How Safe is Jaco, Costa Rica?

How Safe is Jaco, Costa Rica?

So How safe is Jaco, Costa Rica?

The answer may depend on you.

I feel the need to address the safety in Jaco mainly because I met a lot of people who told me how dangerous it was before I got there.  I was given account after account of how dangerous Jaco was by people who frequented Costa Rica and never went to Jaco.  Yet, Jaco is one of the top tourist destinations in Costa Rica.  I knew something was out of whack before I arrived.  Really, how safe is Jaco, Costa Rica?

All of the stories about Jaco seemed to boil down to two man themes.  It wasn’t far fetched to imagine these being two specific cases and as I got to know people and the stories better that’s what it seems to be.  As with any type of 12th hand knowledge, it’s likely to be skewed severely, but here is the best I can estimate as the truth.

There were two major incidents, one being bad enough that I won’t recount the story.  It involved a couple doing some remote beach camping and were stumbled upon by a group of thugs.  As far as I can gather, the horror story did occur but there is some good news.  First, this couple was probably not taking any safety consideration into account and just a few simple ones would have probably stopped this incident.  Second, there seems to have been massive community outrage by both locals and the large American expat community.  Third, it is most likely the case that these were not residents of the area.  Jaco is a small town with lots of tourism and construction crews are brought in from all over the place which seems to have been the case in this issue.

The second horror story of an American business man being killed in his hotel room has some truth to it as well.  Although this story has a lot of spins on it, suicide is the culprit.  On this one I was able to get people who actually knew the guy and the circumstances to ensure me of the facts and convince me that this was the only such incident in at least the decade that some of these guys had been living or visiting Jaco.

My own experience is no different than any other location.  Think of what you are doing and you’ll be fine.  The main section of Jaco is as safe as can be expected.  It’s well lit and well traveled.  You should be perfectly fine if you stick to the tourist areas and get a reputable hotel or condo.  I, of course, wanted to test the waters a bit and know just how bad it gets.

My personal experience

I took a couple late night adventures that included taking the “long way home.”  By long way, I mean getting lost.  I stumbled around the back alleys and country side and saw the worst that I could find in Jaco.  Mostly, this was one or two guys who looked like trouble or dark alleys where trouble looked like it could occur.  I saw no roving hoards or gangs.  In fact, I would classify Jaco, Costa Rica as one of the safest places I visited during this trip.  Even the drug dealers were nice in Jaco!  I’ll relate one such story.

Drug dealer:  “Hey man, I haven’t seen you in long time, how you beeeen?”

I look at him strange.

Drug dealer:  “You no remember me?  We smoke big one right here last year.”

How Safe is Jaco, Costa RicaMe:  “This is my first time here man.”

Drug dealer:  “oh, sorry.  You want to share 420 with me?”  he had a very welcoming smile and truly wanted to smoke and make friends.

Me:  “Sorry man, not my thing.”

Drug dealer:  “That’s too bad.  You come in restaurant anyways, very good food here.”

Best burrito in Jaco!  Super friendly service to boot!


The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that if you travel anywhere, including Jaco, keep basic safety precautions in mind and you should be just fine. If you wouldn’t do it in D.C. or New York City, don’t do it anywhere else.  Here are some more personal stories if you plan to take the trip and are concerned enough to read them.

4 Responses to How Safe is Jaco, Costa Rica?

  1. Dude, how much time did you spend in Jaco, a few days? You failed to have touched on a lot of things. Sure a guy trying to sell you some pot might have been friendly. The guys selling the real drugs are a little scarier. There has been a war going on between the Columbians and the Dominicans that has left many casualties. Including guys like you met that were trying to sell you pot assassinated mid-day, in the same street you claim is safe and well lit at night. It is going to take people to speak up and tell the truth before things start to get better. Unfortunately nobody wants to scare the tourist so these things never make the paper. Do a little more research and if something is so horrible that you have to leave it out. Then your reporting is bias.

    • How about this F***tard!!! You’re commenting on a post from over a year ago. I don’t know what’s going on in Jaco today, but I haven’t heard anything that makes it worse that it was a year ago. Don’t be an idiot, and you should be OK. If you’d like to present some relevant information that is current, please do so.

      Now, I happen to live now in Colombia, not Costa Rice. Costa Rica just isn’t the place for me, not because it’s dangerous, but because of the ever increasing regulation that makes it just another state of the U.S. So feel free to include more recent and relevant information if you have it, but if you’re simply going to accuse my “reporting” as bias…… well, I’m not a reporter dip-shit…. I’m a blogger. At least as far as you are concerned…..

      Let me know if you have something more important to say..



    • I lived in Jaco for 2 years. A safe town but not without it’s “bichillos”(minor criminals). Truth’s comments above are all the products of his own fertile paranoid mind. He probably is one of these penniless expats that start dissing the country they are in before they move to the next cheaper one…Panama is full of broke expats that talk about crime in CR. They like Panama because they can get their beer for a buck and a chola for $20 bucks a night…

  2. I live in Costa Rica and I can say that I do not find it dangerous at all. I have never felt threatened once. Of course there has been some minor crime like our office has been broke in to a few times but that’s about it.
    If you ever come back to Costa Rica you should come by for a tour at Jaco Ropes. I offer free tours to any one with a blog.
    Check out our website!

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