Jaco Beach, Costa Rica
Jaco is Costa Rica’s wildest, most popular beach destination. Less than sixty miles from San Jose and just south of Puntarenas.
Now home to everything from high rise hotels to time share condos, from all night bars to suspicious looking casinos, from steak houses to taco stands, from tie-die vendors to snow cone carts, Jaco has experienced a boom in investment and expansion in recent years. The streets of Jaco seem to be a never ending string of bars, casinos, clubs, cafes, and cheap souvenir shops.
Now home to everything from high rise hotels to time share condos, from all night bars to suspicious looking casinos, from steak houses to taco stands, from tie-die vendors to snow cone carts, Jaco has experienced a boom in investment and expansion in recent years. The streets of Jaco seem to be a never ending string of bars, casinos, clubs, cafes, and cheap souvenier shops (a good idea to collect some souvenirs if you want to remember your stay beyond the foggy blur of the partying).
Originally Jaco was an exclusively surfing destination, a surprise considering the strikingly uninspiring natural surroundings, misty air, and particularly dingy beach. Jaco is not the place to witness the world-renowned flora, fauna, and natural wildlife of Costa Rica, but rather is an excellent place to find the vice and hedonism that’s the “other side” of Costa Rica’s wildlife, trucked down to the area by the busload from the capital nearly any day of the week, and absolutely every weekend of the year. For those wishing to party in Jaco, but enjoy better surfing and more beautiful surroundings and accommodations, Jaco is right down the road from neighboring Playa Hermosa to the south, a quieter, more exclusive environment.
About 35 kilometers north of Jacó, lies the Carara National Park, recognized for its exuberant wildlife and dense rain forest. Carara is home to one of the largest remaining populations of wild scarlet macaws in the country. The ecotourism park Rainforest Adventures, NatGeo´s top ten of adventure trips,is just 5 minutes from the beach and it features an aerial tram through the transitional forest.
North of Jaco on a tall ridge overlooking the scenic Gulf of Nicoya and Pacific Ocean is an amazing spot to take in the sunset over a tropical drink. Hotel Villa Caletas has built a dramatic outdoor amphitheater into the side of the cliff that makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. You don’t have to be a guest to experience this unique setting; just tell the staff you’re there for sunset and grab a drink from the bar.
Jaco’s permanent population is only around 10,000, but because of all the national and international tourists, there are a wide variety of services and amenities available, from rustic traditional places to very modern ones.
Summary: Beach town known for its nightlife and good surf; perfect for young or solo travelers.
Landscape: Beaches, Transitional Forest
Attractions: Carara National Park, Nightlife, Surf
Activities: Adventure Tours, Dancing and Nightlife, Sport Fishing, Surfing
Caters to: Budget Travelers, Couples/Honeymooners, Independent Travelers, Surfers
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