Jaco, Costa Rica: The Essential Travel Guide (2021)

Jagsetter Travel Blogger standing on a beach in Jaco Costa Rica. There are palm trees, sand and an ocean in the picture.

Jaco, Costa Rica is a beach town in Central America. Much like many areas in Costa Rica, Jaco is a place that visitors go to so that they can relax and unwind. Jaco is also a great party town and the nightlife in Jaco, Costa Rica is one of the best in the country. There are some great beaches and activities to take part in within Jaco. There are also a lot of beautiful areas to check out near Jaco — such as Manuel Antonio National Park. 

This guide will give you the essential information that you need to plan your trip.

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    How to Get to Jaco, Costa Rica

    Plane in the air. View of the planes wing on the far left and the ocean that the plane is flying over. Sun is setting in the picture and glowing onto the water.

    Getting to Jaco, Costa Rica is a little bit of a puzzle to figure out. Or, at least it felt that way to me when I was planning my trip to Jaco. Below is a breakdown of the best ways to get to Jaco, Costa Rica.

    • Traveling to Jaco by Air: There is no airport in Jaco. The best airport for domestic & international travelers is in San Jose, Costa Rica. The airport that you’ll fly into is Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). SJO  is 1 – 3 hours away from Jaco by car (depending on which route you take). If you plan to fly domestic from another town in Costa Rica, some local carriers go to an airport in Quepos, Manuel Antonio, which is 50 miles away from Jaco.

    • Ground Transportation to Jaco: Ground transportation options to Jaco, Costa Rica vary. Here’s a run-down of the best options:

      • Rent a Car: There are car rental services throughout Costa Rica, including at SJO airport and in Jaco. The route from SJO to Jaco is direct and easy to navigate. We recommend this option if you want the luxury of having a rental car with you throughout the duration of your trip. Renting a car is also recommended if you want to drive to Jaco from another city in Costa Rica.

      • Shuttle Service: Shuttle services are available to/from San Jose Airport (SJO) to Jaco. The best way to find a shuttle is to ask your accommodation to book one for you. You can also pre-book a shuttle in advance through a private service like Interbus. Shuttle prices range from $40 – $100/pp.

      • Public Bus: Transportation by bus is available all throughout Costa Rica. A popular company is Transportes. Transportes shuttles passengers from San Jose to Jaco on a daily basis. Buses depart intermittently throughout the day from 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM. The pickup/drop-off point is not at SJO Airport, so you’ll have to walk throughout San Jose to find the location. Transportes also departs from other towns in Costa Rica and is a good service to look into if you need a budget-friendly way to travel domestically. Visit their website or email them at [email protected] for a list of current pick-up times, locations, and prices.

    How to Get Around the Beach Town

    Picture of Costa Rica. Displays a brown house surrounded by palm trees. In the distance is the ocean with an island in the center.
    There are several methods of transportation in Jaco. Jaco Beach is a walkable area and it’s easy to get to any bar, restaurant, or attraction by foot. You will not have to use ground transportation if you plan to stay in the Jaco Beach area throughout the duration of your trip.
     
    If you want to visit an area surrounding Jaco Beach (such as Manuel Antonio) then you can take a taxi. The most reliable way to book a private taxi in Jaco will be via your accommodation; although this option might cost more than public taxis. If you’re on a budget, then you can take a public taxi. If you take a public taxi, agree upon a price with the driver before you get into the car. Taxi drivers in Costa Rica don’t always use meters, which can make it easy for them to upcharge you if a price isn’t agreed upon ahead of time

    Public Buses run from Jaco to surrounding cities. There is a ticket office for the public bus service in Jaco. The ticket office will give you the most up to date information regarding pick-up/drop-off locations, times, and ticket costs. This information is not updated online, so it’s best to inquire in person when you arrive.
     
    Renting a car is a good transportation solution for Jaco Beach and the surrounding area. If you rent a car in Costa Rica, be mindful of the fact that car rental companies will add hidden costs to your bill. Car rental companies in Costa Rica also require that you use their insurance policy. Do not book your car insurance ahead of time. I rented a car through a 3rd party, and booked an insurance policy through the 3rd party as well. The insurance policy that I booked ahead of time was not accepted in Costa Rica, so I had to take a second policy out when I arrived—thus costing me double for insurance. Be careful to avoid this.

