Two weeks ago, I traveled to Jaco Beach, Costa Rica for my dear friend, Ashley’s Bachelorette Weekend, along with 9 other ladies. Jaco is the most developed and metropolitan beach town in Costa Rica. It’s located on the Pacific Coast and the closest beach to San Jose, the capital [which is where the airport is located].
[the view from directly in front of our house]
[Tanks were super cute! They read: “It Was All A Dream.” And in the back said, “Woke Up In Costa Rica With My A Team.”]
We booked our trip through Jaco VIP. They were wonderful to work with and took care of coordinating basically everything we needed and wanted to do including: transportation to and from the airport [which was about 90 minutes away], a private chef, a private DJ, zip lining arrangements, grocery store runs, night club bottle service and transportation to and from, food deliveries, and full body massages at the house! We had a security guard outside our place from 6pm to 6am, in addition to a designated day time concierge and night time concierge who were always available when needed. Our night concierge, Melissa [who is awesome and you should totally request her if you book through them] came out with us the one night we went to a club which made us all feel very safe. She knows everyone who works there and just made sure that we weren’t taken advantage of by anybody and that we got home in one piece. While we did feel very safe the entire trip, there are concerns about drugs, crime and prostitution. Like a lot of tourist towns, you have to be super careful, and use common sense and good judgement. Especially when traveling outside the United States… Americans stick out like sore thumbs and are easy targets.
Where To Stay: Jaco VIP owns and rents a ton of properties, mostly beachfront. The house we stayed at was Casa Cortes, which has 7 bedrooms, 13 beds, a beautiful outdoor seating/eating area, private pool and is located right on the beach. It’s the perfect house for bachelor/bachelorette parties, large families or multiple couples. There are almost 30 vacation rentals under Jaco VIP and each one varies in size and occupancy, and of course, location.
Where To Eat:
Taco Bar: When we first strolled into town after traveling all day, we were SO hungry, but were equally eager to check out our home for the weekend. We made a quick stop at Taco Bar, which was a great, little place! They make delicious and fresh tacos. My eyes are much bigger than my stomach, so ordered three shrimp tacos [each one prepared differently], but was only able to finish two. It’s a super casual place and while they have a pretty large menu, I’d stick with the fish/shrimp tacos only!
Side Street Bistro: Great spot for sandwiches. I was recommended to go here by a friend. It appeared to have a really fun atmosphere, but we were heading to the airport so unfortunately didn’t have time to sit and eat. We took our sandwiches to go and thoroughly enjoyed them. I split a Portobello Mushroom sandwich and Garden Veggie sandwich with a friend. While I usually prefer my french fries super thin and crispy, their’s were more meaty, but super yummy and totally hit the spot! They also have burgers, salads and chicken fingers.
I Love Sushi: Some of the girls ordered in Sushi and said it was great. I was taking a mid-evening nap, so missed out, but the excellent reviews on Trip Advisor seem right in line with what mis amigos had to say.
Private Chef: Three of our meals were prepared by Chef Leo [he’s the best!]. If you’re going with a group, it really is not as expensive as you think it would be. Leo would ask us what we wanted to eat ahead of time. He took care of purchasing the food, cooking it, serving it, and cleaning up [with the assistance of one or two women who came with him]. If you do decide to hire a private Chef through Jaco VIP, I believe it costs $12 a person for the Chef, plus the cost of food and tip. The price may vary depending on the number of people in your party. Ashley’s fiancé, Matt spoiled us and treated us to the three meals by Chef Leo. [Thank you Matt! Such a good Hubby-to-be!] Leo always made a ton of food, so had plenty of leftovers which we totally devoured. It was so nice to have a complete, delicious, local meal and even better to not have to cook and clean! After all, we were on vacation, right?!!
[The Yummiest Salad]
What To Do:
Surf: Jaco is known as one of the best beaches in Costa Rica and spots for both beginner and experienced surfers. Just south of Jaco is Playa Hermosa, where the International Quicksilver Championships are held every year in August. There are tons of surfing competitions and parties on the beach happening on a regular basis.
Zip Lining: Zip Lining was SO MUCH FUN! I’ve been skydiving before [once in Hawaii, in 2011] and was curious how zip lining would compare. While skydiving is little more dangerous and thrilling, zip lining is super exciting. We did a total of 12 zip lines through the rain forest that took about an hour and a half to two hours, and we pretty much laughed the entire time. We had a great experience with Vista Los Suenos Rainforest Tours which was coordinated through Jaco VIP. All of the guys that worked for the zip lining company were great!
** Side Note: The zip-lining gear can be slightly [or very] uncomfortable in your crotch area. Sorry if I’m oversharing, but it seemed like the general consensus. We were all walking a little funny and trying to adjust ourselves to get more comfy. I can’t imagine it feeling that great for guys either! Again, this may be TMI, but whatever. Now you’re warned! If padded underwear exists, buy it. You’re welcome.
Golf: La Iguana golf course at Los Sueños Resort is the closest option. It’s an 18 hole Par 72 course with beautiful scenery. It is not uncommon to see monkeys, sloths, iguanas, toucans and macaws along the fairway.
Outdoor Activities/Adventures: Explore the rainforest by horseback, go on an ATV tour or a crocodile safari. There are different boat and kayaking excursions as well as white-water rafting.
Pura Vida Gardens and Waterfalls: I’ve heard this is a good place to visit if you’re traveling as a family and have the kiddies with you, or just want to check out some beautiful views. It costs $20 to get in and $10 for ages 12 and under. It’s about 30 minutes north of Jaco.
Relax: Lay on the beach, walk around town, get a massage, relax and enjoy! Because there were 10 of us [which can sometimes be annoying to coordinate plans when it’s a large party] AND were staying at such an awesome house, we were more than happy to stay in and have our own little pool party. DJ Chino graced us with his presence Saturday afternoon, again arranged by Jaco VIP. Because we booked a private Chef for 3 meals, we actually got a complimentary DJ for 4 hours. And on top of that, due to a minor issue with the bride to be’s massage, Jaco VIP provided another 4 hours of DJ’ing for Saturday evening which was sa-weeeet!!!
[Orange Pub was the club we went to]
Other Helpful Tips:
Currency: We did not have to exchange any money. The dollar is gold in Costa Rica and vendors are more than happy to accept payment in dollars. They most likely will give you change back in colons [their currency], but you can use that for purchases and tips. One US Dollar = 536.97 Costa Rican Colon [which is subject to change]. So for example, 20,000 colons equals $37.25. To make things simple, I doubled the colon amount, then divided that number by 1,000 to get a general idea on price. Everyone we encountered knew the conversation to US dollars, but I wanted to be sure we weren’t getting ripped off. Luckily we didn’t run into any issues or sketchy people. When in doubt, use the calculator on your phone!
Electrical Outlets: Fortunately, the house we rented had several different outlet options, including the one we use in America. I’m not sure what the situation is like in other hotels or vacation properties, so you may want to bring a converter just in case. We had no problem using blowdryers, straighteners or curling irons!
Dress Attire: Jaco is a beach town, so no need to pack anything fancy, unless you’re going to a specific event, such as a wedding. Even if you plan on going out on the town at night to the bars and clubs, you can definitely wear flat sandals, jeans, jean shorts or a causal romper.
Overall, we had a fantastic trip and I would totally recommend booking through Jaco VIP if Costa Rica is your destination of choice. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.