The 9 best things to do in Jacó

Jacó is a delightful surf town with a vibrant atmosphere. It boasts a wide beach lined with palm trees, hotels, shops, and restaurants. It's among Costa Rica's most developed beach resorts. At the beach, you'll often find Costa Ricans relaxing with their families or friends during weekends, holidays, or festive occasions, creating a beautiful blend of local culture and tourism.

How to get to Jacó?

There are different ways to get to Jacó.

From San José to Jacó

From San José, it takes about 1.5 hours to drive to Jacó. Taking a shuttle is also an option. Make sure to compare options as prices and pickup locations may vary. Additionally, there are buses operated by Tracopa from San José to Jacó. It's best to purchase bus tickets through the Passer app since Tracopa's website may not always function properly.

Visit the crocodile bridge

When driving from San José to Jacó, you'll pass by the crocodile bridge in Tarcoles. If you're taking a shuttle, you can ask the driver to make a stop here. It's recommended to take a look because from the bridge, you can see many American crocodiles on the sand and in the water. American crocodiles can grow up to seven meters long (23 feet). Usually, you can spot several of them, which is pretty cool!

From Manuel Antonio to Jacó

From Manuel Antonio, it's just over a 1-hour drive to Jacó. If you take a shuttle, it typically takes 1.5 hours to get to Jacó, and prices start from 33 USD.

You can also catch a bus operated by Tracopa from the bus station in Manuel Antonio to Jacó, which takes around 1.5 hours. Tickets for the bus can be purchased through the Passer app.

From Dominical/Uvita to Jacó

From Uvita, it's about a 1-hour and 45-minute drive to Jacó, slightly shorter from Dominical.

Shuttles are available from Dominical and Uvita to Jacó, typically costing around 46 USD. There's also a good bus service connecting Dominical and Uvita to Jacó. You can purchase tickets for the bus via the Passer app. The bus journey takes about 2.5 hours and is more economical compared to the shuttle service.

What to do in Jacó?

There are plenty of adventures to experience in Jacó! Whether you're in the mood for beach relaxation, hiking in nature, or partying, it's all possible. Check out our tips for an unforgettable time in Jacó!

1. Explore Carara National Park

The territory surrounding this national park was once inhabited by the Huetar indigenous people. Many crocodiles used to and still do live here. 'Carara' means 'crocodile' in the Huetar indigenous language, hence the name Carara National Park. The park is known for its rivers and the marshy land where crocodiles thrive.

The national park hosts various plant and animal species. It's famous for the scarlet macaws, brightly colored parrots known for their loud calls, often heard when seeking food or sensing danger. If you want to get a better idea of how they look, you can check out the large sculpture of a scarlet macaw at the entrance. Despite their presence in the park, spotting them requires luck. To improve your chances, consider hiring a guide who knows where and what sounds to look for. Guides can be arranged at the park's entrance.

The park offers several hiking trails, clearly marked for navigation. We wandered around without a guide, having already seen many animals in other parks. Nonetheless, we spotted some creatures on our own, such as poison dart frogs and the anadenobolus.

The park operates from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM between May and November. From December to April, it opens from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Admission costs $10 USD, plus taxes. You can purchase tickets online via this link.

How to get there?
It's a 25-minute drive to the national park by car. There are no shuttles from Jacó to the national park. However, you can take a local bus. Ask your accommodation about the current departure times as they may change frequently. Additionally, you can opt for an Uber ride to the park.

2. Relax on the beach

Jacó boasts a long and wide beach with dark sand, a result of past volcanic eruptions. The beach is always lively, bustling with tourists and locals engaged in beach volleyball, soccer games, and building sandcastles. There are cozy restaurants along the beachfront where you can grab a bite to eat. Additionally, evenings offer a beautiful setting to enjoy stunning sunsets. It's a delightful place to experience the Pura Vida vibe!

How to get there?
As Jacó features a long and expansive beach, access from your accommodation to Jacó Beach is quite convenient.

3. Go surfing!

Jacó is one of the best places to surf in Costa Rica. There are opportunities for all skill levels. At low tide, there are small and gentle waves, ideal for beginners. At high tide, you have larger and more powerful waves, perfect for advanced surfers.

The water remains pleasant throughout the year, allowing you to surf without a wetsuit. Don't forget to enjoy the beautiful surroundings from your surfboard!

