Jaco, Costa Rica

The closest beach destination from San Jose and a great jumping off point for tons of adventure!
Jaco costa rica
Jaco costa rica

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The Jaco Vibe

Jaco is one of the most popular beach destinations in Costa Rica due to how close it is to the San Jose airport.

Within 1.5 hours of leaving the airport, you can be relaxing on this Central Pacific coast beach.
Jaco is great for beach walking, surfing, enjoying plenty of delicious restaurants, nightlife, and more!

If you want a very relaxed vibe, head a few minutes south and stay in Playa Hermosa.

Now on to the rest of the Jaco Costa Rica travel guide!

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jaco
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jaco

Jaco Weather

Jaco’s climate is the perfect example of Costa Rican seasons.

From December until mid-Aril there is hardly any rain and the weather tends to be very weather. Just keep in mind that this is also prime tourism time and Jaco tends to be one of the most crowded beach towns in the country.

From mid-April until the end of July you can expect sunny and hot days with a daily afternoon thunderstorm. The rain usually rolls in around 2 pm and typically does not last for more than a few hours. Even after the rain ends for the day it tends to stay hot here.

From August until December the weather is a complete surprise. Sometimes there will be nice sunny days and other times there can be nonstop rain.

Keep in mind that this is also the least popular time to travel so there are fewer tourists and everything is cheaper.

Jaco Transportation

Getting to Jaco

If you are only going to Jaco and not planning on traveling to other places, the bus from San Jose is your cheapest option. The public bus will only cost you a few dollars and runs several times a day. It’s not the most comfortable and if it’s full you could be left standing for the whole ride, but hey, it’s cheap!

If you’d like a more comfortable trip, we suggest Caribe Shuttle. They are our go-to shuttle company in Costa Rica for a stress free and enjoyable ride. They can pick you up from the San Jose airport or from your San Jose hotel. 

BOOK YOUR SHUTTLE RIDE IN COSTA RICA

You could also rent a car. We suggest renting a car if you plan on traveling to other places and want the flexibility of not having depend on tours. 

We suggest booking your rental car with Adobe. They are the most trustworthy company in this country (in our opinion) and we have partnered with them to get a 10% discount for you on your rental car. You can find out more here. 

FIND OUT HOW TO GET UP TO 10% OFF YOUR CAR RENTAL IN COSTA RICA!

From the airport, it will only take you about 1.5 hours to get to Jaco. The highway is well maintained and easy to navigate. Just be warned this is a toll road. If you don’t have colones you can pay in dollars and they will give you colones as change. I like to pay with a $10 bill and then the change is enough for me to pay the rest of the tolls in colones.

About an hour into your drive you will cross over a river called Rio Tarcoles which is usually lined with people. Pull your car over and walk back onto the bridge to check it out. You’ll see huge crocodiles below waiting for a tasty meal. 🙂

You do not need to rent a 4×4 for this route. The roads are all paved.

Getting Around in Jaco

If you’d like to do a lot of exploring in the Jaco area we suggest renting a car. Otherwise, you’ll have to depend on expensive pre-packaged day tours. In our experience, it almost always comes out cheaper to rent a car and do things on our own.

If you plan on just exploring downtown Jaco and relaxing on the beach, you don’t need a car. The downtown area is very walkable.

If you don’t feel comfortable driving from San Jose to Jaco, but would like a car while you explore Jaco, you can rent a car from Adobe and input Jaco as your pick-up location.

They have an office directly in the downtown area of Jaco. In the comments section of the rental car reservation, you can specify that you need the car delivered to you at your hotel. Adobe will deliver it to you free of charge if you are within 12 miles of their location.

Things to Do in Jaco

Chill on the beach: Jaco beach is perfect if you want a large open beach. If you’d like a bit more privacy head to the northern part of the beach. It tends to be empty there.

For more beach variety, head south to Playa Hermosa or north to Playa Herradura. Both beaches are also very nice and tend to be less crowded.

Go partying: If you are into the nightlife scene, Jaco is where it’s at. Because this area is pretty saturated with backpackers there are tons of clubs and bars along the main stretch downtown.

Take a surfing lesson: There are tons of companies that offer surfing lessons in Jaco. Just walk the downtown area and you will find plenty of options.

Try SUP: Carton Surfboards in Jaco has stand up paddle boards you can rent. They cost $25 per hour or $35 for a half day. Just ask at Carton and they will direct you to some good spots to explore on your SUP.

Watch the sunset: Grab a beer at one of the many convenience stores and sit on Playa Jaco for sunset. We’ve never had a bad sunset view in Jaco.

