Jaco Beach, aka Playa Jaco Costa Rica is famous its nightlife and has been profiled on E Entertainment channel as a top “party destination.” Jaco hotel DoceLunas is a great base from which to explore Jaco nightlife with the option to retreat a comfortable distance from the scene downtown. Jaco nightlife kicks off pretty late at night, around eleven, and goes til dawn and the discos are pretty loud. When you have had enough, it’s nice to have a quiet place to sleep and much has been said about the magical rejunvenative properties of our jungle gardens and cool temperatures for those sleeping it off.
The permanent population of Jaco is only around 10,000 people, but on weekend nights in the high season, thousands of visitors from San Jose and tourists from around the world, about half from the U.S. and Canda and the rest primarily from Europe and South America, pack the crowded discos passing in a slow parade from one popular spot to the next. Dotting the route among the crowded discos travelers will encounter a variety of more traditional options, under-promoted bars with local regulars and pleasant ambience, and wierd, wierd scenes.
The Clubs – Discos
The most popular nightlife spots are all discos with large dance floors and powerful sound systems. Reggaeton, dance-hall reggae, electronica, hip-hop, and club music are popular. The Monkey Bar is one of the first places to get going, but people will start to drift in at 11 and it will not reach full force until 12. Monkey’s, as it is locally know, will keep rocking til around 3 and then close. It’s a big open space with a central bar, rapid service, intelligent lights, and the requisted huge sound sysytem, but not turned up to deafening volume. The staff dances on the bar at Monkey bar in between filling drink orders at a North American pace and the very high perecentage of the crowd that the DJs keep in motion earned this hotspot some serious in depth coverage on that bastion of nightlife journalism – Wild on E!
After Monkey Bar, the next step on the journey is Vibrations, aka Vibraciones, sometimes know by its old name, Nacho Daddy’s. Vibes has two rooms. A year ago, the electronica room was the smaller of the two and the dancehall/reggaeton/hip-hop room was the larger. Now the electronica room is the larger. Vibes recently got some new intelligent lights. Its sound system has always been powerful but lately it seems to have gotten a little cleaner. It remains very loud. Fortunately, there is a nice outdoor patio area with a high roof where you can relax and talk when you are overwhelmed.
Vibes goes as late as Vibes goes, but you would have to have some serious leadership ability to keep Vibes open til dawn, so if you are up for an all-nighter, then Pancho Villas would be your spot. Now Pancho’s is not for everyone. The notorious “La Central” disco of yesteryear, closed in 2007, was famously dangerous. Pacho Villas is not, from the point of view of someone who lived in Washington D.C. through the 90s, dangerous. But it’s not Kansas either. And no place in Kansas where people are still drinking at dawn is all that safe either, for that matter. So if you are going to Pancho Villas, go with a friend, be polite, and have your wits about you.
Ganesha is on the beach and cultiavtes a South Beach atmosphere, with raised bed like platforms with canopys and lots of open space on the beach. The crowd is unpredictable. It could be empty, or they could have a successful promotion. If there is a crowd there, it is often because they are offering special entertainment. If Ganesha is empty, Bohio – a catch-all beach bar is only a few yards away and offers another option that can be a very mixed bag of delightful, wierd, or possibly mildy unpleasant in a way that would make a good story.
Los Amigos sports bar has pretty good food, excellent micro-brews from Costa Rica, and the only Costa Rica microbrews available in Jaco, and lots of screens for several channels of live sports. They also show big games and surf movies on the side of an adjacent building. Seating is half indoor and half outdoor.
Bruja Bar, the witch bar, is a heavy metal themed bar with a palm roof at the beach, decorated with gothic ironwork, skulls, and gravestones. Can I just say again, that this is a heavy metal bar at the beach with goth decorations under a palm roof? Clearly you must go there and bang your head. You will not find yourselves among legions of the devout, as at a Motorhead show, but you will meet some interestign metalheads from around the world, starting with the European biker owners.
Bohio bar is on the beach in the center of town. They have recently incorporated Bubba’s Fish Tacos into their kitchen operation and Bubba’s has maintained their quality through the move. In the daytime Bohio gets all kind of tourist business. In the past, it was more prouncedly a hookup spot for sex-workers and their clients, but these days central Jaco is a little more family friendly in the daytime. At night, Bohio is not crowded and has an unpredictable mix of customers. Could be fascinating, could be creepy.
Le Loft is a smaller place with very cool ambience, an open balcony and a velvet rope. No kidding. And $100 bottle service. People dress to impress and stand in lline. Cheaper drinks are within reason, and beer is positively affordable. Le Loft is a better experience if you go with someone with local connections. Say for interest one of your hosts at DoceLunas.
While the discos, Le Loft, Bruja and Bohio have a mix of foreign and local party goers, other bars in the area tend to cater mostly to locals or mostly to foreigners.
The following bars draw mostly Costa Rican customers. Jungle Bar provides an option nearby Monkey Bar that is less loud, less crowded, less dance oriented, and less frequented by tourists and keeps similar hours. Jungle bar has pool tables. Plankton, like Jungle, has loud music but not as loud as the discos and caters to a mostly Costa Rican crowd. Prices are slightly lower than the discos.
Next door to Pachi’s Pan, El Recrero is a Costa Rican pool hall that is mostly outdoor and 20% to 30% cheaper than the discos. Down the street from the Mas por Menos grocery store you will find Rincon del Mar. You will be the only gringo here, unless you see me or Don Roberto.
On Friday night Tsunami sushi has locals night, featuring a keg of beer (almost unheard of in Costa Rica) and very low prices at this upscale sushi restaurant.
Back Yard Wednesday
Hermosa’s Backyard hotel hosts a party every Wednesday that is very popular with the local Costa Ricans and expatriates alike, especially surfers. Ladies night officially kicks off at 10, gets going at 11 and lasts til 1 or 2.
Wherever you choose to spend your evening, we are sure you will be glad you are staying at Jaco hotel DoceLunas when you come to the end of your evening, and doubly glad in the morning (or afternoon) when you wake up on our cool shady jungle property after your Jaco nightlife adventure.