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There is much more to do than just soak up the sun in Costa Rica’s most popular and liveliest beach town! Situated on the Central Pacific Coast, Jaco Beach in Costa Rica serves up blissful sandy beaches, invigorating waters, abundant jungle, and endless fun. During the day, visitors will find an array of exciting water sports and land-based adventures. By evening, parties and other electrifying nightlife activities take over, inspiring travelers to let loose like never before.
Only two hours away, Jaco is the nearest beach to San José and makes a superb destination in itself or a great extension to any Costa Rica trip. Below is our list of top things to do while in Playa Jaco.
Home to some of Costa Rica’s primary rainforest, Carara National Park is a major sanctuary for wildlife near the beach. If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the country’s famous jungle critters, this is a must-see destination. Frequent sightings include monkeys, sloths, coatis, macaws, and parrots. There are four trails inside the park that leads to different parts of the forest.
- Tip: Be sure to stop at the famous Tárcoles River Crocodile Bridge for an opportunity to see masses of these wild animals swimming and basking in the sun. Take a tour for a wild experience of viewing crocodile feedings.
Perhaps the most beautiful spectacle near Playa Jaco in Costa Rica, Bijagual Waterfall plunges 600 feet over the side of a lush green mountain. Enjoy the refreshing mist after the short but challenging walk to the falls, take in the vista from atop of the falls, or indulge with a swim in the natural pools.
- Tip: The hike is strenuous in some areas and an experienced guide is recommended here for safety.
The 2.7 km hike up Mount Miros is definitely Jaco’s best-kept secret. Hiking the relatively easy incline, you’ll encounter some of the best views of the bay. Two different trails lead to overlooks of Jaco Beach and Playa Hermosa. You’ll likely encounter birds, lizards, and monkeys along the way too.
- Tip: Hike up to Mount Miros in the late afternoon and watch the sunset from there.
Jaco is home to incredible sportfishing opportunities. Charters leave for half and full-day tours for both inshore and offshore adventures. The area is well-known as one of Central America’s top places for catching record-breaking billfish, dorado, tuna, and wahoo.
Tip: December to April is the peak season, so make sure to reserve a charter in advance.
Beginner and expert surfers alike flock to Jaco for its excellent variety of waves. Surfing is certainly one of the most popular activities in Jaco Beach, Costa Rica, and heavily influences the balanced chill-party vibes of the town.
Tip: Besides surfing, stand-up paddleboarding is one of the beach’s fastest-growing activities and offers a calmer alternative to hitting the hard waves.
Paddling out in the Pacific sea can give you unmatched views of the coastline and lead you to spots less discovered. Jaco Beach has one of the best kayaking spots in Costa Rica. Head over to nearby secluded bays, explore rocky nooks or consider combining your adventure with fishing or snorkeling. Canoeing in Jaco is particularly unique with the popularity of Hawaiian-style outriggers available at the beach.
Tip: Combine a canoe trip with snorkeling or fishing to get the most out of this activity.
The shimmering waters of Jaco aren’t just for viewing from above. Underneath, a whole world is teeming with tropical marine life. The water is warm and inviting with mostly rocky headlands. The area is great for spotting soft coral, blowfish, and schools of pelagic fish.
Tip: Nearby Tortuga Island is just a boat ride away and is a popular spot for snorkeling with frequent sea turtle and dolphin sightings.
It goes without saying that many visitors to Jaco are thrill-seekers at the core. So, it’s not surprising that it’s home to an unrivaled selection of extreme activities on land and at sea in Costa Rica. Popular activities include canyoning, rappelling, ATV, rafting, skydiving, parasailing, and bungee jumping, just to name a few. However you prefer to get your adrenaline pumping, Jaco will awaken your senses.
Tip: Several adventure parks are available in Jaco and it is possible to do more than one activity a day so plan accordingly.
A day on the beach is certainly one of the appeals of traveling to this region, but a vacation here wouldn’t be complete without a trip through the rainforest canopy. After all, Costa Rica is essentially the birthplace of ziplining. Soaring through the trees and open-air will offer a welcome break from the sun and give you a special glimpse into the rainforest habitat.
Tip: Make sure to carry binoculars to spot wildlife in the treetops.
Though the Jaco area is highly developed and busy, there is no shortage of interesting wildlife in the area. In addition to the animals you may see in passing on the beach or in the jungle, many outfitters provide expert-guided tours for increased chances of animal sighting. Birdwatching tours are quite popular in the area as well.
Tip: If you wish for activities near the water, opt for a dolphin-spotting tour instead.
We would be remiss not to mention the epic nightlife in Jaco Beach in Costa Rica. Once a sleepy surf town, this place is booming with an emerging music scene, bars, discos, and plenty of epic parties. No matter the day of the week, there’s endless entertainment to be found.
Tip: Full moon parties in Jaco Beach are quite popular. If you like to party, make sure to visit one during your stay!
The dry season, December to April, is the best time to visit Jaco Beach as there is low humidity. However, the beach tends to get really crowded during this season, so consider traveling on the tail-ends of the season.
- Jaco sports 4 km of gorgeous beach. Although it is a popular destination, there is plenty of space to enjoy.
- There are several accommodations available near Jaco Beach that suits every budget. Several hostels are also available for those willing to share the accommodations.
- Although Jaco is a popular beach destination in Costa Rica, it is possible to find good, cheap Costa Rican meals such as casado, gallo pinto (a Costa Rican staple) and international cuisines in many of the sodas or local restaurants.
- Be prepared that if asking for directions from a local, you will likely be directed using local landmarks. The town’s street-name signs have been placed are mostly for tourist’s comfort and are largely unused by the local residents.
Jaco Beach in Costa Rica is the country’s most popular beach and for good reason. With its sandy, palm-lined beaches, inviting waters, and endless options of things to do, your trip is sure to leave you energized.
Travelling to Costa Rica? Chat with a local travel specialist in Costa Rica who can help organize your trip.
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