Advice for the newbie during the first few weekends in Costa Rica: don’t stay home and do nothing on the weekends! It gets very lonely and causes homesickness to start seeping through the door cracks again. Jaco beach is a great get-away for a weekend, because it is beautiful, relaxing, close, and affordable!
I adventured to Jaco on my third weekend in Costa Rica with three other girls, and I only spent $85 TOTAL for transportation to and from Jaco, a place to stay, and food! We bought our bus tickets on the Wednesday before we left, and they were 5 dollars/2500 colones. We left Friday after class to grab our packed things from our houses, and took a taxi to downtown San Jose where the Jaco bus stop is located. Our bus left at 1 pm and was only 2 hours, so we were in Jaco by 3 pm. We stayed at a brand new hostel called “Room2Board”, and it was extremely nice. It cost $16/night without air conditioning, or $22/night with air conditioning… I had to splurge and get the room with AC for both nights because it is H-O-T at the beaches here. There were 4 bunk beds in our room, so 8 bed spaces total. We had 2 other girl roommates and 2 other guy roommates that we didn’t know, but don’t worry; it’s not near as weird as you think. The guys were never in the room, and the bathrooms are community-bathroom style like in college dorms so showers, sinks, and toilets are separated by sex. It really helped me make friends from all around the world! The hostel had a pool, a big projector and movie screen outside over the pool, a bar/restaurant area near the pool, a surf shop, a movie room with beanbags and movies, a nice kitchen, computers, wifi, and a rooftop lounge with hammocks, tables, and chairs. It was really modern and definitely catered to college kids and young adults because all the prices were reasonable and you could never be bored. I didn’t do any tours while we were there, but 2 girls that came with me did the Tortuga Island tour on Saturday morning for $125. All the tours are listed in the surf shop on the ground floor near the bar area, and they all sounded really fun; I just chose not to do any because I wanted to save money and work on my tan!
Jaco is easy to navigate around because all the hostels, shops, and restaurants are located on one main road parallel to the beach. We walked and taxi-ed up and down that street Friday through Sunday, and each day we discovered something new. Mary’s Diner is a quaint little restaurant with a really cute older man who speaks English and Spanish as the owner. I got some awesome French Toast there on Saturday and Sunday morning for only $5 both times; they also have delicious shakes! Also, if you like ice cream, you have to try “Pops” on the main street! It’s somewhat in the middle of the main street as well, but a little closer to Room2Board than Mary’s diner is. The shops are unique and very pretty, just like all beach town shops. They have a bunch of handmade items; just be careful to check the prices before you fall in love with it. I made that mistake. We bought our bus tickets back to San Jose on Saturday afternoon at the bus station, which is located on the very opposite end of the main street as Room2Board; the walk there was pretty long, but a taxi there is only around 1500 colones, which was cheap split four ways.
I highly recommend visiting Jaco beach on a free weekend, and I don’t think any other hostel can beat Room2Board for the amenities they offered for such a small price per night! Safe and happy travels!