27 Best Things to Do in Jaco, Costa Rica | 2024 (with Photos)

Katarina P.

Katarina P. - Travel Writer

Published: June 30, 2023

Hey there! I'm Katarina, an avid traveler and adventure enthusiast. Get ready to explore the 27 best things to do in Jaco, Costa Rica through my lens, where I'll take you on a memorable journey filled with stunning photos and insider tips.

Costa Rica

Jaco is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica and for good reason. This laid-back coastal town in Central America offers visitors a wide range of activities, from surfing and beach lounging to canopy tours and ATV adventures.

With so much to see and do, it can be hard to know where to start. That's why we've put together a list of the 27 best things to do in Jaco, Costa Rica. Whether you're a nature lover, a thrill-seeker, or just looking to relax on the beach, there's something on this list for everyone visiting Jaco.

Most Recommended Thing to Do


Top Choice Hotel

Croc's Resort & Casino

Our Top Choice Restaurant

The Hook+Ladder BBQ Co.

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Le Loft Cocktail Bar

Best Time to Visit

Ideal weather for exploring Jaco, Costa Rica's beauty

Average Temperature

The average temperature in Jaco, Costa Rica is warm.

Transportation Options

Buses, taxis, shuttles, cars, bikes: plenty of options.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

In Jaco, Costa Rica, immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture as you stroll along the bustling streets lined with colorful market stalls and authentic eateries, sampling delicious traditional dishes and chatting with friendly locals who are always eager to share their stories.

Indulge in adrenaline-pumping adventures by exploring the pristine beaches and lush rainforests that surround Jaco, where you can try your hand at thrilling activities such as surfing the world-class waves or zip-lining through the canopies, all while immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring natural beauty that makes this coastal town a true paradise.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Passport
  2. Cash and/or credit cards
  3. Sunscreen
  4. Swimsuit
  5. Comfortable walking shoes
  6. Lightweight clothing
  7. Insect repellent
  8. Hat or cap to protect from the sun
  9. Snorkeling gear (if interested)
  10. Portable charger for electronic devices

What Not to Miss

  1. Jaco Beach
  2. Manuel Antonio National Park
  3. Carara National Park
  4. Tarcoles River
  5. Playa Hermosa
  6. Tárcoles Bridge
  7. Jaco Walk Open Air Shopping Center
  8. Canopy tours
  9. Tortuga Island
  10. Jaco Ropes Adventure Park

What to Avoid

  1. Overpacking
  2. Ignoring local culture
  3. Being oblivious to safety
  4. Disregarding wildlife regulations
  5. Overlooking transportation options
  6. Neglecting beach safety
  7. Engaging in illegal activities
  8. Overpaying for souvenirs
  9. Skipping local cuisine
  10. Ignoring sunscreen and insect repellent

1. Surf at Playa Hermosa

Surf at Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa is a stunning black-sand beach located just south of Jaco. The beach stretches for miles and is considered to be one of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica. It is located near a wildlife refuge, where you can see a wide variety of birds and animals in their natural habitat.

Playa Hermosa beach has waves that are larger and more consistent than those at Jaco, making it a popular destination for experienced surfers.

The gorgeous beach is also quieter and less crowded than Jaco. There're plenty of surf shops in Jaco to choose from, such as School of the World, Surfer Factory, Selina, Tortuga, and Jaco Surf School, as well as nice cafes toward the north end.

2. Ride a Horse Through Amazing Landscapes

horse ride

Horseback riding tours typically take visitors through rainforest trails, across rivers, and along the beach. It's a unique way to experience the natural beauty of the area and to get up close to the local wildlife.

Riding a horse is also a great way to learn about the local culture and history, as many tours include stops at traditional farms and villages. Horseback riding tours are available for riders of all levels, from beginners to experienced riders.

Guides are knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna and will point out interesting sights along the way.

3. Go on an ATV Tour Through the Jungle

ATV tour through the jungle

Costa Rica is known for its stunning rainforests, and an ATV ride is one of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of the country. Compared to a rental car, ATV rides provide a more thrilling and exciting way to immerse oneself in scenic landscapes.

