Welcome to Jaco Costa Rica surfing & party hub on the Pacific Ocean. Jaco is known for its world renowned surfing and don’t worry, this itinerary will have you hittin’ those waves on both days!
Having returned to this Central American gem multiple times over the past few years, we’ve spent weeks exploring Costa Rica.
During our last visit, we made sure to include Jaco to our itinerary, allowing my brother to get his surf on!
We visited Jaco after a lovely couple of days in Uvita, Dominical & Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. I recommend you also make time to check these places out, they were my personal favourites in Costa Rica.
If you are visiting Jaco primarily for its surfing, make sure not to skip out on Tamarindo in Guanacaste Province as well!
Let’s dive into the exciting itinerary for your 2 days in Jaco. Get ready to surf, party & eat yummy food!
Some links in this Jaco Costa Rica Surfing Town Itinerary are affiliate. If clicked, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
How many days in Jaco, Costa Rica?
Our stay in Jaco: 2 days (3 nights)
Recommended length of stay: 2 days
If you are visiting primarily for Jaco Costa Rica surfing & partying, opt for a few more days.
Is Jaco Costa Rica worth visiting?
I will be real honest here and say yes and no.
This is going to be very dependent on you and what you want out of your Costa Rica itinerary.
Jaco Costa Rica surfing is WORLD renowned and one of the best places to come regardless of surfing level. That being said, if you are planning to do a lot of surfing on your trip, Jaco will be WELL worth the visit.
I personally found it very hot and did not want to do much surfing beyond a lesson. I compared it to our 3 days in Manuel Antonio, which we had just visited from, and did not love it as much.
However, my brother, who was travelling with us, loves surfing and was ready to go out and party most nights. Jaco was one of his favourite places in Costa Rica. If that’s your vibe, Jaco is definitely worth it.
You will have to determine this for yourself. Regardless, I think Jaco is great to visit at least once on your adventures in Costa Rica.
Where is Jaco, Costa Rica?
Jaco, Costa Rica is located southwest of the capital, San José, in Puntarenas Province on the Pacific Ocean.
You can reach Jaco from San José fairly easily as well as from other cities and towns in Puntarenas Province (ie. Manuel Antonio / Quepos).
How to get to Jaco, Costa Rica
Driving to Jaco
The drive from SJO (Juan Santamaria International Airport), the international airport in Costa Rica’s capital, San José, is straightforward and easy to follow.
The drive takes approximately 1.5 hours via Route 27 and 34.
We drove to Jaco from Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica which was about 1.5 hours along Route 34, a 2 lane beach side highway.
The drive is easy and paved, a 4×4 is not needed on both of these drives.
While in Jaco you will not need a 4×4.
Costa Rica Driving Tip
I recommend renting a car while visiting Costa Rica. Each time we’ve been to Costa Rica we’ve rented a car and loved the convenience and ease of travel between different towns and regions.
That being said, make sure to get a 4×4 if necessary. When visiting certain towns you will DEFINITELY need a 4×4 (Monteverde, Costa Rica specifically).
Try to keep your driving within daylight hours. Night driving in Costa Rica can be quite dangerous, as roads are poorly lit and in some areas the roads are not well maintained.
Accidents are quite common in this country in areas where road conditions are poor.
Ensure you have proper driving insurance and always drive carefully.
Bus to Jaco
The bus to Jaco from the capital, San José, takes approximately 2 hours in length.
The main bus station, Tracopa Bus Terminal, is where you will get your bus. Tickets can be purchased at the station.
The bus going to Jaco leaves hourly. You will stop at Porzón, Tárcoles, Quebrada Ganado and Plaza Herradura before reaching Jaco.
Getting around Jaco, Costa Rica
Jaco, Costa Rica is fairly small and easy to get around on foot.
The main street, Pastor Diaz Ave, adjacent the beach, is walkable from end to end in about 20-30 minutes.
I know because we stayed on one end and walked to the other end a few times.
We had our car in Jaco and only used it to get around if it was extremely hot (which we found to be a number of days).
Otherwise, if you are staying within the downtown core, Jaco is quite walkable and a car is not necessary.