Hike Miro’s Mountain: A secret hidden gem when visiting Jaco is the hike up Miro’s Mountain. Search for “El Miro” on your gps or in Google Maps and it should come up.

The trail head is not marked, but it is located directly across from the gas station at the south part of town. If you can’t find it just ask someone for help.

The hike is a little over a mile one way. Make sure to walk far enough to get to the abandoned restaurant. It’s super cool! Plus you’ll get a great view of Jaco.

Check out the farmers market: Every Friday from 7am to 2pm next to the soccer field in the center of Jaco there is a farmers market.

We love the farmer’s markets in Costa Rica because you can find tons of exotic fruits you’ve probably never seen before.

Visit Playa Blanca: Playa Blanca is one of our favorite beaches in Costa Rica and it is only a short drive from Jaco. We have a complete guide for how you can visit here.

Watch a surf competition: Every Saturday at 5pm, at nearby Playa Hermosa, you can watch (or participate in) a surf competition at Backyard Bar.

There is always live music and a fun party. You can find out more on the Backyard Hotel website

Visit Carara National Park– This national park is located just north of Jaco. We love hiking here for bird watching. It is the perfect spot to potentially spot tons of scarlet macaws. We have a complete guide to visiting the Carara biological reserve

Head south to Manuel Antonio National Park- The drive to Manuel Antonio National Park will take about 1.5 hours. It is completely possible to visit this Costa Rican highlight as a day trip. 

Go sport fishing– If deep-sea fishing is your thing, Jaco is a great place to take a trip from. We have not gone sport fishing from Jaco so we can’t suggest a good company.

However, ask at your hotel. They sometimes have area connections and can get you a good deal. 

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jaco
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jaco

Jaco Hotels

High-End Hotels

Hotel Villa CaletasLuxury at its finest! The views here are incredible. The property has a victorian design and there is an infinity pool, two restaurants, and concierge service. 

Best Western Jaco (All Inclusive)Located directly on the beach, this resort features pools, a volleyball court, tennis courts, and multiple restaurants. This is the perfect place for the whole family. 

Croc’s ResortThis resort features multiple pools, restaurants, a bar, and more! It is located directly on the beach. 

Mid-Range Hotels

Vista Guapa Eco Surf CampNice hotel away from the action of downtown Jaco. There is a swimming pool and a fitness room.

Pacific Suites Boutique HotelLarge hotel with a pool, restaurant, and fitness center in downtown Jaco.

Budget Hotels

La Perlita: There is also an outdoor pool for guests to enjoy. It is about a 10-minute walk to the beach in Jaco.

Buddha House Boutique Hostel: This hostel has private rooms with shared and private bathrooms. There is also a shared kitchen and small pool on-site. It is located close to the beach.

Jaco Restaurants

There is no shortage of restaurants in Jaco! Here are our faves.

Fine Dining

Adventure Dining– We love the concept of this place! They will pick you up from your hotel in Jaco in a shuttle van that takes you to a beautiful property at the top of a high hill with amazing views. A fine meal with an open bar is served followed by dancing. This is truly a super fun experience!

Amphitheater Restaurant- This restaurant is located at the Villa Caletas hotel in Herradura. We suggest going here at sunset.  You can sit in their outdoor Roman amphitheater on a cliff above the ocean. The food is also amazing.

Adacus Mediterranean Cuisine– Delicious restaurant located in Croc’s Resort. The food is excellent and the restaurant has a great view of the ocean.

Mid-Range

Ohana Sushi Tapas– There is nothing better than enjoying sushi when the fish was just caught that day. This place is excellent. 

The Beer House– Great craft beer, live music, and tasty food. A great spot to spend a relaxed evening.

Sabress Kosher Restaurant– Delicious and fresh Middle Eastern food. They also have tons of vegetarian options.

Jerah– Amazing Thai food! Just note that they only accept cash. 

Budget-Friendly

Taco Joint: On point tacos at a reasonable price. A great lunch spot.

The Pizza Shop: Seriously top-notch pizza at a very reasonable price.

Soda Jaco Rustico: A great dinner spot if you want an authentic Costa Rican meal at a really good price.

Custom Jaco Trip Plan

Would like a more customized Costa Rica experience?

Just fill in our Costa Rica Trip Planner form!

One of our favorite Costa Rica experts will contact you and help with the entire Costa Rica planning process. 

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2 Responses

    1. Yes! You will have no problems in Jaco. All the roads are well paved and frequently traveled. Also, the highway from San Jose to Jaco is well maintained as well.

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