Jaco Costa Rica: Bustling Beach Guide

Jaco Costa Rica is a bustling beach town on the Central Pacific Coast. It is a great jumping-off point for tons of adventure and fun activities.

jaco costa rica view

The Jaco Costa Rica 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 to be 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!

Background Info About Jaco Costa Rica

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

Grocery Stores

There are multiple grocery stores in town. We suggest the Mas X Menos which is located a block from the beach. It has the best selection. 


We suggest the BCR or BAC if you need cash. Please be aware of your surroundings when taking out money here.

Gas Stations

Servicentro Jacó or Delta Jacó

(keep in mind all gas stations here are full-service. So stay in your car and an employee will fill your car up).

costa rica vibes about

Thomas (the German) and Sarah (the US-er).

We met in Virginia, moved to Germany, and have called sunny Costa Rica home since 2016.

We are on a mission to help you plan the perfect Costa Rican vacation.

Want the whole crazy story?

jaco costa rica parrots
Jaco Costa Rica: Bustling Beach Guide
Jaco Costa Rica: Bustling Beach Guide

Map Of Jaco

Jaco is located in the Puntarenas Province on the Pacific coast. It is the closest major beach town to the San Jose area. 

It is located just south of the resort town of Herradura and north of the surfing village, Playa Hermosa.

How to Get to Jaco Costa Rica

Flights to Costa Rica

The easiest way of getting to Jaco is by flying into the San Jose International Airport. 

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 to Jaco

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

Our favorite Costa Rica rental car company, Adobe, has given us a 10% discount plus other great perks to pass on to you.

Reserve your car with 10% discount

Driving Directions

To drive from San Jose International Airport to Jaco, Costa Rica, you can follow these general directions:

Exit the airport and head southwest on Route 1 (also known as the Interamerican Highway) towards San Ramon. You will be driving on the highway for approximately 15 miles.

After 15 miles, you will reach the intersection with Route 27 (also known as the Caldera Highway). Take the exit to the right onto Route 27.

Our #1 Car Rental Choice
Jaco Costa Rica: Bustling Beach Guide

Adobe Rent-a-Car

  • 10% discount for Costa Rica Vibes readers
  • Free second driver
  • 0% deductible on Liability Protection Insurance
  • Excellent customer service
  • New fleet of well-maintained vehicles

Continue driving on Route 27 for approximately 43 miles until you reach the exit for Jaco. The exit is well-marked, and you will see signs for Jaco Beach.

Take the exit for Jaco and merge onto Route 34.

Continue driving on Route 34 for approximately 22 miles until you reach Jaco. 

As you enter Jaco, you will see signs directing you to the town center and the beach area. 

A Few Things to Note

Just be warned that Route 27 is a toll road. If you don’t have colones you can pay in US 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.

Also, the scary thing on Route 27 is that it sometimes becomes two lanes for passing and then quickly cuts back to one lane again. Keep an eye on the merging signs because it can happen suddenly. 

About an hour into your drive, (while on Route 34) 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.

Here is a map from the San Jose Airport. 

Private Transfer

If you don’t feel comfortable driving, a private transfer is always a good option. Adobe Car Rental now provides an excellent transfer service.

A trusted driver will take you from the airport (or any other place in the country) directly to your place of choice in Jaco. 

Get a Private Transfer Price Quote to Jaco

Public Bus

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!


car rental

The Adobe Rent-A-Car discount includes…..

– A 10% DISCOUNT  





beach jaco
Jaco Costa Rica: Bustling Beach Guide
Jaco Costa Rica: Bustling Beach Guide

Transportation 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 day tours with transportation. 

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.

Jaco Costa Rica: Bustling Beach Guide

Things to Do in Jaco Costa Rica


Have you ever gone jet skiing? It is such a fun and thrilling way to enjoy the coastline. We suggest taking a jet ski tour from Playa Herradura which goes to the remote Fantasia beach.


Go with an experienced guide for a thrilling ATV experience through the dense jungles near Jaco. During your journey, keep an eye out for wildlife. Your guide might point out animals such as sloths and monkeys.

Our favorite ATV tour is done by Adventure Tours Costa Rica.


Jaco Beach is a great place to catch the sunset.

In Costa Rica, the sun sets every day between 5 pm and 6 pm all year round.