Where to stay in Jaco
Try to stay close to or on Jaco Beach.
The main street, Pastor Diaz Ave and it’s smaller streets that lead to the beach, have a number of accommodation options.
We stayed right off of the beach in a vacation rental and my brother stayed at Selina Jaco (right on the beach as well).
Most accommodations are affordable and you will easily be able to find something within your budget.
Jaco Resorts & Luxury Accommodations
Best Western Jaco Beach All Inclusive Resort
If you’ve read my other Costa Rica content, you know I am not really for the all inclusive resorts in Costa Rica.
I just think there is so much beyond these resorts and typically when we stay at them, we don’t tend to leave. However, if you are more comfortable staying at a resort, check out the Best Western Jaco Beach All Inclusive Resort.
This beachfront resort comes equipped with outdoor pools, games rooms, tennis and volleyball courts and all the food and drink included.
The Best Western Jaco Beach All Inclusive Resort is a great option for those who don’t want to plan much around their time in Jaco, want to sit by the pool and relax, and enjoy the convenience of a quick meal (included).
Crocs Resort & Casino
For a higher end stay in Jaco, opt for Crocs Resort & Casino. Beach front property, equipped with an outdoor pool, bars, multiple restaurants and gorgeous, spacious rooms.
Enjoy free parking, casino on site and the opportunity to rent bicycles to use around town.
This hotel is noted to be family friendly.
Monte Carlo Luxury Condominiums
Travelling with a larger group for a longer amount of time? Check out Monte Carlo Luxury Condominiums.
The condos can each fit four people, making this perfect for families or groups of friends. Each apartment comes equipped with a washer/dryer, a kitchen and most importantly air conditioning (haha).
This is a great option if you love to cook on your holidays or are planning to stay for a while.
Enjoy the communal swimming pool, hot tub, BBQs for use.
Mid-Range Hotels in Jaco
Hotel Mar de Luz
Located just 150 metres from Jaco Beach is Hotel Mar de Luz.
Hotel Mar de Luz offers FREE breakfast, free parking, an outdoor swimming pool and hot tub and play area for children.
The hotel is able to help you book excursions around town and has all of the amenities you will need while visiting Jaco.
They are family friendly and have standard rooms as well as apartment style accommodations.
Tropical Garden Hotel
Another affordable Jaco hotel, located right next to the beach, is the Tropical Garden Hotel. Enjoy the shared amenities, including an outdoor pool, BBQ and free parking.
Each accommodation option comes with its own kitchenette, great for those travelling with a family and group, or for those who prefer to make their own food.
Jaco Budget Hotels & Hostels
Jaco Lodge Quiet Place
Jaco Lodge Quiet Place is located a little outside of the main hub. A short walk to the main street, Pastor Diaz Avenue, and less than a kilometre away from Jaco Beach.
The property is adults only, each room comes with a small kitchenette and private ensuite bathroom.
This hotel is a great budget option for those looking for a more affordable place to lay their heads.
Selina hostels are all around the world. They have multiple locations in Costa Rica and Selina Jaco is a great hostel for those looking to make friends.
Selina Jaco is beachfront, has a pool, on-site restaurant and bar, and a TON of amenities and on-site classes to enjoy. They have a surf shop and offer surf lessons as well.
My brother stayed at Selina Jaco while we were there this year and had a private room with an ensuite bathroom and flat screen TV.
The room was very cozy and had its own small veranda. We spent a lot of time hanging out around Selina Jaco and loved the vibe and atmosphere.
There are shared bedroom dorms, cylinder rooms (literally you are sleeping in a cylinder), standard rooms with private ensuites and larger family rooms.Booking.com
2 Days in Jaco Itinerary: Jaco Costa Rica Surfing & Fun in the Sun!
Day 0: Drive San José (or other) → Jaco, Costa Rica
If you are arriving in the afternoon or evening, start on day 0. If you are making this drive in the morning, leave early and add it to day 1.
Hop in your rental car and start the drive to Jaco, Costa Rica.
If you are making the drive from the capital of Costa Rica, San José, the drive is quite straightforward via Route 27 & 34.
