When it’s time to cut loose, Jaco is the place! With plenty of dining, bars, dancing, casinos and nightlife, Jaco is the mini city that doesn’t sleep.

Jaco, Costa Rica: A Surfer's Tropical Paradise by the Pacific

Welcome to Jaco, a vibrant beach town nestled along Costa Rica's Pacific coast. Known for its stunning beaches, lively atmosphere, and abundance of activities, Jaco is a premier destination for travelers seeking sun, surf, and adventure. Let's dive into what makes Jaco so special.

Exploring Jaco:

Beaches & Surfing: Jaco boasts a long, crescent-shaped beach with golden sands, making it a paradise for beach lovers. Whether you're a seasoned surfer or a novice, the consistent waves here provide excellent opportunities for riding the Pacific swells. Take a surf lesson or simply soak up the sun.

Nightlife: Jaco comes alive after dark. The town offers a lively nightlife scene with bars, clubs, and restaurants. Dance the night away to Latin rhythms or enjoy a relaxing evening with beachfront cocktails.

Outdoor Adventures: Beyond the beach, Jaco offers thrilling outdoor activities. Explore nearby rainforests on canopy tours, zipline through the treetops, or embark on an ATV adventure through rugged terrain. The region's biodiversity is on full display in nearby national parks.

Sportfishing: Jaco is a renowned sportfishing destination. Join a charter and try your hand at catching marlin, sailfish, and other game fish in the fertile Pacific waters.

Dining & Cuisine: Jaco offers a diverse culinary scene. Savor fresh seafood, traditional Costa Rican dishes, and international cuisine in beachfront restaurants and local eateries.

Relaxation & Wellness: For a more tranquil experience, indulge in spa treatments, yoga sessions, or meditation by the ocean. Jaco's serene environment makes it an ideal place to rejuvenate.

Surfers at Jaco

Practical Tips:

Getting There: Fly into Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose, Costa Rica's capital. From there, it's approximately a 1.5 to 2-hour drive to Jaco.

Weather: Jaco enjoys a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The dry season, from December to April, is the best time to visit for sunny days and clear skies. September and October are the rainiest months.

Accommodations: Jaco offers a wide range of accommodations, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hostels. Many beachfront hotels provide stunning ocean views and easy access to the shore.

Safety: While Jaco is generally safe, it's essential to take typical precautions like securing your belongings and avoiding isolated areas at night.

Surfing Lessons: If you're new to surfing, numerous surf schools in Jaco offer lessons and equipment rental. The gentle waves make it an excellent place to learn.

Ecotourism: Don't miss the opportunity to explore the nearby Carara National Park, known for its rich birdlife, including scarlet macaws.

Jaco offers a dynamic blend of adventure and relaxation, making it a destination that caters to a variety of tastes. Whether you seek thrilling experiences, beachfront relaxation, or a lively nightlife, Jaco welcomes you with open arms. Discover the magic of this coastal gem and create lasting memories in the heart of Costa Rica's Pacific coast.

Crocs Casino Resort in Jaco

Planning a vacation to Playa Jaco

We recommend a 3 – 4 day stay for your vacation in Jaco.  There is plenty to do, but staying lonegr thatn this will take away from your overall experience in Costa Rica.  There is simply a lot more to see and do in the rest of the country.

The Best Hotels in Jaco

Jaco, located on Costa Rica's Pacific coast, offers a variety of hotels to suit different tastes and preferences. Here are some of the best hotels in Jaco:

Hotel Club del Mar: This beachfront boutique hotel combines comfort and natural beauty. Hotel Club del Mar offers spacious suites and villas, many with ocean views. Guests can enjoy the pool, on-site restaurant, and the convenience of being just steps away from the beach.

Crocs Casino Resort: A luxurious option in Jaco, Crocs Casino Resort offers a Las Vegas-style experience. The resort features a large casino, multiple restaurants, bars, a spa, and a beautiful pool area. Rooms are modern and well-appointed, with some offering ocean views.

