Things to do in Costa Rica Jaco is exactly what you need if you have already planned your trip to this part of the country.
In this article, I will tell you which are the most interesting outdoor activities to try when in Jaco and how to spend your time abroad to come back with beautiful memories and amazing pictures.
But before telling you which are the most exciting activities to try, let me tell you a few words about this beautiful beach town from Costa Rica.
This beach town is the perfect destination for first-time visitors, a very popular place full of tourists and with many interesting attractions.
Jaco is located about 2 hours’ drive from the capital city of San Jose and you can reach it by car or public transport.
You will find here amazing beaches, a very active nightlife, good restaurants and a lot of activities that will pump your adrenaline into your veins.
The destination is extremely popular among young tourists from all over the world because of its cool vibe, active nightlife, and beautiful beaches.
Still, Jaco is a small town so you don’t need a car or a scooter to explore it; walking tours usually last for a few hours and cover all the attractions from the city.
There are plenty of restaurants and bars, suitable for every budget and a wide range of hotels to choose from.
I strongly believe that not just surfers or party people should visit this place; nature lovers might find here their inner peace here as the town is surrounded by beautiful sceneries and many national parks.
I drop below a list of the 10 most incredible things to do while in Jaco so that you will leave this country with many beautiful memories and a lot of stories to tell to your friends and family.
Things to do in Costa Rica Jaco
1. Aerial tram
What could be more exciting and beautiful than to see the forest from above, to observe the birds and the monkeys in their natural environment?!
All these things are possible if you book a tram tour above the rainforest so that you can see the treetops and the animals.
On your way down, in the distance, you can see the Pacific Ocean, not just the lush jungle from below.
The tram can accommodate up to 10 persons and offers amazing views of the canopy if the sky is clear and there is no rain.
It is the best opportunity to admire the jungle with no physical effort, so this tour is definitely recommended to seniors, adults with young kids, people with limited mobility, and others who do not want to pay any effort while observing the jungle.
In the tram tour, you have included the pick-up and drop-off to the hotel and some interesting exhibits of plant gardens and animals that last for about 45 minutes.
Costa Rica: Pacific Aerial Tram at Rainforest Adventures is a wonderful tour that lasts for 3 or 3.5 hours, that included the transfer to and from the hotel, a guided walking tour, and entrance to Medicinal Plant Garden, Snake Exhibition, and Butterfly Garden beside the tram gondolas tour.
2. Miro Mountain View Point
Sometimes the prices for hiking tours, outdoor adventures, or entries to the park might seem too much for your budget, especially if you plan to see and do a lot of attractions and activities.
That is why we recommend you to book some time and hike the Miro Mountain as it is free and offers amazing views of the surroundings.
The hike to the summit is relatively easy and short (about 20 minutes) but bring with you water to keep you hydrated, insect repellent, and sun cream.
The trail that goes to Miro Mountain starts on the corner of Costanera Sur and Calle Madrigal right at the end of Jaco beach.
Once you reach the viewpoint you can see the Jaco beach, being the perfect place for a magnificent sunset.
One of the best things to do Costa Rica Jaco is definitely surfing, especially if you are a beginner or you are interested in learning the secrets of this watersport.
Jaco is considered by many beginners as the Mecca of surfing because of its quiet coast and long waves.
You will find in the area a lot of surfing schools and rental companies from where you can rent your surf equipment at reasonable prices.
The southern part of the beach is preferred by beginners, while the middle and the north part is usually frequented by more advanced surfers.
The best of surfing in Jaco depends on your preferences and skills, but generally, the dry season, from December to April is considered to be best for beginners, while the rainy season is for advanced surfers.
During the dry season the waters are calmer and the waves more gentle, perfect for those of you who are just learning this sport, while the rainy season comes with bigger waves and more dangerous currents, perfect for more experienced ones.
4. ATV tours
What to do in Jaco Costa Rica if not rent an ATV and explore the wilderness and the nearby town area on an ATV, one of the most popular tours in Jaco?!
ATV tours are one of the most popular things to do in Jaco Costa Rica as there are plenty of muddy trails that go up on the mountains, hidden inside the dense forest.
You will cross rivers, follow trails and reach places that you will never reach on foot because of the difficulty level and the distance.
The tours generally last 2 hours, 3 hours, or 4 hours and are a great opportunity to explore not just the rainforest but also the nearby beaches.
Jaco: Zip Line and ATV Adventure Combo Tour is a great tour for those of you looking for some adrenaline as you have included an ATV ride as well as a zip line experience.
The tour lasts for 4 or 5 hours, out of which 2 hours is the zip lining experience and 2 or 3 hours is the ATV tour and in the tour rate you have also included fruits and water as well as an English speaking guide.
5. Waterfall tour
My list of the best things to do near Jaco Costa Rica continues with waterfall tours, definitely a great choice as the area is full of hidden waterfalls and beautiful rivers.
In the mountains near Jaco there are many beautiful waterfalls with incredible lagoons at the bottom, some of them accessible for swimming and cooling off after a long day of the hike.
To some waterfalls, you can hike to the top of the water and jump into the bottom lagoon, for a high dose of adrenaline.
My favorite waterfall from the area is Bijagual, located close to Jaco town, just 20 minutes drive from the town center.
The waterfall is located on private property so those of you interested in visiting it have to pay an entrance fee.
You can reach the waterfall on foot or book a horseback riding tour available at the property if you want to get to the waterfall quicker.
The Explorer Waterfall Tour is the best way to explore the waterfalls from the area with a 4×4 car that lasts for about 4 hours and ends with a refreshing bath in a lagoon at the bottom of a waterfall.
Transportation to and from your hotel as well as breakfast or lunch are included in the tour rate, while an English speaking guide will provide you all the useful information about the places you are about to see.
