Quick recap of our journey to Costa Rica
Flight with Interjet Airlines,The Grand Elite Lounge Priority Pass Mexico City, and What To Expect in San Jose, Costa Rica Airport
The final leg of our vacation was to stay near Manuel Antonio National Park. Our plan was to spend our last 3.5 days on this side of Costa Rica since we had already spent days in La Fortuna and Papagayo. My first choice was to stay in Manuel Antonio. But for some reason, I wasn’t that thrilled with the accommodations that I found.
Search for properties with No Cancellation Fees
I have points with Chase, American Express, and Citi – they all have their own travel booking portals. I also have points with Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, and IHG. One thing I didn’t plan on was booking our accommodations early for our trip to Costa Rica. We’ve been busy traveling. We just got back from Bali and the Philippines, and have not had a chance to plan much for Costa Rica.
It wasn’t until mid-January (4 weeks before our Costa Rica trip) when I began my search. Remember, my needs are different.
- Accommodate five guests
- On specific dates in February
- With no cancellation fees
- Areas from Jaco and all the other surrounding towns all the way to Manuel Antonio
- Not too far from SJO – we plan on leaving from this place back to the airport
My search results
I wasn’t thrilled with all of the results beyond Jaco. I read the reviews and saw the pictures and wasn’t exactly sold on the idea of booking them. But I went ahead and did so with Hotel Las Tres Banderas (very near Manuel Antonio). It accommodated our party of five, plus it had no cancellation fees.
Looking at pictures, It had more of a old-style feel. I booked it with the intent to still look around. I chose this place as a placeholder. I knew it’d be really close to Manuel Antonio, but I also knew that it would take us 2.5 hours or more to get to the airport on our last day. Not sure I really wanted to drive that far on our last day. But, the keyword is placeholder. It’s my way of saying that we have booked a place to stay.
Kept my options open
l continued to look at other nearby towns between Jaco and Manuel Antonio (Parrita, Quepos, Uvita, Playa Hermosa, and more).
It gave me very few favorable results, properties that did not appeal to my taste. Fortunately, there were quite a few selections in the Jaco area. I saw this property in Jaco Bay Tower, and the reviews and pictures looked great, so I just went with my instincts and made a note of the cancellation dates in case I see other properties. At the time of the booking, I was almost certain that this property offered No Cancellation Fees.
Between mid February through the week before of our trip to Costa Rica, no other properties opened up. I had to decide between Hotel Tres Banderas and the condo in Jaco. I went with my gut and chose Jaco Bay Premium Condo. My deciding factors? The condo looked newer in pictures. Plus, on our last day, getting to SJO airport from Jaco meant that we’d be driving less.
The cost of booking Jaco Bay Premium Condo
We used 41,976 (approximately 14K points per night) which was equivalent to $419.76 (if we converted these points to cash). The value of the condo was worth $629.64, so we actually paid less in points value, thanks to our Chase Sapphire Reserve.
I called the telephone # provided, and it was Helen who answered. It turned out that the property was being managed by Costa Rica Holiday Rentals. I advised Helen that we would be arriving between 4 and 5pm. She said no problem, and to just call her in case we were going to run late.
We left the Andaz Costa Rica around 12 noon and had 3.5 hours of pure driving. By 4pm, we were a 1/2 hour away from Jaco and called Helen again that we were still on track. She specified how to look for their office which was located in Jaco Walk.
We made it to Jaco Walk and found Costa Rica Holiday Rentals in the middle of this strip mall with restaurants and stores. Helen assisted us rather quickly and she made the process smooth. She gave us tips where to eat (I was quite specific that I was looking for local good eats). Directly after that, we headed straight for the rental.
First impressions of Jaco
Many of those in the Costa Rican travel pages were not big fans of Jaco, it’s known to be party town, lots of restaurants, etc. As I drove by Avenida Pastor Diaz (the main strip), I did see lots of restaurants and stores for about a mile long. In my mind, “that’s it?”I was under the impression that it would be extremely busy. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there were lots of activities, but I’ve seen crazier, market-style streets, and I didn’t think Ave. Pastor Diaz was extremely busy. I was not bothered by what I saw.
Jaco Premium Bay Condo
I kept driving and was led to Ave Cana and we could immediately see the six towers for Jaco Bay Condo on the left side. We entered through a guard gated community.
The guard asked for my ID, and cleared me after 2 minutes. We headed for our building which was Building 6. First impression of the gated community? It was clean, seemed very well maintained, and looked very family friendly. There was not another business community next to it.
