San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

DoceLunas: A luxurious haven in Jacó

From the print edition

I have to admit that I used to take Jacó for granted. The few hazy memories I have from my first trip to that beach during my exchange-student days always seem to precipitate a faint, phantom taste of guaro and pineapple juice in the back of my throat. Since returning to Costa Rica, I’ve avoided the place partly out of fear of getting caught by sun-bleached Gringos in uncomfortable conversations reminiscent of the most bromantically philosophical scenes between Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in “Point Break.”

But recently, DoceLunas Hotel – and the realization that balding, over-30 dudes like myself might actually learn how to stand on a surfboard – changed my thinking on Jacó (in addition to making me reconsider the cinematic merits of “Point Break”).

High definition air-conditioning

Where I come from, in deep East Texas, we appreciate our air-conditioning. Leaving it running full-blast all day long from May through November helps keep the ill effects of heat and humidity from raising unsightly perspiration on the leather of our hand-tooled cowboy boots.

Most of us believe ourselves to be as finely attuned to the nuances of forced-air cooling as we are to the intricacies of oil extraction. Those of us who grow up there often only acquire a conservation ethic late in life after hard-wrought spiritual and intellectual inquiry.

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A guest room. Courtesy of Hotel Doce Lunas

I generally eschew air-conditioning when traveling these days. I feel like it is important to my credibility as an environmental reporter, but that East Texas kid inside me who never really grew up positively squealed when I saw the air-conditioning hanging on the wall in my room at DoceLunas Hotel. It was as sleek and sexy as a chrome fox and looked like it could blow the hump right off of a Brahma bull. 

Jacó ain’t known for its temperateness or, let’s be honest, its temperance, and after a heroic de pie bus ride from San José and a stroll down Main Street, Jacó, under the tropical sun, I was happy to indulge my yearnings for processed air.

I grabbed the remote control and punched the temperature down and the fan speed up and kicked back on the plush and literally just chilled out listening to condensation form on the windows.

Outside a gang of some of the most well-groomed cats I’ve ever encountered prowled the lush, orchid-lined paths that meander through the DoceLunas grounds.

Texas-sized relaxation

When I felt myself properly refrigerated I took a mosey around DoceLunas, stopping at the bar to pick up a cold beer before looping back around to admire the Texas-sized swimming pool that is the centerpiece of the DoceLunas compound. 

The pool is a wide, blue slab of relaxation that stretches about as far as the West Texas horizon and the sound of the waterfall tumbling in at the far end would make even Townes Van Zandt smile.

As I contemplated the pool, a few locals padded past me on the pathway glistening from an afternoon yoga class in the DoceLunas studio. From underneath a fully engorged bird-of-paradise, an unnervingly regal shorthaired tabby eyed my Pilsen.

Simple service

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A couple strolling the grounds during their recent wedding. Courtesy of Hotel Doce Lunas

The staff members at DoceLunas, in keeping with the place’s laid-back luxury vibe, were friendly and attentive without being overbearing, and all the little details of the room were carefully minded – nice bathroom fixtures, a sweet bathtub, comfy beds and good coffee to go with the coffee maker.

The location is nice, too – far enough from the city center to be quiet, but close enough to easily access the beach and nightlife. A ₡1,500 ($3) taxi ride will get you to throbbing center of Jacó.

Even better, when my traveling companion and I went to try out the surf, the management let us leave our things in the room and shower at the end of the day before catching an evening bus back to San José. 

It was the kind of treatment that washed away that phantom guaro flavor from the back of my throat and had me reconsidering Jacó an ideal weekend escape from San José.

Going there

Rates range from $150-225 a night. To get there, take the Caldera Highway, Route 27, past Orotina and then bear left on Route 34 a few kilometers later where it forms a ‘Y’ with the Caldera Highway. Continue on Route 34 crossing the Tarcoles River (look for crocodiles basking on the banks) and follow signs along the coast toward Herradura and then on to Jacó. For more info, call 2643-2211 or visit

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