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Insider's Guide to Jaco

Major attractions, tips and our top things to see and do.

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Just a few minutes south of Jaco’s hustle and bustle is the much mellower surf beach of Playa Hermosa. A handful of hotels and restaurants come with a reggae soundtrack and view over the Pacific, along broad, often empty, volcanic-gray beaches. What it lacks in amenities, however, it more than makes up for in waves.

Playa Hermosa’s claim to fame is unsung surf that’s more challenging, and less crowded, than nearby Jaco. Thus it brings in the more serious surfers, rather than those who have come to Costa Rica to test themselves in other ways after hours. It’s not for everyone—some folks find themselves wishing that they were within walking distance of Jaco’s dining and nightlife options. Others, however, enjoy Hermosa’s awesome views of the moon and stars, reflected in the dark Pacific.

There are at least five well-known breaks along the shore, and plenty of relaxed hotel-restaurants where you can wile away the hours between sets. And it’s just as convenient to Juan Santamaria International Airport, and other hot spots on the Central Costa Rican Coast, as its more famous, and crowded, neighbor.

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Don’t confuse this with Costa Rica’s other Playa Hermosa, in Playas del Coco, Guanacaste, on the Nicoya Peninsula. This “pretty beach” is located 10km (6mi) south of Jaco, much closer to San Jose.

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