The International World Surfing Games is just one more good reason to head to the land of pura vida. The annual surfing competition begins August 6th and runs through the 14th at central Costa Rica’s famed Playa Jaco.
While you won’t find Kelly Slater or Mick Fanning in the lineup, the ISA draws some of the hottest up-and-coming talent from Central and South America and indeed the world. And it all goes down at a primo beach break known for its heavy, board snapping tubes and vertical launch pads. Beyond the action, attending the event promises a grand time in many other ways.
Playa Jaco is the closest beach to the capital San Jose and is one of the most visited coastal destinations in Costa Rica. The beach is a 2.5 mile (4 km) strip which offers world renowned surfing and quite a bit more. Much like Costa Rica’s metropolitan areas, Jaco offers most services to make travelers of all stripes comfortable. Moreover, there is an abundance of surf shops, hotels and restaurants, catering to budget nomads as well as those seeking a bit of luxury.
It’s a perfect spot to host the ISA World Surfing Games. With 100 member nations, including the most recent Iran, the ISA does a remarkable job of bringing the international surfing community together. It is looking very likely that surfing will make its debut at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, and the ISA is a big reason why.
“We are in the business of spreading aloha and changing lives through the miracle of surfing,” notes ISA President Fernando Aguerre.
The ISA World Surfing Championships will feature an upwards of 30 international teams, from Sweden to Australia, Costa Rica to Israel. They will spend the week competing for individual and team gold, silver and bronze medals. The ISA has been hosting the World Surfing Championships for over 50 years, and this year looks to be one of the best ones yet.
Beyond surfing, other possible activities include swimming, deep sea fishing, ATV tours, bicycle rentals, horseback excursions, crocodile safaris, national parks and eco-reserves, boat and kayak excursions, white-water rafting, sloth spotting, canopy tours and popular night life. Given all that is on offer, it’s no wonder Jaco is as popular as ever.
In the surrounding area, Playa Herradura, just 4.4 miles (7 km) north, provides a more tranquil environment than Playa de Jaco. Also, just south of Jaco is Playa Hermosa, a quieter 6 mile (10 km) section of black sand beach that is also renowned for its quality surf. The Playa Hermosa Wildlife Refuge (Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Playa Hermosa) is the beach of choice for the Olive Ridley sea turtles that come ashore to nest every year. So if a hotel in a quieter setting is what your after, the beach towns surrounding Jaco are recommended.
The Carara Biological Reserve (Reserva Biologica Carara) is located just 9.3 miles (15 km) north of Jaco. With several miles of trails open to visitors (some only with a tour group), it is a great place to view much of Costa Rica’s wildlife. Early morning or around sunset is often the best time to see the wealth of scarlet macaws that rest among the mangroves. It is also possible to see caiman, white-faced monkeys, peccaries, coatimundis and a wide variety of birds. The park opens at 7 am and closes at 5 pm and the entrance fee is $6.
The Tarcoles River (RioTarcoles), which borders the park and flows into the Pacific Ocean, is an awesome place to witness American crocodile close up. Boat tours are available to see the crocodiles, many of which grow to be several meters in length! At the mouth of the Tarcoles, the Guacalillo mangrove plays a vital role for the survival of many species of wildlife that may be viewed here.
Manuel Antonio National Park is within driving distance of Jaco as it sits majestically, 43 miles (69 km) to the south. Punta Leona Wildlife Refuge (Refugio de Punta Leona) is another place visitors have a good chance of seeing wildlife, which is located along the drive north from Jaco towards the town of Tarcoles.
As with other popular destinations in Latin America, there are some concerns in Jaco about drugs, crime and prostitution. Being aware of your surroundings and using common sense should help you to avoid any undesirable situations.
So say pura vida and head down to the rich coast this summer for the ISA Games and a whole a lot more fun.
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