Eco-friendly travel guide to Jacó advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Jacó, Costa Rica.
- Air quality: 4 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 4 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 3 / 5
- Public transportation: 3.5 / 5
- Parks: 3 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 3.5 / 5
- Locals' English level: 2 / 5
- Safety: 4 / 5
- Accommodation: US$15 - $200
- Budget per day: US$30 - $250
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
Jaco is the beauty of Costa Rica. The nightlife of Jaco is the one thing that the tourists die to live for. It has a mesmerizing beach and a carefree ambiance. The party on surf beaches are famous for its energy as well as for letting loose. It has the best view when you sit on the shores and enjoy the big waves thrashing over the coast with cold air gazing over your face; here you find real peace of mind. So basically Jaco is both a hard party lover and a nature admirer.
People visit Jaco for it is the biggest gateway to national sanctuary and wildlife. You get to see animals from different parts of the world and is the favorite destination of a nature lover. It’s also famous for surfing, sea fishing, horse riding, kayaking, river rafting, boat rides, ATV tours, and much more. You get an option to enjoy a half-day or full-day sportfishing tour on exotic boats. There are catamaran tour rides for a person who likes to enjoy surfing up close but doesn’t like to break a sweat. You can spend a beautiful and sandy afternoon along the beautiful water coast.
- Instead of other accommodation options, choose green hotels for your stay in the city that helps to improve the environment of the city by using eco-friendly methods
- Along with all the expensive restaurants, make sure to try the street foods of the city as they are also a very unimportant part of the culture
- As an eco-friendly traveler, make sure to visit the parks in the city to get fresh air and some quiet time from the crowd of the city
- There are many transportations available in the city, and many of them pollute the environment. Pick transportations that do not pollute the air such as electronic car
- The small shops and stalls are dependent on the tourism of the city. So, during your trip try to buy items and foods from small stores as much as you can
Air Quality and Pollution
The air quality in Jaco is very good; the pollutants in the air are very low which makes it a fresh and breathable place. When comparing all the places it has the lowest air pollution. It has a pollutant index of 48 counts only which is excellent for air. The climate of Jaco is suitable for tourism throughout the year.
But the best months to visit are from December to April. The air is humid and the temperature is appropriate for an all-day outing. Some of the weeks may get hot in the summer but occasional rain makes it bearable. The wet season is repressive and cloudy and the dry season is less clouded and muddy.
Respect the Culture
The culture of Jaco is not a heritage one, people here like to enjoy and relax. They get involved in lots and lots of activities like ATV, zip-line tours, and sports fishing. They come here to take surf lessons as it's the best place for the ultimate surfing experience.
There is a sunset spot where all the locals, as well as tourists, come to enjoy their cocktail. It is situated in the north of Jaco on a tall ridge. Hotel Villa Caletas has built this spot on a cliff at a sideway angle so that you get a perfect view of the Gulf of Nicoya and the Pacific Ocean whilst enjoying your cocktail. By sitting over here everything seems small as you are on top of it all.
Top 10 Places to Visit
Jaco being a beautiful city you will enjoy every corner of it, even the streets and roads are something that you will fall for. But if you want to travel places and click amazing photos for future memory, here are some places that you can consider:
- Jaco Beach: The first thing to visit in Jaco is its beach. It's famous for surfing and its nightlife. You can also go on a beach horseback riding that's something you don’t get to see usually.
- Neo Fauna CR: This fauna has the most exotic insects, reptiles, birds, and mammals in Costa Rica. It preserves and reproduces all the endangered species and also rescues wounded and sick wild animals. Neo Fauna CR is famous for poisonous dart frogs and snakes.
- Royal butterflies: It is one of the prettiest places in Jaco. It has butterflies of every kind and every size from large to small. They show you the amazing life cycle of butterfly whilst you enjoy a river path along with seventy types of fruit trees.
- Tico pod art house and gifts: Here you can find special hand-picked art and gifts. The beautiful canvases, fine wood carvings, and unique silver jewelry are the main center of attraction.
