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Jaco trip report 2/5/13 to 2/10/13

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Woodland Hills
Level Contributor
22 posts
Jaco trip report 2/5/13 to 2/10/13

Hi everyone, this is my first review on TA so excuse me if it's a bit all over the place.

I decided to do a Jaco trip report so I can provide feedback to anyone that's considering visiting Jaco. I recently visted Jaco for my bachelor party and had a very hard time deciding on where to go as I read so many negative things about Jaco and the atmosphere in general. I'd like to touch on the following: the beach, the restaurants, the clubs/bars, the "working girl" situation, the drug dealers, and beach vendors. These are all issues that I read about before going. Before going into my review, I'd like to thank tripadvisor members MFlores and Lisapuravida for helping me out, these two memebers were beyond helpful and assisted in answering any questions I had.

Now, a quick bio about my group, we were 4 guys, ranging from 28 to 38. 3 of us are in relationships (I am the one getting married) and the 4th is single. We were not looking any type of s** tourism or any of that sort, just incase anyone thinks that is the reason why we picked Jaco. Now onto the review.

What people need to know about Jaco is that it is not a huge beach town like South Beach Miami or Cancun. It's a very small beach town that you can walk from one end to another in 30 minutes or so. All the locals seem to know each other. It was an extremly laid back, reggae vibe about it, that I personally loved. The Costa Rican (for those not familiar) is Pura Vida, which mean Pure Life. I had so many people just walk by me in the bar, cheering me and saying Pura Vida. Because that's just how people are there. So whether you like Jaco or not, it depends on what your looking for and what your expectation is. If your looking for big skyscrapers and uberchic lounges and what not, you will be disappointed by Jaco. If you go with a openmind or expecting a chill almost Hawaiian beachy side with fun music, then you will be pleased with Jaco.

The Beach - I heard so many stories about the beach being dirty, ugly, etc. Let me start off my saying, if you are looking for a Caribbean style white sand beach, you will not find it in Jaco. The beach is very Pacific, the shallow water closest to the shore can be a bit sandy and is more clear further out but not recommanded for swimming unless you are a good swimmer. We spent sometime on the beach, walked from Vistas Las Palmas (our condo) all the way to the northern end by Clarita's. The beach does get a bit more rocky on the northern end, but nothing too severe.

The Town in general - I read many stories about Jaco being dirty and dangerous and full of crime. I can honestly say the stories I read were either overblown or isolated incidents. We talked through town every night we were there, with a few nights walking all the way to Clairtas and nothing happenes. However, we were a group of 4 guys so if your a group of girls or by yourself, I would say take a cab if your heading all way to that area, just because it is a little bit less crowded, that's all. I also ready that there are drug dealers trying to sell you drugs all over. Well, I only came across this maybe three times, and they are not aggressive at all. Just people standing around and as you walk by they mumble something like "good stuff?" or something similar, the first two times, I barely even heard what they were saying.

The working girl situation - this is one of the biggest turn offs that I read about after I started looking into Jaco. People said that Jaco is full of prosistitues and this and that. well, the truth of the matter is that, yes they are there. But they are by no means aggressive. I have come across far more aggressive working girls in casinos in Las Vegas then in Jaco. And they are very avoidable as they pretty much go to a few certain spots, so as long as you dont go to Cocal or a few other certain places, you will stay clear of most of them. Just as an additional note, they are not bad people, a few that we came across and had small conversations with were just fun people, yet just do a different type of work then most are accustomed to.

