David and I traveled to Jaco, Costa Rica, for a quick get-away at the end of June. We are lucky that we live super close to Hobby airport- home of cheap Southwest flights. I was able to snag a “wanna getaway” deal to San Jose, Costa Rica, for $150 pp round-trip. Neither of us could take a lot of time off of work, so it was a quick trip. Too quick. I knew we would only have three fully days when I booked it. But three days was not enough. Everything was so pretty! I needed more time to explore and soak it all in.
We both clocked-out of our day jobs at 5 pm on a Wednesday and hopped a plane to Costa Rica. Since we got there late, we stayed in San Jose for the night. Three lessons learned: 1. Book a generic americanified hotel near the airport if you’re just staying one night 2. Always do a “street-view” check when picking a hotel in a foreign country, and 3. Get a rental car with GPS. The streets of San Jose make ZERO sense. It’s like a maze in there. We zigged zagged all over the dang city before making it to our what ended up to be our sssuuuuppper sketch hotel. Well, maybe the hotel wasn’t sketch…. I don’t know. All I know is that the literal hookers hanging outside the hotel caused us to keep driving until we found a Holiday Inn.
The next morning we took a walk around Morazán Park before driving to our final destination of Jaco.
There was a lovely pinkish colored school across from the park that I found totally charming.
Around noon, we hopped in the car and zig zagged our way back out of the city. I love wondering through old rough cities like this. What a different world!
The drive from San Jose to Jaco was a easy and beautiful. You really get a good idea of what Costa Rica is made of. You see farmland, mountain passes, lush forests, and little beach towns with shops along the way. The drive took around two hours, but was totally worth it.
We stayed at an awesome AirBnB that I couldn’t tell you one negative thing about. It was beautiful, it was quiet, it was affordable, it was luxurious, it was right on the beach, it had a restaurant/bar attached to it, and it had an amazing staff.
Day One was spent just hunkering around the hotel and the beach. The beach was just a few short steps from the hotel. Seen here:
We went at the start of the rainy season, which is why I think the tickets/hotel rates were lower than usual. But we got lucky! It only rained on our last night there, and the beaches were practically empty. And the one night storm we had, I actually thought was really pretty. 3 out of 3 days, it was bright and sunny!
On day two, we hopped in the Jeep and drove to Manuel Antonio Park. It was about a two hour drive, but again- worth it. This drive was great because it seemed to follow the coast for the majority of it. Every now and again you’d see an amazing beach or ocean scene appear out the window. Toward the end of the drive, you wind your way up some beautiful mountain passes. I recommend a four wheel drive and a GPS. Many of the roads were steep and twisty. We stopped at the bakery beside El Avion for breakfast/brunch along the way- Check out this view!
Manuel Antonio park did not disappoint! It was a little tricky figuring out where to park and buy tickets. Lots of people surround the entrance of the park and try to sell you animal tours or a better parking spot- but it’s nothing you can’t shrug off. There are a lot of manicured trails to hike and explore once inside.
We saw lots of animals, and of course, we checked out to two infamous beaches.
Again, I was so glad we went when we did- there weren’t many other people in the park. The first beach we hiked to had a couple dozen people at it. But I wouldn’t say it was crowded. Here’s David pretending he’s a fish:
We walked a shockingly short trail and discovered another beach! And this one was (in my opinion) more beautiful! And best of all, we had it all to ourselves! Talk about heaven!
We found a nice shady spot, laid down and relaxed and listened to the sound of the waves. Monkeys, sloths, and toucans hung out with us.
The waves were medium big on this beach.
There were monkeys howling in the trees on our walk back
We grabbed dinner at the Backyard Bar at Hermosa Beach that evening, and discovered that you can sit and watch local surf competitions there every night. We decided to return the following day to see. Hermosa Beach was gorgeous. It is a long black sand beach with big waves and killer sunsets.
Day three we hung out around Jaco some more. David tested his surfing skills when the tide was up in the morning. He did pretty good for a first-timer!
It was cloudy in the afternoon, which I loved since my skin was so burnt. It also brought out how dark the sand was. I think most people’s picture of a perfect beach is white sand, bright and crisp. But I’ve got to tell you, the dark, almost black sand was charming. It has a totally different relaxing vibe. I’m glad we got to experience it.
We wrapped up that day by going back to Hermosa beach to watch the surf competition. Man! Those surfer guys are brave! It was getting stormy, and the waves were huge! You must check out if you’re ever in the area. We just took shelter and watched. The next morning, we woke up before dawn and headed to the airport. The drive through the junglie mountains was insanely beautiful at that time of day. We were sad to leave.
That’s all folks! I highly recommend taking this trip. If anyone has questions or is planning a trip and needs some tips, feel free to comment or reach out!