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Jacó in deep Doo-Doo?

September 10th, 2007

The unrestrained growth of Jaco has been of concern to a lot of people. More and more condos, apartments, houses are jamming the area from Jacó to Quepos. Too much and without proper planning. Couple that with the huge growth in the central valley, and you have a recipe for serious problems.Well now the piper is in line to be paid.


I have ranted about that area for some time now, and only the people who actually live there knew what I was referring to. The old saying about “S–t flows down hill” has always been correct, and now, “down hill” means Jaco and points north and south.

This first came to my attention about four years ago when I read the incredible book, Costa Rica from Space, now no longer available. This book, published by Earth University, first detailed concerns and gave warning about the lack of sufficient waste treatment in Costa Rica and its long term effects.

This was confirmed only a year later by friends with beach property north of Jaco who were even then unable at times to use their beaches because of the black water (agua negra or raw sewage) flowing untouched from nearby rivers. Now the unrestrained growth in that area has finally gotten official attention.

pollution in JacoFeatured in today’s La Nacion, the headline reads, “Playa Jacó en peligro de ser insalubre dentro de 5 años”, or “The beaches in Jaco will be (unhealthy – but this really means unusable for use due to pollution) within 5 years.”

I am sure this will delight all those who have plunked down vast sums to get in on the Jaco-Quepos land rush.

I have no doubt the folks at Marriott’s Ocean & Golf Resort, Los Suenos are just thrilled to be reading this. What was not said is that already people have complained about the water as far south as Manual Antonio!

Above is a chart published by the (Costa Rica) water department.

You must click on it to get a readable size, but it bodes a scary future for those who live or plan to live in that area.

I guess the thing that concerns me the most is a number of baby-boomers who are moving into that area totally unaware of the potential problems.

The good news is that if they (and the developers) take strong action now, this dismal 5 year forecast can avoided.


17 Responses to “Jacó in deep Doo-Doo?”

  1. Saratica on September 10, 2007 3:02 pm

    If they could just keep this quiet, nothing would have to be done until they all sold out. Signed, Jaded in Escazú

  2. Tom on September 15, 2007 4:45 am

    I was talking to an aquaintance yesterday who is blissfully unaware of this stuff. He is planning to retire in the next 2 years and I advised him that things are changing very quickly throughout Central America.

  3. Cruiser on October 11, 2007 2:39 pm

    Where is SETENA when you need them. Constructing any buildings larger than 300 meters squared, requires the approval of SETENA, the countries so called “watchdog” for the environment. They do a lousy job, Jaco and Tamarindo are examples.

    Tamarindo beach is completely polluted with more than a million gallons of sewage ending up on the beach, filtering to the Pacific, every day and in 5 years, there will be 3 million gallons deposited every day.

    I retired to Costa Rica 3 years ago. I have my house up for sale and will recommend to everyone I can: DO NOT RETIRE TO COSTA RICA! Period…

    Other than great weather in the North Pacific region of CR, Costa Rica has absolutely nothing to offer foreigners. Nothing but lying, cheating and scamming. For those who do not believe this, come to Costa Rica and live here.

    TicoGrande should ammend his information on the number of foreigners returning to their homeland after living in Costa Rica for a year. It’s a heck of a lot more than 40% now.

    Ha, even some of the realtors are moving out. When realtors start to leave, you know it’s getting bad.

    Pura Vida

  4. shelley on October 15, 2007 10:01 pm

    this is very interesting news and it makes a lot of sense.i want to live in peace and harmony not disease and pollution.now where will i find my some beach,some where.i’m bummed

  5. Michele Lanahan on October 25, 2007 10:09 am

    What was your process in deciding where to buy land in Costa Rica? We’re very interested in building a relatively small house on a small piece of property. Any suggestions on where we should start?

  6. Maureen Backwell on November 14, 2007 9:29 am

    My husband and myself are considering Costa Rica for retirement. I there anyplace on the Ocean that is not polluted. I don’t necessarily mean living on the beach but within a couple of blocks?
    Maureen

  7. Tim on November 15, 2007 10:14 am

    To Michele

    I do not own land here and as I have written many times, I see no reason to do so. Renting is dirt cheap here and I can move when I want. There are no tax advantages, interest rates are very high, and unless you are very lucky, your home may not appreciate very much. Homes are easy to buy but VERY hard to sell. If you pay cash, you pay no interest but your money is tied up until you sell. If you’d like to move, it is impossible until you sell (unless you have a ton of money of course). I will never own land here unless my wife really beats me to death on this, though I MIGHT buy an office building for my companies and to rent out space to others…but that is a different matter.

    To Maureen

    Because two beaches have issues does not mean the whole country has problems. There are thousands of miles of coastline not affected.

  8. karri on November 16, 2007 11:58 am

    my husband and I moved to costa rica fromaz. may 2006. we spent the first 3 months in playa hermosa near coco beach. We were robbed in the middle of the night while we were asleep within a week. we then moved to the aenal area for nine months. what a gorgeous area and wonderful peaceful experience. although there was still alot of crime. I decided I did not really want to deal with bars on the windows and feeling afraid to go for a walk by myself so we moved back to the states. we now life in the country here on a beautiful farm and have peace of mind. we will defintely be back to costa for many vacatipns though. everyone we met there had been robbed at least once. I hope the ticos can get a grip on themselves and stop thinking all americans are rich and that money grows on trees here.