- Pura Vida garden and waterfall: This place is a pure visual treat to the tourists. The garden is filled with natural beauty and has four waterfalls with a perfect view of the Pacific Ocean. The walkway of the park gives you the pleasure of walking along the river while enjoying the crest of the mountain as it is so big that everything is accessible easily. So be ready for a good all day long leg exercise.
- El miro: It is the most photogenic place in Jaco. It takes a time of twenty to thirty minutes of hiking to reach a place with a perfect view. For photos, you will have a beautiful background of abandoned monuments and buildings.
- Catarata Bijagual: Here there is a beautiful waterfall kissing the sky. You get to enjoy the cold waters of the water with a surrounding of trees blocking every ray of sunlight, so make sure you cover yourself properly with full sleeve cloth to avoid cold and carry water shoes to enter the water. Make sure your shoes are comfortable as it’s a great trekking place.
- Mirador de Jaco: Mirador de Jaco is a very heart-full place. After visiting this place you will not want to return. It has a beautiful coastline to satisfy your photographic thirst.
- Jaco walks air open-air shopping center: If you love shopping then this place will give you the utmost satisfaction. The open time of the shopping center is from 8 am to 10 pm all week. It feels really good to shop in the open air.
- Hotel Cocal Casino: It is the perfect part spot for adults but is not appropriate to take your family along. It gives the feel of a man-god as here there are beautiful women that assist you in the bar.
Jaco is a city made for tourism so these ten things are not enough there are more. You can also visit adventurous jungles, Herradura Beach, a delightful spot situated in the north, and Playa Hermosa situated to the south. There are many rainforest parks famous for the wild scarlet macaw population, which is a must-visit place.
- Royal Butterfly Park is an attractive spot to enjoy. You get to see different exotic butterflies that fly in the beautiful surrounding of tropical plants. You can explore seventy types of fruit trees which are grown along a river path. It gives the visitor a memorable experience and a reason to visit again.
- Pura Vida Garden Park has the perfect view of the Pacific Ocean, and you enjoy the waterfall from a huge height, you will get to see four waterfalls which will surely fill your waterfall cravings.
- Manuel Antonia National park is a one hour drive. It has both beauty and diversity with a huge variety of amazing wildlife contained in an area of 126000 acres on the ocean and 1700 acres of land. If you visit this national park don’t forget to give snorkeling a try. You can enjoy the beauteous pristine view of white sand in the Playa Manuel Antonio.
- Carara National Park is another national park that you must visit. They preserve most exotic wildlife and the phenomenal scarlet macaws, jaguars, monkeys, and many more. This is a place of a visual masterpiece.
Apart from the main Jaco beach, you can explore the following beaches:
- Playa Herradura beach is just 8 km north of Jaco. It's the best place to enjoy with your family. The beach is a bit rocky with waves hitting it gradually, which is like a therapy in itself. You get to play in the playground situated on the beach, now what more you can wish for. One of the most common problems that we face is parking, and on this beach, you don’t need to worry about it as there is parking available for a very small fee.
- Playa manta and Playa Blanca is a beach where you can spend your whole day and then also you will not get enough of it. They are not marked, so don't forget to ask locals about it. It's a spot of imagination, it has white and fluffy sand, clear water, and a lot of tree shade. You should give this place a try.
* Playa Hermosa is just 5 km south of Jaco. It's the best surfing spot. So if you are a surfer this is a gifted spot for you, and even if you are not, then the dark grey sand will just blow your mind. It's a less crowded spot with hotels and restaurants on the northern end.
- Playa Esterillos Oeste is quite far in comparison but is a perfect spot for peace and quietness. It's 15 km south of Jaco and is a less crowded beach since it's not much developed.
- Mirader de Jaco is famous for its lookout area where you can experience a great surrounding and a beautiful ambiance perfect for family outings and a lot of picture clicking. It will surely give you peace of heart and the best time with your family.
