Cristian at our complex can help you with any excursions you want to go on and he will normally be less expensive than places in town. He can help you with rental cars as well.
When leaving the country to come back home there is a deportation fee that is collected at the airport. You have to go all the way down to the far right hand side of the airport to pay this fee. It is around $29 per person. Sometimes there are places in jaco that will allow you to prepay this before you go to the airport. That does save you some time. Remember to have a pen with you when you fly as you have to fill out customs and immigration forms on flights in and out. I keep a pen in my carry on.
Using cash can save you some money. Most credit cards charge a small foreign transaction fee and some places have a different exchange rate than the official rate. Don’t change your money at the airport if you can help it, use a bank. We use the bank of san Jose in jaco.
When eating at restaurants they will not bring you the check until asked, it is considered rude to bring it before you request it.
At our complex we have 2 main security guards, Rudy speaks good English and Martin who does not. Both are very nice guys and have been with us for many years.
Below is a list of some of the many things we have done and places we have had meals at in Jaco and the area. I hope these help make your trip more enjoyable. We have a guest book at the Condo at the desk, please write down something in there about what you did and enjoyed. The condo has free wireless internet
Don’t trust rental car deals you find on the internet, they never disclose the cost of insurance which you have to get in Costa Rica and will add around $30 per day. Use transportation that Cristian can arrange to get you to the condo (around $200 round trip) and get a rental car in jaco instead of San Jose. Getting a rental car around the airport will add at least 90 minutes to 2 hours to your time in getting to jaco and getting around is confusing as there are no street signs. Cristian can help you get a rental car for a decent price except for January and February which are the highest season. We have gotten one for as cheap as $40 per day with all insurance included during September.
Always take the RED taxi’s not the orange ones or any other taxi. The Red ones are official and use the meters. You can reach most places for less than $2.
The water in the Jaco area is good to drink, you don’t have to get bottled water. If you travel out into the country that may not be the case and you should get bottled water if you are not in the town.
Paying with Colones or getting them for change. $1,000 colones is $2 so if using American dollars which everyone will accept cut the number in half and add 2 zeros $1 is 500 colones
One thing we do ask is that when you leave the condo turn off the AC, electricity in Costa Rica is expensive and the condo cools off quickly and normally doesn’t get very warm while you are gone anyway. Eat at the condo on the balcony as often as you can, the birds in the trees are fun to watch and you are right at tree top level.
Restaurants I would suggest:
Wishbone on main drag about 2 blocks down on right – Spicy Tuna bowl
Los Amigos – on main drag about 3-4 blocks down on left – everything is good
Graffiti right down from the condo in the shopping center in the corner you have to get the cocoa and coffee encrusted steak
Grocery Stores – I would suggest getting the driver stop at the grocery store in Heradura by Los Suenos on the way in. it is the most “American” grocery store. You can get some things there you cannot get in Jaco. Get stuff like bagels, cream cheese, sandwich meats, mayonnaise, ketchup and Mustard, maybe some Dos Pinas ice cream. Otherwise there is a smaller grocery store right across the street from our condo in the shopping center where the Pizza hut is located at. It is in the corner and you can get things you may want for breakfast, sun screen, lunch meats or hamburgers, milk, cokes etc.
There is a pharmacy in the same shopping center right across the street from the condo.
There is much bigger grocery store about a half mile away on the main street if take a left after you leave the condo. There is also a really nice grocery store on the way into Jaco in the shopping center with Radio Shack.
Excursions I would recommend: Cristian can help you set these up.
- Crocodile tour is a must see. It is a short drive and the guy gets in the water and feeds these huge crocodiles. You see salt water and fresh water crocs. You can also stop at the Tocoles River bridge on the way in and see crocodiles in the water under the bridge. NOTE: The Crocodile tour is no longer as much fun as they can no longer feed the crocodiles like they did. It is still a neat excursion but the fun is gone for me when they can’t get them to come up out of the water.
- When in Costa Rica restaurants automatically add 10% tip and you do not need to add extra unless you really want to. They do not expect more and some places don’t even offer a spot to add more, but some places do. Many places include tax and tip in the price on the menu.
- You may want to go down to Manuel Antonio State park –get a guide or don’t we didn’t but kind of followed one J. Wear a bathing suit as there is a nice beach there. You should see monkeys as well as other wildlife down there. it is about a 70-90 minute drive from the condo.
- However Carara national park is much closer at about 10 minutes and you can see Macaws, Toucans, spider and white face Monkeys as well as many other animals. You Should wear long pants and have some bug spray and be prepared to go on dirt trails but it is not a very hard walk. Walk slowly and look up in the trees often, take your time. You will be there about 2 hours and should bring binoculars or a camera with a good zoom lens. The cost to enter the park is only $10 per person, you can hire a guide there but you can walk it yourself, just make sure you look up. I now suggest you get a guide and do the north trail, much more animal life in a shorter walk.
- Massages, go to the spa next door to the WOK restaurant. Depending on season you can get a great 90 minute massage No need for a deep tissue massage as they will give you a really excellent massage without needing more pressure, trust me!
- Tortuga Island excellent but expensive tour. White sand beaches and about a 90 minute boat ride each way. The boat ride is nice, they serve rum punch and marguarita’s all day and they are included in the price. Also included is a full breakfast on the boat, music on the boat and at the island as well as a BBQ lunch on the beach. Once there there is snorkeling which is also included in the price. This is a full day of about 8 hours. On the island there are macaws and a gift shop. It is around $110 per person.