The Clubs - The best advice I got when heading down to Jaco and to see where the best party of the night is, was go to where they are having ladies night. Once down there and after speaking to a few locals, we knew what was happening each night. Wednesday night, you start off at Backyard in Hermosa Beach, go after 10:30. It is a pretty cool beachbar with a extremly small vip lounge upstairs that I didnt care for. But most people will be downstairs and in the beach area in the back. It was cool and we had a good time. dress code is generally shorts and sandles and t-shirt for guys. after that everyone pretty much heads to monkey bar in Jaco. a more club type place, it was cool as well. For thursday night, I think we started off at Clarita's, it's a beach side bar in Northern Jaco. IT gets very crowded as they have $1 beers until 8 or 9, cant remember. But it's very chill and good music. There is people all around inside and filled in the beach, an awesome atmosphere. After that, we headed to Le Loft, which is supposed to be the hottest and most upscale club in Jaco. there is a cover and most recommand getting bottle service. Honestly, I personally did not care for Le Loft. I felt it went against the vibe of Jaco itself. The beachy chill and casual atmosphere of Jaco. I read that it was dress to impress yet I saw people with shorts and sandles in there. Also, this is one place that gets crowded with working girls towards the later part of the night, as alot of tourist will go here. You can check out, but me personally, I'd stay away, also, they seemed to place too much, what I call chill hiphop and not enough music you can dance to. Friday and Saturday, we went to Orange Bar. This, in all honesty, was my favorite place in Jaco. It's not a fancy shmancy club, it's a pretty basic club/bar but it's filled with awesome people and awesome music. Nonstop reggae and reggaeton and everyone is friendly. You bump into someone and within a second they turn around and apologize, no egos or attitues here and very little working girls. Again, this was my favorite place as long as your into that type of music. Reggae, reggaeton, and dancehall are very popular types of music in Jaco which is a very pleasant suprise for me as I really like that type of music. A club/bar that I had heard about but I did not get to try was Recreo. We walked past this club Friday night and it seemed like it was happening with awesome music, I didnt get a chance to try it, but looked fun.

Restaurant - We went to a few different restaurants out there. I read alot of about Lemonzest and Tsuanmi which unfortunetly I did not get to try. I did read alot about EAT and how good it was. I saved this restaurant for our last night (Saturday night) and I was very disappointed. It's italian food but just your basic italian food. Too expensive for what you get. I would stay away from this place again and try the smaller Sodas that offer the tradiation Costa Rican plate. Much less expensive then the big tourist trap restaurants and much more tasty. I would also stay away from Mona Verde (the green monkey). ANother very expensive place with terrible food. It's supposed to be Mediterranian food but not even close. My brother had the "filet mignon" but it was not filet mignon at all. If you do want to try a more "touristy" restaurnat, Los Amigos is awesome. Great food, great service, and great drinks. They also serve two Costa Rican craft beers that are pretty awesome.

Overall, I liked Jaco. I loved the vibe, the beachy, tropical, very laid back, reggae vibe of it. The music was awesome, the people were cool, and overall we had a great time. I would ignore what many say about it as in my experience and opinion, the concerns seem overblown. Maybe it was the time of year that I went (I did go at a peak time so not sure how much of an effec that had on it). But the same things you run into in Jaco, you will run into in LA or Vegas. Infact, as i mentioned, I've come across much more aggressive drug pushers and prostitues in Vegas then I did in Jaco. Just know where to go and don't act ignorant to your surroundings and you will love it and have a great time. Will I go back? yes i would. I did go to Manual Antonio for the day and it was awesome as well, very similar vibe wtih music but more laid back. Maybe next time I would stay in M.A. for 3 or 4 days and Jaco for 1 or 2 days. If you have any questions on my trip or want to ask any questions on Jaco, I'd be more then happy to help to the best of my abilities.

Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
9,678 posts
58 reviews
1. Re: Jaco trip report 2/5/13 to 2/10/13

Wow, that is one excellent and detailed report, one that describes an activity that is important to many visitors - how to have a good and funny night life with places to dance the night away. Not my cup of tea but probably many others will find plenty of valid informations. Thanks.

London, England...
Level Contributor
2,508 posts
87 reviews
2. Re: Jaco trip report 2/5/13 to 2/10/13

Very good, very thorough and most of all very balanced trip report, thanks for posting Muzek.

