Jaco: A Popular Costa Rican Beach Town - All You Need to Know

Jaco A Popular Costa Rican Beach Town

Jaco is the closest beach town to the capital city of San Jose making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. Beachgoers flock for some fun in the sun, surfers are lured by its great waves, partygoers are attracted by the bars and nightlife, and families go for a convenient and budget friendly getaway from the big city. If you are looking for an off-the-beaten-track beach location, Jaco is not your spot. But, if you are looking for a fun, energetic town with a great beach and atmosphere, Jaco might just be the place for you.


What to Do




beach aerial jaco costa rica
Aerial view of Jaco, Costa Rica.

The beach is what Jaco’s tourist economy is built around and with just under 2.5 miles of beach it is no wonder why. The main road through town, Pastor Diaz Ave, runs parallel to the beach, just a block away, giving beach goers easy access to the restaurants, bars, and boutiques that stand along its sidewalks. There is no driving on the beach, so the beach is free for activities, and you will often find a game of beach soccer in play. The water is safe for swimming, but the waves are also strong enough for surfing, so if you have your board there is a strong surfing community in Jaco.


Observe the Wildlife


capuchin monkey miro mountain jaco costa rica
Capuchin monkey in a tree on Miro Mountain.

Although Jaco is primarily a beach destination, there is a lot of wildlife to be found here as well. Jaco is a prime spot for tropical birds, especially the scarlet macaw. I have seen more scarlet macaws in Jaco than anywhere else in Costa Rica. There are two primary locations to spot wildlife in Jaco, on the beach and along the Ecological Trails of Miro Mountain. On the beach you can find many crabs, pelicans (which are not scared to come close), and hermit crabs. If you visit the mouth of the Quebrada Bonita, at the northern end of Jaco, in the evening you can hear hundreds of hermit crabs crashing through the leaves as they storm the beach. Along the Ecological Trails of Miro Mountain I have seen Capuchin monkeys, Chestnut-mandibled toucans, and Fiery-billed aracaris, just to name a few.


Craft Beer at PuddleFish Brewery


puddlefish brewery craft beer jaco costa rica
Three craft beers from PuddleFish Brewery.

PuddleFish Brewery is a must visit when you are in Jaco. Located in South Jaco at the intersection of Highway 34 and Calle Madrigal, just a block from the beach. The taproom mixes an open aired, beach bar vibe and a warehouse look, where skaters come to ride the half-pipe and people come to chill and listen to live tunes. They serve up great food truck style food and some great craft beers. Sit back, enjoy the atmosphere, and have a tasty beer. The owner of the brewery is an awesome guy as well; if you need suggestions about what to do, he is the person to speak to.


Sunset with a View


beach aerial miro mountain jaco costa rica
View of Jaco Bay from the mansion on Miro Mountain.

Whether you watch it on the beach, from a mountain, or over the rainforest, sunsets in Costa Rica are spectacular. One of the great things about Jaco is you can do all of those. Playa Jaco runs the full length of the city and is a great place to catch the sun setting over the bay. If you want a little bit more of a view and don’t mind a bit of a hike, then I recommend Miro Mountain. The trailhead is just across the street from PuddleFish Brewery and offers a few different viewpoints. About 0.5km in is the first viewpoint which is nice but if you are willing to walk another 0.5km you will come across an old mansion with an observation deck made for just this purpose. From here you will have a great view of the sunset, bay, and aerial view of Jaco itself.


Where to Eat


tacobar fish calamari tacos jaco costa rica
The fish and calamari tacos from Tacobar are delicious!

Like all popular tourist destinations, Jaco has many restaurants to choose from. Along the main strip through town, Pastor Diaz Ave., you will find the majority of the restaurants available. Whether you are looking for international cuisine or a popular Tico dish, you will find it here. My personal favorite restaurant in Jaco, a place I visit every time I go, is Tacobar. You pick the number of tacos you want and the main ingredient (crispy fish is my personal favorite, but crispy calamari or beef fajita are also delicious), then you have access to an unlimited salad bar that is filled with toppings for your tacos, salad, pasta, and side dishes. Absolutely delicious!


Where to Stay


Jaco is a popular beach destination for tourist, both foreign and domestic, who want an experience that is slightly less populated. It’s location just 1.5 hours away from San Jose makes it an easy day trip, but for those that want to take a weekend trip or a longer stay, its popularity means there are a lot of options for accommodation. For those on a budget, there are a number of hostels in Jaco starting as low as $17/night. If you are not on a tight budget, there are many hotels and resorts in the area hat can accommodate any level of comfort. When booking my hotels, I always use Agoda to find the best hotel in my location and price range. 


How to Get Around


Jaco is fairly small, and the main street is lined with sidewalks to make getting around town easy on foot. By foot is by far the best way to explore the city. You can easily wander down the main stretch for food or shopping and then slip down a side street and have your feet right back in the sandy beach. If you want a slightly faster way around town, many of the hotels have bikes for rent. If you are staying outside of town or only visiting for the day, you can easily drive to wherever you are going but know that there is no driving on the beach (there are beach parking lots) and street parking can be scarce.


How to Get There


pin point map location jaco costa rica

The closest airport to Jaco is Juan SantamarĂ­a International Airport (SJO), just outside the capital city of San Juan. Although not close, the airport is only 87 km from Jaco, meaning it is a relatively easy trip, but you will need some mode of transportation.




The bus is by far the cheapest option for traveling to Jaco, but it is not exactly the easiest. Your first step will need to get to the 7-10 terminal in downtown San Jose. It is best to arrive early, especially on weekends, to buy your ticket. You can also buy your ticket online to assure yourself a seat ahead of time. The bus leaves every 2 hours from 7am to 7pm. The trip takes about 2 hours and costs 2,950 CRC/4.62 USD.




If you are just arriving at the airport or have spent a few days in San Jose, a shuttle to Jaco is an easy, stress-free way of traveling. There are a few companies that will pick you up from the airport or your hotel in San Jose and drop you off at your hotel in Jaco. Most services will cost you $50 for a private shuttle.




If you have rented a car, then driving is a fast and easy way of getting to Jaco. Having your own car will also mean that you can visit sites along the way (like the Crocodile Bridge) and beaches and sites further afoot from Jaco. The trip from San Jose takes about 1.5 hours and you will need 3,000 CRC/4.70 USD for the toll as you leave the city. From downtown San Jose, just take Highway 27 west for about 60km, then exit onto Highway 34 and follow it to Jaco.


What was your favorite thing about Jaco?


Jaco A Popular Costa Rican Beach Town

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1 comment:

  1. Costa Rica is the most beautiful Central American country. It's nice how they cherish their natural treasures - contrary to the other countries in the region. It's very comforting to travel a country that respects people and the nature and the wildlife.


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