Located on Costa Rica's gorgeous Central Pacific Coast, Jaco Beach is the closest beach resort to San Jose. Its natural beauty, tropical climate, and close proximity to the Central Valley have made Jaco Beach the country's most developed and visited beach area. Jaco is a surfer's town with a laid back atmosphere during the day and an extremely active nightlife. It is where Ticos go to play in the sun, sand and at night under the stars.
The beach is 6 km long and surrounded by magnificent green mountains and tropical palm trees. The beach gets fairly crowded, particularly on weekends, though one can escape from the crowds by walking further down the beach.
The sand on Jaco Beach is silty and a grayish-brownish colour. Primarily a surfing beach, Costa Rica has many more attractive beaches for non-surfers. For swimmers the surf can be quite rough and riptides strong. During low tide the waves tend die-down and swimming is safer. Beach activities include boogie boarding, body surfing and of-course sun-tanning.
Jaco offers many attractions aside from the beach including good restaurants, casinos, discos, and stores. Some visitors criticize Jaco for its over-development and at times complain that it is dirty. Despite this criticism, Jaco is a wonderful beach town. It is also a great location to set-up base as most tourist spots are close by or within a few hours drive.
Manuel Antonio is a one hour drive and Jaco accommodations tend to be a lot less expensive than Manuel Antonio. Jaco is close enough to take day trips to Poas and Arenal Volcanos. Playa Hermosa, a couple of miles from Jaco offers one of Costa Rica's best canopy tours.
Other nearby attractions include the Crocodile Safari on the Tarcoles River, located 30 minutes away, and a butterfly farm near Tarcoles at the Villa Lapes. Carara Park located right near Tarcoles has a great hike to Costa Rica's highest waterfall. Also near Tarcoles is an excellent restaurant called Steve and Lisa's that is inexpensive and offers a stunningly beautiful view.
For surfers and beach lovers, there are many other beaches near Jaco, both to the north and south. Playa Hermosa of Jacó is well known for being a beachbreak with great waves all year long. Several world surf tournaments have been held here.
The road out of Jaco follows the coast and provides spectacular scenery along the beaches. There are many uncrowded beaches along this stretch. Gravel roads provide easy access to these oases with names like Esterillos Oeste, Bejuco and Palma. They are characterized by grand expanses of empty beach and minimal established infrastructure erected by a few local families, a small restaurant or two, or a couple of seaside cabins.