The first leg of our trip we stayed in Playa Hermosa which is about 5 minutes south of the town of Jaco. Playa Hermosa is known as one of the best surf spots in the world. Unfortunately that made the beaches not very kid-friendly, beautiful but the surf was too big for them. There wasn’t much going on in Playa Hermosa itself so we spent most of our days while staying there travelling north and south to different beaches. One of the most popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica is Jaco, it’s easy to get to from the airport and has everything you could need, if you weren’t planning to have a rental car you could park yourself almost anywhere along Jaco beach and be walking distance to all the shops you could possibly require.
The downside to Jaco is that it’s busy. There are a lot of hotels along the beach so there are a lot of tourists. When we were there it wasn’t too busy that we didn’t enjoy it very much. We came into the town of Jaco for all our groceries, and we stopped for a swim at the beach many times. Most of our night swims were on the south end of Jaco beach because it was only 5 minutes from where we were staying. Night swimming in Costa Rica is awesome, the water is so warm and it’s peaceful at night. Jaco beach also provided us with an incredible sunset every single day, it’s horizon is centered on the sunset.
The backdrop of Jaco is also stunning, when you turn your back to the ocean and look back you see the lush green mountains in the background, it really is beautiful.
Our favorite place of the whole trip was a very small town about 5 minutes south of Playa Hermosa called Esterillos. There’s really not much there. You can drive along the beach from Esterillos East to Esterillos West, which reminds be that all throughout Costa Rica you can park right along the beaches for free, basically when find a spot between the palm trees it’s yours! Esterillos beach was so quiet, there was barely anyone there, we had miles of beach in front of us. There were fishing boats along the beach and you could buy fresh fish from the vendors, although you had to be there first thing the morning when they came in with the fresh fish. I wish we had had more time to spend at Esterillos and I would have loved to have a boogie board there.
While we were staying in the Playa Hermosa area we wanted to spend one day and go down to Manuel Antonio National Park. It was only an hour away and from what I had read online it was a must-see. So we packed ourselves up and made the drive. When we drove into the town we quickly realized how popular this spot was. It was covered in tourists. We got the very last parking spot on the street right in front of the national park. We had to pay the parking attendant to park and when we realized how much it would cost just to enter the park (almost $100 for the four of us) we promptly decided not to visit the park. But all was not lost, we spent the day at the beach there, it was just as beautiful as the rest of Costa Rica’s because except that it was packed with people. There were beach vendors with all sorts of different toys and gifts for purchase and a coconut cart.
After the beach we are heading back out of Manuel Antonio (you basically have to go up and over a mountain to get in and out), and we see a sign for zip lines. Apparently you can’t go to Costa Rica and not go zip-lining. I’m not a fan of heights but A wasn’t leaving Costa Rica without doing it at some point. This particular venue offered a canopy tour on a little motorized bike-type contraption. We took this opportunity to try of the action cam for the first time as well, got it strapped on to A’s helmet and they were off. While the boys cruised through the forest we found ourselves in the company of so many monkeys, they were everywhere.
After this adventure we decided we should stop for dinner before the hour long drive back. On the top of the mountain there were a few restaurants and we randomly selected one, little did we know that this particular spot overlooked the ocean right where the sunset was happening! We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect atmosphere for one of our only dinners out.
We really enjoyed all of the different locations we saw between Jaco and Manuel Antonio, we passed through a few smaller towns and wished we had a little more time to stop and explore them. I really don’t think there could be anywhere in Costa Rica that doesn’t wow with it’s beauty and charm.