Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cigar Hunting In San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica is a great place to visit, and a wonderful place to live, however in the world of cigars, it has it's darker side.

San Jose is kind of like the Mos Eisley of the world for cigar smoker... As Obi-Wan put it, it is a "wretched hive of scum and villainy."

You are certainly think... "How can this guy say something so strong about San Jose, Costa Rica... this is his adopted home... how bad can it really be?"

Well, yes- my words are extreme, but only because I recommend that you hunt, shop, and buy with EXTREME caution.

My research show that there are no less that 40 cigar producers in the country. However, if you look in the yellow pages, you will only find one. I understand that the yellow pages is not a great guide, and it is a bit of a mafia in itself, but use that example as a metaphor for the situation in Costa Rica.

As many tourist locations outside the US, there is a huge market for fake Cuban cigars, however due to Costa Rica's popularity combined with it's proximity to Nicaragua (to provide rollers and tobacco), the number of fake cigars out there is enormous.

Nearly everyone know the street is full of fakes, but that is not where it ends. Many hotels, restaurants, and even tobacco stores are tainted- mainly unknowingly, others foolishly.

That being said, there are a number of places where you can find real Cuban cigars. La Mata De Tobacco (Multi-Plaza), Don Benigno Cigars (kiosk in Plaza Mayor), La Casa Del Habano (San Pedro near the mall), to name a few.

There are good and bad fakes, and you my find a fake cigar that you enjoy, but truth be told, it is not right, proper, or healthy (who knows how the tobacco was cured).

I am writing this because it is very important to me that cigar smokers get access to great cigars, and purchasing fake cigars in San Jose, Costa Rica is bad for tourism, but is worse for the cigar smoker who gets them.

Proceed with caution when cigar hunting in San Jose, Costa Rica. There are plenty of opportunities to find the "real deal" so do not be foolish. Enjoying a great cigar is a wonderful experience, and following my advice can make that wonderful experience a reality while on a trip in San Jose.

28 comments:

  1. Are you still in Costa Rica? I just bought from a place online it is called solocigar.com and they are located Suite 3, Plaza Uruca
    San Jose,
    Costa Rica

    I was wondering what you thought of this place?

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  2. I am still in Costa Rica.

    Based on the prices they are 100% fake.

    You might find some decent cigars from time to time (because sometimes even fakes can e good), but it is best to not fuel the counterfeit market.

    TC-Keith says, "Stay away."

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  3. A good cigar is a good cigar , i have bought them everytime im down there, the key is they have to be fresh , look at the wrappers if there dark they are old , tell the vender you want some with a nice gold color. I have also tried a costa cigar called Joya Real it was better than the so called cubans I bought and again it was fresh.

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  4. Do you know of any legit shops in Liberia, Costa Rica?

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  5. As of right now, I can not confirm any shops in Libera are for real. There is talk about some people whom I trust opening, but nothing yet. I would even be cautious in hotels.

    Very soon, if not already, in the Libera Airport the Duty Free IMUS store will be opening. They are 100% reliable, but are only availabe to travelers.

    Another option is having cigars, from San Jose, shipped to you from a reliable shop. Email me directly, and I can help you out.

    Thanks,

    TC-Keith

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  6. Richard RoundtrrrApril 12, 2008 12:04 PM

    Keith,
    I've been buying cigars from Jairo Rodriquez for over a year and have been very happy till this last shipment.Not one of the 300 cigars are smokable.In the past a few have been bad but not the total shipment.Joya Real is the company and I'd like to send them back but have no address.
    Can you help me out?His # (506)379-0401.
    Richard Roundtree

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  7. Dear Richard,

    As first I was not going to post the comment, but I decided to go ahead and do it so that I could write back to you.

    I contacted Jario and explained. He said that he has not recently checked his order, but that he will try to get in contact with you.

    I am on your side here, and you should be 100% satisfied with the product (for the price). Cigar smoking is something that I enjoy way too much to see it disgraced by people trying to make a quick buck by selling bad product.

    Jairo seemed like a nice enough guy, and I hope that he sorts things out for you. When this is resolved, please add a comment to this post explaining how things worked out.

    Thanks,

    Keith

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  8. I am travelling to San Jose for a poker tournament on the 21st of May. I will be staying at the Ramada Plaza Herradura. Do you know of a place close to this that has good cigars? I would like to bring some home for my father in law and want top quality. Thank you.

