Jaco, Costa Rica
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!
In all honesty, Jaco is not on our list of must-visit places in Costa Rica. We find it too hectic, dirty etc. However, it is a great jumping-off point for tons of activities.
If you are questioning if Jaco is the right spot for your vacation, feel free to reach out to us. We are happy to try and provide some clarity.
Now on to the rest of the Jaco, Costa Rica travel guide!
Map Of Jaco
Jaco is located in the Puntarenas Province on the Pacific coast. It is the closest major beach town from the San Jose area.
Jaco at a Glance
Nearest International Airport
Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose
Popular Things to Do
surfing, enjoy the nightlife, relax on the beach, go zip lining
Best Way to Get Around
Rental car, walking in the downtown area
Best Time of Year to Visit
Dry season is from late December until mid-April
Book Your Trip
Getting to Jaco
Flights to Costa Rica
The easiest way of getting to Jaco is by flying in to the San Jose International Airport. From San Jose, it is about a 1.5 hour drive to Jaco.
We usually have the best luck with booking our flights through Skyscanner. They are our go-to flight booking site for great rates.
Renting a Car
We suggest renting a car if you plan on traveling to other places and want the flexibility of not having to 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.
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.
If you don’t feel comfortable driving, a private transfer is always a good option. Adobe Car Rental now provides an excellent transfer service. You can find out more and get a price quote here.
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!
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 pre-packaged day tours.
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.
Book Your Transportation
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 hot. 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.
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Hotel Villa Caletas– Luxury 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 Resort– This resort features multiple pools, restaurants, a bar, and more! It is located directly on the beach.
Vista Guapa Eco Surf Camp– Nice hotel away from the action of downtown Jaco. There is a swimming pool and a fitness room.
Pacific Suites Boutique Hotel– Large hotel with a pool, restaurant, and fitness center in downtown Jaco.
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 Homes & Villa Rentals
We always love renting a home or villa for our vacation. This gives you more privacy and allows you the flexibility to cook your own meals.
In Jaco there are a lot of tall condo complexes with shared pools and other common spaces, so this list contains a mix of private houses and condos.
Note: We try to only ever suggest places with good cancellation policies, but always double check before booking.
16 Bed Compound Oasis – An 8 bedroom/ 4 bath home that can sleep 18 guests just steps from the beach. The property amenities include a private pool & hot tub, basketball court, steam room, pool table, outdoor bar, foosball table, & an outdoor movie theatre
Villa Montine – A 9 bedroom/ 11 bath home (yes….11 bathrooms!) that can sleep up to 18 guests. This property is located directly on the beach and there is a courtyard with a private pool.
Custom-Built Villa – A 6 bedroom/ 5 bath home that sleeps 12. It is just steps from the beach and there is a private pool.
Spacious, Modern Home – A 4 bedroom/ 4 bath home. There is a main house with two bedroom and two apartments attached with one bedroom each. There is a private pool and you can walk to the beach in about 7 minutes.
Luxury 3 bedroom – A 3 bedroom/ 3.5 bath condo. There is a shared pool and it is located directly on the beach.
Beachfront Home – 3 bed/ 3 bath home that sleeps 8 guests. There is a private pool and direct beach access.
Manhattan hits Jaco – A 3 bedroom/ 3.5 bath condo with views of the Pacific coast. Everything is modern and top notch here. There are 3 balconies, a fully equiped kitchen and shared pool access.
Studio Apt – A modern studio apartment located just steps from the beach. There is a kitchenette (not full kitchen).
LA PERLITA Studio Pivert – A private studio apartment with fill kitchen. It is a 4 minute walk to the beach.
Things to Do in Jaco
Go Sport Fishing
If in shore or deep-sea fishing is your thing, Jaco is a great place to take a trip from.
We suggest booking your trip with Captain Jorge on the Barrileta out of Herradura (just north of Jaco).
During your trip, you might catch mahi-mahi, wahoo, dorado, red snapper, and more.
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 an ATV Adventure
Go with an experienced guide for a thrilling ATV experience through dense jungles. Along the way you might see some wildlife like sloths and monkeys.
Try Out Zip Lining
There are a few different places to zip line near Jaco. All are excellent with well maintained, safe courses that will give you a nice thrill.
Try out a tandem paragliding experience over the beautiful Central Pacific coast. This is not for the faint of heart, but is sure to be an experience you’ll never forget!
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.