Just a residential neighborhood directly outside that did not block any of the views.We unloaded our belongings and made our way to the building. We took an elevator to our floor, used the keypad to enter our unit, and we were home.
Our two bedroom condo in Jaco was clean, spacious, filled with our basic needs. We were surprised to see a washer and dryer – we needed one badly with all the beach trips we’ve been doing.
The unit had game boards, boogie board, skim board, cooler, foosball table, TV in the bedrooms, bunkbeds, and so much more.
We got everything that we could’ve asked for. I know I would not have gotten all of these had we stayed in Hotel Tres Banderas. The Wi-Fi was fast, and the TVs had Netflix access, and we were set.
Over the next three days, we also enjoyed using the community pool. It was a large pool that glowed with green lighting at night. We enjoyed swimming with other owners or guests of the condo. The pool was huge. The atmosphere was friendly, very family-friendly. It was a place we looked forward to visiting after exploring much of this side of Costa Rica.
My YouTube video of our Jaco Bay Condo
Jaco Party Town?
About Jaco party town, I’m sure there’s truth to that, but we’re not party people so we avoided the party atmosphere. There was no need for us to drive around Ave Pastor Diaz at night. Our dinners did not take place on the main strip. Our condo was not in the middle of the Jaco strip of stores, but with driving, you could easily be in the middle of things.
The Jaco Bay Takeaway
There is no denying that there are better beaches out there on this side of Costa Rica. But I had my specific needs, and searching for other properties that would work with my needs just didn’t work out. This was the reason I was so glad we trusted our instinct and went with Jaco Bay Premium Condo.
We liked the proximity of our condo when we needed to access Jaco Beach. It just a long strip of beach, and we preferred staying on the far right side of the Playa Jaco. We went there to take sunset pictures. On our last full day, we attempted to go to other nearby beaches, but for some reason, we hit traffic which was quite unusual, so we just turned around and ended up at Jaco Beach. The kids and I preferred Jaco Beach.
The entrance to the beach wasn’t super rocky. And you could walk in the water for quite a few feet and it will be just knee-high. We loved Jaco Beach. I’m sure the other beaches outside of Jaco were even more beautiful, but for the needs of our family, Jaco Beach worked perfectly for us and there is no ounce of complaint from any of us.
For a quick 60 second video of Jaco from Costa Rican Vacations, check this out:
How again are we traveling for nearly free
There are many credit cards out there. The points earned with Chase have been my favorite for many years. These Ultimate Rewards points could be used for airfare, hotel, car rentals. Here are the Chase Cards that I, myself, use on a regular basis which can earn you these Ultimate Rewards.
a. Chase Sapphire Preferred (click here)– earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a perfect starter card. With its current 60,000 bonus points, those points alone have gotten us two tickets to Hawaii, have gotten us to many countries and cities in Europe and Asia, just as an example. The sign up bonus alone can be worth as much as $1,000 or more in travel.
– 60,000 Ultimate Rewards sign up bonus after $4,000 in spend in the first three months
– Points are transferable to:
- Hotel Partners
- Airline travel partners
- United Airlines
- British Airways
- Southwest Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Flying Blue
- Virgin Atlantic
- Aer Lingus
– Points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal
– Primary rental car collision damage waiver
– Earn 2X points on all travel and dining
– $95 annual fee
If I were just starting out in earning miles and points, I suggest starting out with this card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred
b. Chase Sapphire Reserve – earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards (I don’t have an active link at the time this was published, feel free to search on the net for a recent link, or check with me). Here’s a write up that I wrote on both Sapphire cards.
c. Chase Ink Business Preferred– earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards, perfect for those with small business.
I value my points earned with Chase. Here’s a write-up I wrote last year as to how we travel for nearly free (click here) with points earned with these credit cards.
For other cards that have helped us travel for nearly free, I recently I updated my favorite travel credit cards. I’ve also written this recently:
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Lastly, here Reader Success Tales that I featured on my site.
- The Yamaguchi’s European Holiday Vacation
- Stephen & Fiona’s Aspirational Trip to Japan
- $80 Trip to Costa Rica for 2 – Vanessa’s Tale
- Traveling is not just for the rich – Iza’s $11 Trip to Hawaii
- Last-minute trip to Hawaii – Bryan & Emily’s Tale
- The Smith Sisters conquer New York City – Gina’s Tale
- Seeing the world through my children’s eyes – Maricar’s tale