ATV rides are so much fun for groups, families, or solo travelers who want to explore the rainforest at their own pace. If you're planning a trip to Costa Rica, make sure to include an ATV ride on your list of must-do activities.

4. Watch the Sunset from El Miro's Viewpoint

El Miro's viewpoint

El Miro's viewpoint is a popular attraction in Jaco, Costa Rica, known for its stunning panoramic views of the surrounding rainforest and the Pacific Ocean. The viewpoint is located at the top of Miro Mountain, which can be reached by a moderately challenging hike.

The entrance to this viewpoint is across from the southernmost road off the highway to Jaco. The parking lot is very small so try to go early to avoid the crowds.

You'll be rewarded with breathtaking views that stretch for miles. Interestingly, the mountain is named after a resident who donated the land to the government for the creation of the viewpoint.

5. Explore Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park is a top destination for anyone traveling to Costa Rica.

Located on the central Pacific coast, it is home to some of the country's most stunning beaches, rainforests, and wildlife. Exploring the park is one of the best things to do in Jaco for nature lovers.

Manuel Antonio National Park is relatively small, but it's packed with biodiversity, with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 200 species of birds.

Visitors can take a guided hike through the rainforest, go for a swim in the crystal-clear waters of Manuel Antonio Beach, or spot sloths, monkeys, and other wildlife.

6. Go Ziplining Through the Jungle

ziplining through the jungle

If you're looking for an adrenaline-fueled adventure in Jaco, be sure to add this activity to your bucket list.

It's one of the most beloved and fun things to do in Jaco and the surrounding area, offering a thrilling opportunity to explore the lush rainforest from above.

Ziplining tours are available for visitors of all ages and levels of experience and offer breathtaking views of the surrounding forest and ocean.

The tours typically consist of several zipline cables strung between platforms high up in the trees, allowing visitors to soar through the canopy like a bird.

7. Take a Day Trip to Tortuga Island

Tortuga Island

A day trip to Tortuga Island is a popular excursion for visitors to Jaco who want to experience the beauty of Costa Rica's Pacific coast.

Tortuga Island is known for its stunning white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and incredible marine life. Exploring the place on a day tour is one of the best things to do in Jaco.

Visitors can take a boat tour of the island, which typically includes stops for snorkeling and a beachside lunch. Tortuga Island is home to a variety of wildlife, including sea turtles, dolphins, and exotic birds.

Whether you're interested in snorkeling or just sunbathing on the beach chairs, Tortuga Island is the perfect destination for a day trip.

8. Take a Day Trip to Nauyaca Waterfalls

Nauyaca Waterfalls

Located in a lush rainforest near the town of Dominical, the Nauyaca Waterfalls are considered some of the most beautiful in the country.

The falls consist of two cascades, the upper falls, which drop from a height of 45 meters, and the lower falls, which are a series of smaller cascades and natural pools.

Visitors can take a guided hike through the jungle to reach the falls, passing through scenic rivers and dense foliage along the way.

Once at the falls, visitors can swim in the crystal-clear pools or just take in the stunning views. A day trip to Nauyaca Waterfalls is a great way to experience Costa Rica's beauty and escape the crowds of the more touristy areas.

9. Go Paddle Boarding at Playa Mantas

Playa Mantas

StaStand-paddleboarding at Playa Mantas is an exciting way to explore the stunning coastline of Costa Rica. The beach is It is located south of Jaco and is only a short 10-15 minute drive away.

Once you reach Punta Leona, you will find signs directing you to the beach, and there is a parking lot nearby for visitors to park their cars.

Paddleboarding allows visitors to see the coastline from a new perspective, with the opportunity to spot sea turtles, dolphins, and tropical fish.

The beach is surrounded by lush greenery and offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, making it an ideal destination for anyone who loves nature and adventure.

10. Take Surf Lessons at Jaco Beach

surf lessons at Jaco Beach

Jaco Beach is a popular destination for anyone seeking the thrill of riding the waves. The consistent waves and warm water make Jaco Beach an ideal spot for surfing.

