Less than two hours from Costa Rica’s Capital City, San José, is the country’s most vivacious beach town, Playa Jaco. The bustling vacation metropolis is popular among surfers, sport fishermen, adventure seekers, partygoers, families, and even wedding parties.
Its prime location on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast is easily accessed by taking two of the country’s best highways. The recently inaugurated Highway 27 from San José, and the scenic Costanera Highway 34 that runs the length of the central coastline. The trip from Juan Santamaria International Airport and the Adobe Rent a Car SJO Airport Office is a short 89 km and takes approximately 1:30 hours.
You don’t need to rent a 4WD vehicle or SUV to visit Jaco Beach unless you are planning to travel on to a more rugged destination. Your Adobe representative will be happy to look at your itinerary and suggest the best car to fit your budget and needs.
Flying to Jaco Beach – Adobe Rent a Car in Quepos
If you’re looking for a flight to Jaco, the closest in-country airport is in Quepos 67 km to the south. You can also rent a car from the Adobe Rent a Car office near Quepos center. To contact the office directly, call +(506) 2777-4242; WhatsApp +(506) 8494-5956; Toll Free US and Canada 1-855-861-1250; or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Adobe Rent a Car Quepos office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
Jaco Beach, Costa Rica, weather
Costa Rica’s weather consists of two seasons. The dry season and the rainy (or green) season. Along the Pacific Coast and at Jaco Beach, the dry season runs between December and April. This period also coincides with the peak tourist season when the country has the most visitors.
The rainy (green) season usually lasts from May until late November. One great thing about this period is that mornings are usually sunny and clear and the vegetation is green and thriving. Rains usually begin in the late afternoon and taper off in the evening. September and October are the rainiest months, however and days or weeks of non-stop downpours are possible.
Weather on the Caribbean Coast is usually the opposite of the Pacific side. This means that if you’re visiting Costa Rica in September and October you should head over to the east coast to enjoy a dry and sunny holiday.
Where to stay – Jaco Beach, Costa Rica hotels
You’ll literally find every type of hotel lodging in Jaco to fit just about every budget. Choose from backpacker hostels to four-star, all inclusive luxury resorts, and everything in between. You’ll also find short- and long-term vacation rentals like Airbnb and others.
One top-rated destination is the Marriott Los Sueños Resort and Marina located less than 10 minutes from Jaco.The hotel, golf course, private living community, and world-class marina border Herradura Bay and Playa Herradura.
What to do in Jaco, Costa Rica
If you’re looking for adventure, there’s plenty of things to do around Jaco. The beachfront town is surrounded by rolling hills, mountains, and rainforest providing ample territory for the best adventure tours Costa Rica has to offer.
Near Jaco, you’ll find a massive assortment of tour providers catering to every whim. Family fun options like canopy tours, zip lines, horseback riding, hiking, and waterfall tours are just the beginning. For extreme thrill-seekers there’s ATV and motorcycle tours as well as paragliding from Jaco’s mountain backdrop.
Shoppers will be delighted by the variety of boutiques, souvenir shops, and art galleries that fill the streets in and around town. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other amenities are equally plentiful and often hold flexible hours to accommodate the tourist clientele.
Surfing Jaco Beach, Costa Rica
Playa Jaco offers some of the country’s most famous surf and attracts aficionados from around the globe. At the writing of this article, approximately 30 surf schools were operating in Jaco, making the destination a perfect place for families and beginning surfers.
You’ll also find a plethora of surfboard and gear rentals scattered throughout town as well as shops selling the latest surfer fashions.
CAUTION: Surfers and swimmers alike should take extreme caution when entering the waters along the Central Pacific Coast and especially at Jaco, Hermosa, and Esterillos Oeste beaches. Rip currents are a real and dangerous reality, and bathers should ask around before taking any risks. Lifeguards are stationed along the shoreline at Jaco and some other beaches. Warning flags are also often placed in front of dangerous areas that should be avoided.
Popular beaches near Jaco, Costa Rica
The black sands and strong swells of Playa Hermosa just south of Jaco attract expert surfers year-round. The small town of Hermosa and the handful of hotels catering to surfers often host professional surf competitions. One favorite is the Quicksilver International Surf Championship held every August.
For those not interested in surfing, Playa Hermosa offers fantastic scenery for an early morning or late afternoon walk. Most of the extensive black sand beach is dedicated as a conservation area, the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre. Turtle nesting, wildlife, and myriad bird species can be seen in and around the marshland and estuary bordering the beach.
