Jaco, Costa Rica is a beautiful beach town situated north of the Puntarenas area. This vacation destination’s popularity is mainly due to the numerous aquatic activities and sports that can be enjoyed in its waters. The abundant water activities that are available attract both professionals and enthusiasts alike to this part of Costa Rica. But there are plenty of fun things to do in Jaco outside the water as well.
Jaco is an excellent destination for families on vacation, as well. The town has numerous world-class beaches to choose from – with some of them rough enough to ride the waves, and others calm enough that you can swim in them.
With all of the adventures that await both adults and kids alike, wildlife and nature are as fun as it gets.
For the young and carefree, it will be exciting to learn that Jaco’s nightlife is just as vibrant and thrilling as its horseback rides and jungle excursions. Several of the town’s properties cater to tired adventurers and offer outstanding entertainment and plenty of clean fun.
No matter what category you belong to, you have definitely chosen one of the best parts of Costa Rica to enjoy your vacation in. It’s time to plan your itinerary and add all of the best things to do while in Jaco, Costa Rica, from beginning to end.
Fun Things to Do in Jaco
1. Surf at Playa Hermosa
Spending time in Playa Hermosa is very enjoyable. This Puntarenas beach has won the Blue Flag award due to its serene and clean beachfront.
However, what Playa Hermosa is best-known for is surfing. Surfers from all over the world travel to this part of Jaco to experience its outstanding waves. In fact, Playa Hermosa was recently named as a World Surfing Reserve.
Playa Hermosa is full of both tourists and locals wanting to test the waters from May through November.
Three of the area’s most popular surf spots are Tulin, Backyard, and Terraza, particularly during the busy season.
The waves can reach up to 13 feet – which is ideal for the Quicksilver yearly surfing competition that takes place here.
Apart from the large competitions that take place in Playa Hermosa every year, there are also surfing competitions that take place on a weekly basis every Saturday. Here you will find the best surfers who live in Jaco competing for the day’s best ride.
Surfing has been an important part of Jaco’s daily life for a very long time. It is one of the major sources of income for the locals, which allows them to offer board rentals, teach surf lessons, and other services.
2. Spend the Day Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
You might have been seduced already by the pristine sands that make you want to stay on the shore. However, you won’t believe all of the beauty that is waiting over under the seas.
Some of the most fun things to enjoy in Jaco, Costa Rica don’t always take place within the swells or on the ground. At times you need to go deep and, if possible, even deeper.
Scuba diving at Jaco beach gives you the chance to see and explore its thriving marine ecosystem. Jaco’s playground is the Pacific Ocean, which is home to numerous animal species and other kinds of organisms.
Diving from 10 to 45 feet allows you to enjoy crystal clear waters that make it possible to see passing starfishes, turtles, and schools of fish.
December through May is the most popular time of the year in Jaco to enjoy scuba diving. During this time, the giant manta ray emerges and shows all of its splendor to both scuba divers and fishes.
On the other hand, the white tip reef shark can be seen on a fairly regular basis and has made the Jaco area its home.
Depending on what level of skill you have, your tour guide will help find the best diving sport that suits your abilities.
For intermediate divers, a diving site that does not have a strong current will provide you with plenty of enjoyment and confidence while you are testing your capabilities.
For certified divers, there are large areas of open waters that await them. It gives you a chance to completely see what is underneath the surface. You will be able to see both small and large marine animals.
For relaxed and young travelers, snorkeling in Playa Jaco will also fuel your curiosity on those hidden marine treatures that surround the Pacific Ocean area.
3. Go on a Rainforest Waterfall Tour
For the adventurous, there are plenty of things to do and enjoy in Jaco, Costa Rica. It is well-known that Costa Rica is full of lush rainforests that are celebrated widely and also strictly protected.
This type of rich environment is a natural way to give you a huge adrenaline rush.
Half of your day should be reserved for a waterfalls tour and hike in the rainforest that takes you above the Jaco mountains.
Your tour begins with an ATV ride, taking you deep inside the rainforest. You will then hike the river until you get to the waterfalls and then natural swimming pools.
If you happen to feel daring, you can jump off a ledge and into a pool. The average height is 20 feet from the water level, so it takes a great sense of adventure and a lot of courage to dare to take the leap. You should try it – for the stories you can tell once you get back home and for yourself.
If you are open to leaving the confines of Jaco, you might want to explore the Bijagual waterfall. It is located only 20 miles from Jaco in the north and is very popular with tourists due to its impressive height.
The Bijagual waterfall towers at 600 feet and is a fairly easy trek to take. A handmade trail, a little over a mile long, leads to the water.
On your trek to the waterfall, you will encounter several species of wildlife, including frogs, scarlet macaws, toucans, and monkeys.
Bijagual village is situated near Carara National Park, so you might want to plan it as a day trip along with visiting the park. Since the area where the waterfall is located is considered to be private property, guests must purchase a day pass to enter. It costs $20.
4. Explore Carara National Park
Carara National Park is one of Costa Rica’s must-visit attractions and one of the most enjoyable things you can do in Jaco, whether you are coming from Jaco or San Jose.
The word Carara, when translated, means crocodile, gives you a hint of what this park is all about. Its location is the reason behind its name since it borders the Tarcoles River, where American crocodiles live.
Carara National Park has two rich ecosystems in the same area. This prime location draws the Mesoamerican and Amazonian jungles into a single zone.
The park is popular with avid birdwatchers due to its wide range of birds that reside in the reserve. You can see scarlet macaws everywhere that live in harmony with jaguars, snakes, and monkeys.
If you like to have as much information as possible about a place, hire a local guide to explore the park along with you. Your guide will provide you with tons of information that the visual guides and signage in the area cannot fully convey.
Before heading back to the hotel, be sure to visit the Crocodile Bridge that runs across the Tarcoles River and watch the American crocodiles that inhabit the waters. It is both satisfying and alarming to watch these huge crocodiles as they swim in the river while you are safe overhead.
5. Tour Manuel Antonio National Park
People who visit Costa Rica almost always tour one national park, at least. It is usually a day tour of Manuel Antonio National Park.
It is a popular wildlife reserve for people coming from San Jose or Jaco, particularly since Forbes has rated it highly as one of the world’s most beautiful parks.
Manuel Antonio park opened in 1972. The forest reserve covers an area of 1,688 acres, which is small compared to many of the other huge national parks in Costa Rica. It is visited the most from December through April.
Reserve an entire day to completely experience everything offered by the park. Depending on your endurance level, you can explore one of the three trails that range from challenging to flat.
You can choose to go on a guided tour if you want to have a local expert explain the lush ecosystem to you that surrounds the park. On your tour, you can see sloths, coatis, and monkeys.
In addition to hiking and walking, there are other activities that you can enjoy in Manuel Antonio National Park. Within its premises, there are pristine white beaches, which allow you to cool off and swim.
A land bridge separates Playa Manuel Antonio and Playa Espadilla Sur. It takes you over to Cathedral Point. If you end up on the beachfront during the late afternoon, you might want to hang out and enjoy the beautiful sunset off the coast.
Plan Your Costa Rica Vacation Today
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