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Surfing central for the Costa Rican west-coaster, Jacó has all that the unruly-locked surf dude or dudette could want. A scruffy but functional town, the beach isn't going to win any awards for scenic beauty but conditions are perfect for making those first wobbly stands on the board, and for cutting some more serious moves too.

We spent a week at Escuela del Mundo, the School of the World, just a short distance from the beach, with daily surfing classes following the tides. The school also offered classes in Spanish, photography, and yoga - I had signed up for photography but due to a clash, found myself standing on my head for the week in the yoga studio. Having never practised yoga before, I was surprised at how difficult it was.

Footprints in the sand

Footprints in the sand at Playa Hermosa, "pretty beach", a couple of kilometres south of Jacó town itself.

Jacó beach has good conditions for learning to surf, we would head out around high tide and go for a couple of hours. The waves were generally only three to six feet, which was fine for us.

Jacó beach

Surfing Jacó

Some of the more experienced surfers showed us what could be done with waves even as diminutive as the ones we were learning on.

Surf dudes with attitude - kinda groovy.

Surf dudes

Horses in the sea

This chap was giving it his best shot, but the horses weren't all that interested in learning how to surf.

The beach is lined with surf schools and all the associated paraphernalia one would require for full dudery.

Surfboards at Jacó

Surfer dude

As an ungraceful surfing lump, I was started out on a nine foot six inch board, before graduating to a nine-two after a couple of days. Still enough buoyancy to float a baby elephant.

Our home for the week, the courtyard at Escuela del Mundo, the School of the World.

School of the World


The roof of the school was particularly popular with the neighbourhood iguanas.

Jacó town is a ramshackle assembly of shops, cafes and bars, strung along a ragged highway just back from the beach. We found a couple of good sushi restaurants and spent most of the week dining there.

Jacó town

Quad biking in the jungle

A day's outing on quad bikes or "four-wheelers" into the local rainforest. After a couple of training circuits we were let loose into the jungle proper, and encountered several other gangs along the way.

Just as well I wasn't wearing my best shorts for this - and that my legs are washable.

Muddy quad biking

Waterfall and suspension bridge

Our final destination on the quads was a series of jungle pools and waterfalls, swimming optional.

Not satisfied with petrol-head activities, we headed for the forest canopy to hang our for the rest of the day. Costa Rica claims to have invented ziplining, and with the course of nine lines taking over two hours to complete, I can well believe it.

Upside-down ziplining

Pura vida!

Pura vida! They shout at every possible opportunity - it's the national motto, and all the locals swear by it. To the extent that the merchandisers have been making out like bandits.

After a week in the cheerful but not entirely luxurious surf school, a night at the swanky Marriott Los Sueños resort was just the ticket.

Los Sueños resort

Lagoon pools

Lagoon pools abound at Los Sueños resort, complete with swim-up bar and no shortage of cocktails.

Even the nearby apartment complex was well endowed with swimming facilities.

Apartments at Herradura

Herradura marina

We spent an afternoon wandering around Herradura Marina, stopping for excellent chocolate cake and shakes at one of the cafes.

The veranda at Los Sueños, the perfect place for a sundowner.



As the sun set over the Pacific, it brought our time in Costa Rica to a close.

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