Oceano Hotel: Oceano Hotel is known for its comfort-first accommodations. Most of the spacious suites come with full kitchens, making them ideal for families or longer stays. The hotel's rooftop terrace provides panoramic ocean views, and the pool area is a relaxing spot to unwind.

Additionally, in Herradura, which is only a 15-minute drive from Jaco, you'll find several excellent hotels:

Villa Caletas: Perched on a hilltop, Villa Caletas offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. This boutique hotel features elegant rooms, a gourmet restaurant, infinity pools, and lush tropical gardens. It's a romantic and tranquil escape.

Los Sueños Resort Condominiums: Located near the Los Sueños Marina, this resort offers luxurious condominiums with all the comforts of home. Guests can enjoy access to golf courses, restaurants, and various outdoor activities.

Hotel Punta Leona Beach and Nature Resort: Nestled within a private nature reserve, Hotel Punta Leona offers a blend of beach and rainforest experiences. It's a fantastic choice for families, as it boasts beautiful beaches, wildlife, and a range of amenities.

Whether you're looking for a relaxing beachfront getaway or a more luxurious casino resort experience, Jaco and Herradura have options to suit your needs. These hotels provide a comfortable and memorable stay on Costa Rica's Pacific coast.

Sportfishing in Jaco

The Best Things to Do in Jaco

Jaco offers a diverse range of activities and attractions for visitors. Here are some of the best things to do in Jaco:

Surfing and Surf Lessons: Jaco is renowned for its consistent waves, making it a surfer's paradise. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to catch your first wave, there are numerous surf schools and rental shops to choose from.

Walking the Beach: The long, sandy beach of Jaco is perfect for leisurely strolls. Enjoy the sunsets, collect seashells, or simply relax by the ocean.

Shopping and Dining: Jaco has a bustling downtown area with shops, boutiques, and markets where you can find souvenirs, clothing, and local crafts. Additionally, the town offers a diverse culinary scene, with numerous restaurants serving fresh seafood, international cuisine, and traditional Costa Rican dishes.

Casinos and Nightlife: If you're looking for entertainment after dark, Jaco has several casinos and a vibrant nightlife. Enjoy live music, dance clubs, and beachfront bars where you can sip on tropical cocktails.

Canopy Zipline at Vista Los Sueños: Experience the thrill of flying through the rainforest canopy on a zipline adventure. Vista Los Sueños offers safe and exhilarating ziplining experiences for adventurers of all ages.

Pura Vida Waterfall Gardens: Just a short drive from Jaco, you can explore the Pura Vida Waterfall Gardens. This lush botanical garden features waterfalls, walking trails, and the opportunity to see local wildlife up close, including toucans and sloths.

Riverboat Crocodile Safari in Tarcoles: Take a riverboat tour along the Tarcoles River to observe massive crocodiles in their natural habitat. The Tarcoles River is known for its large population of these impressive reptiles.

Carara National Park: Located nearby, Carara National Park is a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. It's home to a diverse range of bird species, including scarlet macaws, as well as other wildlife like monkeys and iguanas.

Sport Fishing: Jaco is a popular destination for sport fishing, especially for big game fish like marlin and sailfish. Many tour operators offer half-day and full-day fishing excursions for both beginners and experienced anglers.

Jaco's combination of outdoor adventures, beautiful beaches, and vibrant nightlife makes it a fantastic destination for a wide range of travelers, from surfers and nature lovers to those seeking an exciting night out on the town.

El Cafetal Restaurant in Crocs Resort

The Best Restaurants in Jaco

Jaco offers a diverse dining scene with options to suit various tastes. Here are some of the best restaurants in Jaco:

El Novillo Alegre Jaco: This Argentine steakhouse is a paradise for meat lovers. It's known for its mouthwatering steaks, delicious chimichurri sauce, and a cozy atmosphere. The cuts of meat are cooked to perfection, and the service is top-notch.

Sépalo Restaurant: Sépalo is a stylish restaurant that combines international flavors with a Costa Rican twist. Their menu features a range of dishes, including seafood, pizza, and quick bites. 

