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Jaco, Costa Rica: The Perfect Blend of Everything

Jaco, Costa Rica offers many rare qualities that draw expats to its sunny shores. Beginning as a sleepy beach town, droves of surfers have since discovered its appeal.

This influx of new blood has made Jaco more lively and modern, without forsaking any of its original charm. Jaco, Costa Rica is known worldwide as the modern embodiment of a 1970’s California surfing town.

jaco costa rica

Anthony Doudt

While Jaco boasts the claim of the most developed beach town, the residents have not given up their simple, laid-back lifestyle. Despite the addition of more modern amenities and businesses, Jaco is still a small surfing community.

It manages to be the rare town that can grow and develop while still holding onto to its authentic, rustic Costa Rican atmosphere.

Despite Its Secluded Vibe, Jaco Costa Rica Is a Great Jumping-Off Point

While the edges of Jaco feel like a private hideaway, it is far from isolated. Only two hours from Jaco is San Jose, Costa Rica’s thriving capital city. San Jose is also home to Costa Rica’s primary international airport (SJO). This gives expats the freedom to travel the globe with minimal hassle.

There are a wide variety of towns nearby with a range of attitudes and atmospheres to satisfy the desires of any expat.

Jaco, Costa Rica is commonly used to refer to not only the surfing town, but also all of the Central Pacific region. This region is home to nearly any sort of town one can desire, from upscale resort towns to hidden, rustic villages.

jaco costa rica

Dan Gray

A Beautiful Climate with Enough Variety to Keep It Interesting

As a rule, Jaco, Costa Rica itself offers a warm and humid climate. The sunny days and balmy temps beckon expats outdoors and into the tempting weather. The rainiest months tend to be September and October.

The driest weather lasts from January through April. These months tend to bring the most amount of tourists, eager to soak up Jaco’s intense sunrays. Rain is off and on throughout the rest of the year, meaning nearly every day is an excellent chance to explore the world outside.

In another similarity to California, Jaco offers a variety of micro-climates throughout the region. The temperature will vary widely, based on topography and the current winds. You can find areas that are cooler, warmer, more humid, or drier – all within a short drive.

jaco costa rica

Anthony Doudt

Expats Will Never Tire of the Varied Beaches

Perhaps more than anything else, Jaco, Costa Rica’s beaches are its primary draw. Its exquisite shorelines bring awestruck visitors from all corners of the globe.

Jaco, Costa Rica itself is known for its beautiful cinnamon colored sand, reminiscent of California’s Pacific shores. There are also pure white beaches that allow the brilliant color of the sea to pop against the sand.

Even exotic black sand beaches are featured. You’ve not seen true beauty until you’ve witnessed jewel colored fish swimming in a rockpool, surrounded by rich, black sand.

Even when you are away from the shore, Jaco offers beautiful waterscapes everywhere. There are brilliant rivers, streams, and breathtaking waterfalls populating the region.

One is never far from a gorgeous water scene, no matter the location. Of course, most water lovers in Jaco are there for more than the sand and the views.

jaco costa rica

Michael Brashier

Jaco, Costa Rica Is One of the Undisputed Best Spots for Surfing on the Globe

More than anything else, it’s the waves that bring people flocking to the shores of Jaco. With astounding waves on nearly every shore, Jaco is a surfer’s dream.

Surfers on every beach and crowding the village complete the nostalgic feel of a Californian surf town. You will feel pleasantly like you’ve stepped back in time, and will relish the calming change of pace.

While moderate and new surfers can find waves in Jaco, Costa Rica, even the most hardcore surfers will have shores calling to them. Playa Hermosa, a gorgeous black sand beach, is a quiet six-mile stretch of consistently high waves. In fact, the waves are so continually challenging that the Quicksilver Competition is held here every August.

Even those who surf the calmer waves will love to kick back on the dark sand and watch the world’s best compete.

jaco costa rica

Chase Cheviron

Even Beyond Surfing, There Is a Paradise of Outdoor Activities

Few people know how to take full advantage of a gorgeous landscape and warm climate like the residents of Jaco. There will never be a dull day for even the most energetic outdoor adventurer.

Jaco, Costa Rica offers nearly every outdoor activity imaginable, from deep sea fishing to white water rafting, zip lining to ATV tours, horseback excursions to crocodile safaris, there never needs to be a dull day.

Even the most relaxing activities can be made into an adventure in Jaco. Why enjoy golfing on a typical course, when you can try yourself on the challenging La Iguana Golf Course, designed by Ted Robinson? While you are swinging and testing your skills, you can enjoy the enchanting views. Monkeys and macaws are frequent visitors on the course, making your game that much more special.

Wildlife Lovers Can Spend a Lifetime Exploring the Local Animals

Jaco is home to some of the most beautiful and exotic wildlife in the world. While the town itself is not over-developed, allowing for wildlife to remain naturally, there are also numerous wildlife refuges and parks nearby.

