Tips for a Solo Woman Traveler in Jaco, Costa Rica!

Lisa Martens

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View from the Miro Jaco, February 2021

I've been traveling solo for over four years. While Covid has changed the nature of my trips (longer stays, private rooms instead of dorms, and no more bars or dancing), there are still beautiful places to see in a safe way!

For beaches in Costa Rica, I recommend Jaco during Covid-19. While it is definitely the most built-up and not the most remote of beaches, it is the place where I see Covid-19 being taken the most seriously. I visited Santa Teresa and I had to leave early simply because many foreigners were not following the rules (the Costa Rican Ministry of Health cracked down shortly after I left).

(Please follow Covid-19 guidelines! Tourism is a major part of the Costa Rican economy, and businesses definitely want people frequenting their stores and restaurants, but it is, I feel, our responsibility as tourists to keep the locals as safe as possible, as they are merely trying to make a living. Please do not take advantage of their situation by flaunting safety measures!)

Surf lessons!

I usually dislike surf lessons. As a solo woman traveler, I've noticed a lot of hook-up culture around surf lessons...the men instructors usually seem more interested in what you're doing later than actually teaching you to surf.

If you're interested in that, then you will find that in abundance in Jaco. If this sounds uncomfortable for you and you're more interested in a low-pressure environment, I find that Leoni is an amazing female instructor.

She speaks English, Spanish, German, and a little bit of French, and makes and sells earrings!

Miro Jaco

A must-do in Jaco is the Jaco Miro. There are many rumors about how the Miro came to be, but it's fairly obvious that someone was building some kind of hotel or restaurant in the mountain, and never finished. Now, it's a great place to walk and have a view of all of Jaco. There's also a lot of amazing street art.

The Miro Jaco is located at the south end of town, along the road to Manuel Antonio. It is across the street from the Puddle Fish parking lot. Walk to the south end of the beach and cross the main road (carefully) and you'll see a dirt path leading up. This is the path to the Miro Jaco!

You may need good shoes and a bottle of water. The trip cannot be done by car, so be ready to walk! Hats, sunscreen, and anything to guard from the sun is a good idea.

Definitely go during the daytime, as it is too dark at night, and enjoy this beautiful view!

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View from Miro Jaco, 2021

Get a cute bikini!

I have a very curvy body, and so buying bikinis has always been a pain point for me. That is, until I cound Marveca! This cute shop makes custom bikinis for under $100 (as of 2021). I was fitted and had my bikini the very next day! Definitely go as soon as you get there, because the turnaround time is not always this fast.

I have wide hips and a large chest, and bikinis always posed a problem for me. But look how cute this is!

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Me in a Marveca bikini on the Room2Board rooftop.

Street Food!

A lot of places on the main road in Jaco have pretty standard, American-style fare. However, there are a few restaurants I truly love.

El Arapazo, across the street from the Red Cross, for traditional, buttery arepas stuffed with eggs, meats, cheeses, rice, beans, and vegetables.

Taco Joint boasts Cali-Mexican style burritos. Get your burrito to stay or to go, and pick from a delicious range of fillings and sauces. Taco Joint is two blocks over from Selinas.

Both of these places accept credit cards, but it is very common for machines to be down, so I always recommend having cash on hand.

A secret sushi surprise...

Tucked away south of the Mas x Menos is a hidden gem called Sushi at Home. The fish is delicious and the prices are pretty reasonable. If you need a sushi fix, that's where I would highly recommend! Again, they do take cards, but generally in Costa Rica, it's better to have cash on hand.

And delicious Indian food!

The Jaco Walk currently has a delicious Indian restaurant that feels nice enough for a sit-down meal, but not overly fancy. It's called Hola India, and it's the only Indian restaurant I have ever seen in Jaco. It's so delicious, and there's a New York-style bagel shop right next door. As a New Yorker, I was super happy with both options!

As for other places I love, Bohio Cafe has great coffee, Costa Juice has amazing smoothies and bowls (but they appear to be closed due to Covid-19 right now), and Rustico is a great option for local casados.

Banks and cash!

Jaco has many banks and ATMs. There is a BCR ATM right in the middle of town near Costa Juice, and there is a BAC bank in the Jaco Walk.

There's also a loose ATM in the Mas x Menos, but I recommend avoiding these when possible. Stand-alone ATMs will sometimes hold your card and not give it back. If you're at an actual bank, they can retrieve your card right away. If it's a loose ATM, then it can take a week or more for the ATM to be serviced. (It has happened to me before!)

There is also a Banco Nacional and a Banco Popular, but these banks do not always work with foreign cards. The Banco Nacional is the better bet. However, if you don't think you should be having trouble with your debit card, and they are not working at the Banco Nacional or the Banco Popular, I recommend trying one of the other banks to see if your card works better there.

When using the ATM, always check your surroundings. I recommend taking money out during the day and using the BAC in Jaco Walk. It's never given me any issues.

Covid Tests

There are two laboratories for Covid tests that I saw—One by Costa Juice, also near the BCR ATM, and another in the Jaco Walk. Both appeared fairly busy, and the rumor in town was that they were fully booked for all of February. If you need a rapid test, I recommend booking an appointment as soon as you come to Jaco, just for the peace of mind!

Working from Jaco

I like Jaco also because the internet signal and infrastructure is very good, unlike some other beaches. There's also a direct bus to San Jose in case you need to have a laptop serviced or replaced.

Selinas in Jaco has a great coworking space if you need to do Zoom calls, as does Room2Board. Room2Board also has a rooftop view and I've worked from their roof many a time. I prefer the Room2Board roof if I'm not doing something I need privacy for, and the Selinas for any Zoom calls or situations where I need a superbly fast upload speed.

I've also worked from Costa Juice, Buddha Hotel, and Crocs, and have never had any trouble with the WiFi.

Other beaches in Costa Rica may be more remote, but if you're working and need consistent internet access as well as a beautiful beach, I recommend Jaco, and taking day trips to beaches on your days off.

Some other tips and tricks.

Jaco is a fairly safe beach, but if you're a solo woman, definitely try to stay in a group at night, if you go out at all. There is a big hook-up and drug scene here, and petty theft is common. Secure your belongings and do not leave them in a car, in plain view in your hotel room, etc. If you find someone is stealing from you, it's best to let them go than to try to confront them. Go to the police immediately!

Jaco is a place that is full of talented people, natural beauty, and delicious food. I enjoy working and playing here, and the internet is suitable for my job.

Hopefully this guide will help you, and as we say in Costa Rica, Pura Vida!

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