- El miro is the coolest place, which gives a chill of history and a bit of horror because of the abandoned building. To reach the place you will have to hike up for about 20-30 minutes. From this place, you will get to see Jaco beach. This place is a getaway from stress.
- Tico Pod Art House and gifts is a place for the real art lover. They have a variety of gifts and hard things that you have never seen before. The place is full of mesmerizing canvases, beautiful wood carvings, and finely designed silver jewelry. You can get handmade soaps as a unique gift for your loved ones. They have a wide range of leather bags and beautiful Indian pottery.
- Bambu is another museum where you can get a large collection of bamboo-made products from large treasure boxes to beautiful monkey toys.
Food options in Jaco are available in bulk; you can never cover all the places from one visit but can help you try the best ones first. There are a hundred different restaurants that offer the best variety of food from Costa Rican fare to gourmet cut beef. Most of the restaurants have now expert chefs that never disappoint their visitors and crafty beer bars for the all-time beer person. The delicious morning breakfast and late-night flavourful cuisine will satiate your hunger and your taste buds as well.
Traditional Local Restaurants
- Mono Verde Tapas & restaurant offers high-end cuisine at a very reasonable price. The ambiance is great and you also get to have different kinds of margaritas for only two dollars but don’t forget to drink within the limit, no one loves the after effect after all.
- Isaga-Bar-Restaurant has the advantage of a soccer game watch, which is a favorite of both locals and foreigners. If you wish to taste the typical-local food of Jaco then this is the perfect place for it. It offers the most amazingly tasty seafood along with casados and bar snacks.
- Los Amigo contains the largest beer selection in Jaco and is a hunt for beer lovers. The place is open from 11 am to 11 pm every day of the year i.e. 365 days. It has a setting of 6 flatscreen TV and 3 projectors to give a perfect game vibe while enjoying traditional Thai dishes, fine steak, and seafood. This is the dream of all match lovers: big screen, large beer, and tasty food.
- Jacos Tacos you can guess by the name that it's famous for Mexican food. It serves the best tacos, enchiladas, and chimichangas of all time. They have specials for just five dollars. If you visit this place then you should try the morning breakfast of chorizo and eggs served with handmade tortillas and potatoes as sides.
Vegetarian and Vegan
As the majority of people are usually non-vegetarian food, most of the restaurants you find are famous for non-veg food. But there are quite fewer restaurants that serve the most amazing vegetarian or vegan food that you might not get around the globe.
Jerah is the best place for vegan food. To make it vegan they replace the eggs with hoisin sauce. They offer a main course food with either only vegetables or you can ask for tofu with vegetables. They make the best curry without shrimp paste. The curry will give a treat to your taste buds.
Karma is a vegan cafe and restaurant. It serves dishes that are plan-based. You also get an option of tasty burgers, pasta, cakes, and a thing I should have mentioned early i.e. happy hour from 4-6 pm. You will have a good time here. SER also provides a vegan option to all the vegetarians out there. Their menu is designed to offer you healthy and plant-based dishes with tacos, curry, salad, pancakes, and many more.
There’s not an option of real street options. If you like to munch around while visiting places then there will be a little disappointment but you can have a quick snack option in the local cafes and restaurants like The Pizza Shop, Arigato’s, Taco Joint, Ridiculous Burger, and many more. And trust me the food they offer is equally tasty and unique like their name.
Since it's a beach place and people come here to live the nightlife and enjoy without any stress then they will want as many drink options that they can get. If you are a party lover and want to know all the places that you can explore for the best party moments here are some of them. Club vibe is the after party of Jaco beach; it is open from twelve to all night. You can let loose and show some of your groves on the largest dance floor in the whole town. Monkey Bar is an all day long party destination with a great taste in music. It offers a drink special menu and is open from 9-2:30 am.
