I get this question all the time: why live in Jaco, Costa Rica? Isn’t it seedy and dangerous? Absolutely not!
Jaco, like any popular beach town in Costa Rica, might seem like more of a party town than the ideal place to live, but looks can be deceiving. This year marks four years of calling Jaco my home and I cannot imagine living in any other place in Costa Rica.
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My wife and I live in a new development about half a mile from the main strip of Jaco.
Here it feels separated from everything but in the heart of it all. A strange way to explain it, but it’s the best of both worlds. The life here is pretty laid back and like any popular tourist beach town in the states. You get your locals and you get your tourists. During the week, things are slow and there are few cars or people on the main strip. But on the weekends, things get busy and the town comes alive with people everywhere.
Jaco is the closest beach town to San Jose and a hot spot for Costa Rican families to visit and enjoy the sun, surf, sea, and sand.
So what do we (the locals) do in Jaco?
I can’t speak for everyone, but this is pretty much how my wife and I spend our days and weeks. I work from home as a travel agent, so there’s not much difference between the actual days of the week and when I am not working.
During the week, I spend most of my time at home working or heading to the local marinas to meet clients and friends.
A short distance outside Jaco is the world-famous Los Sueños Resort and Marina. As the fishing specialist for Costa Rica Vacations, tons of my clients visit this property and since it is so close, it’s a perfect place for me to meet them. The marina is amazing, the food options are over the top, and the luxury vibe of everything reminds us how great it is to live around here.
In Los Sueños, our favorite place to hang out is the Hook-Up for lunch, great drinks, and incredible marina views. When entertaining or socializing at night, we also like to eat at Lanterna. The food is excellent and the service great.
Back in town, we also have favorite places to visit and hang out in. We love Jaco Walk! This is a new project on the south end of the strip and home to some of our favorite restaurants.
Sunday Funday for us is all about Puddle Fish Brewery in Jaco Walk. They have bottomless mimosas on Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm, which is our standard routine. They also have chicken and waffles for breakfast and who on earth would pass that up?
Their sister restaurant called Graffiti is also one of our go-to places for amazing food and mixed drinks. I am a big red meat guy, which is often challenging in Costa Rica, but the Coffee Encrusted Caco tenderloin at Graffiti is the best steak in town.
Wednesdays and Fridays are sushi night for us. Our favorite place is Tsunami Sushi in Jaco Walk on the second story. These two days are half-price on rolls and we go to town. If you go, try the spicy edamame and the Crab Cali roll.
Other regular joints we frequent on any day of the week include:
Pizzabar. This is one of my personal favorites. I love the concept and the pizza is off the charts.
Taco Bar. Same owners as the Pizza Bar and a great place for food and killer prices. You order the main entrée and they have a salad bar with all the sides and fixings to load your tacos up so you get more than you can eat.
Green Room. Another top pick for dinner or lunch. They specialize in more organic and local foods with a killer craft beer selection. My favorite is the bacon and jalapeño grilled cheese and my wife’s is the falafel salad.
Juanitas. This is another great option in Jaco Walk. Great food and even better drinks. They have a mixologist who makes the meanest “Old Fashion” in Costa Rica and is well worth the visit.
Lemon Zest. One of the best places in town and I put it on the same level as Graffiti. They have one of the best lobster dishes around and it’s our favorite place to bring fresh fish to after spending a day on the water.
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Claritas. A cool local spot, this is the classic Costa Rican beachfront bar/restaurant. Cold beer, good eats and as close to the ocean as you can get.
The Swell. Another cool local bar. Nothing fancy, but cold beer, beach vibe and an all-around great places that screams Costa Rica.
Hamburguesia. A Costa Rica chain place, but with good burgers and is not your typical chain restaurant. Cool vibe and you get to customize your burger with tons of ingredients.
Backyard Bar. On Playa Hermosa south of town and one of Costa Rica’s prime surf spots. One of our favorites for the sunset and good local flare. They have a surf competition every Saturday and the place gets packed. Try the fried shrimp wrap if you go there along with a miguelito shot.
Moyo. This has become more of a routine for us than anything. Out of the blue, we will get the urge and head back to Jaco walk and load up on Moyo with toppings. We convince ourselves that this is healthy since its yogurt, but then realize all the toppings we add kind of kill that healthy aspect. But who cares, we live in Costa Rica!
Whether you are a family looking for lots of things to see, a hardcore fisherman or surfer, a party/nightlife goer or looking to escape, Jaco has something for everyone, foodwise.
Justin DeBoom lives with his wife Lucia in Jaco, Costa Rica where they run Caribsea Sportfishing. Justin also works as a travel consultant and fishing specialist at Namu Travel, where he helps people plan trips to Costa Rica and Panama. He can be contacted at email@example.com.