I think this is the longest beach vacation we’ve taken and coming right on the heels of Cerro Chatto, I was seriously grateful we planned 6 days of beach time.
It was another long haul from Arenal to Jaco and even though we left in the early afternoon, we didn’t arrive until well after dark. Costa Rica may look like a small country, but the road systems – while not horrible- are very often 2 lane windy roads which take some time to navigate.
We checked into the hotel and I was surprised at the space. I didn’t remember when I reserved it being a 2 bedroom condo, but it was and the space ended up being glorious. The only downside to our stay was while it was on the beach, it also bordered the road with a curve and an elevation change. Trucks using their brakes were extremely loud and most of the living area didn’t have windows to cut down on the noise. Luckily the bedroom we chose to sleep in was pretty quiet and away from the road. That quibble aside, it was a lovely stay.
The first day I was still a bit wiped out so it was pretty low key. A walk on the beach, a visit to the local grocery store, an afternoon siesta, drinks while watching iguanas, telehit on the tv, sleep.
In fact, most of our days followed that pattern and it was rather nice. The balcony we had overlooked a cluster of trees that the iguanas loved. It was highly entertaining watching them eating leaves. At one time, there were 7 we could see! There was also an iguana that hung out on our roof, his claws creepily sticking out from the roofline. We spent many hours just watching them scurrying, climb and eat.
We visited the grocery store a few more times, and since the condo had a kitchen, I ate many meals the first few days there. My body was rebelling against most things after the hike, so eating broth and noodles, instead of going out to eat, helped.
The beach was rather quiet and we loved watching the surfers, and the sand crabs. On the weekend, the beach really came alive and it was an amazing contrast from the tranquil mid week. It is a locals beach and I loved seeing everyone out enjoying the water. Tents were pitched, football (aka soccer) games galore – it just teemed with life.
We spent one afternoon soaking in the pool and learned that our sunscreen had expired years ago, making the waterproof not so waterproof any longer. Luckily it wasn’t too bad of a burn. The next day, Keith went out for a walk on the beach while I napped and came back burnt to a crisp. I swear he is still peeling from that mistake.
We visited Beer House and chatted with the owners. They had only been open a few months and the concept of local beer and European tapas, while we loved, has been a bit of a challenge with the locals. I loved the space, enjoyed the brew and dug into some seriously tasty potato pancakes. We had a fine dining experience at Lemon Zest, and overall enjoyed the meal. I don’t think I would recommend waiting if there is a long wait list, but it was well prepared food. We also made a stop at the Green Room and I adored this space. The beer and food were also good, and they have live music every day. It was a perfectly beachy, arty space and I almost wished we would have found this place earlier in our stay.
I found Jaco to be a perfect mix of relaxation, without being overly touristy and high end. One note that we were rather surprised at is overall, we did find Costa Rica to be rather expensive, and on par cost wise with any beach vacation you would have in the states. The groceries, much of the food venues (even the sodas), all seemed to be pricier that we anticipated. Still worth the travel down to see a few spots in Costa Rica? Absolutely!