Now coming back to the regular water option that is available in Jaco, you can access the tap water which is well maintained by the municipalities even the locals drink from the tap. But if you are not sure and are not comfortable in drinking tap water you can always buy packaged water. Since Jaco has humid weather you will not feel thirsty very often, and whenever you do you can easily find tap water near you.
In this era, people are very conscious of their health and usually look for places that offer organic food and a healthy option. There are not many organic cafes around Jaco but all restaurants usually offer fresh food and salads. One option that you can explore is Rugula Organic and Healthy Food cafe situated in Puntarenas province, which provides you organic food products for healthy living.
The other important place we look for when we are done enjoying in restaurants is a place where we can get the best crafty beer and an ambiance that sets the mood. There are some options where you can get yourself satisfied with the beer collection and its quality. PuddleFish Brewery:
People say that this place is unexpectedly awesome and has a great collection of crafty beers with attractive decor, which acts as a cherry on top. They provide excellent service and super friendly staff. The Beer House has a cozy place with beers available in both tap and bottle options. They also offer mixed drinks so you can be as creative as you want. They have a happy hour from 5-7 pm.
AS mentioned earlier, people who come to visit Jaco like to get involved in a lot of activities. You get a lot of option to choose lets to have a look:
ATV Tour is very popular in Jaco. You get to ride up through the pristine muddy routes along the rivers and get a tour of the jungle without breaking your leg. You also get a view of the beautiful waterfall on the journey. SUP (Stand up paddleboard) is a very soul-satisfying activity. You get to paddle through the Playa Mantas and Playa Blanca with a beautiful coast covered with white sand and water that is crystal clear. It's a great full-body exercise but great fun.
There are more when it comes to adventure you get to go zip-lining, horse riding, canyoning, and other exciting options, the fun here never actually ends. So you have to make a bigger bucket list to complete all this activity and a superb journey.
Yoga and Retreats
A 6-day surf and Yoga holiday in Playa Hermosa is best for recharging yourself after the whole weekdays. They provide a fantastic retreat option to revive your heart and soul. The package comes with three meals per day facility, a daily maid option, regular yoga classes, and superb surf classes.
21-day revival wellness Retreat for learning how to balance emotionally, spiritually, and physically. This retreat will surely help you transform your life completely and lead a healthy and happy life. Most have the experience that they have reduced a lot of weight, and their skin has rejuvenated.
3-day weekend surf and yoga holiday is also an option if you are short of time and want to spend your weekend enjoying tasty food, surfing, and yoga. They also include several fun activities like zip-lining and hiking.
There are a lot of exotic as well as budgeted options available in Jaco costa Rica. You just have to decide whether you have come for leisure or just to explore a new place and then only you can decide the range in which you will prefer your hotel. There are some options laid down for your convenience.
When you look for accommodation that promotes ecology and supports nature, a green hotel serves a major contribution here and also holds a great environment for living. Hotel green is a very sustainable and feasible housing option. It is very near to Jaco beach i.e. just two minutes by car and fifteen minutes walking distance. The hotel has a pool facility and a huge parking lot. The ambiance is full of greenery, and the staff is very friendly. They can communicate in three languages English, French, and Spanish.
Hostels and Guest Houses
Hostel and guest houses have the facility of both comfort and a feel of a five-star hotel. It lets you feel that you are at home and is the best option if you intend to stay for long. There are a lot of attractive options for guest houses in Jaco, which are pretty enough to confuse you.
Condominio Mar de Luz is situated at a distance of 400 kilometers from the beach. It has a facility of an outdoor swimming pool, shared lounge, free parking space and a garden. From here you can visit Jaco Walk and Rainforest Adventures Jaco at a very nominal distance. They also offer free wifi.
Luxurious Penthouse With Ocean views Jaco bay: This guesthouse has the best ocean view and the rooms come with a sitting area, air conditioner, a flat-screen tv, a kitchen, a dining area, and a private bathroom with a hairdryer and other toiletries.