If you are coming from another town in Puntarenas province, ie. Manuel Antonio, you will be driving along a 2 lane highway (Route 34) for the entirety of your drive.
Download the app, Waze or opt for a GPS with your car rental company.
The drive from these areas will take approximately 1.5 hours. Once you have reached your destination, Jaco Costa Rica surfing & fun in the sun awaits!
Jaco Day 1: Surfing & Hiking
The reason we are all here in Jaco Costa Rica SURFING!!!
Whether you have surfed before or this will be your first time, get on a board.
Jaco Beach (or Playa Jaco) is great for beginners and there are a number of different surf schools / surf hostels in the area.
Intermediate surfers will also love Jaco Beach. For some more advanced fun, check out Playa Hermosa, just a 15 minute drive outside of downtown Jaco.
If you want to take a surfing lesson, you can check with your accommodation or sign up at any Jaco surf school. The surf schools offer courses and speak in English.
Surf Schools in Jaco
Surfer Factory Surf School
The number 1 popular surf school in Jaco is Surfer Factory Surf School. Surf Factory take beginner to advanced surfers and tailors the lessons to whichever level you are at.
Take the lessons privately or in a group. This company offers a 7 day surf camp for those who want to really perfect their skill, or simply rent a board or sign up for a SUP (stand up paddle) tour.
- Lesson Price: $49 – $59
- Board Rentals: $15
- Surf Camp: $700 – $1000 for 7 days
During low season (Sept – Nov), Surfer Factor offers a 20% discount on any packages.
Tico Surf Lessons
Tico Surf Lessons, another highly reputable Jaco surf company, offers a number of different classes for all levels of surfers at any age.
Surf lessons are 2 hours in length and can be in a group or private. Lessons can be purchased in a package of 1, or packages of 3, 5 or 7 days worth of classes.
- Lesson Price: $50 – $80
- Multi Day Price (3, 5, 7 classes): $135 – $420
Book in person or on their website here.
Jaco Surf School
Jaco Surf School is for any level of surfer, from beginner to advanced. Private and group lessons are available.
If you are with a larger group, from 12-50 people you can grab a group lesson for a special rate.
Surf packages, including airport shuttle services, hotel nights stay, spa services, surf lessons per day, other Costa Rica tours and more, are available with Jaco Surf School.
- Lesson Price: $50-$80
- Surf Packages: $450 – $1500
Afternoon: El Miro Hike
Spend the latter part of your day hiking the El Miro hike. This viewpoint hike has more than just gorgeous sunset views, hike to the top for abandoned graffitied ruins.
The hike is free but if you drive to the starting point there are some locals there that will watch your car for a small price. Negotiate with them.
They also run a small drink stand for those that are thirsty after the walk.
The hike is about 20 – 30 minutes uphill to the viewpoints. On the way up, you will pass by a bed and breakfast on the left side, you will then continue on a gravel path through trees.
This is a great place to spot wildlife!
Continue uphill, there will be a smaller viewpoint before you get to the ruins, stop here for some quick pictures but don’t stay too long you have to get to the ruins before sunset.
Continue on until you get to the abandoned ruins, reward yourself with gorgeous sunset views.
Make sure to head back down soon after sunset to avoid walking through the dark. I could sense myself getting eaten alive by mosquitos the darker it got as we ran down the hill.
We didn’t wear hiking shoes on this hike, a good pair of running shoes are good enough!
The hike is listed as moderate on Alltrails, (free hiking app), it is not long but has a pretty steady incline to the top.
TIP: Time this hike for about an hour – 1.5 hours before sunset. Once at the top you will be able to watch the sunset from gorgeous viewpoints and have enough time to walk down before it gets pitch black outside.
No cars are allowed up the hill, it is not accessible, make sure you are able to walk uphill for about 2 kilometres.
Evening: Out on the town!
Wash up after your hike and head out for the evening.
Grab some dinner at the Green Room Café Bar and enjoy the live music that is performed nightly!
Jaco Day 2: Beach day, Surfing, Jaco Town
Morning: Beach Day / Surfing
You came for the Jaco Costa Rica surfing, so make sure you spend some time doing it again, or if it’s not your cup of tea, relax on the beach with a good book.
