When I asked a friend that travels to Costa Rica often if Jaco was worth visiting, his response was “well, it’s pretty GRITTY”, to which I replied “Well, GRITTY is my HUCKLEBERRY, Baby!” And, if it’s yours as well, this may just be a great stop for you! All that being said, the things I loved MOST about Jaco- aren’t IN Jaco at all, and seeing that it’s just an hour drive from Manuel Antonio, you may consider some of these activities for a day trip. If you do decide to stay, there are some things you should know… When we traveled here from Manuel Antonio, the locals told us not to keep ANYTHING in our car, and be extra vigilant with our belongings! There is more of a transient crowd in Jaco, and although we did not feel unsafe whatsoever, it was a place we kept an extra watchful eye on our belongings.
HOW TO GET THERE
Just like Manuel Antonio, there are many easy options to get you to Jaco. You can rent a car, and take the easy hour and a half drive from San Jose airport, or you can take a shuttle. Regardless, it’s a rite of passage to stop and pose near the J-A-C-O letters as you drive by! Once you arrive in Jaco, it is very easily navigable without a vehicle.
WHERE TO STAY
There are a range of options in Jaco! Seeing as though it’s a surfers paradise, there are many affordable options.
SELINA JACO is a Hostel brand that is the only beachfront hotel in town. It is walking distance to the main street, and features a pool, communal kitchen, restaurant, beach bar and movie room! It has both private and shared rooms, and hosts a mixed crowd of “co-workers”, “stay-caters”, surfers, and wellness-seekers. It was just as fun to stay by the pool bar and meet the other guests as it was venturing around town! They also provide surf and beach equipment.
Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort is a great option for families with small kids. It is located about 15 minutes north of downtown Jaco, and offers a host of things to do on property. With an amazing pool, playground, and kids club room stocked with toys and games, there is no shortage of things to entertain the kids! The resort also has 4 restaurants on site, and comfortable rooms with refrigerators.
WHERE TO EAT/ DRINK
I may have had the best sushi of my life at OHANA SUSHI BAR in Jaco. Don’t let it’s casual open-air facade fool you, this is top notch!
The GREEN ROOM CAFE BAR is definitely a hot spot in Jaco. They usually have late night live entertainment, and provides a perfect family atmosphere earlier in the evening. Bring a deck of cards, and be seated in their “living room”, you may just find yourself there for hours! Great food, good service, diverse craft beer menu and a hippy vibe that will keep people watchers happy all night!
WHAT TO DO
SURF! Even though, I myself, am not huge in to surfing, this may be the BIGGEST draw to Jaco. The long rolling waves make it a beginners’ surf haven! It’s pretty easy to find people willing to give lessons as well. Just inquire with your hotel or ask around town!
EXPLORER WATERFALL TOUR: My husband and I joined a local guide, with a small group, and went on a waterfall adventure that literally made us feel like WE discovered a patch of heaven ourselves. He picked us up from our hotel and transported us about 30 minutes into the rainforest. That’s where we were all led into what looked like a shack, and were served maybe the greatest Costa Rican lunch we had our entire trip! A traditional Tican plate with Chicken or fish, plantain, rice and beans. Simple and so so delicious!
Then we loaded onto an open air 4×4 truck and were trekked deeper into the jungle on a dirt path with amazing views! We knew we were on quite an adventure!
This was definitely an experience we would NOT have gotten on our own without a local! We saw a half dozen different little waterfalls, and swam in all of them! We jumped off cliffs, and even saw dart frogs, sloths, and of course, my favorite, the busy little tree cutter ants. It was an experience of a life time! ( Do NOT forget your water shoes with firm rubber souls!)
You can book the EXPLORER WATERFALL TOUR out of JACO, HERE!
VISIT MANUEL ANTONIO NATIONAL PARK! If you’re home base in Costa Rica is Jaco, you MUST take a day trip an hour south to MANUEL ANTONIO! You’ll experience all the greatest wildlife in the national park, as well as swim in one of the most beautiful white sand beaches
Check out my post on MANUEL ANTONIO HERE for more info!