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Patricia's special report: When visitors arrive here
A.M. Costa Rica/Patricia Martin
Seen around Jacó are the plump, pink blossoms of the Veranera.
 
 
 
 
 

A.M. Costa Rica/Patricia Martin
A mountain view from the exclusive Hotel Villa Caletas where guests enjoy concerts in the amphitheater and top cuisine.
 
 
 
 

A.M. Costa Rica/Patricia Martin
A foot bridge leads to the barbeque area at Canciones del Mar in Jacó
 
 
 
 
 

A.M. Costa Rica/Patricia Martin
Their vacation nearing an end, Pat's friends kick back and contemplate their return to the land of ice and snow.
 

 

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JEWELS IN THE CROWN

Not in Jacó but close by is the stunning Villa Caletas, with sweeping landscapes and seascapes to gaze upon from a mountaintop perch. With everything from a gym, amphitheater, two restaurants, a private beach and bungalows decorated in antiques, this $130-$290 a night beauty is worth a visit if even for the day. 

My friends described it as "breathtaking" and "gorgeous," and I couldn´t agree more. Inquire at 637-0606; caletas@racsa.co.cr. Another fantasy hotel on an even grander scale is Marriott Los Sueños resort at the neighboring Herradura Beach, with condos, a marina, yacht club, golf course, rainforest and other marvels. Telephone 630-9000 or e-mail costaric@marriott.co.cr if $200-$230 a-night luxury is your pleasure.

BACK TO THE MAIN DRAG

We girls tended to go for fish for most of our dinners in Jacó. And why not, when the catch is fresh every day?  And all the restaurants there really know how to treat fish and seafood! Favorites of ours were the Colonial Restaurant, featuring a fat-free grill and marimba music on weekends, and Congo´s, now under new management and specializing in Peruvian cooking. 

For pizza, there´s Calinche´s Wishbone, or Rioasis. The Garden Café also contains a gift shop, and we found super breakfasts at the Sunrise Grill. Fondues and live music draw crowds to the Swiss-owned La Bruja Bar & Restaurant. For a full menu of pastas, pizzas and seafood, El Barco de los Mariscos is popular, as is El Tabacón, serving seafood and Italian fare. 

As to the bars, we embarked on a serious study of which ones made the best Margaritas. The results were meant to be reported here, but somehow the scientific experiment got a little blurry, so the "Margaritaville" award was presented to all establishments. Jimmy Buffet would have been proud of us. 

SHOPPING SPREES ARE MANDATORY

Anyone who´s been to Jacó can tell you that the shopping is a tourist´s treat. Whether you´re looking for beachwear or batik casuals, paintings, ceramics, wood crafts or creative jewelry, this is the place to hunt. We went through every boutique, picking up some very nice items at each stop. 

Not to be missed is the barn-sized El Cofre del Tesoro, with unusual artifacts from all over Central America and the Guacamole clothing shop with lovely Tico-designed batiks. Unbleached cotton shorts and shirts were the popular choices at Bamboo, owned by a very nice Peruvian lady named Olga DuBois.

ACTIVITIES GALORE

The six of us being in a vegetative mode, we didn´t get in on any of the local tours on this visit, but for your information, here´s a sample of what we missed: 

Butterflies and serpents, snorkeling, sportfishing, river kayaking and rafting, treetop tours, mountain biking and horseback riding. 

Maybe we were just too wrapped up with our Margarita study. Oh well, next time. One thing that I´ve heard a lot about is a spectacular Jungle Crocodile Safari, with jumping crocodiles. Leaping lizards! Imagine that. 

A favorite and untaxing pastime is to sit on the beach and watch the surfers navigate the big breakers. With the right timing, you may even catch an international surfing tournament involving both men and women. I know the fellows are called "Dude," but what about the gals? If you´re up on the surfing lingo, let me know. 

RETURN TO CIVILIZATION

De-programmed from stress and feeling very content, the girls reluctantly left Jacó and returned to my place outside of San José, to prepare for the long trip home. Because of their early morning flight and the problems of booking taxis at that hour, they decided to spend their last evening close to the airport. 

I had already investigated a pleasant B & B called La Rosa de America, featuring lush grounds and a big swimming pool, which is located only five miles from the airport. I heard later from the girls that they were very pleased with the place and the hospitable owners. When they hadn´t time to eat their breakfast there before the taxi arrived on departure day, proprietor Mary Jewell packed up the food and coffee for them to take along to the airport. Now isn´t that nice? Mary and husband Jim may be contacted at 433-2741 or info@larosadeamerica.com.

By the way, the girls are already planning their next visit, and mapping out new parts of Costa Rica to enjoy. Next month, I´ll head off to the beautiful Nicoya Peninsula, famous for it´s beach strip, to scout some of the establishments and adventures there. 

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