the sandpiper inn is 400 yds from the backyard bar. It's cheaper, cleaner, and the owner can score you the dank. ... and don't go to Jaco unless you want **** stolen. Plus the waves are weak there. Stick in Playa Hermosa or head to Manuel Antonioo... great break there.
Playa Negra in Guanacaste was great. Great Right hand break infront of the Hotel, nice beach for my 2 year old play on at low tide with all the tide pools. Plus the hotel has a pool and the entire staff were very kid-friendly. http://www.playanegra.com/en/
Jaco is shady although you can still have dinner with the family and walk around for a night out. Just be aware if you walk past half the bars there will be 100 hookers offering their services. The one surfer type bar was good no hookers there mostly all surfers and pretty chill. Apparently they round up the hookers every few months and send them back to Columbia as most come from there. I happened to be walking out of a bar and didnt have my passport on me on one of these nights and they loaded me in a bus with all of the hookers and took me to the police station. Anyone without a passport had to go total BS but sort of funny as I had to wait there while my buddies ran back to the Backyard and got my passport at which time they let me go. Moral of the story bring your passport out at night if you plan on going to Jaco and dont want to sit in the police station with 72hookers. And no I wasnt with them I literally stepped one foot out of the bar and got grabbed my buddies were behind me and stayed in when they saw it and didn't get nabbed...lesson learned.
I went to Hermosa a few years ago with my wife and 3 kids. The kids were 10 and 8 at the time. Hermosa wasn't the best beach for kids. The swell was pretty small but we wouldn't let them in the water and they were stuck with the pool. The kids are familiar with the ocean and swim on the swim team. Luckily we were only there a couple days. We did drive down to esterillos one day and they swam and surfed there. I also thought Jaco was a dump.
If it were me, I would look for something around tamarindo. Negra is nice and it would be safe for him to play in the pools and on the beaches unless it was really big. It's also a short drive to Avellanes and if you want some bigger barrels you can drive to Marbella.
This brings up a really good point. You can't look at a trip like that as if were a trip to OCMD. The beaches almost ALWAYS have surf so the whole playing in the water thing is not much of an option. Plus most of the beaches are dark sand that get REALLY hot durning the day so morning and evenings are best for chilling on the sand.
Most importantly. You aren't in the USA!! You are in a foreign country and subject to their laws and customs. Bottom line is that you don't have the same rights there as you do in the US so don't expect that. CR is probably one of the better places as far as that goes but you could still run into trouble if you assume the same rules apply there as here.
PS--I don't think Tamarindo is much better than Jaco.
Dude.. Jaco is a bullseye for trouble. If you ever hear somebody talking about a horrible experience regarding police, drugs, prostitution, stealing, robbing, or raw sewage being pumped into the ocean there is a 99% chance they are talking about Jaco.
Jaco was nice... until around 1990ish... even maybe up to the mid 90's. Since then it has been in the decline and has fallen apart completely in the last couple of years.
The last place I would bring a family to.
Oh, and I am completly a hellraiser, btw. I have no trouble throwing back the brews and getting into trouble at all, but that's not why I travel. I like to surf and spend time with my family & friends in a low key manner when I'm in other countries.
I WOULD highly recommend to the SandPiper Inn like JMD said. You will find plenty of surf and the owner is an awesome guy from South Bay out here in LA. I have friends who are good friends with the owner. Great location, very family friendly, and plenty of things to keep everybody busy while you steal some time away to go surf.
Damn JMD, that's funny you brought that place up. That's the first place I thought of when reading the original question posted by motion.
Small world we live in.
Ya man I will never forget that place and it will probably be the only place I would stay in Hermosa area now. It was really a great time. One night we had only surfers staying at the Inn and the hotel restaurant was closed for the day. The owner (Greg) and one of the guys that live on the grounds (Arin) went to the store and bought all this food and we had a big ass cookout and a huge fire on the beach. It was only $10 a person. It was like 9 of us drinking brews and eating amazing home cooked food while sharing war stories.
The owner was actually that guy who flew a bike over the English channel. He also rode cross country on a bike without stopping once. Some crazy ****!!!
P.S. this was in March which is not the BEST time to go for waves in Hermosa and we had head high waves the whole time with 3 of the days being 8-10ft. Like I said the swell got so big it was sort of closing out Hermosa so we headed north to Boca and scored some of the longest point break surf I have ever seen.
Plus most of the beaches are dark sand that get REALLY hot durning the day so morning and evenings are best for chilling on the sand.
I must agree here. The sand was so hot you actually had to run from the hotel property to the water and my feet would sting for like a hour after. There was one time we waited at the edge of the water and had to yell up to the people sitting at the hotel bar to go get our sandals and throw them down to us. That sand it HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!