Travel Guide

Everything You Need to Know

Planning a trip to Costa Rica? We recommend Jaco! This Jaco travel guide will tell you everything you need to know about this amazing surf town. Jaco is extremely popular with both locals and international travelers, offering beautiful beaches, adrenaline filled adventures, great restaurants, and impeccable nightlife. This off-the-beaten path town also serves as a gateway to national parks, crocodile rivers, gorgeous waterfalls, and so much more. In this post we will cover everything you need to know, including transportation, accommodations, things to do, tips and tricks, and more!

Quick Tips


The local currency is Colones ($1 USD = 642 colones). Between all the fun Jaco has to offer, be prepared to spend some money! The tours run around $100 per person, and food prices are comparable to American prices.


The dry season, mid December through August, is the most popular time for tourism, but expect crowded beaches and higher prices. The rainy season, September through early December, is a cheaper & less popular time to visit, even though it only rains 1-2 hours a day.


Central Standard time.

Getting There

The closest airport to Jaco is SJO, about 2 hours away. Upon arriving at SJO, your transportation options to Jaco including renting a car, taking a shuttle (~$45 / person) or hiring a taxi ($80-$100 / taxi). In general, rentals are very accessible and the route from SJO to Jaco is easy to navigate – making it a popular option.

Once in Jaco, the town is extremely walkable. If you are in need of a ride, Taxis are readily available and extremely affordable.

What To Expect


Yes, Costa Rica is considered to be generally safe! We always recommend that you travel smart when visiting other countries. Leave your nice jewelry and expensive belongings at home to avoid attracting unwanted attention. Overall, we both felt very safe while in Costa Rica, but always exercise caution, especially after dark.


We visited during ‘rainy season’, which looks scary on a map. But WOW, it was gorgeous! We did experience rain showers on and off, lasting around 10 minutes at a time. Otherwise, the sky was bright blue with a beaming sun. The temperature ranged from high 70s to high 80s with a light breeze – our kind of paradise! Being a beach town with unpredictable tropical weather, we recommend a consistent attire of swimsuits, sunglasses, flip flops, and optional cover ups during the days! Definitely bring a pair of hiking shoes or water shoes for adventures, and a few casual summer dresses or rompers for evenings.


Spanish is the predominant language in Costa Rica, but most locals speak a decent amount of english. As always, we recommend knowing as much of the local language as possible.


No heels! This beach town has a great nightlife scene, but it is very casual. We recommend sandals or sneakers for a fun night out. We also recommend staying over a weekend to fully experience the wild party scene.


In general, tipping is not expected for most services in Costa Rica, but rather a kind gesture for excellent service. Note that most restaurants and bars automatically include a 10% tip on the receipt – always verify this. They do not expect an additional tip on top of this unless you feel it is well deserved.

Where We Stayed

Croc’s is a luxurious, full-service resort, situated ocean-front on the quiet, northern end of Jaco Beach. The resort has it all, offering four restaurants, an outdoor swimming pool, a Las Vegas Style Casino, a gym, spa, two bars and a garden.  The pool here is amazing – large and spacious with tons of space to lounge, relax and swim. This is one of the most luxurious places to stay in Jaco.

Additional Accommodations

Jaco, being a fairly small town, is very walkable if staying near the main beach or strip (Av. Pastor Diaz). Between AirBNBs, hostels, and hotels, there’s no shortage of affordable accommodation options. Based on our experience, we recommend staying around the south end of Jaco beach for the best sand, waves, and access to town.


If you are looking for an affordable spot lively scene, we definitely recommend staying at Selina’s! This hotel offers a swimming pool, communal kitchen, restaurant, bar, a movie room, and more. It is the perfect place to stay if you are looking to make new friends and have a great time! In terms of location, Selina is perfectly placed within walking distance of the main strip.


Nestled between the rainforest and the Pacific Ocean, on the south end of Jaco Beach, this gorgeous, luxury hotel offers some of the most incredible views! Aside from the views and prime location, the hotel also provides an oceanfront pool, a relaxing spa, a delicious on-site restaurant, and food / beverage service at the pool and on the beach.

Things To Do


First and foremost, wander the main strip of Jaco for an afternoon of shopping, eating, and drinking! As we mentioned before, the town is fairly small and can be easily covered by foot. The principal hot spots to check out are Avenue Pastor Diaz and Jaco beach. See below for a list of our restaurant and bar recommendations.


Jaco is the perfect place to buy unique, custom-made souvenirs and to freshen up your wardrobe at the boutiques along the main strip. Additionally, if you are in town on a Thursday or Friday you cannot miss the Jaco Farmers Market!


Our Jaco travel guide would not be complete without mentioning the beaches! Get ready to spend hours basking in the sun at Jaco beach, one of the most popular and famous beaches among tourists and surfers alike. But don’t stop there! There’s a wide array of incredible beaches around Jaco that we highly recommend checking out. Playa Blanca, located just north of Jaco, is a must-not-miss spot, featuring gorgeous white-sand, crystal clear water, and far less tourism. It is also worth checking out the other two famous surfing beaches, Playa Herradura and Playa Hermosa.


Jaco is famous for its perfect, year-round surfing conditions! Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced surfer, the activity is accessible to every level. We recommend starting at Jaco beach, and eventually checking out Playa Hermosa (6 miles north) and Playa Herradura (just south of Jaco).


