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Travel Guide Central America Costa Rica Jacó

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Introduction

Jaco Beach

Jaco Beach

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Jacó is a city in the Puntarenas Province in Costa Rica, located along the Pacific coast of the country.

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Sights and Activities

Jacó is fairly small, and it's easy to see the entire town in one day. But you can also just as easily take your time and spend several days exploring, shopping, going to the beach, surfing, dining out, going to bars, and taking tours in the Jacó area. If you have a rental car, a drive along the Western Costa, along the Costanera is very beautiful, and offers many opportunities to stop, take pictures, or find private, secluded beaches. Manuel Antonio, one of Costa Rica's national parks, is an hour drive from Jacó, and is nearly a straight shot south along the Costanera highway.

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Getting There

The closest airport from Jacó is Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). Along the Autopista del Sol highway, Jaco Beach is only a quick and scenic 1 hour and 20 minute ride from the airport.

The safest and most worry free way to get to Jacó from the airport is booking a private van/airport transfer service to meet and greet you at the airport and bring you directly to Jaco.

There are hourly buses going to Jacó from the Coca Cola bus station in downtown San José. Fares are about US$7 each way however you must first find a bus near the airport to take you into downtown San José, which is 30 minutes in the opposite direction, then wait for the next bus to Jaco which is 2.5 hours by bus. While bus is cheaper, it's not worth the headaches and time it takes to get to Jacó by bus. Buses are very popular places for thieves and pickpockets to steal luggage and backpacks from unsuspecting tourists. You are always better off booking a private van/shuttle to get to Jaco Beach.

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Getting Around

Transportation in and around Jacó is quite simple. The city is small enough, that walking from one end to the other is not an impossible feat. But when it's hot, or it's dark, there are always plenty of taxis to take you down the strip wherever you might want to go. The taxis in Jaco are red. Don't get in a taxi that does not look official. Often there are pirate taxis that are generally safe, but it's best to stick with the official companies. There's a taxi stand by the main grocery store, Mas por Menos, or you can always pick one up easily outside of Beatle Bar. All official taxis have meters and are clearly displayed. ₡1,500 (colones) is a standard price to go just about anywhere in the town, or to Herradura, unless it's a short distance and then it's usually ₡750. Ask a local if you are unsure of how much you should pay.

There are local buses that circulate from Herradura to Jacó every hour. The bus does not go through all of Jacó, it does not travel to the most Northern side, but it you can get off at any spot in central Jacó, along the strip. The main bus stop to go to Herradura is located across the street and down the road a short distance from the grocery store, Mas o Menos. There is a bus stop there, and usually a congregation of people waiting for the bus to come. If you take the bus from Herradura to Jacó you can pick it up at Herradura beach, at the crossways of the Costanera in Herradura, or down the road at the Herradura gas station, otherwise known as La Bomba. The Herradura/Jacó bus will take you to Central Jacó, and all the way to Herradura beach for less than it would cost to take a taxi.

At the north end of Jaco, across from the Best Western hotel, is the official bus station. If you want to take the bus from Jacó or Herradura to San José, this is where you need to go to buy tickets. There is a ticket window where you can purchase tickets, and it's recommended that you do so. Seats are assigned, but the Costa Ricans have no qualms about over-selling the bus. The trip from Jacó to San José generally takes 3-4 hours, and without a seat, you're forced to stand the entire, perilous trip, until someone gets off and there's an empty seat. This rarely happens. At this bus terminal you can also purchase tickets to other destinations such as Puntarenas and Quepos. Bus fare is inexpensive, and bus travel is always sure to be an adventure. If returning to San José by bus from Jacó, there are many places throughout Jaco that you can catch the bus: the bus terminal, of course, the bus stop in front of Mas o Menos, or various other locations along the Jacó strip. It's also possible to pick up the San Jose bus on the west side of the road at the crosswalk in Herradura. There are set times when the buses come and go, and for the most part they are usually on time. Be there a little early so you don't miss it. As always, be cautious with your belonging on the bus. There is storage underneath the bus for heavier and larger items, but people have been known to take suitcases and bags, from under the bus, that did not belong to them. Always keep an eye on your belongings inside the bus as well.