For 26 Fun Things to do in Jaco, check out our Things to Do in Jaco Costa Rica guide

Jaco Costa Rica Beaches

The Jaco Costa Rica beach is several miles long and is perfect for relaxing, walks, surfing, and some water sports.

Jaco is sandwiched between two smaller beach towns and close to one of our favorite white-sand beaches in Costa Rica.

We created a guide to the six best beaches in Jaco Costa Rica area to give you more ideas of spots to visit. 

Esterillos oeste beach view
an orange sunset view in Playa Blanca Costa Rica
playa blanca costa rica beach view
email opt in

Are you stressed about planning the perfect vacation to Costa Rica?

Have no fear! We are here to help. Check out our FREE Ultimate Costa Rica Planning E-Book that is jam-packed with must know travel info

Places to Eat in Jaco

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!


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


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

⤷ For more ideas we created a complete guide to restaurants in Jaco which details exactly where to go for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

multiple crocodiles at Rio Tarcoles in Costa Rica in the sun
carara national park scenery view in jungle
view of jaco, Costa Rica

Jaco Costa Rica 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

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

Check out our guide to hotels in Jaco for more amazing options

Vacation Rentals in Jaco

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.

Note: We try to only ever suggest places with good cancellation policies, but always double check before booking.

High End

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. 

Budget Friendly

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. 

a woman hiking at carara national park
Esterillos oeste beach view

Multi-Day Tours to Jaco Costa Rica

Take the planning, stress, and guess work out of traveling by booking a multi-day tour with an experienced guide.

For more tour ideas check out Tour Radar

Surf Costa Rica

A 10 day thrilling beach tour around the country with a focus on surfing. The highlights are stays in Tamarindo, Jaco, and Dominical.

Jaco Travel Tips

– Be careful when swimming. In certain spots, there are strong currents. It is best to ask at your hotel before swimming so they can direct you to the calmest areas. 

– This area can get really crowded during peak travel time. It is always best to book your hotel early.

– If you want more relaxed vibes and are interested in surfing, we suggest staying just south of Jaco in Hermosa

Heymondo travel insurance was designed with ease and flexibility in mind.

Their comprehensive plans offer 24/7 assistance, trip cancellation and interruption coverage, lost baggage coverage, assistance in case of medical issues, as well as the option to add-on adventure activity coverage. 

↳ Get Your Travel Insurance Quote

Packing for Jaco Costa Rica

Jaco is a very relaxed beach town. Nobody will judge you for wearing anything you want.

The sun is powerful here, so we try to wear as much UV protection as possible.

Also, there is a decent nightlife scene. If you plan on partying we suggest lightweight pants and non-wrinkle tops.

Check out our Jaco Packing List on Amazon for all the essentials. 

Jaco Costa Rica FAQ

Is Jaco worth visiting?

This really depends on what you are looking for. If you want nightlife, a bustling town, and action; then yes, it is

Is Jaco Costa Rica safe?

This area is mostly safe, but petty theft and even some more violent crime can happen. Usually this occurs at night. During the day time it is a peaceful area for the most part.  

What is there to do in Jaco Costa Rica?

Go beach hopping, try surfing, enjoy the nightlife, go zip lining, and explore the nearby national parks. 

Is Jaco Costa Rica a party town?

Yes, in the evenings there is a lively nightlife scene in downtown Jaco. 

Is it safe to swim in Jaco Costa Rica?

In most spots, it is safe to swim. However, look for red flags out at the beach and always ask someone before getting in the water to make sure. 

Articles About Jaco Costa Rica

jaco tram

26 Fun Things to Do in Jaco Costa Rica

From stunning natural attractions to adrenaline-pumping adventures, there are TONS of fun things to do in Jaco Costa Rica. …

monteverde zip line

Costa Rica Zip Line – Adventure Guide

Zip lining in Costa Rica is a thrilling way to see the lush jungle canopy landscape of the country from a different perspective. Soar above cloud forests, enjoy volcano views, and more!

You Might Also Like Visiting

Herradura: A small beach village that is home to one of the most popular resorts in Costa Rica

Puntarenas: A bustling city that is home to the Pacific coast cruise port

Quepos: A bustling small city that serves as a gateway to Manuel Antonio

….if none of those appeal to you, check out our Guide to the Central Pacific Coast for more ideas of places to visit in this area.