When studying abroad in Costa Rica almost every weekend here is spent at a beach, in a cloud forest or doing something you have always wanted to do. Of course, the first weekend here is very overwhelming. There are too many amazing options. If you are like me, you will ask other students who have been here for a while. I guess it is because Jaco is close (about 3 hours), but I am positive that will be their recommendation to you. I am telling you now, please do not let that be your first experience of a Costa Rican beach. It looks nothing like all of the other beaches here. It pretty much looks like a beach in South Carolina, not a beach in Latin America! It also, is only about the nightlife and is slightly crazy at night as far as safety. People will tell you that it is a great surf spot. However, if you are interested in a beautiful and great surf spot, then go to Playa Hermosa (about 30 minutes from Jaco).
Finally, my recommendation for your first weekend here is Manuel Antonio! (these two photos were taken in Manuel Antonio) What is Manuel Antonio, you ask? It is where one of the most beautiful national parks is located and is also one of my favorite beaches. It is only about 4 hours from San Jose, using the public transit and it is well worth the journey! In the national park (about a $20 entrance fee) you have the opportunity to see all types of wildlife. Some animals you will see include, monkeys, sloths, deer, the common Basilisk also known as the Jesus lizard and many other creatures. It is truly an amazing place. Not to mention, the beach in the park is the cleanest and one of the prettiest that I have seen since I have been here. So please, when you get here and cannot decide on what you want to do for your first weekend, go to Manuel Antonio! You will not regret it and you will get to experience a real Costa Rican beach and also get to witness some of the wildlife.