Jaco Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica given its excellent surfing waves, hopping nightlife and proximity to San Jose. This Jaco accommodations guide takes into special consideration families with young children.
About Jaco Beach
Jaco Beach (pronounced ha- coh) is located about 90 kilometers south east of the San Jose airport in the Puntarenas province of Costa Rica. Jaco is a highly developed beach town with a bustling main strip.
The white sand beach itself is a gentle c shaped curve about 4 kilometers long. At the far south end of the beach there is a gorgeous overlook that spans the entire beach. Jaco is one of the most popular surfing beaches in Costa Rica.
Jaco beach is a very popular with Costa Rican weekenders given its proximity to the capital. Highway Ruta 27 heading out of San Jose towards Jaco is a smooth four lane tollway that is easy to navigate.
On the way to Jaco beach you will pass by famous “crocodile bridge” over the Tarcoles River and the Carara National Park.
Jaco is known for it’s partying- all-night bars and discothques rage, it’s not uncommon to see prostitutes (prostitution is legal on Costa Rica) and there is a fairly booming drug scene.
It’s also not uncommon to see school children in their uniforms walking through town on their way to school. Jaco has a bustling weekend market, a nice mall, tons of restaurants and daily services at the Catholic church. There’s one of everything in Jaco.
That’s why visiting Jaco is still one of our top stops every time we go to Costa Rica. The south end of the beach is calm, the grocery stores are well equipped, and our absolute favorite condos (Paloma Blanca) are there.
Jaco seem too busy for you? Check out Playa Mantas for the day.
Getting There and Away
It’s easy to reach Jaco beach by car, public transportation, shuttle and even taxi and Uber from the airport. It’s located on the Costanera Highway about- an hour south of Puntarenas and about two hours north of Manuel Antonio National Park.
It’s easy to find out how to get to Jaco Beach using Waze or Google maps- it’s one of those places that you can’t miss. If you are flying into the Juan Santamaria International Airport midday or even in the evening, you can get a jump on your trip to Manuel Antonio by heading to Jaco and spending a night before heading south.
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Things To Do Near Jaco
Another great aspect of Jaco Beach is all the activities nearby. You can zip line, take a hike through the national park, go horseback riding, hiking, and take ATV tours.
Surf lessons abound, and you can take a day trip to the famous Crocodile River tour. Sport fishing is popular in this area, and there is almost always a gaggle of scarlet macaws flying around if you keep your eyes on the sky.
Still trying to decide which beach to visit? Check out our 20 Marvelous Beaches on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast post!
Choosing Accommodations in Jaco
You need to think about the following things when choosing amenities in Jaco:
- Proximity to downtown
- Proximity to the beach
- Kitchen or no?
- Amenities (check for a pool if you want one!)
- Activities offered
For our family, we generally want to be right on the beach- I don’t want to have to pack up all the kids and the beach stuff, get all the way to the beach, and then realize we forgot something. Plus, I like to just be able to run from the beach up to my room for a beer.
To that end, make sure when you are looking at a vacation rental in Jaco that you look at where the property is on a map. Many places have photos of great ocean views, and it turns out you are in a tower two or more miles from the beach. Just double check.
Our family also like to have a pool nearby. The waves in Jaco can be quite strong, and the girls love to swim in a pool. When the sun is strong, it’s nice to have a pool umbrella to sit under and still enjoy the hot weather.
Finally, we like to have a kitchen. We don’t like to spend our beach and activity time sitting in restaurants, and quite frankly, service in Costa Rica be slow. So we like to be able to hit the grocery store for simple meal supplies and a lot of beverages we can keep cold in the fridge.
Related post: Where To Eat In Jaco Costa Rica
Jaco Costa Rica Hotels
Each unit has air conditioning, a fully equipped kitchen and a patio looking over the pool and the ocean. There are three pools and a kid’s pool, as well as a grill hut you can reserve.
You literally walk across the street to the beach, and this area of the beach is not very trafficked and there are few surfers and few rocks.
Most all restaurants in Jaco will deliver to this condo, and there are guards at all entrances to keep guests in and others out. We almost always order pizza from Rioasis when we stay here.
Choose a unit with a direct view of the ocean- the sunsets are divine. There is a local man who does horseback riding tours that takes his horses by each morning and afternoon, and a surf school that sets up shop right in the area. The Mirador de Jaco is just 3 minutes away.
Expect to pay between $75-$200 a night depending on the size of your condo and whether or not it is high or low season.
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Located on the very south end of the beach, the lush tropical grounds of this hotel are gorgeous. The whole place has a very 50s beachfront vibe to me, and whenever I walk by everyone staying there seems really happy.
There is grass along the beachfront where visitors can lounge in chairs with umbrellas and waiters bring drinks. The onsite restaurant seems really nice with a good selection of seafood. The rooms have either an oceanfront or rainforest view and the pool is beachfront.
This kid-friendly hotel prides itself on friendly and efficient service that goes above and beyond expectations. We haven’t stayed here yet because I am addicted to La Paloma Blanca, but this is my top pick for the next place we will stay.
Selina is a Colombian-owned chain of hostel and hotels- there are other locations in Monteverde, La Fortuna, Manuel Antonio and San Jose.
They offer private rooms, wifi and shared workspaces, and the prices are generally low. The Jaco property is beachfront, has a great pool and a shared kitchen. They even have rooms in cylinders for two people- it would be fun to get two of them and have parents and teens next door to each other.
The Selina hotels tend to cater to a 20 something crowd, but they offer a family room and very reasonable prices. The location is great, and there are lots of places to hang around outside of your room. I think this would be a great place for families with teens.
This hotel costs about $100 a night and includes breakfast. The rooms and condos are centered around turquoise pool that snakes through the property. There are 8-10 condos here- ranging from 2-3 bedrooms. The condos have a kitchen, there’s a kid’s pool and the hotel is beachfront.
It is located about 7 minutes north of Jaco by car on Playa Hermosa, so keep that in mind as you book. There is a free area shuttle, and it can be nice to be out of the hustle and bustle of Jaco. We haven’t stayed here yet but the hotel is popular with ticos leaving San Jose on the weekend.
Located about 15 minutes south of Jaco is the Punta Leona complex. Punta Leona is a long-standing private beach club for Costa Ricans, and it also has a great hotel with access to both Playa Mantas and Playa Blanca.
Renting a room at Punta Leona comes with buffet-style meals of traditional Costa Rican food, and there’s a convenience store located right by the beach that sells cold drinks, beer, and snacks. There is also an all-inclusive option with a la carte meals.
The property has walking trails, expansive pools, tennis courts, a butterfly garden and can set up literally any tour you want. The rooms are basic but clean and have a minifridge.
I recently stayed here on my own and thought it was the perfect traditional Costa rican experience. Many tico families come here on the weekends with their children and eat traditional food and relax. This property is a hidden gem.
Los Suenos is actually located just north of Jaco on Playa Herradura. It’s a luxury hotel and one of the most popular beach hotels in all of Costa Rica. The property has its own marina and the sunsets over the boats are absolutely incredible.
The hotel provides transportation from the Juan Santamaria Airport at practically any time of the day or night, which helps to avoid having to stay that one night in San Jose.
The resort is also popular because of its deep-sea fishing excursions. The pools and restaurants are top end, and the rooms are lush.
Keep in mind that if you stay at Los Suenos you would probably not need a rental car, so that does save on some costs. The property is also a Marriott Bonvoy, so many people take advantage of their points to splurge and stay at this property.