If you're new to surfing, the surf camp and surf lessons available in Jaco offer expert instruction and rental equipment.

In addition to its excellent surfing conditions, the huge beach also hosts several surfing competitions throughout the year, attracting surfers from all over the world.

The laid-back beach culture and the chance to watch an exciting surfing competition make Jaco Beach a top spot for any surfing enthusiast.

11. Take a Trip to San Jose

trip to San Jose

San Jose is a vibrant city that offers visitors a wide range of activities and attractions to explore. For those interested in history and culture, there are several museums, such as the National Museum of Costa Rica and the Gold Museum, showcasing a vast collection of pre-Columbian gold artifacts.

The city of San Jose boasts an array of parks, galleries, and theaters, making it a hub of arts and culture. San Jose is also known for its excellent dining scene and also serves as a perfect base to explore the Arenal Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, and Poas Volcano.

12. Go on a Crocodile Safari at the Tarcoles River

crocodile safari at the Tarcoles River

Tarcoles River, located just a short distance from Jaco, offers visitors a variety of activities and experiences to enjoy. One of the most popular is a crocodile safari, where visitors can take a boat tour along the river to see the impressive reptiles up close.

The river is also home to a diverse array of bird species, making it a great spot for birdwatching. Another popular activity is kayaking, which allows visitors to explore the river's calm waters and take in the scenic beauty of the surrounding rainforest.

13. Discover the Amazing Wildlife of Carara National Park

Carara National Park

Carara National Park, located just a short drive from Jaco, is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Costa Rica's rich biodiversity.

The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including scarlet macaws, monkeys, and crocodiles, and is known for its dense rainforest and stunning hiking trails.

Visitors to Carara National Park can take guided tours and learn more about the local flora and fauna.

The park is a popular destination for birdwatching, with over 400 species of birds found in the area, and is home to the famous Crocodile Bridge, which spans the Tarcoles River and provides visitors with a unique opportunity to see dozens of large crocodiles basking in the sun.

14. Take a Trip to Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano

The Arenal Volcano, located in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, is a popular tourist attraction and a must-visit for anyone traveling to the country. This impressive volcano stands at 5,437 feet tall and has been one of the most active volcanoes in the world since its eruption in 1968.

The area surrounding the volcano offers a range of activities for visitors, including hiking, zip-lining, hot springs, and more. The Arenal Volcano region also offers a range of restaurants, making it an ideal destination for those looking to relax and unwind after a day of exploring.

15. Enjoy the Flavors of Costa Rica at the Jaco Farmers Market

Jaco Farmers Market

The Jaco Farmers Market, located in the heart of Jaco, is a must-visit for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the local culture and experience the flavors of Costa Rica.

This vibrant market offers a wide range of locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as homemade goods such as bread, honey, and coffee.

In addition to the delicious food, the market also offers an opportunity to interact with the local community and learn about traditional farming practices.

Visitors can sample fresh produce and chat with friendly vendors, gaining insight into the local way of life. The Jaco Farmers Market is open every Friday from 7 am to 1 pm, rain or shine.

16. Visit Puddlefish Brewery and the Beer House

Puddlefish Brewery

Puddlefish Brewery and the Beer House ****in Jaco are must-visit destinations for craft beer lovers. Puddlefish Brewery is known for its delicious and unique craft beers that are brewed on-site using only the finest ingredients.

The Beer House is the perfect place to sample some craft beer while enjoying a cozy and welcoming atmosphere.

The staff is friendly and ready to help you find the perfect brew to suit your taste. Both places are conveniently located in the heart of Jaco, making them easy stops for those exploring the area.

17. Enjoy an Aerial Tram Experience

Aerial Tram Experience

The Aerial Tram at Rainforest Adventures is an unforgettable experience that allows visitors to get a bird's eye view of the stunning tropical rainforest.

The tour takes you through the canopy of the forest, providing a unique perspective on the lush green landscape and the diverse array of wildlife that calls it home.

The tram slowly ascends through the tree canopy, giving you ample time to take in the sights and sounds of the Costa Rican rainforest.

