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Hard Rock Resort & Casino Review - Jaco Beach, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
A traveler's opinion of the Hard Rock Resort & Casino (formerly Hotel Jaco Fiesta) in Costa Rica, Central America.

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Standard Hotel Room
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Bathroom
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Toilet & Tile Floor

For our first trip to Costa Rica, we chose to visit the city of Jaco in the Puntarenas province on the the Pacific side of the country.

We arrived at the Juan Santamaria International Airport (airport code SJO) in the capital city of San Jose in the morning. In the transportation for hire area of the airport, we found a company with a bus that was about to depart for Jaco.

I had booked us a room at the Hotel Jaco Fiesta, which is now known as the "Hard Rock Resort & Casino". At the time, they were offering a great all inclusive deal that included a breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet.

The city of Jaco (pronounced "haco") is centrally located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica near many beaches, parks, and other natural attractions. The bus ride from the SJO airport took about two hours.

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Stand Up Shower
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Desk, Mirror, & Info
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Two Double Beds
The "Hard Rock Resort & Casino" (formerly Hotel Jaco Fiesta) features 80 rooms with satellite TV, air conditioning, two double beds, telephones, hot water, and a security safe. On the resort grounds, there are two large pools, two "kiddie" pools, a casino, a bar, a poolside bar, a conference room, a massage therapist,  a tennis court, free WiFi wireless internet and the Sunset Terace restaurant.
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TV & Closet Area
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Green Iguana & Stone Statue
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Hotel Main Walkway
Playa De Jaco (Jaco Beach) has light to dark brown sand and is known for having rip tides and large waves which can be dangerous for swimmers. Jaco is a nice beach for a romantic stroll or for watching the sunset, but there are better beaches in the area for swimming or surfing.
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"Garden View" Rooms
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Green Iguana Basking
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Hotel Parking Lot
The attractions to the South of Jaco (in order) are Playa Hermosa, Refugio Playa Hermosa (Hermosa Beach Refuge), Playa Esterillos, Playa Palo Seco, Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, and Playa Dominical.
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Sealing Door Cracks
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Bathroom Door A/C Leak
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Balcony Door/Windows Covered
To the north of Jaco there is Playa Herradura (which has a lively night life), Carara National Park, the Refugio Punta Leona (Punta Leona Refuge), and the Reserva Islas Los Negritos.
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Pool Area, Early Morning
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1st Floor Walkway
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Main Pool Area & Bar
The Hard Rock Resort & Casino is a nice simple hotel with a great location and friendly staff members. I think it's former name, "Hotel Jaco Fiesta" was much more appropriate for this charming property. The words "resort" and "casino" make it sound like so much more than just a comfortable place to sleep, take a dip in the pools, or enjoy the sunset.
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Palm Trees & Garden
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River Flowing Into Ocean
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Stone Sculpture In Grass
Just about every day during our stay at the Hard Rock Resort & Casino, we ate breakfast and dinner at the hotel restaurant's buffet. For lunch we were usually away from the hotel experiencing the natural beauty of Costa Rica. The buffet always included rice and beans, which are important staples in the nation's diet. The breakfast buffet would also include eggs, sausage or bacon, fruit, bread and a variety of natural juices. The lunch and dinner buffets featured rice and beans (of course), salad, a beef, chicken or pork dish, and different desserts every night.
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Walkway To Buffet
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Lifeguard Tower & Lawn
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Path To Playa De Jaco
The hotel seemed to have been built at least 20 to 30 years ago but was in very good condition with well maintained grounds, and room interiors. One of my favorite parts about walking around the hotel grounds was encountering the plentiful local population of Green Iguanas. These bold creatures were very used to being around people and we saw them startle at least a few hotel guests when they ran across the sidewalks or the lawns.
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Bold Iguana On Sidewalk
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Hotel Water Fountain
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Keeping Out Tropical Heat