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Eat

  • Jacó Rustico. One of the best places in town for cheap local Costa Rica food. Generous portions and wide variety of fresh and delicious food served cafeteria style where you point to what you want then pick form a variety of beverages and pay at the end of the line. US$5.75 (₡3,000) gets you a big plate of delicious food with a drink. Very popular with locals and tourists and always busy.
  • Isaga Bar-Restaurant (Across from Beatle Bar). Great seafood, steak, typical Casado dishes and great bocas (bocas are small portion appetizers). Perfect place to watch soccer games, have great food and cold beer and blend in with the locals. Very popular spot and usually pretty busy and bustling. Prices are low for the quality and generous portions. Bar Isaga is a must-try location for anyone's Jacó bucket list.
  • Lemon Zest, ☎ +506 2643-2591. Top-rated five-star dining and international cuisine owned and operated by gourmet American chef Richard Lemon and his wife Nelly. Fine dining and vast menu with outstanding seafood dishes, steak, poultry, pasta. US$15-18 per plate average. Full bar on site.
  • Sunrise Breakfast. The place for large American-style breakfast.
  • Surf Dogs Bar & Restaurant (Jaco restaurant) (In front of Budget rent a car and Mandarina), ☎ +506 2643-3230, e-mail: norman@surfdogsbar.com. 11:00-02:00. US$10.
  • Tsunami Sushi (central Jaco). The place for sushi, with daily deals. Wednesdays from 18:00-21:00. Half-off most of the sushi rolls on the menu.

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Drink

  • Los Amigos Sportsbar & Grill (Los Amigos) (In the center of town at Pastor Diaz & Calle Pops), ☎ +506 2643-2961. Daily 11:00-01:00. Non-smoking air-conditioned dining and drinking, and open air outdoor seating for smokers. Serving lunch and dinner from 11:00-23:00 Su-Th and 11:00–01:00 F-Sa, 365 days a year. Seven 42-inch plasma TVs, 3 projectors, 6 satellite feeds hosting every sporting event known. Over 45 local and imported beers, a full liquor bar, and some of the best food & service on the Pacific coast.
  • Cocal Hotel & Casino. Where most of the city's working girls congregate and "party".

LeLoft. 12:00-all night. The official after-party place of Jaco Beach. Featuring the best music, DJs, and club scene in town. Bottle service reservations get the best tables. Very good vibe mixed crowd locals and tourists.

  • Surf Dogs Bar (Jaco Bar) (In front of Budget car rental), ☎ +506 2643-3230, e-mail: norman@surfdogsbar.com. 11:00-02:00. US$1-10