If you want to enjoy your trip with your friends in a home-like situation, apartments give you the best feel. You can easily rent apartments and can stay for a longer time without getting homesick. Here are some options that you can look for:
Prime beach Suite is the most lovely apartment you will see near the beach. It's 107.64 sq ft with beautiful common space with a balcony, 2 beds, and 2 baths with a facility of a hot bathtub. High-speed internet is also available. The apartment covers all the views i.e. oceanfront, oceanview, and Mountain View.
On the sand Luxury is another mesmerizing place that will just blow your mind this place has 6 beds, 7 baths, and is also an area of 107.64 sq ft. The common room has a balcony and the whole place is fully furnished. This place also covers all three views and many appliance facilities.
Couchsurfing in Jaco is safe and very common as people always like to enjoy staying as locals in Jaco Costa Rica. For if you don’t know what Couchsurfing is it's an arrangement where people come from outside and switch their places they stay in each other houses to have a real experience of the place. There are a couple of sites that offer and connect people searching for Couchsurfing. It’s a very exciting option and you always get lots of memorable experiences. If you haven’t tried it yet you should give it a try.
When planning what to do on the beach camping is something that hits your mind constantly. Whether for adventure or for just relaxing near the sea camping fits every mood. Many are fond of it especially if you are at a college-age. Jaco has many options available for you. You can either camp right on the beach, or you can book proper camping places with comfortable beds and clean toilets.
How to Get There
It’s a city where people come to visit from almost all parts of the world so it's very easy to get there. There are many ways to reach Jaco costa Rica but first, you have to arrive at San Jose International Airport, and from there the route to Jaco is as easy as pie.
Taking a flight from your place to San Jose is the best option that you can opt for. Taking flights has always been more convenient and time saver and not only that the customs of all the airports are more or less the same so you don’t have to worry about that. And from San Jose, there are many options you can take to reach Jaco like bus, shuttle, and self-driving.
After you reach San Jose International Airport you can catch the bus from the 7-10 bus terminal that is situated in downtown San Jose. You can buy a ticket to Jaco which costs about $5 and takes about two hours to reach there. There are different schedules in which the buses leave you can just check the timing list pasted on the board.
There is no train facility available in the city. You can either reach Jaco through a bus or shuttle or you can also book an Uber.
Hitchhiking in Jaco is not so popular and is also not a safe option not only in Jaco but also in other parts of the world. So I would suggest avoiding this type of transportation and going for a more reliable one.
Another option that is available to reach Jaco is self-driving. You can drive from San Jose to Jaco by taking Route 27 and exit at Jaco to Route 34. By road, it takes about one and half hours to reach excluding traffic time. There are 4-5 toll booths that charge from $20-$1.80.
Taking a tour of the city has two intentions one is you have just come to explore the known places of the city or you have come to enjoy every street and their corner. If you are the first person then you can either take a bus or a taxi. And if you are the second then you should consider walking as it’s a pretty small city to cover. But if it becomes hot or dark late at night you can always hop on to cabs.
If you want to walk the whole city it's possible in Jaco. Every spot is near to one another, you can just use the guide map to avoid covering the same place again and again. Though walking can help you don't miss out on any location it can feel a lot tiresome in hot weather and you will not be able to enjoy the spots properly and also if you don't have much time to waste and have come for a short trip you should go for bus or taxi.
If you have come on a solo trip and want to move around the city on a bike then it's available in Jaco. Jaco Costa Rica provides bicycle rental facilities to its tourists at a very reasonable rate.
As we know that e-cars are the future, we all look for an option that helps nature but unfortunately, there are not many e-cars available in Jaco Costa Rica. People here are not much into controlling the pollution rate as there is no problem till now.
If you want to move around the city on a bus then it’s a very easy choice as it’s easily available and is very cheap and you also get to interact with the locals more often. It runs in Jaco costa Rica on a scheduled basis and is more frequent in the holidays. But it is wise to avoid bus service during December month to avoid the crowded bus as it stays busy the whole day long. Or you can either purchase tickets beforehand.