This quick, 30 minute hike is located a 5 minute taxi ride from the main strip, and provides some of the best views of Jaco! Once at the top, you will stumble upon abandoned ruins covered in gorgeous paintings and graffiti! Make sure to bring your camera because you wont want to miss the photo ops! In our opinion the best time to visit is late afternoon so you can catch the gorgeous sunset from above! Also, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Toucans and white-faced monkeys along the hike!


Surrounding the gorgeous Jaco beaches is the exotic jungle, packed with wildlife, unique plants, and endless opportunities for adventure! We highly recommend checking out a few day-tours to get the full Jaco experience! Tours include ziplining through the rainforest, canyoning tours, cruises to Tortuga Island, ATV tours, Catamaran Tours, nature hikes, and so many more.


We highly recommend this half day hiking and waterfall tour through Costa Rica Waterfall Tours! The tour begins with a quick lunch, followed by an adventurous ride on 4×4 up rugged mountain roads. Once at the top, you will hike through the rainforest, learning about a wide array of wildlife. Eventually you will reach the waterfalls, where the true fun begins. The hike continues from waterfall to waterfall, and includes cliff jumping, swimming, photos, nature, and endless wildlife. We can’t recommend this tour enough!

A few other waterfalls to check out include the Nauyaca Waterfalls, as well as the tallest waterfalls in Costa Rica, the Bijagual Waterfalls.


This national park is located just north of Jaco and is a great place to spot unique birds, among other wildlife. We recommend hiring a tour guide for the journey, as the locals have an eye for finding the exotic animals.


Considered one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, this national park is full of wildlife. Even without a guide, you can expect to see howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, sloths, frogs, raccoons, birds, and so much more. It is located about 1.5 hours from Jaco and absolutely worth the trip!


Located about 30 minutes north of Jaco (on the way to Carara National Park), this famous bridge is the place to go to spot crocodiles in the River Tarcoles! If you are feeling extra adventurous, you may even want to look into a Tarcoles River Boat Crocodile Tour.


For being such a small town, we were extremely impressed with the food scene! Check out the restaurants and bars on the beach for casual, surfer vibes, or head to the main strip for a wide variety of food! The town offers everything from small, family owned cafes, to upscale dining. Here is a list of our favorite spots:


In the northern end of town you will find this contemporary and Mediterranean restaurant. The restaurant features delicious and healthy Mediterranean dishes made with Costa Rican ingredients.

Graffiti Resto Cafe + Wine

This upscale, contemporary spot is one of the best places in Jaco for a nice dinner out. You can expect a cool, edgy atmosphere, innovative dishes made only from local ingredients, and a plethora of events and live music.

Zona K Bistro

This small bistro, owned by a Costa Rican chef, serves up innovative fare with a Latin and Asian influence. 

The Green Room

This restaurant serves delicious, affordable food, with everything from burgers and tacos to refined fish and steak dishes. This was our go-to spot every morning to sip on bloody Mary’s and work on the blog. The vibes are very tropical and fun, featuring local art, creative drinks, and live music. 


This open air, surfer restaurant is a hot spot in Jaco, serving the best fish tacos around! The atmosphere is relaxed and fun, from breakfast through to dinner.


Hang with the locals and dance to salsa music at this adorable bar and restaurant, located directly on the beach near Croc’s hotel.


Known as the best place for traditional Costa Rican food in Jaco, this popular spot almost always has a line out the door! The food is served buffet style, with the options changing by the day. Better yet, a traditional meal with a drink will only run you about $6.

Puddlefish Brewery

This local brewery serves up delicious gourmet pub fare such as nachos, wraps, burgers, and fish sandwiches. 

Tsunami Sushi

This sleek and popular sushi spot is a must-not-miss for our suchi lovers out there! The sushi was incredibly fresh, the drinks were delicious, and they almost always have specials going on.


There is a reason Jaco is so popular among solo travelers and singles – it has such a great nightlife! The main bars and clubs are located along the main street, Avenue Pastor Diaz, and stay open late into the night. To our surprise, drink prices were comparable to what you would pay in America. But luckily, numerous bars almost always offer drink specials. Our Jaco travel guide lists a couple of our favorite bars below:

Ou Favorite Bars


This ‘secret’ nightclub opens at 11:00pm, when all the other bars are forced to close down due to COVID restrictions. This is the bar to be at if you are wanting to party into the night!


This large corner bar has a tropical atmosphere and is great for laid-back cocktails and people watching.


A massive nightclub for a younger crowd to dance the night away!


This chic club is popular with locals and surfers who like to party until the sun comes up.


This open air, beach-front club is not your typical Jaco nightclub! This place has a Vegas pool party vibe, with great music and a true twist of Costa Rica.


The spot to go for nightly live music and craft beer.


A fancy-looking sports bar with an electric atmosphere that comes alive from Thursdays to Saturdays!


A must-not-miss for all beer lovers out there! The beer selection is fantastic and there is a cozy atmosphere with a positive vibe.


Overall, we absolutely love this small, surfer town! It is relatively cheap and provides the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation. We hope you have enjoyed our Jaco Travel Guide! Be sure to head over to our Destinations page to access many more worldwide comprehensive travel guides!

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