San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Budget Bunks and Bangin’ Burgers in Jacó

Beds on Bohio in Jacó is not your average hostel. What sets it apart from a basic, run-of-the-mill hostel stay is the unique vibe, the warm and welcoming staff and, last but certainly not least, the fantastic burgers.

Situated about 50 meters from the beach in this Central Pacific beach town, Beds on Bohio may at first be difficult to spot. Though only about 25 meters from the street, it is well hidden by Papas & Burgers Art Café, which is a separate part of the hostel. Or maybe the hostel is a separate part of the café, depending on how you look at it.

Papas & Burgers, or P&B, with its vintage, kitschy decor, advertises itself as having “the best burgers in Jacó.” In fact, the restaurant may be selling itself short; these may be some of the best burgers in the country.

“We had the idea of creating a semi-contemporary burger joint for backpackers and surfers and people traveling through Jacó,” said manager and co-owner Neil Ryan, who opened the restaurant and hostel in 2009 with co-owner Tom Dalby. “We wanted to offer burgers that were made on the premises and offered a wide variety of toppings and variations and a unique range of flavor.”

The burgers at Papas & Burgers ace all food-examination grading scales. The presentation is carefully considered, the selection is wide, the names are creative, and the flavor could be accurately described with any synonym of savory, delectable or mouthwatering. Of the three burgers sampled by Tico Times staff – the Johnny Cash, the Matisse and the Gauguin – all were notably and memorably excellent. Each burger was accompanied by crisp papas (French fries), soaked in brine, drained, fried and served with a taste on par with the burgers, which is no easy feat.

“I was allowed to be creative when designing the burgers and the dishes,” said chef Ricardo Calvo. “I didn’t want to have just traditional cheeseburgers and fries. I tried different cheeses, spices, onions, mushrooms and combinations. It allowed me to be an artist in the kitchen, and I think the menu offers much more than just plain burgers and fries.”

But there is more to P&B than just papas and burgers. The menu boasts more than 35 breakfast, lunch and dinner options, all crafted with the same careful preparation and providing similar scrumptious results. The eggs Benedict and huevos rancheros seem to be favorites among hungry surfers after an early-morning session or late risers after a long night out in Jacó.

The food at P&B may boost Beds on Bohio’s reputation, but there is also a magnetic charm found in the type of people the hostel attracts. During a visit last month, travelers from Norway, Argentina, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Sweden all found refuge in the bunk-style lodgings. While all may come with different objectives, the tranquil layout of Beds on Bohio – which includes a small communal porch area, swaying hammocks, a Wi-Fi zone and kitchen facilities – creates a relaxed atmosphere that unites guests of varied backgrounds.

An exemplar of a Beds on Bohio guest might be a man referred to affectionately as “Mr. Coulson.” Among the unique personalities staying at the hostel during our visit, Mr. Coulson and his story took the cake.

Conny Coulson stayed at Beds on Bohio for four months, leaving in mid-March. The Swede in his 50s took a hiatus from his job as a cab driver in Stockholm to come to Costa Rica to practice surfing, juggling and unicycling. Each morning, Coulson rose early to hit the Jacó waves, returned home to nap and then, in the early afternoon, practiced juggling and unicycling on the hostel grounds or out front on Calle Bohio.

“I came to Jacó in December,” Coulson said. “I stayed here the first few nights and then thought I would look around to see if there were any other places that had good offers. After three nights away, I came back. (Beds on Bohio) doesn’t cost very much, the people are laid back and very welcoming, and the café food is great. It gives me all I need.”

Though Coulson’s story may be unique, his peaceful and carefree attitude embodies the presiding mentality at Beds on Bohio. It is a place where you can relax, eat well and be yourself. Not a bad way to spend a few days on the Pacific coast.


Getting There, Rates, Info

Beds on Bohio is behind P&B Art Café on Calle Bohio in Jacó. Buses to Jacó from San José leave several times a day from the Coca-Cola bus terminal (Transportes Jacó, 2223-1109, ¢2,095/$4.10). Dorm rooms cost $11 per night with air-conditioning, $9 without. Private rooms with shared bath are available for $20.

Burgers at P&B Art Café range in price from ¢2,500 to ¢4,200 (about $5 to $8). Breakfast dishes range from ¢2,000 to ¢3,200 ($4 to $6.30).

For info, call 2643-5251, e-mail or visit



Comments are closed.