Playa Jaco is the most popular beach party town in Costa Rica and also a beginner-friendly surf beach. Playa Jaco Costa Rica from north to south ranges from tranquil to busy to quiet again, with surf breaks, restaurants and bars spread out along the three mile journey from one end of Jaco Beach to the other.
Costa Rica's Playa Jaco itself, rather than the surrounding area, will be the focus of this page, currently in development.
Playa means beach in Spanish, so Playa Jaco Costa Rica is Spanish for Jaco Beach Costa Rica. And this page is all about Playa Jaco, the beach itself. Our other Jaco Costa Rica page has more detail about the area surrounding the beach.
If you are interested in climate in Playa Jaco, or the current weather forecast for Playa Jaco, we have a page about Playa Jaco Costa Rica weather. If you want directions from San Jose to Playa Jaco Costa Rica or you want a street map of Playa Jaco, you can zoom and in and out on our Playa Jaco Costa Rica map. Smart travelers choose DoceLunas, but they also shop around first, so you might be interested in our list of Playa Jaco hotels.
Costa Ricans and tourists alike mostly refer to the area simply as "Jaco." The town of Jaco is governed by the local "Canton" or county of Garabito. Canton Garabito includes the Los Suenos Marina in Herradura as well as nearby Playa Hermosa.
Playa Jaco is only a little over one hour from near Costa Rica's international airport near San Jose in Alajuela, so it's an easy base to get to, especially now that the new highway is open. Playa Jaco Costa Rica is also midway bewteen Carara Park and Manuel Antonio Park. The stretch of Central Pacific Highway aka Costanera near Playa Jaco is in very good condition, so its easy to get to the ten nearby surf beaches and the Costa Rica national parks. About.com has additional information on Playa Jaco Costa Rica (opens new window).
The south end of Playa Jaco has larger more spread out residential lots and more open space and the least crowds and the center is the most developed.
Unlike many other beaches in tourist destinations, Playa Jacó does not have a lot of beach front restaurants and bars. People come to picnic, wade, swim and surf and the center of Playa Jaco beach can be croweded as can the handfull of beachfront bars and restaurants, but some areas of the beach are near deserted, especially on weekdays when the San Jose
You can see in the photos, the actual beach at Playa Jaco has a fair amount of trees right along the beach front. Between the beach and the main road is the most densely developed area in the Jaco valley, so between that and the sand, Jaco beach and downtown heat up quite a bit in the day. That is why we like our hotel's location a mile away surrounded by jungle - it's much cooler but still just a few minutes drive or a short walk from Playa Jaco Costa Rica.
The southern end of Playa Jaco Costa Rica is our favorite. The nearest entrance to the south end of Playa Jaco is one mile from hotel DoceLunas. At the southernmost end of Playa Jaco, the jungle covered mountains that surround Jaco valley come right to the beach, pinching the Costanera highway with its truck traffic against the otherwise nicely located hotels there. Once on the beach, you can't hear the traffic anymore and the mountains jutting out to form Punta Guanpinol, the south border of the bay of Playa Jaco, form a beautiful vibrant green backdrop for your day at the beach.
There are only two businesses on the beach serving food down on this end of Playa Jaco, the pricey but very good Hotel Nine steakhouse and the Riveria. Los Pibes pizza is just a block off the beach and they have great pizza and good empanadas. There is also Rancho el Tigre, a Costa Rica style barbecue join with pool tables.
As you go from in front of the Municipal building to the Bohio on Playa Jaco, you will cross and couple estuaries and encounter more and more people until you reach the biggest crowd in front of the Bohio. On the way you will pass beach front restaurant Hicaco, a fairly good while notably expensive restaurant serving lobster and seafood. I recommend the whole snapper at Bohio instead. You will find Bohio in the center of Playa Jaco.
There is a good surf break in front of the Bohio on Playa Jaco. Its one of the steeper parts of the beach. With the combination of spectators, beginners taking lessons, and local pros and wannabes who choose these two elements, prepare to get yelled at if you cut someone off. I recommend surfing further north or south. There are lots of other good breaks. Not that there is that much attitude in the water here, but just more than you find elsewhere. Pura Vida!
A little past the Bohio you will find Ganesha, along with Riveria one of the two Jaco nightlife hotspots on the beach. Most of the nightlife in Playa Jaco is inland.
The north end of Playa Jaco meets a low ridge. It doesnt form a jutting point like the south end, but its pretty, and Herradura Island is close by off the coast to the north. At the very north end there are rocks in the water that may not be visible at high tide.
From Bohio on up Playa Jaco to the north you cross two estuaries before you come to a lifeguard stand. There are usually pretty good waves in this area. There is another area that breaks near Clarita's restaurant and bar, the last option on the beach for food and drink. Clarita's is very simple and pretty good. They charge more of a premium for their location than the Bohio in my opinion, but its an ok place to have a beer or two and maybe a tuna steak in Playa Jaco.
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