Only an hour and a half from San Jose’s urban jungle is the popular dark sand beach of Jaco. It is a quick and easy weekend getaway for some fun and relaxation as the route is direct, paved and the buses arrive several times throughout the day. It is best to take advantage of the smaller crowds and chill vibe during the week when it can feel like you have the beach all to yourself except for a handful of people.
The Beaches of Jaco
When the tide is out, Jaco’s long, flat beach makes it the picture-perfect place to walk with endless sand and the sparkling rays of the sun hitting the water. The shore is sprinkled with tall palms without an overpowering amount of development still giving you the tropical paradise feel. As you walk along the seashore you begin to feel more secluded and tranquil leaving behind the people and beach-side bars.
The end greets you with lush jungle trees and often the distinctive sounds of the scarlet macaws flying above. Large rocks jet out at the other end as the waves crash against them offering you a place of peace and solitude from the busy town of Jaco.
The shores are lined with many ocean view restaurants and bars giving you a chance to get out of the sun and watch the avid surfers out in the waters. Jaco is a popular surf town with many instructors set up all along the beach to help the inexperienced or timid surfer handle the manageable waves.
The town is full of surf camps, schools, and lessons to give beginners the confidence they need. The waters aren’t too crowded having plenty of space to try out surfing, with the south end attracting more to the best point. Playa Hermosa is only a short distance away enticing world-class surfers, fewer crowds, and a paradise for the more intermediate surfer with consistent waves.
What to Do
There is so much more to Jaco other than a day at the beach or a few drinks at the coastline bars. One of the best ways to enjoy the town is to get out and rent a bike for the day. The town is small enough that you can explore all the small streets leading you to the beach weaving up and down stopping along the small colorful shops lining the main street.
Sportfishing attracts many out onto the chartered waters for the favorite sailfish or even marlin and roosterfish with customized fishing trips for any size group or package. Jaco is surrounded by rich biodiversity and jungle forests that you will want at least two to three days to really appreciate everything it has to offer.
One of the top ways to get out and see the countryside is with one of the ATV tours whose guides are experts and love what they do sharing their passion and excitement with you. Follow them out into the thick rainforest stopping at one of Costa Rica’s many hidden waterfalls or spend the afternoon at one of the canopy zipline adventures if seeking some adrenaline fun.
The views are spectacular in Jaco and taking a hike to Miro Mountain allows you to see everything from above having the opportunity to see how truly stunning the small town is.
After the sun sets with its vibrant, striking colors, the nightlife comes alive in Jaco if you aren’t looking to have a quiet night in. The town is full of restaurants featuring great live singers and bands, bars and nightclubs, something for everyone’s desire. The streets are busy with locals and tourists looking for an exciting night out.
Regardless of the tales you may hear, Jaco is generally a safe place to visit or live. That is why this beach town is home to many expatriates and attracts so many tourists with all the amenities it has to offer, banks, grocery stores, popular food chains, and an extensive array of restaurants for every type of craving.
A Word About Crime in Jaco
People forget when traveling that just because it is the land of pura vida with magical sunsets on oasis tropical beaches that they are not in a fairy tale movie. It is still reality, a tourist town in a Central American country that relies heavily on tourism and has been hit hard from the current conditions of the world. The country and town are slowly generating momentum again with the land and air borders open and tourism coming back to life.
However, as with any tourist town in the world, it comes with a prime opportunity for petty crimes. Much of the danger in Jaco is petty theft as people go into vacation mode and sometimes forget their common sense.
You hear of people burying their phones in the sand so they can go for a swim and when returning it has been dug up and long gone. Many leave their bags unattended on the shores and wonder where their bag has gone after playing in the waves and then tell the stories of how they were robbed and how dangerous Jaco is.
Leaving items all on display in your vehicle on one of the small side streets to the beach and come back to see your computer or bags taken is another common occurrence. A lot of this crime can be averted simply by practicing the same things you would back at home. Many of the Jaco tales come from after-hour excursions, going to unknown homes or parties in search of a little extra fun.
Don’t be discouraged by these random stories, Jaco is not a dangerous place to take your family for a fun day out and most people feel safe traveling whether it be in a group or alone. Every town comes with tales and adventures, just remember to be smart leaving valuables at home and cautious at night especially if venturing out alone.
Jaco is in fact a fun beach town with something for everyone at any age surrounded by lush, scenic landscapes, rolling mountains and is a great central base for the National Parks nearby.