    The Weather in Jaco, Costa Rica

    Picture of a beach in Jaco Costa Rica. Shows a tree log on the sand, tree on the left, the ocean and an island in the distance

    The weather in Jaco, Costa Rica is described as two seasons: wet season & dry season. The dry season in Jaco is between December to May. The wet season is from June to November. There’s a higher chance of rain during the wet season in Jaco—with the heaviest rainfall in October. The temperature in Costa Rica is usually within the 70 – 90 degree range; and is often coolest during the wet season.

    Where to Stay in Jaco, Costa Rica

    Picture of beach water in Costa Rica. Shows trees in the front and blue water in the distance
    Accommodation in Jaco, Costa Rica varies. There’s a slue of hotels, hostels, and Airbnb’s in the area. Here are a few ways to book accommodation in Jaco:
     
    1. Airbnb’s: There are a lot of Airbnb’s in Jaco, Costa Rica. Costs range from $40 – $150/night depending on the kind of place you’re looking to book. Airbnb’s are great if you’re looking to live like a local, plan on staying long term, or want a little more space than a hotel or hostel would provide.
     
    2. Hostels: There are some great hostels in the Jaco Beach area. Two great tools for booking hostels are hostelworld.com and booking.com. Hostels are great if you’re looking to network with other travelers and/or are visiting Jaco on a budget. Hostel prices range from $10 – $30/night for a shared dorm room or $20 – $80/night for a private room. One of the best hostels in Jaco is Selina Jaco. Selina has beautiful accommodations, is on the beach, and has a co-working space.
     
    3. Hotels: A hotel is a great option for travelers that are looking for a luxurious stay. Booking.com is a good tool for sourcing hotels in the Jaco. Hotel costs range from $50 – $250/night. The Best Western Jaco is a great option for families. Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort & Oceano Boutique Hotel & Gallery are two other great options.

    Things to Do in Jaco, Costa Rica

    Picture of a beach in Costa Rica. There is an orange surf board on the far right hand corner. There are many palm trees on the beach. Ocean is seen in the distance.

    There’s a lot to do in Jaco, Costa Rica, and the surrounding area. Jaco has great beaches, good nightlife, and excellent restaurants. There are also a lot of great outdoor activities & day-trips to nearby locations that visitors can check out. Here’s a list of some of the top things to do in Jaco and the surrounding area. 

    1. Hit up the Beaches: The beaches are one of the main reasons people visit Jaco, Costa Rica. The most popular beaches in the area are Playa Blanca, Punta Leona, and Herradura Beach.

    2. Enjoy the Surf Scene: Jaco, Costa Rica is a great spot to learn how to surf. As you walk down the beach, you’ll see surf shacks (little tents with surf instructors and boards for rental). You can ask for a surf lesson on the spot. There are also surf competitions at Playa Hermosa that the public can watch.

    3. Have a cocktail & Watch the Sunset at Villa Caletas: The sunsets are great in Jaco and will be great from any vantage point. The best place to watch the sunset is Hotel Villa Caletas. The cocktails are good, the hotel grounds are awesome, and the view is stellar.

    4. Check out the Waterfalls: There are a lot of waterfalls in the area surrounding Jaco, Costa Rica. The most famous waterfalls are the Nauyaca Waterfalls—which are about 1.5 hours from Jaco Beach by car.

    5. Visit Manuel Antonio & Carara National Parks: The area surrounding Jaco is beautiful. Two of the best national parks to visit are Manuel Antonio National Park & Carara National Park. Each park is approximately 1.5 hours (by car) from Jaco Beach. The parks are in opposite directions, so you should plan to visit each on different days.

    6. Take a Cruise to Tortuga Island: Tortuga Island is accessible from a few areas in Costa Rica, including Jaco. Several cruise operators take off from Jaco.

    7. Hike to Miro Mountain Viewpoint: Walk to the top of Miro Mountain for some of the best views of Jaco, Costa Rica.

    8. Go on an Aerial Nature Walk: There are a bunch of guided tours that will take you on an aerial tour of the jungle in Jaco. Usually, the tours will take you on a tram that glides through the top of the jungle so that you can enjoy it from an aerial view.

    9. Zipline through the jungle: Costa Rica offers great ziplining through the jungle brush. There are a few companies that offer zip lining in Jaco such as Chiclets Zipline.

    10. Go Birdwatching: Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. There are many different bird species in the Jaco area.

    Enjoy Your Trip!

    Jaco, Costa Rica is a good destination for travelers that are looking for nice beaches and good nightlife. Jaco Beach is located near a lot of great places in the Puntarenas province of Costa Rica. It’s a good home-base for people looking for a convenient city to stay in while exploring the diverse jungles, national parks, and other areas during their trip to Costa Rica

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