Tram, Train and Subway
There is as such no tram, train, or subway facility available in Jaco Costa Rica as most of the rail services were discontinued when the devastating earthquake took place in the mid-nineties. You may find one or two train services, but it is not something you can rely on.
Sustainable Shopping is the shopping of products that are usually handmade and contributes to the environment. There are a lot of stopping points where you can do sustainable shopping like Tico Pod Art houses and Gifts where they keep handmade gifts and unique items. You can also visit a Bamboo shop for different products made of bamboo.
There is not much local food market in the streets but for fresh vegetables and fruits, you can visit the farmer market in Jaco, which is right beside the soccer field. They offer you egg, cheese, chicken and bakery products like cake and cookies too. You can get everyday food here very easily.
You can explore a couple of flea markets around Jaco costa Rica. You can go to Central Market. It has a collection of stalls and cafes that provide the best quality product. Or you can visit the Farmer's fair (Ferial del Agricultor) that sells the best quality fruits and vegetables that are 100% natural. Tamarindo Night Market is another market to explore, it is decorated very beautifully at night and is crowded almost every day for its great collection.
Second Hand Stores
There is a beautiful store for second-hand clothes. In Jaco Costa Rica they are also known as ‘Ropa Americanas’. The store has all the cast-off and abandoned clothes in America. These are just beautiful, and you should visit it if you want to explore the second-hand market of Jaco.
Eco-fashion is a trend now everyone has started to follow, and it has proven effective when it comes to the environment. But in Jaco Costa Rica there is not much of a shop that sells eco-fashion clothes. They mostly tailor their clothes in a machine and their cloth quality is commendable.
Recycling is something that should be done in every shop as well as every household. With the increase in pollution, it is required at a high rate. In Jaco Costa Rica there are many organizations and recycling centers which emphasize plastic recycling. They promote clean rivers and beaches and are very active in activities like cleaning their environment. They have also started to ban single-use plastic bags.
If we see then the city is not so big to generate tons of waste every day but due to tourist and their negligence, many beaches and spots remain trashed almost every day and require constant care. Due to the threat of future pollution getting out of control they have already started to take care of plastic usage, and selling the amount of waste generated has dropped to a greater level. They clean their beaches and river regularly, and the tourist spots are also taken care of. Hundreds of marches have also been led to support a clean environment. The city recycles about 264 tons of waste or residue every day.
Work and Study Abroad
If you are looking to study in Jaco Costa Rica many places offer Spanish learning. The institutions offer to volunteer, interning, or learning different languages. And once you have made up your mind which you want to go to you can easily get around by bus, taxi, rental cars or even bike.
For the job part graphic designing and marketing, jobs are easily available. If you have learned the language of costa Rica and many cross languages then it adds an advantage while seeking a job. Initially, you will not start making money, but with patience and time, you will surely get there.
The local students of Costa Rica work to raise funds for a trip to work for wellness and service projects. They undertake coffee sales for funding and donation. They support exchange students in every way possible. About ninety percent of the students get a scholarship from here. And the organization then helps the students in traveling, lodging, food, and supplies. If you are bright you can easily get a scholarship from these institutions and can study anything you like, and in any university you wish.
The women in Jaco Costa Rica are supported very strongly. They are encouraged to work even when they have small kids at home. As women stay out the whole day for work they reach out for Au Pair services. In these agencies, kids are taken care of all day long and also offer help in household work. These agencies hire many ex-pats who come from different parts of the country. It’s also a great job to do, and you can surely opt for one if it seems interesting.
Volunteering work is very common in Jaco Costa Rica, and these involve mainly social work. If you are into making the world a better place there are mainly options offered here as there are 247 social organizations that benefit thousands and thousands of people.
There are also Toucan Rescue Ranch in Jaco Costa Rica, it is a sanctuary that rescues, releases, and rehabilitates Toucan. Volunteering works are offered to expand the wings and help more injured and sick birds and animals like monkeys, sloths, macaws, owls, and many more.