- You may want to look into a whale watching excursion, personally I love this. However be prepared for a small boat and take something for seasickness if you have that problem. (I did get seasick even after taking bonine) Whale watching is only from around September till November which is also rainy season.
- The zip line and tranopy tour right by the condo , this one is OK, zip lines are fun, the tranopy itself is not exciting but nice views. Small ‘zoo” area has some snakes, frogs and stuff.
- Neofauna was nice, a short drive from the condo, you can see Monkeys close up but they are in cages, snakes, turtles, poison dart frogs and lots up butterflies. If you drive yourself this can be a very inexpensive and fun place to go.
- They now do a surfing contest on Sundays in Jaco. Go down to jaco blu surf club, you can rent 2 chairs and an umbrella from Fany’s (she works at the condo office) husband, Andreas and watch the surfers. The food at jaco Blu was pretty good, we enjoyed the burger sliders. There is also a surfing contests on Saturday at Hermosa Beach a couple of miles South of Jaco. The surfing at Hermosa was better I believe. It is about a 5 minute ride from jaco. Go to backyard Grill, it is right on the beach. See if Fany can reserve you a table on the beach itself. The food is good there.
- If you want to go to the beach to get in the water do it Manuel Antonio state park or get a taxi and go to Herruda beach a few miles north – waves are too big at Jaco to just walk in the water and relax. You can also either drive or get a taxi to playa blanca. It is about a 5 mile drive north, you have to turn off on a dirt road right before you get to Punta Leona resort. You drive about another 2 kilometers and park by a soccer field. The security will charge you to watch your car. Nice white sand beach and good snorkeling to watch fish. If you get there during low tide walk around to the next beach North and snorkel by the resort around the rocks and the abundance of fish is awesome. Just come back while it is still close to low tide as the water will cover the rocks which become slippery.
- English TV stations in the condo are Channel 3 is WB, (sometimes channel 5), 14, channel 31 is HBO, channel 32 is max, 38 is a movie channel, 42 is AXM (Movies) channel 44, 56 is CNN, 59, ABC is 60, 61 Fix news is 62, 73 is MTV, 74 is VH1. ESPN is on channel 19 and 20 in Spanish but with sports who cares.
- Restaurant El Hicaco on the beach, turn right at the “red Lobster” restaurant and go to the beach. Excellent tuna tar tar, I had a spicy chili bowl with tenderloin which was excellent and the view was great.
- Wahoo restaurant just down the street to the left after you leave the condo has an excellent spicy tuna bowl.
- Graffiti restaurant which is just a few steps away in the complex on the corner same side of the street as the condo tucked in the corner, best Cocoa and coffee encrusted filet you can ask for, you have to get it while down in Jaco. They are a bit pricey but still a bargain.
- On the same road by the “red Lobster” is Rustica a “Soda” you can get a full buffet of local food.
- Across the side street from the “red lobster’ is Morales House. Really good grilled Lobster and pastas for a good price as well as other food.
- Watch American football and other sports at either Jaco taco which is about ½ mile down the main road from the corner where the KFC is. Americans gather here and the guy that owns is American, nice sports bar, good food and reasonable. Also Poseidon Poseidon is a couple of blocks to the left as you leave the condo. Take the second road towards the beach and Poseidon is there. Sports bar is upstairs, Sundays they normally have a $35 special where you get an appetizer, 2 entrees and a dessert. Their ribs are normally good as is the Tuna, don’t get the hamburger there. The smoked Tuna or salmon dip is good as is the brownie with ice cream.
- If you want a fast and cheap burger there is place in the first shopping center on the main street right next to a massage place and by Morada haze club. You can get a burger and a coke for $1,000 colones which is $2
- We went to Clarita’s which is at the extreme north end of Jaco. It was pretty good. Rene had a Pizza was good and I had the fried Red Snapper which tastes like crispy scored flounder without the sauce. You can Red Snapper for less money in town normally. It was close to $20 at Clarita’s but in town I have seen it for $15 or less.
- The ATV tour was fun, but the one we took while a great deal of fun at 4 hours was a bit long as your hands and arms get very tired. Also we were told that it would include fishing and that we would grill whatever we caught for lunch or they would provide a lunch. Instead we were told the fishing area was closed and we had to pay for lunch at a restaurant. The day ended up being more expensive than planned and we didn’t get to fish. While everyone had a really good time, we were still disappointed that we didn’t get what we were promised.
- For a romantic meal or drinks go to Villa calestas. It is a few miles south up on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Fantastic sunset views with a nice bar and food. It is a bit expensive but nice.
- Bohio restaurant on the beach just down from Poseidon. Good taco’s reasonable price and great view. CASH only.
- The WOK, was OK food and a bit pricey but you can get one meal and split it.
- New things from our last trip down
- There is a restaurant on the coastal road if you drive back past the maxi Pali and turn right, go to second intersection I believe and it on the left side of the road. Great food for 2,500 colones which includes tip and drink. Plenty to eat and very good.
- While we have not done it yet we have heard great things about adventure dining. About $100 per person, but you get to see great gardens, McCaws up close, waterfall and then a huge meal with drinks with one of the best views in Costa Rica.
By David Rubnitz