Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Review of Jaco Costa Rica

So I finally made it to the famous town of Jaco Costa Rica this past week.  Jaco is a strange enigma to me.  I was both expecting so much more, and also expecting so much less.  I had been warned again and again that Jaco Costa Rica is all about drugs and sex.  Well, I can honestly say that during the day, you catch very little of this vibe. In fact, it seemed not too unlike a low-key Caribbean beach town.  It was relatively calm and quiet, and dozens of families with children strolled the streets.  I did not see any overt drug action or indications of prostitution during the hours we were there. But these were daylight hours, and my boyfriend says it's a whole different story at night.

Despite my initial apprehension in visiting the town, I personally liked the overall vibe of Jaco. As I mentioned above, it has a very beachy/island vibe to it, but also had buildings that were a little more upscale and slightly European feeling.  This is no doubt due to the influx of foreigners, not only from the U.S., but more recently from Europe - mainly from Italy. You can see indications of this Italian influence in the names and designs of various stores and restaurants.  Interestingly, Jaco Costa Rica was first put on the map by Canadian charter groups escaping the northern winters.  The town faded out of popularity for a while after that, but today it's back with vigor.  As you look around you will see a lot of new development in the works, and business seems to be booming almost everywhere you look.

I thought Jaco Costa Rica was going to be a lot bigger than it was.  But it's basically a small town that borders a 2 kilometer long main strip - known as Avenida Pastro Diaz.   This main street, in turn, borders along the 3 km long Jaco Beach.  You can quickly drive from end to end of the town in just a few minutes.

After walking along Jaco Costa Rica's main strip and wandering down some of its side streets, you'll quickly realize that Jaco is a town of bars and restaurants, surfing outlets, and gentlemen's clubs - most famously Divas and Crazy Horse.  When you are ready for a break from your town stroll, you can take one of the side streets leading to Jaco beach, where you can spend some time soaking up the rays.

On a side note, my boyfriend and his mother attempted to open a restaurant in downtown Jaco a couple years ago.  The location rental was not really that cheap.  They were paying about $2000 USD a month for the space. Unfortunately, everything went wrong for them and after about 4 months of trying to make the restaurant work, they ended up giving up the venture and losing their entire investment.  Not sure what exactly went wrong but they did refuse to serve liquor in their establishment (a strange decision to make in a town like Jaco), and also the storefront next to them, rented by Mexican patrons, was being used as a cover-up for marijuana dealing - probably attracting the wrong clientele to the building.

In a couple weekends we'll be visiting some friends that live and work in Jaco and I will get to experience the town by night.  I'll be sure to let you know if Jaco Costa Rica lives up to its seedy reputation when the sun goes down.

Entering Jaco's "downtown" area along the main strip called Avenida Pastro Diaz

Green building to the right was location of my boyfriend's failed restaurant attempt in Jaco

Side Street off Avenida Pastro Diaz

One of the many surfing outlets in Jaco Costa Rica

Strolling down another side street off Jaco's main strip

Interesting store fronts along Jaco's Avenida Pastro Diaz

1 comment:

Traveleam said...

Good post. We've posted a similar Jaco, Costa Rica profile here:

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