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Jaco vs. Manuel Antonio/Quepos for Study

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Chicago, Illinois
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Jaco vs. Manuel Antonio/Quepos for Study

Hi, I'm considering a week-long intensive Spanish study program in Costa Rica where I would live with a host family and go to school/class every day from 8am-1pm. The two programs I'm considering are located in Jaco and Manuel Antonio/Quepos. With the latter, I'd live with my host family in Quepos and bus to Manuel Antonio campus everyday (vs. Jaco where everything is located nearby).

I understand Jaco to be more appealing than Quepos - can anyone confirm? If that's the case, one argument is to do the program in Jaco and I can always take a trip or two to visit Manuel Antonio. BUT, if Manuel Antonio is that much better than both, I may prefer to study everyday there and be nearby?

I'm 28 years old and will be traveling by myself. While interested in nightlife/bars/etc, I want to maximize my experience and time in Costa Rica and get to experience as much as possible.

If anyone can offer advice as to which location/program might be preferred, that would be awesome! Also, the two programs I'm considering are through COSI and Academia Tica if anyone has experience/knowledge with either.

Many thanks!!!

Punta Uva, Costa...
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1. Re: Jaco vs. Manuel Antonio/Quepos for Study

Jaco can be a bit of a party town, but easier to get away from there to other parts of Costa Rica, Quepos/MA much quieter.

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2. Re: Jaco vs. Manuel Antonio/Quepos for Study

The "party" part of town in Jaco is a small area. It doesn't start until late at night, so I wouldn't let that be part of your decision. If you want to stay up late and go to a club then you have those options in Jaco. If you don't then don't. There are party nights in Jaco, Quepos and Manuel Antonio.

I don't know anything about the courses you are looking at. It seems like Jaco will be more convient for you during class time and like Cubanon said you can visit other parts of CR easily from Jaco. Quepos option will allow you to easily visit MA daily. While in MA you will be around lots of tourists. Jaco has alot of Ticos visiting from SJ.

Chicago, IL
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3. Re: Jaco vs. Manuel Antonio/Quepos for Study

If I were going to Costa Rica to study Spanish, I would not go to a tourist town. You are going there to not only study, but to be able to use your Spanish when speaking to and understanding the local people. I lived with a family is Spain and learned the most from trying to communicate with my family who didn't speak any English. That is hard to find in Costa Rica because so many people speak English. But it is worse in a tourist town.

Man, I am an old stick in the mud. :-) I'm sure the nightlife is good in either town.


Winnipeg, Canada
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4. Re: Jaco vs. Manuel Antonio/Quepos for Study

Shooie, I was thinking exactly the same thing. There are too many people around both places that speak English. Places like Heredia come to mind as having language schools but not being that touristy - though I am sure you will still find plenty of people who speak English. But if the trip is study + vacation you are better off at a beach. :)

As for Quepos, before you decide is it possible to find out a more precise location of the host family. As well as having to take the bus each day to school - which is no big deal, you may or may not end up walking a fair bit to the bus. I would hope that the school has considered convenience before approving host families - but you never know.

There are some bars and other night life in the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area. Lots of live music. To me the beach is nicer and there is the National Park. But for convenience, of getting around Jaco would probably be better.

pura vida


Edited: 4:43 pm, August 15, 2012
Grecia, Costa Rica
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5. Re: Jaco vs. Manuel Antonio/Quepos for Study

Agree with Raquel and Shooie 100%. I would look to less touristy areas for Spanish immersion.

Agree also nicer beaches in Manuel Antonio, more animal sightings too. Jaco is more a party town and surfing beach. All depends on what your after.

Check out School of the World if you end up in Jaco - http://www.schooloftheworld.org/ great folks and they have some interesting class line ups that include photography and other activities.

Cheers and good luck

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6. Re: Jaco vs. Manuel Antonio/Quepos for Study

there are plenty of distractions in jaco! i would find it difficult to not go out partying in jaco which would make early morning spanish classes a little difficult! another option is www.skypespanishtutor.com a friend of mine is using this with good results so far.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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7. Re: Jaco vs. Manuel Antonio/Quepos for Study

I will choose MA -Quepos area...agree with others Jaco can be a little to much the place offer a lot of distractions!...of course based on your information...


Chicago, Illinois
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8. Re: Jaco vs. Manuel Antonio/Quepos for Study

Thanks everyone for all the great tips and advice. While the primary intention of my trips is to study Spanish, I'm selfishly trying to get the most out of it and enjoy some of the tourist aspects as well (and thus the reason for these two locations). Opening up options beyond these two locations is also a bit overwhelming as then there are a LOT of options.

I'm still torn as it seems there are a bit of mixed reviews on Jaco. I think the convenience of having classes right there + convenience of travel to other places in CR is making me lean that direction. On the weekend, plus after class, hopefully I'll have several opportunities to make it down to Quepos/MA.

Thanks again!

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9. Re: Jaco vs. Manuel Antonio/Quepos for Study

Jaco is the way to go.

Playa Hermosa...
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10. Re: Jaco vs. Manuel Antonio/Quepos for Study

Jaco is much more fun, progressive, happening , & if you are 28 and want to get to know people and have fun.

lots of stuff to do lot of tourist of all types and ages-tours, activities, bars, restaurants, beaches. years of stuff to experience and explore.

big expat population of all ages

not to mention, the whole hermosa surf scene, lots of people, young and old, come from all over the world to live the life, even if it is just for a little while.

the quepos and MA (which is just over the hill from one another) the scene is more traditional locals , bohemian backpacker, artsy and laid back. quepos does have lots of stuff to do, but it is years behind Jaco.

it is only an hour away and not hard to get to for a couple day trips if desired, after you see 100 sloths they are not really that exciting.

if you really wanted to get immersed and avoid distractions, quepos would be better