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Sleep

  • Canciones del Mar. A wonderful place, with a decent swimming pool and spacious accommodations. Breakfast is served daily and you can enjoy beachfront views of the ocean while dining. Happy hour in the evenings and a courteous staff that will accommodate any needs. Be wary of your bill, the exchange rate may fluctuate accordingly. Overall, a great comfy place to stay.
  • De Haan Hotel. One of the cheapest hotels/hostels in town. Dorms and rooms (with up to 6 beds, with private bathroom and hot shower!) Swimming pool, kitchen, 20 m from the beach. US$12-30.
  • Hotel DoceLunas of Jacó. DoceLunas has five acres of landscaped gardens and only 20 rooms. The hotel is at the base of a jungle-covered mountain and the canopy has been preserved through the hotel, so guests include kinkajou, coatimundi, arboreal anteaters and a wide variety of birds. The mountain and the trees shade the hotel and keep it cool. Every room has air-con and it is maintained frequently for fresh clean air. The hotel has a large pool with a sun moon mosaic design and a waterfall cave. Four-star amenities and service. DoceLunas is the second highest rated hotel in Jaco, second only to a budget hotel that is rated tops in Central America. From US$120.
  • Hotel Mar de Luz (Bejuco Beach), ☎ +506 2643-3000.
  • Morgans Cove Resort and Hard Rock Casino (200 m S of the Municipalidad), toll-free: +1-888-828-6745. At this beachfront entertainment resort in the midst of exotic tropical fauna you can play among monkeys, iguanas, crocodiles, toucans, macaws, and more while enjoying the two large swimming pools, 9-kilometre stretch of beach, and two large sport-fishing boats. The property also features the Hard Rock Costa Rica Casino with 12 beachfront rooms overlooking a pool, restaurant area, and a spectacular view of the beach.
  • La Palmera Jaco (400m E of the Del Edificio Municipal), ☎ +506 2643-4062. La Palmera Jacó is 90 minutes from the international Juan Santa Maria airport. This charming hotel offers 15 standard rooms. From US$56.
  • Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort (20 min away in Herradura), ☎ +506 2630-9000. Travel and Leisure magazine calls the Los Suenos Marriott one of "the best in the world." This luxurious hotel features 6 restaurants and lounges. The spacious accommodations and unmatched service and amenities make the Los Suenos Marriott one of the top choices among Costa Rican hotels.
  • Villa Caletas (N after Herradura). Gorgeous hotel perched on top of the mountain, and is reminiscent of traditional colonial style architecture. Go to the hotel right before sunset and sit in the amphitheatre, cliff side, for the most amazing sunset experience you'll ever have. Enjoy a delicious cocktail while you take in the breathtaking views.

View our map of accommodation in Jaco or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

It's easy to find internet access, and although you can still can find a lot of internet cafes, wifi is growing fast in the country. The further away you get from San Jose, the slower and more expensive it becomes when you are using an internet cafe. Wifi is generally free of charge at most places though and apart from off the beaten track parks, jungles and mountains, the connection generally is ok. Some internet cafés also offer international calls via either phone or IP using services like Skype.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

  • The country calling code to Costa Rica is 506.
  • To make an international call from Costa Rica, the code is 00.

There are plenty of phone booths around and you will get the best rate using a pre-paid international card (can often be purchased in internet cafés and other small stores). There is usually a connection fee making short calls extra expensive. International calls are fairly expensive. The cheapest way to make them is over the internet using a service such as Skype at an Internet café. But making short calls using the domestic calling cards (you can make international calls using these but the denominations of the calling cards are quite small so your call will be short!) or the international calling cards available within Costa Rica (all from the government phone monopoly ICE) is the next best deal.

Those travelling with a mobile phone and willing to pay the roaming costs should ensure it supports 1,800 MHz GSM network. Note that the GSM phone systems in the United States and Canada use different frequencies and that travelers from there will need a "world" handset, such as a tri-band or quad-band phone, if you want to use your existing cell phone. If you want to use a local Costa Rica number, you can rent cell phone service, and of course anyone can buy a cell phone. If you have an unlocked cell phone (either one from home or bought in Costa Rica - all cell phones sold in Costa Rica must be unlocked), prepaid (prepago) SIM cards can provide a local number and service can be purchased throughout the country by anyone with a passport from any country. Try using companies like Grupo ICE under the Kölbi brand, TuYo Movil, Movistar and Claro.

Post

Correos de Costa Rica (website in Spanish only) is the national postal services of Costa Rica. You can find post offices (correos) in almost any city and town and they are generally open from 7:30am to 5:30pm or 6:00pm Monday to Friday and 7:30am to noon on Saturdays. There are not that many mailboxes, so it's best to ask your hotel or go directly to the post offices. Services tend to be slow but generally reliable and on the whole cheap regarding letters and postcards. It costs about US$0.20 to the USA and Canada (taking about 1 week to 10 days), US$0.25 to Europe (about 2 weeks) and US$0.30 to Asia and Australia (3 weeks or even more). All in all, if you can try and arrange your mail from the capital San José as it's generally quicker from there. Small packages are also no problem, though take them to the post offices unpacked for inspection first! Otherwise, arrange things through private international courier services like UPS, FedEx, DHL or TNT.

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Accommodation in Jacó

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Jacó searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Jacó and areas nearby.

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This is version 8. Last edited at 13:12 on Jan 23, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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