 
You may be wondering why I had to seal up our room's front door, bathroom door, balcony door and balcony windows. The first day in the room, we noticed that the air conditioning wasn't able to cool down the room. Upon further examination, I discovered that there were relatively large gaps around the doors, the window in the bathroom and the balcony windows.
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Plastic Bags In Door Jam
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Small Window A/C Unit
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Green Iguana Lounging
It was too hot in the room to sleep, especially since we are used to sleeping with our air conditioner set to a temperature somewhere in the low 70's. To remedy the problem, I decided to shove plastic bags and towels into the gaps in the doors. Then I covered the balcony windows and door with the comforters from the bed. Within about fifteen minutes, we felt the room get much cooler and were able to fall asleep.
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Iguana On Iguana Sculpture
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Orange Faced Iguana
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Yet Another Iguana!
Jaco is well known for it's easy going surfer culture and abundant nightlife opportunities. Some of the best places to go include Disco La Central, The Jungle, The Backyard Bar on Playa Hermosa, Pancho Villa, the Onyx, the Beatle Bar and La Hacienda.
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Sun Setting In Palm Trees
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Walking To Dinner Buffet
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2nd Swimming Pool Area
On the day we decided to get up early and visit the Manuel Antonio National Park, I asked the hotel staff members at the front desk if they could call us a taxi. I planned on negotiating an all day rate with the taxi driver to take us to Manuel Antonio for a few hours and then stop off at some of the Pacific coast beaches on the way back. Instead of a taxi, the security guard on duty called one of his co-workers. The other security guard came in on his day off to chauffeur us around for the day for an $80 fee. We left at about 10 AM and returned just after 5 PM. It was a very reasonable expense for such a personal service.
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Brown Sand Jaco Beach
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Playa De Jaco
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Pacific Ocean
If you're looking for some other hotel choices in Jaco, there are many other great options. Some of the other lodging in the area include the Club Del Mar, Xandari By The Pacific, Villa Caletas, the Los Suenos Marriott, Club Del Sol, The Backyard Hotel, Punta Leona, Marea Brava, the Best Western Jaco Resort, Amapola Hotel, Balcon Del Mar, Los Canciones Del Mar, Arenal Pacifico, Hotel Poseidon, and Hotel Villa Lapas.
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Condos Under Construction
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Dogs Swimming In River
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Dogs Fighting On Beach
In the picture above, you can see a condo building being built in the distance. It seems like there was lots of construction going on in the Jaco area. The hotel maid left a real estate magazine on the desk in our room. Some of the properties in the area include Jaco Blue Private Residences, Vista Azul, Tres Regalos, Vista Loma, Pacific Sun, Monte Rey, Diamante Del Sol, La Paloma Blanca, Hermosa Hills, Cabo Caletas, Viva Punta Leona, Punta Dominical, Montezuma Condos, Villa Montana, Bella Palms, La Esquina Hermosa, and Los Altos Condominiums.
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Some good restaurants in the Jaco area are Pollos Krispy, Tsunami Sushi, Soda El Flor, Roberto's, Restaurante Cuzco, Aberdeen Angus, Restaurante Colonial, El Charran, El Picaro, Anita's Pointe, Barcelo Amopola, El Tabacon, Sunrise Breakfast Place, Wahoo, and Wishbone.
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Hills In The Distance
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Sun Setting In Pacific Ocean
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Outdoor Dining Area
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River Next To Hotel
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Hotel Restaurant & Bar
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Band Performing
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Drummers & Drummer Boy
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Fireworks On The Beach
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Congo Line Dancing
One of the nights during our stay at the Hard Rock Resort & Casino, there was a beach side performance by a band of drummers, with belly dancers and a jester walking around on stilts. The show ended with a brief fireworks display.
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Jester On Stilts
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White Masked Jester
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Bon Fire On Jaco Beach
Some of the other places we visited or activities we engaged in during our trip to Costa Rica included Crocodile Feeding At Tarcoles River, the Manuel Antonio National Park, the Fincas Naturales Wildlife Refuge, the "Si Como No" Resort & Spa, The Backyard Bar on Playa Hermosa, the Waterfalls Canopy Tour, a Playa De Jaco Sunset, and the bus ride from Jaco Beach to San Jose that winded through the tropical countryside.

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