6. Visit nearby beaches
What to do in Jaco if not exploring all the beaches you can find in the area, and trust me there is quite an impressive number of strips of sand there.
Being such a popular destination among tourists and locals, Jaco beach fills up fast and it might not be the perfect place to spend a whole day in the sun.
But the good news is that in the area around Jaco town there are plenty of beautiful beaches to sunbathe and relax: Playa Herradura, Playa Blanca, Playa Mantas, Playa Hermosa, Playa Esterillos Oeste, and the list might go on.
Playa Herradura is located about 7 kilometers from Jaco and is a little bit rocky but with calm waters, perfect for families with children.
You may park your car in the parking lot right near the beach, and grab water or something to eat at the nearby restaurants.
Playa Blancas and Playa Mantas are located north of Playa Herradura and are more secluded and not so famous among tourists.
So, if you are looking for a quieter place with locals and fewer tourists, then this is the right place for you to go.
At lower tides, you might even pass the water from Playa Mantas and reach Playa Blanca which is among the most beautiful beaches with turquoise waters from the whole area.
There are no restaurants, nor facilities in the area so bring with you everything you need for a day on the beach.
Hurry up and be there early in the morning if you want to catch the best spot and a free parking place as locals arrive early in the morning and fill in the parking lot.
Some 5 kilometers south from Jaco is Playa Hermosa, a 7 kilometers dark gray strip of sand perfect for surfing beach.
There are no facilities and restaurants in the area, so make sure you bring everything with you for a relaxing day on the beach.
If you are looking for a secluded beach, hidden from tourists then you should head to Playa Esterillos Oeste, located 20 kilometers south of Jaco.
The waves are calmer, perfect for beginner surfers, and ideal for a surf lesson, the white sand beach is clean and there are a few restaurants and a mini-market close to the beach from where you can buy some drinks, a snack, or even a meal.
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7. Birdwatching tour
One of the most captivating things to do in Costa Rica Jaco is a bird watching tour in one of the many protected areas around the town.
The position of this town on the map, right near the tropical rainforest makes this area a great place to observe wildlife, especially birds.
The area is famous for its massive population of Scarlet Macaws, incredible and beautiful birds with a beautiful combination of red, blue, and yellow on their feathers.
All across Costa Rica live more than 820 species of birds out of which a considerable number can be found in the forests around Jaco.
You will spot here toucans, hummingbirds, tanagers, trogons, egrets, parrots, and many other beautiful creatures.
Don’t forget to bring with you a high-quality binocular so that you will be able to spot even the tiny and fragile hummingbirds hidden between the canopies.
8. Explore Tortuga Island
One of the best things to do in Costa Rica Jaco is a day trip to Tortuga Island, a corner of paradise on Earth, a protected area rich in wildlife and marine creatures.
You can reach the island only by boat and the catamaran usually departs after breakfast, pass the beautiful Nicoya Gulf heading toward Tortuga island.
The waters around the island are perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving and the equipment can be rented directly from the boat.
It is a memorable experience and a good opportunity to observe the wildlife and the abundance of marine creatures from the waters around Costa Rica.
9. Manuel Antonio National Park
Definitely the most popular national park from Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio is located about one hour drive from Jaco and is the best destination for hiking and observing the wildlife.
It is true that it is one of the most crowded places in Costa Rica, especially during the dry season, but wake up early in the morning and be there early to enjoy more the park on your own.
Manuel Antonio National Park is the perfect destination for a day trip from Jaco and is a great place to spot howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys, frogs, insects, birds, sloths, raccoons, and the list might go on.
The beautiful sandy beach from the protected area is among the most incredible in the whole country so take a towel and a swimsuit with you to cool off after the long walk.
From Jaco: Full-Day Manuel Antonio National Park Tour is something you should not miss if you stay a few days in Jaco as Manuel Antonio is by far the most popular park in the whole country.
In the tour rate, you have included transportation, an English-speaking guide, lunch, and soft drinks as well as the entrance to the national park.
It is a great opportunity to spot wildlife, walk along the forest and reconnect with nature while learning new things about this unique habitat.
10. Carara National Park
Once you get to the park you will be amazed by the variety of plants, flowers, and trees that can be found here, not to mention the wildlife: monkeys, parrots, anteaters, birds, hummingbirds, and the elusive jaguar.
The best way to explore the park is with an English-speaking guide found at the entrance of the park who will provide you much useful information about local fauna and flora and help you spot the wildlife hidden in the dense jungle.
Make sure you have some hiking shoes on your feet, a binocular, water, and insect repellent before you head to the heart of the jungle.
Sleeping in Jaco area
Jaco area is extremely popular among tourists interested in nature and beach holidays so the area becomes quite crowded especially during the dry season, from December to April
There are plenty of hotels, resorts, and guesthouses to choose from for your trip in the area, but the ones with the best price-quality ratio are likely to sell out soon.
We have been in the area many times and our favorite places to stay are:
- luxury resort: Hotel Club Del Mar Oceanfront Jaco Costa Rica located in the southern part of Jaco Beach right between the rainforest and the Pacific Ocean.
- all inclusive resort: Best Western Jaco Beach Costa Rica an all-inclusive Costa Rican resort with outdoor pools, volleyball and tennis courts
There are so many other interesting things to do in Costa Rica Jaco, but the ones on my list are the most exciting and popular ones.
Jaco town is a very vibrant and active city, with many bars and restaurants, while the surroundings are wild and untamed, great places to relax and observe the local fauna and flora.
Don’t forget to pack binoculars and hiking shoes as well as a swimsuit and sun cream as Jaco has something for everybody.
Logistical tips and tricks for your trip
Book your accommodation
We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.
You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.
Don't forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.
We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.
Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.
We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.
Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.
We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.
Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.
Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.