Insider's Guide to Jaco

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

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Jaco RECOMMENDATIONS See all

Jaco Suggested Itineraries

By Viator, March 2012

5 12 Reviews | Add your review

Upon arrival in the cheerfully scruffy center of Jaco (or, alternately, the luxuriously landscaped resort just north, Los Sueños), you’ll want to appreciate the view; Costa Rica’s Central Pacific is as lovely as a shore as exists anywhere. After checking in to your room, whether a budget backpacker dorm or marble-floored villa, you may want to consider indulging in Jaco’s chief attraction: Surfing.

Day 1: Catch a Wave

Jaco’s main beach is home to one of the most regular, predictable, sandy-bottomed breaks in the world, fun for experts and perfect for newbies who just want to try out the sport. Several outfits rent or sell used boards (as well as boogie boards for those who would rather not risk the real thing), and any hotel or surf shop can arrange one-on-one lessons. Remember: There are plenty of “surf instructors” who are less than professional; in general you get what you pay for.

If you’d rather just watch, grab a seat at any one of Jaco’s beachfront eateries, and enjoy some of Costa Rica’s sensational seafood, or perhaps and adult beverage. As the shadows lengthen, the nightlife heats up. This is one town where you can party until dawn.

Day 2: Enjoy the Great Outdoors

While Jaco may have started out as a humble surf spot, it’s now at the epicenter of all sorts of eco-attractions, from zip-line canopy tours and aerial trams to horseback tours to Playa Blanca, Jaco’s most beautiful beach. Among the many amazing options is the Rio Tarcoles Crocodile Tour. A boat trip up the river will take you to the home of what may be the world’s highest concentration of crocodiles. Some of these beauties clock in at a monstrous five meters (16 feet) long, with names like “Osama bin Laden,” “Fidel Castro,” and “Paris Hilton,” and are “tame” enough to touch, with your guide’s permission. Another great day trip in the area is to Carara National Park, home to one of Central America’s last breeding populations of scarlet macaws.

Do you prefer your wildlife a little less wild? Hit the links at Los Sueños’ beautiful golf course, where spotting howler monkeys, toucans, parrots, and huge iguanas is pretty much par for the course.

Day 3: Road Trip to Manuel Antonio National Park

Less than an hour south of Jaco is what Forbes magazine calls “One of the Ten Most Beautiful National Parks in the World.” Manuel Antonio—a curving peninsula that shelters four gorgeous, white-sand beaches and ends in a rainforested stone formation called “The Cathedral”—is, perhaps, Costa Rica’s top attraction. Hire a guide who’ll point out four species of monkey, several slow-moving sloths, and all manner of other birds and wildlife.

Just outside the park, Playa Espadilla offers rows of umbrella-shaded beach chairs for rent, where you can order a drink or even a meal while soaking up the tropical sun. Some of the country’s best restaurants, as well as fine art galleries and gorgeous resort hotels, line the 7km (4mi) access road between Quepos and the national park.

Tours & Tickets

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Waterfall Canopy Zipline Tour at Adventure Park Costa Rica

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 10 Reviews

Feel your adrenaline soar as you zoom across 25 zipline cables and over 11 waterfalls at Adventure Park Costa Rica! In a country known for its zipline tours, ...  Read more

Location: Jaco, Arenal, San Jose, Puntarenas or Guanacaste
Duration: 6-8

From USD $98.99

Superman Zipline Course at Adventure Park Costa Rica

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 2 Reviews

Experience the thrill of ‘Superman’ ziplining at Adventure Park Costa Rica! As opposed to traditional ziplining, where you sit upright, this Superman zipline ...  Read more

Location: Jaco, San Jose, Arenal or Guanacaste
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $59.99

High Ropes and Hanging Bridges Tour at Adventure Park Costa Rica

Swing like Tarzan on a ropes and bridges activity tour at Adventure Park Costa Rica. The largest and longest high ropes course in Costa Rica has a total of 33 ...  Read more

Location: Jaco, Arenal, San Jose, Puntarenas or Guanacaste
Duration: 6-8

From USD $59.99

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