With only 2.5 hours (approx 117 km) drive from the capitol, San José, Jacó beach or playa Jacó is one of the most visited beaches in Costa Rica.
The long sandy beach has a shape and ocean floor that promotes big waves, very much to the delight of most surfers visiting Costa Rica.
The most common route to take when going from San José down to Jacó is to drive via Alajuela, continue to Atenas and further down the dark green slopes of the west side of Costa Rica until reaching San Mateo. Continue from there to Orotina and take highway 34 straight down to Jacó.
Also make sure to peek through the car windows when passing el rio tarcoles (tarcoles river) where you can see the natural habitat of the enormous crocodiles of the Tarcoles River and the mangroves.
The playa is a bit over 3km in length from one end to the other. It makes a nice walk and if your legs give up on you, the local taxis will be more then happy to help you out. You can also rent cars and bikes.
For reading, keep your eyes open and look for Jacó News, a monthly English language publication.
The surf is best in the rainy season from May to November, but depending on what you crave in size of waves; Jacó really can offer an all year surfing experience.
Sights of Jacó
Jacó is really the kind of place where doers go. Not to much to see locally. Things you can do are rent kayaks, go deep sea fishing or take a sunset cruise. Horse riding is also very popular and most hotels can arrange that for you.
The latest craze to emerge in Jaco is paragliding and you can even go with a boat-plane to private beaches.
Places to go when in Jacó
You can go with local tours to Carara National Park, La Catarata (waterfalls) and Tarcoles crocodile tours. You should also plan for a visit to playa Hermosa south of Jacó where you can take the canopy tour.
Some places to sleep in Jacó are, Jacó Fiesta, Club del Mar, Copacabana, Best Western Jacó Beach Resort and Apartotel Gaviotas.
As Jacó is a quite big beach and a lot of tourism, you’ll find a lot of places serving food. Visit Bananas, Chatty Cathy’s, Emily’s to the north. La Fragata with pasta and fish. La Hacienda with mid priced snacks and La Ostra with fish as a specialty.
Bars & Nightclubs
They come and go on almost a day to day basis. Two of the best are Central and Los Tucanes.
Shopping as what you expect on a tourist beach and if you run out of money, then visit Banco Nacional in the centre of town.
Finally, a warning
Jacó has a bit too strong surf to really be a good place for small kids. Big waves, rip tides and under currents can be dangerous for someone young or unaccustomed to the sea.
And as always, when dealing the sea, be careful. The tide in Costa Rica changes the sea level many meters and can pull anyone out into the open sea.