As you move through the canopy, the knowledgeable guides provide interesting facts and information about the various species of plants and animals that live in the forest.

18. Explore the Local Food Scene

Graffiti Restro Cafe

Jaco is a paradise for food lovers, offering a wide range of options for those looking to indulge in a delicious lunch. The town is home to a plethora of restaurants, cafes, and eateries, each offering a unique culinary experience.

Some of the must-visit places include Graffiti Restro Cafe, which serves a fusion of local and international dishes, Green Room Cafe, known for its vegan and vegetarian-friendly menu, and Soda Rustico, offering traditional Costa Rican cuisine.

For seafood lovers, Lemon Zest Restaurant and Tsunami Sushi are excellent options.

19. Enjoy the Jaco Nightlife

Jaco nightlife

Jaco is known for its vibrant nightlife scene, making it a popular destination for visitors looking to party and have a good time.

The town offers a range of options for nightlife, including bars, nightclubs, and live music venues, each providing a unique and exciting atmosphere.

One of the most popular spots is Le Loft, a rooftop bar and nightclub with a fun atmosphere and music and dancing going on well into the night.

Other popular venues include The Backyard Bar, known for its beachside location and live music performances, and Orange Pub, a laid-back bar with a great selection of craft beers and cocktails.

20. Watch the Sunset from the Villa Caletas Amphitheater

 Villa Caletas Amphitheater

The Villa Caletas Amphitheater in Jaco is a must-visit attraction for anyone looking for an evening of entertainment and stunning views. The amphitheater hosts a variety of cultural events, including live music concerts, dance performances, and theater productions.

The amphitheater's design provides an intimate setting, with the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean adding to the overall experience. Visitors can also enjoy a happy hour at the hotel restaurant and savor delicious cocktails while watching the sunset over the ocean.

The hotel's fine dining restaurants, such as El Anfiteatro and Mirador, offer local and international cuisines, making it an excellent spot for foodies.

21. Visit Playa Blanca and Punta Leona

Punta Leona

Even though (arguably) the Central Pacific doesn't have as many nice beaches as the North, they are still worth visiting. Playa Blanca is the only white sand beach in the area and is definitely worth climbing through Playa Mantas at low tide.

Punta Leona is a two-beach destination, featuring one beach with white sand and another with black sand, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. During low tide, visitors can go snorkeling in the tide pools, teeming with a diverse range of marine life.

Both beaches have plenty of amenities and restaurants, making them great destinations for a day trip or weekend getaway.

22. Treat Yourself to a Massage or Spa at Punta Leona Resort

 spa at Punta Leona Resort

Punta Leona Resort is a beautiful beachfront destination located in the stunning town of Jaco, Costa Rica. The resort is surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and boasts two of the most breathtaking beaches in the area, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.

The resort offers a wide range of amenities, including restaurants, bars, swimming pools, and spa services, making it an ideal destination for families, couples, and solo travelers.

Punta Leona Resort is also home to an impressive wildlife reserve and offers a variety of guided tours, allowing visitors to learn more about the local wildlife and their habitats.

23. Go on a Birdwatching Tour

birdwatching tour

Jaco is a fantastic destination for birdwatching due to its rich and diverse ecosystem. Several tour companies offer guided birdwatching tours in Jaco, which take visitors to the best locations for birdwatching, such as Carara National Park, Tárcoles River, and Bijagual Waterfall.

The region is home to over 300 bird species, including toucans, macaws, trogons, and hummingbirds, which can be spotted in the surrounding forests, wetlands, and mangroves. These specialized tours in Jaco are led by experienced guides who are knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna, making it an educational and unforgettable experience.

24. Enjoy a Scenic Drive to Quepos

Drive to Quepos

The drive from Jaco to Quepos is a scenic route that winds through lush forests, picturesque towns, and stunning coastline views.

The journey takes approximately two hours, and along the way, visitors can make stops at the Tarcoles River and Manuel Antonio National Park, one of the most biodiverse national parks in the world.

