San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Why Has Jacó Beach Escaped Maritime Ruling?

I read with interest your Jan. 27 article “Beach Landmark Targeted for Demolition.” It says that buildings that were built in the Maritime Zone had a demolition order placed on them.

My wife and I recently visited Jacó.We couldn’t help but notice that 40% of Jacó must be built within the Maritime Zone. If the government were to enforce this ruling in Jacó, a good 40-50% of commerce would disappear. In fact, there is new construction taking place right now in Jacó, within the Maritime Zone.

How and why has Jacó escaped this ruling? Am I missing something or are there double standards? I find this very curious.

James Rego

Hamilton, Bermuda

The basic idea behind the Maritime Zone Law is to establish all beaches and coastline as public property. The law, passed in 1977, created a 200-meter swath of state land that runs parallel to Costa Rica’s entire coastline, starting at a line called the pleamar ordinaria, which is a predetermined point between the high and low tides.

The first 50 meters inland from the pleamar ordinaria is the Public Zone, and cannot be privately owned or built upon, except under special circumstances (such as docks, marinas, lifeguard towers and lighthouses).

The next 150 meters inland make up the Restricted Zone, where construction is allowed only with a concession, which is granted by the municipality after an extensive application process and only in areas that have a plan regulador that defines zoning districts.

The reason there are no demolition orders in Jacó is because, as stated in the sixth article of the law, exceptions are made for cities already established along the coast. In addition, private properties that were registered with the government before the law’s passage are also exempt.

For more information, contact the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT), which also has the text of the Law of the Maritime and Terrestrial Zone posted in English on its Web site at


Comments are closed.