Playa Jaco is a great beach to relax on during the day with the sounds of the waves crashing.
Rent a surf board if you’re feeling adventurous or stay on the beach for as long as you’d like.
Jaco Beach is not the best place for swimming, as the waters can be rough, waves large and unpredictable, rip currents and more.
My husband did go in the water for a swim one evening when the waters were calm and others were swimming, however, DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK.
I do not recommend swimming here as the waters can be dangerous.
Afternoon: Town & Massage
Walk around town, up and down Pastor Diaz Ave are many shops, spas and restaurants to fill your time with.
Head to Jaco Walk, an open air shopping centre, while here visit the different shops and grab an iced coffee at Britt Café.
Book a massage at Massage Jaco Healing Arts or purchase some Costa Rican souvenirs (don’t forget to negotiate).
Evening: Sunset at Jaco Beach
Head back to Jaco Beach for sunset. Bring a blanket, grab a drink and enjoy the stunning views.
Head out for dinner and a night on the town. Continue reading below for our favourite Jaco restaurants.
Before you leave Jaco, make sure to try caldosas! Caldosas are chips topped with ceviche, we LOVED them.
Where to eat? Our Favourite Jaco Costa Rica Restaurants
Jerah Thai Restaurant
Jerah Thai Restaurant was recommended to us by locals and friends who had previously been to Jaco.
We are SO happy we ate here. The quality of the Thai food did not disappoint. The restaurant is very cute, in an open air patio covered by trees and tucked away from the busy street.
It was one of our best meals out of many Costa Rica restaurants we’ve been to.
When we went in 2023 the restaurant was cash only. It is on the pricier side for Jaco meals (an entree costing around $20-$30), so make sure you bring enough.
Soda Jaco Rustico
I LOVE Sodas. Sodas are all over Costa Rica and serve quick eats, typical Costa Rican cuisine for CHEAP.
We had breakfast at Soda Jaco Rustico one morning and were full for only a few dollars.
They aren’t pretty but the food quality and quantity is there.
I passed by this place multiple times a day and was craving a big juicy burger. Ridiculous Burgers delivered just that.
They have so many different burgers to choose from as well as eating type competitions, where if you are able to finish certain menu items, you win prizes or free food (not my vibe), but the burger was delish!
Other Jaco Costa Rica Restaurants
Jaco, Costa Rica Restaurants listed above:
- Café Britt
- Green Room Café Bar
More Things to do in Jaco Costa Rica (Extra Time)
Crocodile Bridge (Tarcoles Bridge)
If you didn’t stop here on your way to Jaco from San José, make sure to visit Tarcoles Bridge (Crocodile Bridge) on your way out of Jaco.
About 30 minutes drive from Jaco, on Route 34 is the Crocodile Bridge!
Park your car on the side (one side has a small plaza with shops, the other side will have food vendors who can watch your car for you).
We parked on the side that had shops and quickly took turns looking at the crocodiles.
You won’t miss it, there will be people lined all along the bridge staring below.
The crocodiles are HUGE. Don’t worry you are not close enough for them to get to you but they are fascinating to stare at.
You will maybe need 30 minutes here maximum, try to fit this into your time in Jaco or when arriving/leaving Jaco.
A great day trip from Jaco is visiting Bijagual Waterfall. Bijagual Waterfall is one of the tallest in Costa Rica and the hike to the falls is classified as difficult.
You can visit the waterfall by hiking or a horseback riding tour.
Hiking tickets cost $20.00 per person and are cash only. The hike is a 6.0 km out and back trail, 2.5 hours total to complete.
Once at the waterfall, you will be rewarded with a refreshing swim.
The horseback tour to Bijagual Waterfall lasts 3.5 hours and costs $60.00 per person.
Make sure to book this in advance. Booking can be done on their website here.
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Final Thoughts on Your 2 Days in Jaco
I hope you enjoy Jaco and all that it has to offer. Get ready to hit the waves. Learn how to surf as a beginner or enjoy the waves as an experienced pro.
Happy travel planning!