Because CR sells itself on the independent eco-tourism nature paradise vibe, places like Jaco can get a bit of a rough ride. I felt the same with Tamarindo. Things like the tacky-touristyness of the place and the levels of (over-)development and crime were way overblown. But compared to any 'Western' country they were nothing. So trip reports like yours are really important so people get a slightly more balanced view on things.

1 thing - could you cut and paste this into the trip report/review thread at the top of the forum page? Otherwise it'll slip down the page and out of sight in no time.

Level Contributor
283 posts
5 reviews
3. Re: Jaco trip report 2/5/13 to 2/10/13

Loved your review! We have been there 8 times I think and we love it! But...where is the Orange Bar?? Also, did you go to the new beach club in town? We loved that!

Destination Expert
for Jaco, Bocas Town
Level Contributor
3,910 posts
128 reviews
4. Re: Jaco trip report 2/5/13 to 2/10/13

Great Report and explains Jaco very well. So glad we were able to help. Hope you don't mind me cutting and pasting this in the Jaco forum from time to time. I know I sound like a broken record trying to say the same thing.

I haven't been to Orange yet. Clubs open and close, so I am excited to visit Orange my next visit. Totally agree about Le Loft, but many do like the place. I love Recreo. I don't often mention it because it is a locals place, not tourist. Many Ticos are not fans of Recreo, it is more of a Nicaraguan hang out, but I love it. Be prepared to salsa. dance, spin and sweat a lot. I don't really know how but that doesn't stop the locals from teaching you and cheering you on.

Glad you and your group had a great trip.

Level Contributor
49 posts
33 reviews
5. Re: Jaco trip report 2/5/13 to 2/10/13

Great post, think it summarizes Jaco very well.

Grecia, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Province of Alajuela
Level Contributor
7,239 posts
43 reviews
6. Re: Jaco trip report 2/5/13 to 2/10/13

Awesome reporting, thanks for taking the time to let folks know about your travels.

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
4,759 posts
95 reviews
7. Re: Jaco trip report 2/5/13 to 2/10/13

Very interesting and balanced report that is perhaps the most informative review of any I've seen for Jaco.

Your comparisons to Miami and Vegas raise an interesting point--if that's the reference point then the condemnations of Jaco will probably ring hollow. It probably is pretty good to known party destinations anywhere in the world. Part of why Jaco gets trashed is that people compare it to places in Costa Rica where nature/ecotourism are the vibe.

it's a good reminder that not everyone is looking to have the same experience while traveling to Costa Rica. And that advice should be doled out accordingly.

The biggest negative with having prostitution around isn't the women who aren't any worse than anyone else, it's the repulsive men who engage in **x tourism drawn to such places. But, as you said, usually you can avoid it by avoiding the hotspots for that stuff (same case in San Jose, but it's a matter of city blocks there rather than invidivual clubs).

Denver, CO
Level Contributor
197 posts
63 reviews
8. Re: Jaco trip report 2/5/13 to 2/10/13

Thank you for this review!

As an owner at Vista Las Palmas, I love to hear positive stories about Jaco. We first bought in Jaco about three years ago at Diamante Del Sol, which we loved, but wanted a larger place. We moved up to VLP this January after selling DDS. The biggest hurttle I face when renting our place is the concerns about drugs and prostiution. As a 40 year old women, I have not been approached in Jaco in the last two years and only once when with my 23 year old cousin before then.

Orange Bar is also a favorite of ours. It opened December of 2011 and we rung in New Years there in 2012.

Please also add your Jaco "gems" to that thread.

Playa Hermosa...
Destination Expert
for Manuel Antonio National Park, Jaco
Level Contributor
1,184 posts
67 reviews
9. Re: Jaco trip report 2/5/13 to 2/10/13

Well written, honest and forthright, great trip report and you certainly answer many questions (and dispel rumours) about Jaco Beach! Sounds like you had a great time and it was a true pleasure to help you! Hope you come back to Pura Vida in the future!

5 posts
1 review
10. Re: Jaco trip report 2/5/13 to 2/10/13

Great review.

For a young couple (26) what bars/restaurants would you suggest? Sounds like Orange Bar is a must.