The area has a high level of acceptance due to the diversity it enjoys," added another expat in Playa Hermosa de Jaco.

"You have many ex pats from North America, Europe. There are some Costa Ricans. Main religion is Catholic. There is a Catholic Chirch. A Protestant Church has been started close by," remarked another expat who made the move to Playa Hermosa de Jaco.

Is the cost of living in Playa Jaco high?

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We asked people how much they someone comfortably live on in Playa Jaco, they wrote:

"In Costa Rica, this is a difficult question as there are many different communities, some more popular with expats and others more with a local feel. You will certainly live comfortably at $2,000 per month. If you are renting, consider adding more to this amount. Again lifestyle is important to consider. High end dining and shopping, live concerts will be more expensive. Consider also these activities may not appeal to you upon retirement," explained one expat living in Playa Hermosa de Jaco, Costa Rica.

Is the cost of living in Playa Jaco high?

Live in Playa Jaco? Answer this Question

We asked people about the cost of living in Playa Jaco, they wrote:

"Many beach locations in Costa Rica are expensive. However, Playa Jaco has a strong mix of locals and tourists which helps to keep the cost of living lower. You will find many types of housing here from single family, condominium complexes and beachfront homes in a multitude of price ranges to fit all budgets. The community has a local farmers market (feria) which is always a good deal to purchase locally from regional farmers. The price of fresh fish is an incredible value. Costa Rica is one of the more expensive countries in Central America but shopping locally in Playa Jaco can provide good savings. Due to it's proximity to the beach (and the Equator), one of your largest expenses will be electricity. The beaches are very hot all year around. Typically property taxes are low in all of Costa Rica and Playa Jaco is no different," said another expat.

What type of recreational facilities are in Playa Jaco?

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When we asked people living in Playa Jaco about recreational activities, they mentioned:

"Recreational activities include surfing on all levels from beginning to highly advanced. Playa Jaco has no shortage of surf schools due to the outstanding conditions in the area. Hiking is common in the area. Miro Mountain is one of the most popular hiking activities as the trail wanders through jungles with a great opportunity for wildlife spotting. The Miro Trail climbs to an elevation of 1,100 feet with spectacular vistas of the Pacific. Miro Mountain Trail is also popular with mountain bike enthusiasts. The area has many mountainous trails so ATV is very popular to reach the higher elevation views and local restaurants. Yoga is popular in the area with many studios and profesional instructors. Art classes are popular in a new facility in Jaco. Golfing at a top course in Playa Herradura is just ten minutes north of Playa Jaco. Playa Herradura Los Suenos Marina boasts one of the best in the area for excellent sport fishing known world wide. Bird watching and nature loves enjoy the Carara National Park just 20 minutes north of Jaco and the Manuel Antonio National Park just one hour south of Playa Jaco," said one expat living in Playa Jaco.

What is the weather like in Playa Jaco?

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"Due to the proximity to the Equator and beach location, Playa Jaco is warm year around. High Season/Dry Season is from the end of Novemer until mid-April. These months are dry and sunny with very little rain. Average high temperatura is 90 F with the lows in the mid 70's. From mid-April until mid-September is not as hot with the likelihood of a daily shower of brief duration. The rain helps to cool things off but is never cold. The height of the Green Season is mid-September to mid-November. During these months, you may have days of no rain, but a daily shower is highly likely with dramatic thunder and lightning storms over the Pacific," mentioned another expat inPlaya Jaco..

Are there good restaurants in Playa Jaco?

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"Playa Jaco boasts a wide variety of restaurants from gourmet, seafood, vegetarian, Thai, Chinese, Sushi, authentic Italian, gourmet burgers, and local restaurants featuring typical Costa Rican cuisine. Playa Jaco has many clubs for dancing and socializing. Additionally, the area is home to many local musicians that are featured in many restaurants/bar. At festival times, music, art and culture is featured in the centrally located town park.," said an expat in Playa Jaco.

Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in Playa Jaco?

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"Playa Jaco has two large "big box" stores Mas x Menos and Maxi Pali. These stores are affiliates of Wal=Mart Corporation. Jaco also has many carnicerias, pescaderias, panaderias, (butcher shop, fish shop, bread/pastry/cake shop) There is a feria (farmers market) in Playa Jaco on Friday morning. There is also an organic market on Wednesday at a local restaurant. A visitor or tourist will find everything needed in Playa Jaco! Other stores feature souvenirs, clothing, surfing supplies, art/crafts and larger appliances stores," mentioned another expat inPlaya Jaco..

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 8 Best Places to Live in Croatia and the Living in Mexico Guide. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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