  9. Den on November 21, 2007 3:09 am

    Because two beaches have issues does not mean the whole country has problems. There are thousands of miles of coastline not affected.

    Are you sure that you have your facts right. Does Costa Rica really have Thousands of miles of coast line. The country isn’t that large. If you think that things are going to get better instead of worse you are living in a dream world. Have you noticed the potholes in the roads. Have you noticed that most areas have no sewage treatment or garbage pick-up. The more retires that move to Costa Rica the more of a strain it puts on the environment. Get a grip people. And your still asking where the best place is to buy land. Have you no shame.

  10. Tim on November 21, 2007 1:00 pm

    You are right. Costa Rica has 1,290 km of coastline or about 850 miles.

    I exaggerated a bit to make a point as the original comment seemed to indicate that every square inch of the Costa Rica coast was polluted. I wanted to show that she was overreacting to one or two areas having issues and that should not condemn the whole country. My error.

    In reply to the rest of your comment, it is about 100% INcorrect.

    Yes I have noticed the roads. I drive them every day and they are FAR better than some years ago. Not every place for sure, but even those are no worse. Roads have always been crappy here.

    It is 100% WRONG that most places have no garbage pickup. There is service in most locations in the central valley and at nearly all beach areas.

  11. crrobs on December 21, 2007 3:17 pm

    I was on my way to MA with my boss, and he suggested we stopin Jaco for a bite. I was thinking beans and rice, instead we went to subway. Inside there wasn’t a single tico, only Americans. It’s like an American Colony there.

  12. pariah on April 18, 2008 5:00 am

    ok. the costa rican government needs to step in and slap down overdevelopment now. get the eco-infrastructure established, or this country is just another badly planned vacation stop for rich westerners. and not for long. i love the country, don’t get greedy and demand that development is responsible for it’s infrastructure. go green!!

  13. Ken on January 12, 2009 10:05 pm

    RE: Jaco in deep doo doo…
    Approximatley 9 years ago, when Jaco was a nice, local, sleepy place,the “fresh” water entering the beach was gray. People were standing in it and I tried to explain it was sewage from miles along the river but to no apparent avail. Jaco is properly a bore. I know no Gringos in CR. although I have been going there for 15 years. Going there means property and lost loves etc.
    I cannot believe the growth and criminal element in Jaco today. I had dinner at ‘Los Amigos’ a CLEAN and good food place, open to the street. When I got out of the car, earlier in day, I could tell there were people in Jaco that did not belong. I was proven correct when, in the restaurant there was a person looking directly at me from the street. 5 years ago I would not have noticed but now, the radar is on in ALL CR. I told the waiter that the Nico was looking at me and when I left, if he would please keep his eye on me as a witness. He agreed and understood. As I was ready to pay the check, there were 2. I wiated for about 10 minutes and when ready to go there was no one ther. I left, directly to auto and as leaving, I saw in rear view mirror…3. No intention to return to Jaco proper. Los Suenos, yes. In airport, I was talking with a gringo and he said he walked outside LS and was immediately offerd drugs. I used to walk this road alone in past and it was always safe and friendly. Drugs and crime were never part of the equation.
    Ticos say “only party and sex”, that is all there is in Jaco and it driving me crazy. This is the general point of view and most Ticos leave within 6 months and return to SJ for other work.
    The beach condos go for about $850K and that is without a stove or refrigerator. You have to find those on your own. It is such a dirty beach and always has been, I can see nothing worth going through this to enjoy what?

  14. Mike on January 18, 2009 9:45 pm

    Ken , is there any decent places in Costa Rico for westerners ?

  15. Dave on September 7, 2009 4:05 pm

    I just returned from a 8 day surf trip in playa hermosa/ jaco area. The last time I was there was 6 years ago and have been there about 6 times since 1992. The crime and shadyness of this area has definitely changed for the worse. Our car was broken into while surfing, drugs and scumbags were offering us” weed and coke” about every 2 minutes while walking in jaco prostitiutes all over the place as well. I am also very concerned about reading about the water quality at the beaches I did notice an orange redish color at some of the surf breaks around hermosa that I never seen before. I did notice alot of garbage in and out of the water. What a bummer I used to love this place I will not go to this area of the country again and more likely pick another country to visit for my next surf trip……..Pura Vida…….

  16. Tim on September 18, 2009 10:06 am

    Well Jaco is ugly. Don’t change countries… change beaches! Try Malpais or any of 500 others without the issue you experienced.

  17. Ken on November 6, 2011 6:03 pm

    Approximatley 12 years ago, in Jaco, the people I was with, allowed themselves and the children to play in the “agua dulce” sweet water. I tried desperately to tell them it was NOT clean as it was grey. They (Colombians) dismissed me completely. I stayed out of the river water, draining into the sea.

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