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  9. I will be travelling to San Jose on May 21st for a poker tournament. I'll be staying at the Ramada Plaza Herradura. Do you know of a cigar shop close to this where I can get some top quality stuff? I want to bring some home for my father in law and really set him up nicely. Thanks in advance!

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  10. djoshaz,

    There is a Cigar Kiosk is PLAZA MAYOR (pronounce MY JOR) in Pavas. That is the closed and easiest to get to. They carry a decent selection of cigars, but you are guaranteed that all are authentic.

    I personally would recommend their signature brand "Don Benigno."

    Their number is 2296-8111.

    Keith

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  11. djoshaz:

    I just returned from Costa Rica yesterday, and more specifically Herradura. I found a Casa Habanos at the Marina Shops of the Marriott Los Suenos resort. I bought a few cigars for smoking while there, and found them all to be fresh and excellent although somewhat expensive. ($12 to over $40 per stick) I paid $22 for a Hoyo EL which was definitively worthwhile. It was one of the finest, fullest, most complex smokes I've had in a long while. (and I've smoked most of them) I hope this reaches you in time.

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  12. Hi Keith,

    You have any info about this blend,
    Mythos Solitude Cigar Trophy Best Value 2008.
    Please let me know

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  13. Never heard of it, do you have any additional information?

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  14. I was very interested in this thread and then it died... I am going to San Jose in two weeks and wanted to pick up some cigars while there. Thanks for the advice in the original post and with any luck, the legit places you mentioned may be within my reach.

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  15. hi

    where can i buy cuban cigars, really cheap i dont care if there fake.

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  16. Keith - I just wanted to thank you for recommending Don Benigno's kiosk in Pavas. We were there in October `10 and told our Taxi driver to make a stop to buy cigars. The kiosk is very unexpecting but delivered on the Montecristo cubans I was looking for. At $12 each I was more than happy and also bought some D.B. cigars.

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  17. Can I purchase cigars at San Jose airport ??

    Won't have time for much other options

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  18. I am traveling to Costa Rica next week. I will be in Cuidad Quesada and the Puntarenas area. I won't be able to travel into San Jose or Heredia. Do you know of any legit cigar stores in the areas that I am traveling?

    Thanks,
    Keith

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  19. Thanks Keith,
    I traveled to San José last week and went to both Don Beningos in San Pedro and La Mata based on your recommendation. Finding the real thing requires hunting and education. I was more impressed with Beningos and bought some of their brand, too.
    For those traveling to San Jose:
    Look for bar code and the two Cuba stickers on boxes and look for Habana on band as well as as the three wrap edges close together and even to each other on the blunt end characteristic of almost all true cubans.

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  20. I have a huge selection of Habannos and am a certified dealer No. 0021. The Havana Humidor room at Hotel Little Havana, Ave 9 and calle 3.5, Barrio Amon, San Jose, CR 506 8776372

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  21. I have a huge selection of Habannos and am a certified dealer No. 0021. The Havana Humidor room at Hotel Little Havana, Ave 9 and calle 3.5, Barrio Amon, San Jose, CR 506 8776372

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  22. I will be traveling to Costa Rica in July 2012, and be staying close to Atenas. Are there any good cigar stores there?

    Thanks,

    Greg

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  23. San Jose, even with it's problems, is still the best location in Costa Rica to find cigars.

    In addition to excellent Don Benigno Cigar, rolled in San Jose, there is a new Casa Del Habano here in town. Although I have not visited it, I know the owner/manager and he is a class act.

    See: http://www.cruzcanelahabanos.com/ for more information.

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  24. Check out havanahumidorroom.com in San Jose, CR

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  25. Are there any cigar shops around La Fortuna

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  26. When choosing the original look for the original seal and you should buy it in the convenient store that sells original products. You could also identify if it is fake or not once you tasted it. :D

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  27. They are really popular with this Cuban cigar. Hopefully tourist and everyone will not be fooled by a fake one and buy an original Cuban Cigar.

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  28. I'm traveling to CR next week so looking for quality cigar shops. I won't have much time in San Jose, but interested in shops near La Fortuna and/or Quepos. Any help?

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