Surfing has to be on this list as it’s the top thing to do in Jaco. Since this beach is said to be one of the best for beginners due to the long consistent waves, don’t miss out on taking a surf lesson or joining a surf camp.
A 2 hour surf lessons runs around $50 per person and there are a ton of surf shops in town you can go with. School of the World, Tortuga and Jaco Surf School are a few good ones.
The most popular and best spot for beginners is the south end of the beach called Madrigales. For more experienced surfers, head to the middle and more norther section of the beach.
There are many waterfalls near Jaco, Costa Rica. Right outside town lies lush mountains, home to many rivers and waterfalls. Take a trek through the pristine rainforest, jump off waterfalls and swim in the pools!
Another waterfall nearby is Bijagual, about a 20 minute drive from Jaco. It costs $20 to enter the private property and it is about an hour hike to this impressive waterfall.
This is definitely one of the must do things in Jaco!
Beautiful View Points
There are many places to get incredible views of Jaco.
The best one is the popular viewpoint called Miro Mountain, at the south end of Jaco. It’s an abandoned building with a beautiful view of Jaco. You can drive or hike up there. The entrance to this viewpoint is across from the southern most road off the highway to Jaco. The road can get kinda bad in rainy season so be careful if you’re driving. You’ll see a small “parking area” and there is a short trail to the left to the abandoned building. Keep your eyes open too, last time we were there we saw toucans and macaws!
Since Jaco is right where the tropical rainforest starts, the wildlife and nature greatly increases. You can see much more wildlife in this area than you would up in the North Pacific.
Bird watchers from all over the world come to the Jaco area to seek out some of the most interesting birds in Costa Rica. In this area, you can see toucans, birds of prey and one special bird in particular, the Scarlet Macaw. Carara National Park has the largest breeding area of Scarlet Macaws, whose population was decimated years ago from deforestation and hunting.
ATV is a very popular and fun activity thanks to the muddy trails going up the mountains and is one of the best things to do in Jaco. Go on an ATV tour to ride up somewhat treacherous roads, through rivers and into the jungle to places you can’t go on foot. Combine that with some waterfall exploring and you have an extremely exciting day! Some recommended companies for ATV tours are Ocean Ranch Park, Los Suenos and AXR.
SUP (Stand up paddle board)
If surfing isn’t your thing, try SUP (stand up paddle boarding).
Do a stand up paddle boarding tour with Kayak Jaco from Playa Aguja, about a 20 minute drive from Jaco. You can paddle all the way to Playa Mantas and Playa Blanca, a beautiful white sand beach by the Punta Leona resort. You really feel connected to the ocean since you need to paddle and watch the waves.
Rio Tarcoles boat ride
On the way to Jaco from San Jose is a big bridge that goes over the Rio Tarcoles. You can get out and walk on the bridge to see the famous crocodiles that live underneath as this river is home to some of the biggest crocs and the largest population in the country.
If you want to get up close and personal, take a Rio Tarcoles boat ride. This 2 hour boat ride down the river lets you see water birds like herons and egrets and crocodiles. They teach you all about these impressive reptiles and you’ll get so close, you can see every line on its back. The river is only 25 minutes from Jaco and is a great half day activity. If you take the evening boat ride, you can see a lovely sunset over the river.
Rainforest Adventure or Ocean Ranch Park
Looking for adventure? Jaco’s got it! There are several adventure parks where you can go ziplining, horseback riding, canyoning and other fun activities like that. Many of them offer combination tours so you can do several activities in one day. We did a combo tour at Ocean Ranch Park with horseback riding, canyoning and ziplining that was incredibly fun. The scenery was just spectacular as we rode into the green hills and deep into the rain forest. At Rainforest Adventures, they have an aerial tram and trails that is very nice.
There is also a fun outdoor obstacle course called Jaco Ropes right outside of Jaco.
Visit Playa Blanca, Herradura or Other Beaches
Even though the Central Pacific doesn’t have as many nice beaches as the North, they are still worth visiting. Playa Blanca is the sole white sand beach in the area and definitely worth climbing through Playa Mantas at low tide. There is also Playa Agujas, Playa Esterillos Oeste and Este, Playa Bejuco, Playa Herradura and Playa Hermosa.
Things to Do in Jaco at Night
Jaco is a party town and you can hit up Croc’s Casino Hotel for a fun “Las Vegas” style night. It’s actually a really nice casino with blackjack, roulette, tournaments and slots. Their food and drinks are top notch too!
Hit Up the Bars
Likewise, you can have a very fun night out or two in Jaco hitting up various bars and clubs. You can find the fancy clubs with bottle service like Le Loft or dance the night away at Orange Club. Puddlefish Brewery and the Beer House are two great places for craft beer, games and food.
Speaking of food, foodies will love Jaco. In our opinion, Jaco has some of the best restaurants in Costa Rica! Check out Graffiti, Tsunami Sushi, Soda Rustico (best traditional Costa Rican place), Tacobar, Amancio’s, Lemon Zest, Ridiculous Burgers or Green Room.