Along the way, visitors can also stop by small towns like Parrita and enjoy a taste of authentic Costa Rican culture and cuisine. In Quepos, visitors can enjoy the charming atmosphere of a small coastal town and explore the local markets, cafes, and boutiques.

For those seeking adventure, the town is also a popular gateway to some of the best sportfishing and water activities in the area.

25. Take a Trip to Puntarenas Port Town

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Puntarenas, a port town on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, is just a short drive away from Jaco, Puntarenas offers easy access to Herradura Beach, a white sand beach known for its crystal-clear waters and abundance of marine life.

The town is also an excellent base for day trips to nearby attractions such as the Manuel Antonio National Park or the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

In the evenings, visitors can enjoy a vibrant nightlife scene and indulge in the popular happy hour offerings of the many bars and restaurants scattered throughout the town.

26. Get an Adrenaline Rush from Rafting Down the Savegre River

Savegre River

A wild ride down the Savegre River in Jaco is an adventure that offers visitors a unique perspective on the stunning natural landscapes of Costa Rica. The rapids range from Class II to Class IV, offering so much fun to both novice and experienced rafters.

Knowledgeable guides provide a safety briefing before the trip and help you navigate through the rapids while pointing out the various flora and fauna along the way.

The scenery along the river is breathtaking, with cascading waterfalls, lush green forests, and crystal-clear pools adding to the beauty of the experience.

27. Enjoy Scuba Diving at the Catalina Islands

catalina island scuba

The Catalina Islands, located off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, are volcanic rock formations and home to an incredible array of marine life. Visitors can see a variety of colorful fish, schools of rays, octopuses, and eels.

The Catalina Islands are also known for their bull shark sightings, making for an exhilarating diving experience.

Whether you're an experienced diver or a beginner looking to explore the underwater world, diving at the Catalina Islands in Jaco is an unforgettable experience.

Let's explore some frequently asked questions relating to the best things to do in Jaco, Costa Rica.

Is Jaco worth visiting?

Yes, Jaco is definitely worth visiting if you're interested in beautiful sandy beaches (Jaco Beach, Playa Mantas, Herradura Beach, and more), great surfing spots, and adventure activities.

The town is located on Costa Rica's Pacific coast. It's only 1.5 hours from the San Jose International Airport and is known for its laid-back vibe and stunning scenery. ****Nature enthusiasts ****will ****enjoy exploring the national parks, as well as a day tour of Tortuga Island.

Expect hot and humid weather in Jaco along with the dry season from December to April and the rainy season from May to December.

What is Jaco known for?

Jaco is known for its gorgeous beaches, which are popular with surfers and sunbathers alike. The town is also known for its lively nightlife scene and a wide variety of restaurants and bars.

Additionally, Jaco is a popular destination for adventure activities such as zip-lining, ATV tours, and deep-sea fishing.

Is Jaco a party town?

Yes, Jaco is known for its lively nightlife scene and is considered by many to be a party town. There are a wide variety of bars and nightclubs in the town, which are popular with both locals and tourists alike.

If you're looking for a place to party, Jaco is definitely worth considering.

How many days do you need in Jaco, Costa Rica?

As a general rule, you will need at least 2-3 days in Jaco to fully experience what the town has to offer.

That said, the amount of time you need to spend in Jaco depends on your interests and what you want to do while you're there. If you're interested in surfing, exploring the nearby Tortuga Island on a half-day tour, and spending time in Costa Rica relaxing and sightseeing**,** you may want to spend several days in Jaco.

However, if you're just looking to relax on the beach and enjoy the scenery, a shorter visit may be sufficient. You can visit Playa Mantas, Jaco Beach, or one of the national parks nearby.

Summing Up: The Best Things to Do in Jaco, Costa Rica

Jaco, Costa Rica is a destination that offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages and interests.

From the big waves at Playa Hermosa for surfing enthusiasts to the white-sand beaches of Tortuga Island, there's something for everyone in this gorgeous area.

Outdoor activities such as hiking, ziplining and horseback riding through the lush landscapes are some of the many fun things to do in Jaco.

Whether you're looking for adventure or relaxation, Jaco has it all. Visit Jaco and explore the many wonders of this magical place.