There are plenty of surf schools in Jacó offering lessons. If you're an experienced surfer, you can easily rent a surfboard as well.

4. Pay a visit to Dominical

Dominical is a charming, quiet coastal town located south of Jacó. It boasts cozy bars, restaurants, and behind the beach, there's a market featuring local products. The surrounding area of Dominical offers ample opportunities for hiking and ziplining. Compared to Jacó, Dominical is much calmer and less touristy. It's definitely worth a visit! Check out our article The 13 Best Things To Do in Dominical for more tips!

How to get there?
From Jacó, it's a 1.5-hour drive to Dominical. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle from Jacó, which costs around 46 USD and takes about 2 hours. A cheaper option is the bus from Tracopa, and you can easily buy tickets online using the Passer app.

5. Have a party

Are you up for a party? Jacó comes alive in the evenings with plenty of excitement. Whether you want to dance, sip cocktails, or enjoy live music, it's all here. Orange Pub stands out as one of the larger clubs in Jacó, featuring a lively bar, VIP lounges, and affordable drinks. Another place to have a great party is XTC. Note that they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. If you prefer a more relaxed vibe, stroll along the beach where you'll find plenty of cozy bars offering live music and refreshing drinks. You can also wander through Jacó in the evening to discover where the vibe is happening. Some bars or clubs host occasional events.

6. Hike to El Miro

El Miro is an abandoned hotel that was never completed. It's located south of Jacó near Mount Miro. The road to the hotel is closed to cars, but you can reach it on foot. You can drive to the Delta Jacó gas station by car, where there are some parking spots. The start of the trail is across the street from the gas station. It's about a 20-minute hike to the first viewpoint. If you're lucky, you might spot monkeys, birds, and frogs along the way. After the first viewpoint, it's another 25-minute walk to the abandoned hotel. Once you reach El Miro, you can enjoy the remains of the hotel adorned with graffiti. You also have a beautiful view of the sea. Definitely a fun free activity!

How to get there?
It's about a 5-minute drive by car, Uber, or taxi to the gas station. You can also walk to the beginning of the trail, which takes approximately 40 minutes.

7. Visit Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio is the smallest national park in Costa Rica, yet one of the most renowned. During your visit, you'll encounter many tourists in the park. Established in 1972, its main aim is to conserve and protect biodiversity and unique ecosystems. The park has a bit of everything: tropical rainforest, beaches with crystal-clear waters, and a variety of animals like monkeys, sloths, and raccoons. It's definitely worth a visit! Check out our article The 7 Best Tips for Manuel Antonio for more information.

How to get there?
From Jacó, it takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach Manuel Antonio National Park. You can also take a shuttle, starting from 33 USD. Alternatively, you can use Tracopa bus company to travel to Manuel Antonio and purchase a ticket via the Passer app.

8. Go to Tortuga Island

Tortuga Island is a stunning tropical island near Jacó and the Nicoya Peninsula. The island is renowned for its white sand color alongside crystal-clear blue waters. It's a perfect spot for relaxation, swimming, diving, and snorkeling. You can also rent kayaks and SUP boards to explore the surroundings. Various tours are available to discover the island.

9. Push your limits!

The surroundings of Jacó are perfect for thrill-seekers and those who enjoy pushing their limits. You can take an ATV tour along waterfalls, but be prepared to get dirty as it's quite a muddy ride! Another option is zip-lining through the mountains, offering a different perspective of the rainforest. If that's not enough adrenaline for you, don't worry—you can also go paragliding over the tropical rainforest. There are plenty of options for an adrenaline boost!

How to get around?

Around Jacó, having a car is the most convenient way to get around. This allows you to reach places quickly and provides freedom. If you don't have a car, the bus is the most economical option, while a shuttle is a more expensive alternative for longer distances. For short trips, you can easily arrange an Uber to get to attractions.

Do you want to read more about Costa Rica?

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Do you want to read more about Costa Rica?

See all our articles with the best tips to discover all beautiful places in Costa Rica.

About the authors

How nice that you are on our website and that you have read this article! We are Mirte and Matthew, two Dutch adventurers with a passion for traveling, discovering cultures, and gaining new experiences. We've translated our love for the world into this website. We hope our articles inspire you to go on adventures! You can learn more about us through the button below.
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