Sportfishing in Jaco, Costa Rica
Sportfishing actually rivals surfing as Jaco’s favorite pastimes. The Los Sueños Marina to the north and the Pez Vela Marina in Quepos to the south offer some of the best sportfishing charters and big-game fishing in the world.
Sportfish like Marlin, Sailfish, Dorado, Wahoo, Roosterfish, Tarpon, and Tuna are just a few of the species thriving in the Pacific waters. You’ll find excellent fishing year-round; however, the country’s dry season, between December and April, are the most popular among international sportsmen and women.
Chartering a day-long fishing excursion can be an expensive endeavor in Costa Rica. If you’re hoping to fish but don’t think you have the budget for it, ask around town for a local provider offering tours. You might not find the comforts of a world-class yacht, but you’re still likely to experience the excitement of landing a billfish or other Pacific breed.
Watersports in Playa Jaco
Don’t fret if fishing and surfing aren’t for you. There’s plenty of other options to keep you cool, wet, and entertained at Jaco Beach. Kayaking, jet-skiing, snorkeling, scuba, waterskiing, and even parasailing are all offered in and around Jaco.
National Parks near Jaco Costa Rica
A trip to Costa Rica isn’t complete unless you visit one of the country’s impressive national parks. Carara National Park is approximately 23 km north of Jaco near the Tarcoles River. It is most famous for having the largest population of scarlet macaws in the national territory. The park also protects vast swaths of rainforests, rivers, and marshlands as well as an incredible variety of wildlife. And don’t miss seeing the enormous crocodiles under Tarcoles bridge nearby.
A little over one-hour south of Jaco (73 km) is the jewel of Costa Rica’s National Park System, the Manuel Antonio National Park. Despite being the country’s smallest nationally protected area, it is considered the most scenic. In fact, in 2011, Forbes listed Manuel Antonio as one of the most beautiful parks in the world.
Visitors will enjoy exploring diverse ecosystems including transitory forests, pristine beaches and coves, and even marine habitats perfect for snorkeling. The park is relatively flat and is popular among the young and old alike. Try to avoid visiting on weekends or peak holidays if you want to stay away from the crowds.
Jaco Beach dining and nightlife
Some of the best restaurants in Jaco, are situated along the main strip, and several other savory options can be found in the surrounding hotels and shopping centers. One thing for sure is that there are plenty of dining choices available. Given the town’s diverse international population, you’ll find everything from traditional Costa Rican fare to Japanese, Israeli, Italian, vegan healthy, and much more
It’s no secret that Jaco is a notorious party town. Countless casinos, clubs, bars, and discos cater to anyone looking to live it up Pura Vida style. On the weekends and during the high season, in particular, partygoers will fill the streets and venues well into the night and early morning hours.
Like any party town, revelers should be careful and take precautions against theft and other related crimes. Prostitution and gambling are both legal in Costa Rica and are known to attract all types. So it’s good to be careful who you associate with and try not to go out alone if possible.
Map of Jaco Beach and Surrounding Attractions
Costa Rica’s roads are more challenging than in the U.S. If you take it slow, drive cautiously, and circulate during daylight hours it is much safer.
Most people rent a car when they arrive in Costa Rica so they can move freely from place to place without relying on taxis or public transportation.
By renting a car you have the freedom to travel when and where you want without waiting on taxi availability or paying high taxi rates.
It is more convenient and often less expensive to rent a car in Costa Rica than pay for multiple domestic flights and private shuttle services.
The cost depends on the time of year you rent, how many days, and the make and model of the rental car.
Be wary of cheap car rental companies as many do not include Costa Rica’s mandatory coverage and other fees. At Adobe we promise no hidden fees and great cars.
Gas in Jacó will be the same as in other cities. The average cost of fuel was $1.32 per liter ($5.00per gallon) in July 2023.
At Adobe, our most popular rental car is the 2WD Geely GX3 or 4WD Suzuki Vitara. Favorite full size SUVs are the Ford Explorer and Mitsubishi Montero Sport.
In Costa Rica, third-party liability coverage is mandatory and drivers can either use their credit card’s CDW coverage or purchase a daily vehical coverage from Adobe.
There are at least five rental companies in Jaco. Adobe has 14 full service offices across the country.