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first time Costa Rica couples vacation...suggestions PLEASE!

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Ann Arbor, Michigan
posts: 6
first time Costa Rica couples vacation...suggestions PLEASE!

HI there, I'm sure there are at least a dozen threads asking the same information but well.... I have no excuse.

My husband and I as well as another couple are renting a condo in Jaco and arriving in 2 weeks!! We are so excited but being a working new mom, I'm off my game when it comes to travel research. We are renting a car so that we can explore places, and things outside of Jaco. Our small groups love to snorkel, explore, charter a fishing boat, and stay active but we also love just laying on the beach consuming lovely local adult beverages. I'd love any inside information as far as day trips, must see's, beach and water activities, maybe any local events, and of course local fresh food (preferably anything seafood.) We are planning to find a local grocery store and liquor store for some at home supplies. this is the first time we've not done a cruise, or all inclusive, forcing us to really put ourselves out there in this beautiful place. We are spending 8 days in Jaco and are so excited but I'm a little overwhelmed at the same time...Help please :)

1. Re: first time Costa Rica couples vacation...suggestions PLEASE!

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San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 44,931
reviews: 3
2. Re: first time Costa Rica couples vacation...suggestions PLEASE!

Great that you are coming...once you are here you can deal directly with tour operators...and services providers...you really do not need any middle person or company...and ask for discount as a direct buyer...some middle companies make up to 30% commisions...

Do not worry plenty places to buy groceries...


Denver, CO
posts: 195
reviews: 63
3. Re: first time Costa Rica couples vacation...suggestions PLEASE!

So many choices!

Activities: I like Jaco Zip Lining ( book through DayStar), Tortuga Island for a fun day on a boat with snorkeling and a beautiful beach ( several options on where to book and which boat), Manuel Antonio National Park is a must day trip ( hire a guide once you get there ), Saturday surf competition at the Backyard, Friday farmer's market ( don't be afraid to buy the chicken...it is amazing), and my new favorite is Jose croc tours ( it is unbelievable how close you get to those things).

Restaurants: a few favorites are Graffeti's, Taco Bar, Pappas and Burgers, lemon Zest, Sunset bar in Hurradura, and the French bakery on the North side of town near Chuck's Wow Surf shop.

Grocery stores: get your fish and ceviche at the fish market on the South side of town across from the gym, Max X Menos will have everything else you need grocery wise, check out the butcher at the Hurradura flashing light ( behind the soda), and be sure to try some of the local ice cream.

Where are you staying in town? We can give you some local places near by.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
posts: 6
4. Re: first time Costa Rica couples vacation...suggestions PLEASE!

Thanks for all this wonderful information. I got so excited just reading about it! The waterfall tours look amazing, and will put that on the agenda. W are staying at Bahia Encantada, on the north side of Jaco. I love farmer's markets ( must be the small town girl in me) so I'm exceptionally glad this is a suggestion. Really anything that we can do/see/sit outside, eating included is a huge perk for us

Denver, CO
posts: 195
reviews: 63
5. Re: first time Costa Rica couples vacation...suggestions PLEASE!

Outside of the gates to your condo is a small soda that has Tigre in the name. Great representation of local food. Rioasis just moved to the North end. It is a pizza place that has exceptionally slow service, but the food is good. You are to far from the French Bakery I mentioned. Maybe a 4 minute walk. Passed that is a newer local seafood place that I have yet to try, but keep meaning to. Also, Wahoo's across from the park (6 minute walk) is excellant.

You may also see a guy on horseback going up and down the beach named Donald. Great prices from him on horseback trips. We have a fun time going up into the mountains with him and got a great view of some of Hermosa.

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 55
reviews: 24
6. Re: first time Costa Rica couples vacation...suggestions PLEASE!


This thread had a few fishing charters in the Jaco area which looked good. I would say Manuel Antonio National Park is a must see and the drive from Jaco has some pretty good views.

Leduc Alberta
posts: 1
reviews: 4
7. Re: first time Costa Rica couples vacation...suggestions PLEASE!

My wife and I are going to be doing the exact same plan as you guys in July so we will be watching your post for tips and ideas.We will be first timers in CR as well good Luck

Salinas, California
posts: 4
reviews: 31
8. Re: first time Costa Rica couples vacation...suggestions PLEASE!

I have just returned from 8 days in CR, from Tortuguero on the Atlantic to Jaco on the Pacific. You may have read that Costa Rican roads are less than wonderful. It's true; most rural roads are unmarked and in various stages of roughness. If you're planning to do any driving and exploring, consider the extra $75 for GPS on your rental car.

The main road from San Jose to Jaco is new and nice, but DO NOT TRY TO DRIVE IT TOWARD JACO ON A SUNDAY! It closes, westbound, at 2:00 pm and becomes one-way to the city to permit beachgoers faster return. We didn't know about this and wound up taking several hours of winding back roads.

If you're bird/wildlife enthusiasts, consider taking a "crocodile" cruise. It is really more than crocs, especially close looks at some marvelous birds. Great photos. We used the highly-rated (and simply named) Jose's Crocodile tours and were very pleased. (See the reviews on Tripadvisor).

The 90-minute drive down to Manuel Antonio National Park is easy and the park is worth seeing, but: be ready for some serious hiking, especially if you do the Cathedral View loop. IMPORTANT: as you draw near the park, you will be waved over to the side by guys who look like park rangers but are only independent tour guides who will charge you high prices for walking tours. Ignore them and drive another quarter mile until you see a sign for the official parking area for the park. Of course, if you want a guide, plan on $50-75 dollars for four of you.

I arrived ready to battle heatstroke and swarms of mosquitos, but escaped both. Of course, there are no promises.... Best wishes for a fine trip.

Edmonton, Canada
posts: 1
reviews: 10
9. Re: first time Costa Rica couples vacation...suggestions PLEASE!

Hi, I was reading your post and your suggestions sound great. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on house rentals around the Jaco or Manuel Antonio areas?


San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 44,931
reviews: 3
10. Re: first time Costa Rica couples vacation...suggestions PLEASE!

Check...Manuel Antonio Estates or Buena Vista Villas and CAsas...great houses and villas...but do not worry plenty houses in the market...


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