Top Places to Visit in Costa Rica: Jaco Beach


From being one of the world’s top surfing destinations to its small surf town vibe, Jaco Beach is one of the top places to visit in Costa Rica.

Jaco Beach in Costa Rica

The Central Pacific Coast is one of the top places to visit in Costa Rica, and Jacó Beach is at the center of it all. Here the water is warm, the sunsets breathtaking, and the surf legendary.

Only 75 minutes from the San Jose international airport, Jacó is the most developed beach town on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. And while Jacó has hotels, restaurants, shops, services and conveniences that are important to having a great vacation, it also is still a small surf town. Many visitors liken Jacó to small Southern California beach towns in the 1970s.

jaco-beach-costa-ricaAt 2.5 miles (4 km) long, bordering a wide curving bay, Jacó Beach is very accessible. You can walk or bike from one end to the other in about 20 to 30 minutes. When the tide goes out, the brown sand beach is immense and rocky points bookmark each end.

For a place to stay in Jacó try Hotel Amapola. This laid-back resort hotel is less than 10 minutes from the beach on the main road near the municipal offices. Airy rooms and suites have terraces or balconies, and there is free Wi-Fi. Parking also is free, along with breakfast served in the casual restaurant. There’s an outdoor pool, a casino, and a spa.

hotel-amapola-jaco-beach-costa-ricaHere are some ideas for things to do in Jacó Beach near Hotel Amapola.

Jacó offers some of the best surfing in Costa Rica. The Central American Surfing Championships, hosted by the Costa Rican Surfing Federation, were held in Jacó Beach from Nov. 11-13, 2016, and the ISA World Surfing Games were held in Jacó in August. Learn how to surf with lessons – there are several surf schools in the area.

While Jacó is best known for its surf, the protected southern corner of the bay is more sheltered for swimming. You should still always be aware of strong currents.

Surfing Jaco Beach in Costa Rica

Go for a long beach walk early in the morning or at sunset, when the light is prettiest and it’s a cooler time of day.

Rent bicycles to explore the town and the beach.

Go hiking up to Miro Mountain in Jacó. A moderately easy hike, you will be rewarded with spectacular views over Jacó Beach and a chance to enjoy nature close to town.

Miro Mountain by Jaco Beach in Costa Rica, image from Flickr by Christaki

The scenic viewpoint, or mirador, on the way from Jacó to Hermosa Beach is not only a beautiful spot to view the entire Jacó Bay to the north and the long line of powerful surfing waves at Hermosa Beach to the south; it also is a good place to see wild Scarlet Macaws hanging out in the trees.

Go horseback riding in the mountains close to town up to a scenic viewpoint.

Try a zip lining tour to be eye-level with toucans and howler monkeys in the jungle.


For reservations and information on tours in Jacó, contact Hotel Amapola.

Article by Shannon Farley

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