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Spanish in Playa Jaco

How to Spend Your Downtime in Playa Jaco

Hang Ten


Jacó was, believe it or not, one a quite sleepy little town on Costa Rica's west coast but warm waters and impressive waves weren't long in attracting the surfers and backpackers making their way along the typical tourist trail in Costa Rica. Only two hours away from San José, Playa Jacó is very easily accessed from the capital city and today represents the quintessential beach party and chilled out traveller hangout by the coast. Whilst the main beach itself is not the most aesthetically pleasing and strong riptides prevent much swimming being done, you have to remember that Playa Jacó is a surfer's mecca for a reason, so pick up your board and get out there with the rest of them. Adjacent beaches provide a more pleasant backdrop and Playa Hermosa in particular is a favourite with tourists as it hosts an International Surf Contest every year and is renowned for the consistently large size of its waves. There are literally tonnes of surf schools to choose from in Playa Jacó if you fancy joining the masses and getting in the water, waxing up your board and trying to avoid a wipe-out or why not even combine a Spanish language course with Surf lessons at one of the Spanish learning centres in Playa Jacó?

Want a head start with some of the surfing lingo? Here are a few of the basics:

  • Aerial - where surfer and board leave the water in any particular manoeuvre
  • Boardies - knee length shorts worn by surfers in warmer climates
  • Deck - the top side of your surfboard
  • Eating It/Wiping Out - falling off your board (you might need to get used to this one if you are just starting out)
  • Fin - the curved little bit that hangs off the back of your surfboard, like a coat hook
  • Goofy Foot - what you will be referred to if you surf with your right foot as your leading foot
  • Hang Ten - riding a long surfboard standing with both feet at the nose of it
  • In the Soup - what the foamy white stuff following a wave breaking is called
  • Surf Wax - a wax that you can rub on your board to provide more grip for your feet
  • The Zone - when there is no escaping the wave that is closing down on you

Other Activities on Offer


For those of you not really taken by this whole idea of surfing, fret not! There are plenty of other activities on offer in Playa Jacó for the less amphibious amongst you. The wide open spaces provided by the beaches and the magical scenery of the surrounding jungles provide a more than pleasant backdrop for a spot of horse riding or trekking and the river gives a great chance to do some kayaking. Nine miles north of Playa Jacó is the Carara Biological Reserve, where you will be able to see all kinds of birds species and even macaws if you are lucky. You can trek to the spot where the macaws nest, but it is best to do this either at sunset or sunrise and they relocate during the day and are most active at these times of the day. Another option for seeing all of the wonderful flora and fauna on display here is to take a canopy tour and get an aerial view of it all. A truly unique way to see the forest!

As I have mentioned, Playa Jacó has developed into somewhat of a party destination within Costa Rica and after a hard days surf you definitely won't find yourself stuck for a decent restaurant to munch in or a cool surf bar or two to pass some time in. There are often DJs most nights of the week and drinks offers and promotions.

All in all Playa Jacó is a surfer's paradise and ideal for anyone who wants to combine a course of Spanish study with some sand and waves with a peppering of ecological exploration and a decent nightlife!