Surf Sun and Sand; A Month Living in Jaco, Costa Rica
Surf, sun, and sand. We arrived in Jaco, Costa Rica with high expectations of a month filled with those three things and sadly woke up our first morning to the pounding of incessant rain, murderous clouds, and not a ray of sunshine. It was October 13th and for anyone familiar with the weather patterns of Costa Rica, rain is to be expected. To be more specific, October is the rainiest month in Costa Rica. But what does that actually mean for those visiting the country during this time?
Should I travel to Costa Rica During the Rainy Season?
Should the rainy season prevent you from traveling to Costa Rica? After a month exploring Jaco Beach and the surrounding area, I can tell you with certainty that it should not! Yes, our first two days were filled with quite a bit of rain and you should definitely pack a poncho but there are still many pockets of sunshine to enjoy during this season. Our third day we awoke to the sweet chirping of birds and the sun showering us with a blanket of appreciated warmth; an escape from the deepening cold we left behind in Rochester, NY. After those first days, we found that although it would rain early mornings and a bit in the evening the hours between 9–2:30 pm were generally rain-free!
One bonus of visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season is the price of flights and accommodations. Everything is a little cheaper. You’ll also avoid the herd of tourists that flood into the country during the dryer months. Jaco Beach, in particular, was great to visit during this time and I often found myself enjoying what felt to be my very own private beach.
Why Visit Jaco Beach?
As I mentioned before Brandon (my boyfriend) and I chose Jaco Beach for our first month to enjoy the surf, sand, and sun. We also felt it would be a nice transition from our life back in the states. In general, Costa Rica is well developed and you can enjoy many of the comforts of home. Everything comes at a price, however, and we were surprised that prices were very similar to what we would see in the States. If you are traveling on a budget, I suggest frequenting the local grocery store and cooking at home as you can easily spend $10 on a meal at a restaurant. Lucky for us the main strip near Jaco Beach is equipped with several supermarket chains including a MegaSuper and MasxMenos where you can find the essentials. If you can afford to spend a little more, you will not be disappointed by the variety of bars and restaurants on Avenida Pastor Diaz and the streets leading to the beach. Brandon and I aren’t exactly ‘party people’ but this town certainly has a reputation for being a party town; especially when the high season hits!
Jaco Beach is also near many other exciting areas of the country such as the capital, San Jose, the beach town of Quepos and the Cloud Forest in Monteverde. The capital, San Jose, is a short hour and a half drive making it very accessible. We also found it incredibly easy to make a weekend trip traveling by bus to the town of Quepos to visit the impressive National Park, Manuel Antonio.
How to get to Quepos Costa Rica: To catch the bus from Jaco to Quepos stand on the beachside of Avenida Pastor Diaz. You can easily hail one of the TPQ busses heading south to Quepos. You can purchase your ticket from the bus driver. As of November 2019, a one-way ticket cost roughly 1300 colones. Be mindful that return tickets cost a little less (roughly 1255 colones) and must be purchased at the Quepos bus station getting on the bus. The bus passes by every 1–2 hours making it a good option for those that aren’t interested in driving.
Jaco is also relatively close to the Cloud Forest Reserve in Monteverde. You can rent a vehicle and make the roughly two-hour trip North or you can consider taking the four and a half hour bus which costs considerably less; only $2–5 as of November 2019. Whichever method you choose, be sure to look out the window as you drive through the lush green landscape!
If you are content to stay in one place during your trip there are certainly many activities in Jaco to keep you busy. Those looking to get out into nature and explore will not be disappointed. Below are just a few of the hidden gems we visited during our weekend adventures!
El Miro de Jaco
El Miro is a must-see when visiting Jaco Beach. Your short hike is rewarded by an absolutely breathtaking view of the beach and Pacific ocean. Located a little outside of town, one can get to the trailhead by taking a taxi (red and yellow ones are legitimate!) or renting a vehicle. You can find the trail on the right side of Route 34 as you head from town.
Park at the base of the trail and heed the signs that warn against driving up the trail…during our visit, one daring vehicle found itself turned on its side in a ditch. We didn’t stay long enough to see if they successfully rolled back out, but the scent of burning rubber certainly followed us as we continued our walk.
The hike is an enjoyable 20–30
minutes up a slight incline. Listen for the rustling of leaves and you may be lucky enough to see monkeys dancing in the trees above you! For a girl that has lived her whole life on the East Coast, it was a wonder to see those tiny monkey faces peering down at me from their natural habitat.
The path will take you past several gorgeous outlooks of Jaco Beach. The land was originally intended to be a restaurant or hotel but construction was never completed. The ruins of the old structure are still standing and heighten the natural beauty of the area. The space is now available to the public to explore and enjoy.
La Catarata Manantial De Agua Viva
If you have the opportunity to rent a motorbike or vehicle I highly suggest making the 20-minute drive to the Waterfall Agua Viva. The waterfall is located on private property but a gentleman maintains the path and lets tourists visit for a fee. If you are lucky he may even let you borrow a walking stick; something that turned out to be very useful!
You hear the falls before you see them and it’s at that moment that you become fully aware that you are about to witness something spectacular. The thundering sound of water connecting with earth pounds relentlessly until you are graced with a glimpse of the waterfall peeking out behind the trees. Brandon and I whipped out our phones to take a photo and with each step, the view became unbelievably better. Be prepared to get wet as you approach the falls and walk carefully. Brandon learned the hard way that wet rocks can be very slippery. For updated information regarding these falls, you can visit their Facebook page.
During our stay, we had the opportunity to take a beautiful drive to Hermosa beach. The drive is around 20 minutes but if you do not have a vehicle you can very easily catch one of the public busses that pass through Jaco. Every Saturday there is a local surf competition but even if you are unable to make it on the weekend there are always surfers enjoying the waves. We made our way to the beach on Sunday to enjoy the sunset as well as take advantage of the free entertainment provided by highly skilled surfers. As its name suggests, Hermosa is a gorgeous place to spend a few hours.
Surfing at Jaco Beach
Jaco Beach is an excellent place for anyone interested in surfing. You can expect to pay rent a board for $10–15 a day. If you want a board for a longer period of time I would suggest working out a deal with one of the shops. It doesn’t hurt to ask and negotiate for a better price!
Local surf reports can be found on the site magic seaweed. If you are a beginner, head to the South end of the beach where the waves are kinder. The North end tends to have larger swells and the ground is covered by pebbles making it a little more intimidating.
If you have your own board and want to go to a specific spot on the beach or try your luck at Hermosa you can certainly hail a taxi. The majority have racks and Brandon and I discovered that even if the driver does not have a rope or bungee chord you can use the surf leash to secure the boards to the roof!
Beach lovers, nature enthusiasts, and adventure-seekers are sure to enjoy their time in Jaco, Costa Rica. Whether it is for a week, month or longer, there is plenty to keep you busy!