The Jaco Costa Rica beaches are perfect for all sorts of activities from surfing to lounging in the sun. In the surrounding area, there are six great beaches to visit to enjoy the tropical Central Pacific coast vibes.
Jaco is a popular Central Pacific beach town in Costa Rica due to its proximity to the capital city, San Jose. It only takes about 1.5 hours to drive here from the city (which is also home to the largest international airport in the country).
We visit this area often and have explored all of the nearby beaches in depth. We created this guide to Jaco Costa Rica beaches to give you more details on our favorite six places with details on which activities are best at each beach, what to be aware of, where to park, and more!
In front of the town of Jaco is this extensive beach. It is about two miles long and the sand is perfect for a nice long walk.
Playa Jaco tends to get crowded, especially during Costa Rican national holidays and on the weekends.
It is a popular spot for locals to visit and you might see large groups of families enjoying fun beach days here.
This beach runs parallel to the main shopping drag in Jaco. That means, whenever you want to easily get off the beach to grab lunch or a drink, that is very easy to do. Most of the stores are in the middle section of the beach area, so this tends to be the most crowded part.
If you want a bit more peace, walk to the north or southern part of the beach.
This beach is great for long walks, wading in the water, beginner surfers, and sunset views.
We think this beach is OK, but it is not the nicest beach in the area.
If you would like more info on visiting Jaco, we have a full guide to the area with suggested hotels, great restaurants, transportation tips, and more!
Playa Hermosa is a dark sand beach located just south of Jaco. This spot is almost always empty because it is not good for swimming. But it is a popular spot for intermediate to advanced surfers.
Please be careful if you plan on swimming here because the waves and rip current can be really strong.
Things to Note
– There are plenty of food options in Hermosa if you want to stop at the restaurant. Our top choices are: Bluegrass Cafe, Vida Hermosa, and Bowie’s Point.
– If you need to rent a surfboard, Hermosa Riders Surf School provides daily rentals.
– We have a whole guide to Playa Hermosa if you would like to learn more about the area. We think it is a great alternative to staying in Jaco for those of you that want a little more peace and quiet.
Playa Herradura is located just north of Jaco. It is a horseshoe-shaped beach that stretches for about a mile (1.6 km) along the coast.
The beach is known for its calm waters, which make it a great spot for swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.
Most of the beachgoers are guests staying at Los Suenos Resort (the big resort and villa community located next to the beach).
There is also a large marina located at the north end of the beach. A lot of deep-sea fishing charters depart from here.
We find Herradura Beach to be a bit rocky, but it usually doesn’t get very full, so it’s always a decent option.
Playa Blanca & Playa Mantas
These are our top choice for beautiful beaches in this area, but they are a bit complicated to get to. We suggest planning to make this a day trip.
See, to access these beaches you will need to drive about 15 minutes north of Jaco and enter a private resort property called Punta Leona Hotel.
In Costa Rica, all beaches need to have free public access, so there is a parking lot where visitors can still park even if they are not guests of the resort.
The problem is that the parking lot area isn’t very big. So, we suggest getting here early in the morning to make sure you can get a spot.
Directly in front of the parking lot you will see Playa Mantas. This is a popular beach with families because the water is generally calm. The beach has white sand and clear waters.
If you would like to visit Playa Blanca you will need to walk to the southern end of Playa Mantas and climb over some rocks to get to the other side. This is not possible to do during high tide. Trust me, I learned the hard way when slipping on the wet rocks and getting some serious bruises.
Playa Blanca is beautiful, so despite the hassle to get there, we still visit often just to enjoy the white sand, turquoise waters, and palm trees.
If you would like more info on visiting here (with detailed maps) you can check out our complete guide here.
Things to Note
There are no food options on Playa Blanca or Playa Mantas so you will need to bring your own picnic and plenty of drinks.
There aren’t any bathrooms here for non-resort guests.
Keep an eye out for raccoons. They love to try and steal food here.
Playa Esterillos Oeste
Playa Esterillos Oeste is located south of Playa Hermosa. This beach is a long, wide, and sandy beach that stretches for about 3.5 miles (6 km).
We like this spot because it is relatively uncrowded. For whatever reason, it is just not an area most tourists go to.
The descent into the water is very gradual during low tide, so you can walk out very far. During high tide, there are lots of little tide pools.
Direction to the Jaco Costa Rica Beaches
We created a map for you so you can easily see where each beach is located. If you plan to stay in Jaco and only want to visit Jaco beach, you won’t need a rental car.
If you would like to take day trips to further away beaches such as Playa Blanca or Esterillos, we suggest renting a car.
Our favorite rental car company in Costa Rica is a local company called Adobe. We have a 10% discount plus other great perks with Adobe to pass on to you.
Tips for Visiting These Beaches
- Don’t leave your valuables unattended at any time. Petty theft is unfortunately known to happen here and unattended items are a prime target.
- Look up! This area is know for scarlet macaws and you can almost always spot them. They travel in groups so you might get lucky and see a whole big group of them. The picture above was taken at the north end of Playa Jaco and we actually cut out some of them in the picture. In total there were about 12 of them.
- Pay attention to signs or ask at your hotel before swimming. If you see red flags out, don’t swim.
- Don’t sit under palm trees. I know they are sometimes the only shade on the beach, but falling coconuts are a thing to pay attention to
- Protect yourself from the sun. The sun here is crazy strong and you should wear at least SPF 50 sunscreen. Reapply often and wear UV protecting clothes if possible. Check out our suggested Jaco packing list for more tips.
Fun Beach Activities
Go Horseback Riding
Jaco Beach is a great spot to enjoy a horseback ride along the beach. We suggest this experience at sunset with a small group and local guide.
-> Book your horseback riding tour
Take a Surf Lesson
Jaco Beach is a good spot for beginner surfers to get a feel for the waves and the board. We recommend taking a surf lesson with Surf Factory School in Jaco. They are amazing and can teach you the fundamentals and most likely get you standing on the board within two hours.
Watch the Sunset
The sun sets year-round between 5:15 and 6pm. One of our favorite evening activities is grabbing some beers or a bottle of wine and sitting on the beach to watch the sun go down before having dinner. It is a nice way to wrap up the day and enjoy some of the beauty of Costa Rica.
If you want the ultimate thrilling activity with unparallel Central Pacific coast views, you can always opt for a paragliding adventure.
-> Book your paragliding adventure
Besides these activities, there are tons of ways to get out on the water here from deep sea fishing to a catamaran day tour to an uninhabited tropical island. We created a list of 26 activities from Jaco for TONS of great ideas of things to do.
Jaco Costa Rica Beaches FAQ
Is Jaco beach swimmable?
Yes, Jaco Beach in Costa Rica is swimmable. The waters are usually calm. However, it’s important to note that conditions can vary. Always check if there are any red flags up and ask locals of any potential hazards before getting in the water.
Is Jaco beach worth a visit?
Jaco beach is not the nicest beach on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica. However, the town is a great jumping off point for enjoying other nearby activities.
How far is Jaco beach from San Jose Costa Rica?
By car, it will take about an hour and a half to drive to Jaco beach. Sometimes there is a lot of traffic and the drive can take much longer. Keep in mind that the highway here is a toll road.
Wrap Up: Jaco Costa Rica Beaches
In conclusion, visiting the beaches near Jaco, Costa Rica provides an incredible coastal getaway. Get ready for the perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and natural beauty. From the bustling atmosphere of Jaco Beach to the serene and secluded Playa Hermosa, each beach offers its own unique charm.
And that is all for beaches nearby Jaco, Costa Rica! If you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment below! We are always happy to help you out with planning.