El Manglar Restaurante & Bar: Located on the far north side of town by the estuary, El Manglar offers a relaxed dining experience with a focus on seafood. Try their fresh ceviche or seafood platter while enjoying the casual typical Costa Rican vibe.

Amara: Amara is known for its healthy offerings, catering to vegetarian, and vegan diets with locally sourced ingredients. The menu changes regularly to reflect seasonal produce, ensuring a unique dining experience each visit. They serve a variety of dishes, from seafood to vegetarian options.

Ohana Sushi Tapas Bar: For sushi enthusiasts, Ohana is a must-visit. They offer a wide selection of sushi rolls, sashimi, and Japanese-inspired tapas. The creative combinations and fresh ingredients make this a popular spot for sushi lovers.

Sabress Kosher Restaurant: Sabress is the place to go for kosher dining in Jaco. They serve a diverse menu of kosher dishes, including Middle Eastern favorites like falafel, shawarma, and hummus. It's a unique culinary experience in the area.

Jerah Authentic Thai Cuisine: If you're craving Thai flavors, Jerah is the go-to spot. They offer an array of Thai dishes, including curries, stir-fries, and noodle dishes. The restaurant's cozy setting adds to the dining experience.

Adventure Dining: This restaurant combines delicious food with adventure. They offer a unique dining experience overlooking the jungle canopy and Pacific coast. Enjoy a delicious meal and a laidback vibe while being surrounded by nature and wildlife.

El Chicano Mexican Food: For those craving Mexican cuisine, El Chicano delivers with its flavorful tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. The restaurant has a casual, family-friendly atmosphere and generous portion sizes.

Ridiculous Burgers: If you're looking for some of the most creative and indulgent burgers in Jaco, Ridiculous Burgers is the place to go. They're known for their over-the-top burger creations, which can be enormous! With a laid-back atmosphere and a menu that caters to both meat lovers and vegetarians, Ridiculous Burgers offers a fun and satisfying dining experience for burger enthusiasts.

Whether you're in the mood for a juicy steak, fresh seafood, international cuisine, or exotic flavors, Jaco's restaurant scene has something to satisfy every palate. These dining establishments provide a taste of the diverse culinary offerings available in this coastal town.

Sunset on Jaco Beach

Transportation & Getting Around Jaco

You will not need a rental car for Jaco. There are plenty of transportation options to get there, including private transfers from anywhere in Costa Rica, shared transfers from all popular tourist destinations, buses from anywhere in the country, and cabs are readily available. Getting around will never be an issue.

Reasons to visit

  • The surfing is great
  • Plenty of nightlife
  • It is a singles’ paradise
  • There are casinos
  • Plenty of dining options
  • Conveniently located 1.5 hours from San Jose

Reasons NOT to visit

  • High crime rates including drugs and prostitutes
  • Not family friendly
  • It is not a swimming beach
  • It can be loud at night, especially on weekends
  • It is very Americanized, lacking a Costa Rican feel

How to get to Playa Jaco

From San Jose: Drive west on Autopista del Sol (the Caldera Highway) until you reach the toll booth at Pavon. Take the Costanera Sur Highway here and follow the signs to Jaco. This destination is only about 1.5 hours away from San Jose.

Weather and packing list

If you visit Jaco between December and April, get ready for non-stop sunshine! This is the driest period here, but rain in this area varies by month. Year-round temperatures are fairly stable in Jaco, ranging between the upper 80s to low 90s during the daytime and dropping to the upper 70s at night. 

Don’t forget to pack all your surf gear, a swimsuit, flip flops, a hat, a beach towel, shorts, t-shirts, rain gear, insect repellent and sunblock to lather up constantly and protect against the beating sun. Our Costa Rica packing list is loaded with more ideas.

Fun Fact: In recent years Jaco has accrued a reputation as Costa Rica’s Sin City by the sea and has a rapidly growing skyline overlooking the surf.


Latitude: N 9° 36' 57.96"
Longitude: W 84° 37' 30.72"

Unsure of what to do? Let us make you a free custom trip plan!