Things to do in Jaco

Things to do in  Jaco

White water and blue skies

On Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, the small town of Jaco draws visitors with its opportunities for rainforest adventure, relaxed social climate, and surfing, all just a 1.5-hour drive from the capital, San Jose. On dry land, travelers can take adventure tours in the jungle via horseback; get muddy on an adrenaline-filled ATV tour; fly through the air by zipline or tram; or get wet with waterfall tours, whitewater rafting, crocodile river cruises, and mangrove kayaking. In the Manuel Antonio National Park, tours offer views of native wildlife such as monkeys, sloths, and agoutis in their natural environment, along with 180 species of birds and stretches of white sand beach. The Arenal Volcano brings the heat with visible plumes of smoke and rivers of molten lava and, after viewing, tours often stop for a soak in nearby geothermal hot springs. Cool off with surf lessons on Jaco beach, where the waves are surfable year-round and the long beach offers a variety of waves for different levels, from rookie to expert. Cruises from the Gulf of Nicoya take passengers to the white sandy beaches and sparkling turquoise waters where snorkeling and sunbathing opportunities abound on nearby Tortuga Island, while other boats offer full-day fishing trips for marlin, mahi mahi, and even tuna.

Top 4 attractions in Jaco

Tortuga Island (Isla Tortuga)

A postcard-perfect paradise of white-sand beaches, swaying coconut palms, and sapphire-blue water rife with marine life, Tortuga Island (Isla Tortuga) is an ideal spot to swim, snorkel, or bask in the sunshine. The island is only accessible from Costa Rica’s main cities via a scenic boat ride across the Gulf of Nicoya—an extra perk for your vacation.More

Jaco Beach

Jaco is a lively beach town known for its water sports and party atmosphere. Located on some of Costa Rica’s most developed coastline, within two hours of the capital, it’s a favorite escape for San José residents, as well as backpackers, snowbirds, and North American retirees.More

Carara National Park (Parque Nacional Carara)

Located north of Jaco along the Pacific coast, Carara National Park is at the confluence of two important ecosystems—the steamy jungle of the southern coast and the dry tropical forest of Guanacaste. Walk along easy trails to spot outstanding wildlife including 400 bird species, sloths, capuchin monkeys, anteaters, parrots, and most notably, huge populations of scarlet macaws and crocodiles.More
Pura Vida Gardens and Waterfalls

Pura Vida Gardens and Waterfalls

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Pura Vida Gardens and Waterfalls boast nature trails, streams, and views of the tallest waterfall in Costa Rica. After exploring orchid gardens and watching toucans flying overhead, you can enjoy an al fresco meal on the patio.More
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All about Jaco

When to visit

Jaco is at its most pleasant, weather-wise, in Costa Rica’s dry season, which runs from December until April or May. This time of year is hot and dry, and it definitely draws in crowds of domestic and international visitors, with the largest crowds around Christmastime and during Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter). If you don’t mind a little rain, the wetter months (May through November) are much less crowded.

Getting around

Jaco is small and easy to navigate on foot, as most of the shops, restaurants, and hotels are on the main drag—Pastor Diaz Avenue. If you want to explore area beaches, you can easily hire a taxi or grab a local bus. If you’re flying into San Jose and making your way to Jaco, your best bet is to prebook a private or shared transfer service.

Traveler tips

If you want to get away from the scene at Jaco, head out to El Miro ruins, on the southern edge of town, just past Hotel Club del Mar. Here you’ll find the ruins of the foundation of an old mansion, with grand staircases and elegant columns that have been decorated with colorful art by local graffiti artists. Climb to the top of the ruins for sweeping views over the sea.


People Also Ask

What is Jaco known for?

Jaco is known for its surfing, sport fishing, sunsets, and partying. Located on the central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Jaco is the closest beach to the capital San Jose, and offers plenty of water- and land-based activities, especially for adventurous travelers. This booming resort town offers diverse accommodations, dining, shopping, and nightlife options.

How many days do you need in Jaco?

Two to three days gives you enough time to relax, enjoy the beach, and get out on the water—whether to surf, fish, snorkel, or stand-up paddleboard. You’ll need a few more days to explore the other attractions near Jaco, such as the Manuel Antonio National Park, Tortuga Island, and active adventures in the rainforest.

What is there to do in Jaco?

Surfing is one of the most popular activities in Jaco, as are fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, stand-up paddleboarding, and kayaking. Nearby national parks and rainforests offer land-based activities such as wildlife spotting, ATV riding, hiking, ziplining, and canyoning. At night, there are plenty of options for partying.

Is Jaco or Manuel Antonio better?

Jaco is better for surfing, but the beaches of Manuel Antonio are prettier and more pristine, especially within the national park (which is one of the best places in the country to see wildlife). Both are popular destinations that can get crowded. Jaco is more budget-friendly than Manuel Antonio and offers a livelier nightlife scene.

Which coast is Jaco on in Costa Rica?

Jaco is located on the west coast of Costa Rica—more specifically, on the central Pacific coast, which is the country’s most accessible coast, and home to beach and resort towns such as Manuel Antonio and Puntarenas.

Is Jaco a party town?

Yes, Jaco is considered one of the top party towns in Costa Rica. Its plentiful nightlife options run the gamut from laid-back beach bars with live music to sports bars to thumping dance clubs with live DJs, go-go dancers, and VIP areas. It’s possible to party until the sun comes up in Jaco.

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