A Guide to Jaco, Costa Rica

The day after our wedding, my husband and I woke up like "OH YEAH! WE'RE GOING ON VACATION TODAY!"

With the festivities (read: chaos) that came with the wedding and all of its preparation, we kept forgetting that we were leaving for our honeymoon the very next day. So, both of us with happiness hangovers (and actual hangovers), we scrambled to get our stuff together, said bye to our families as we left them to clean up (sorry, guys!), and hustled to the airport. 

Fast forward a few hours and we're in San Jose, Costa Rica where we rented a car and drove an hour and a half to our own little slice of paradise: Jaco. Our trip was composed of gorgeous sunsets, towel animals, drool-worthy food, surfing attempts, road-crossing monkeys, hungry toucans, the dreamiest infinity pool we ever did see, and so much more. All in all, it was short, but so so sweet and the most incredible introduction to Costa Rica that we could have been given.

So, without further ado, below is a short guide of what not to miss in Jaco, Costa Rica. Enjoy!

View from the outdoor gym at Villa Caletas

Before You Go

  • Jaco is a booming beach town located on the Pacific coast province of Puntarenas

  • Do not be afraid to visit during the rainy season (May-October). It's not as rainy as you might think, there are fewer tourists around and prices are significantly lower during these months.

  • It's a great destination for young travelers as it's named one of the best party destinations in the world.

  • While Jaco is known for its nightlife, it also boasts areas of luxury and tranquility.

What to Do in jaco

  • Monkey Tour: Sign up for a monkey tour where you're almost 100% guaranteed to get up close and personal (crawling all over you personal) with monkeys. We didn't make it on one ourselves, but it was recommended to us by a few locals, so you know it's the real deal. Various companies feature these tours, some on ATVs, and others through mangrove forests.

  • Hike: Costa Rica, synonymous with Jurassic Park, has some crazy ridiculous are-you-kidding-me terrain. And with it comes some pretty phenomenal hiking trails. Some notable hikes around Jaco include Manuel Antonio National Park Hike, Catarata Bijagual, Carara National Park.

View from the private beach at Villa Caletas in Jaco, Costa Rica
  • Head to the Beach: Jaco runs up the coastline, so the beaches are plentiful. Relax at Playa Jaco, watch the surfers at Playa Hermosa, and admire the white sands at Playa Blanca.

Playa Hermosa in Jaco, Costa Rica during the rainy season
  • Go surfing: Jaco is a hub for surfing, but it is not for the faint of heart. Advanced surfers will find themselves at Playa Hermosa, but if you're still learning, Playa Jaco has its fair share of swell too. There are plenty of places to rent boards/sign up for lessons, but for awesome service and value, I 100% suggest booking with Mauricio at Jaco Surf Club. He and his wife also own Marveca Beachwear where she designs and handmakes all of the bathing suits.

Surfers lining up at Hermosa Beach in Jaco, Costa Rica

Where to Eat in jaco

  • Soda Garabito: Locals rave about this place being the best soda (local restaurant with typical Costa Rican food) and after visiting, it was easy to see why. Come for breakfast, stay for the platano maduro, casado con carne de res, and jugo natural.

Brunch at Soda Garabito in Jaco, Costa Rica

OhanaOur very favorite restaurant in Jaco. They serve a fantastic selection of tapas, fresh sushi, and what was by far, the BEST strawberry daquari that has ever graced my taste buds. 

Jerah: A super cool and relaxed place serving authentic Thai cuisine. You'll feel like you're dining in a renovated tree house, as terrace opens up into the treetops. Focused on sustainability, their menus are made from recycled paper, and their food is some of the best (and locally sourced) in town. 

Thai food for dinner at Jerah. One of the best restaurants in Jaco, Costa Rica.

Where to Stay in jaco

  • Villa Caletas: I really cannot say enough good things about this hotel. It was absolutely stunning and the customer service was impeccable. Some of their rooms offer beautiful ocean views and private hot tubs. There's a gorgeous infinity pool overlooking their private beach, a spa, a gym with a view that will make you forget you're working out, and an amphitheater restaurant which is THE place to go to watch the sunset (open to the public) I will say, however, that there are plenty of better places to eat in Jaco so while I definitely recommend staying here, go into town for meals.

  • Oceano Jaco: A four star boutique hotel centrally located. With amenities on amenities and promotions left and right, this hotel is definitely worth checking out.

Infinity pool at Villa Caletas in Jaco, Costa Rica
Gorgeous views of Jaco, Costa Rica
Jaco Costa Rica