The Carara Biological Reserve is only 9.3 miles south of Jaco and offers several miles of trials. This reserve is a vital nesting ground of the famed scarlet macaw. A sunset or sunrise hike is your best chance to catch views of this gorgeous, colorful bird.

The Playa Hermosa Wildlife Refuge is also nearby, and is the shore where the Olive Ridley sea turtles come to nest. There are few natural events more beautiful to an animal lover than the steady, oncoming march of hundreds of ancient, expectant sea turtules.

The Manuel Antonio National Park is a short drive away, just 43 miles to the south of Jaco. Crocodiles are also seen from the bridge or sunning on the banks of the Tarcoles River. Those who crave the chance to experience wildlife in a new and exciting way can even sign up for canopy tours, giving themselves a bird’s-eye view of some of the most interesting animals in nature.

jaco costa rica

David Gordillo

For Party Lovers, the Night Life Can Be Just As Exciting

On top of all the natural beauty and easy charm of Jaco, Costa Rica this tourist spot has now become a thriving night life capital. There are discos, night clubs, and dive bars all dotting the streets, giving an expat an endless amount of choices for fun after dark.

For those looking for tamer sorts of entertainment, Jaco, Costa Rica has quickly become one of Costa Rica’s best spots for dining. Beautiful, exotic fare is served on the gorgeous shorelines, all with a friendly and hospitable atmosphere. Your taste buds will enjoy all the beauty that the area can offer, making Jaco a fully satisfying sensory experience.

Not Only a Safe City, But a Highly Livable One

You don’t have to give up your safety and comfort for a sense of adventure and after dark fun. While drugs and crime are something to consider, Jaco is no more dangerous than any other tourist spot. In fact, in some cases, it is much safer than your typical secluded getaway.

While prostitution is legal, it is subtle and generally restricted to only two or three bars. These places can easily be avoided, meaning an expat can feel comfortable bringing their family out after dark.

Jaco also has the most amount of police of any Costa Rican beach town. State, city, and tourism officers are all continually on hand, meaning you can relax and enjoy the fun Jaco has to offer without feeling threatened or worried.

Don’t Worry, It’s Relaxing Too

Despite its famed nightlife, Jaco typically does not become wild until after 10 p.m., and generally even then primarily on the weekends. A leisurely, quiet evening stroll is often possible, allowing you to savor the laid-back atmosphere after a long day surfing, exploring, and dining out.

To help keep the town pristine and rustic, great steps are taken to make sure it remains clean and environmentally friendly. Recycling centers are common throughout the village, helping keep littering at bay while encouraging sustainability.

Most residents navigate primarily by walking, as the slow pace of life and warm weather encourage a leisurely attitude towards even daily errands. For a more fun way to get away, bike and scooter rentals are also common.

While It May Be Perfect for Some, It Is Not Ideal for All Expats

Expats who are moving down with their family, especially if they have young children, may not find Jaco, Costa Rica to be their location. While the party scene is relatively contained, it is a very large part of the culture.

The town has become known internationally for its intense night life and parties, and therefore attracts tourists from all over who are seeking this out. Even if the locals are a bit tamer, people who are just visiting may be reckless and loud their entire stay. Legal prostitution may also make parents with young children uncomfortable, even if businesses that feature prostitutes are avoided.

Those seeking a quieter, more laid-back lifestyle also may find Jaco, Costa Rica a bit too wild and developed for their tastes. If an expat is craving escaping civilization, the most developed town in Costa Rica may make you feel like you are stuck on the mainland again.

It is surrounded by many smaller, less developed towns, however, so those who crave this pace of life are not out of luck. Also, investors may want to seek out areas besides Jaco; as the area is already highly developed, it is unlikely cheap property can be purchased in the hopes of cashing in once the area becomes more developed.

An Affordable Paradise

While somewhere so exotic, beautiful, famed, and modernized may seem like an out of reach luxury, that is not true when it comes to Jaco. While there are the expected, luxurious homes in Jaco that sell for the multi-millions, these are not the average properties available.

Homes can be found for as low as $150,000, making Jaco a realistic goal for an expat looking to settle somewhere gorgeous and unique.

jaco costa rica

Costa Rica Beauty

Still Growing While Holding Onto to Its Rustic Charms

As Jaco, Costa Rica becomes more and more popular, it is doing more to make sure its way of life never changes. An expat is guaranteed an environment harkening back to Californian surf towns while honoring the rich, Costa Rican landscape and wildlife.

From surfing to adventures, dining to shopping, biking to wildlife watching, Jaco offers all that an expat could hope for.

Map of Jaco, Costa Rica

Jaco, Costa Rica Fast Facts

  • Population: About 10,000
  • Typical temperature: Mid 80’s
  • Nearest airport with U.S. flights: San Jose
  • Nearest U.S. consulate: San Jose

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