Updated 2016

Jaco (pronounced HOCK-o) is one of the most notorious party beaches on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. If you are looking for jungle tours and places to see nature up close you are looking in the wrong place here, but Jaco can make an excellent side trip to balance out your overall Costa Rican adventure. Jaco is all about surfing, the beach, and partying.

What To Do

As we just said, Jaco is the place to come to enjoy some nice waves on the Pacific. Many of the more committed surfers and boogie boarders will arrive with their own craft in tow, but it’s very easy to rent either kind of board cheaply in town and even get surfing lessons if you are so inclined. The sand on the beach is almost black and that helps ensure that it will get blazing hot in the afternoon. The waves are often big, and the water is sometimes dangerous for swimmers with its frequent riptides.

The town of Jaco is small, laid back, and to be honest it’s not very impressive when you first see it. The sidewalks are crumbling and many of the shops need repair, but the place has a certain island-like charm. It’s a great place to order a beer from one of the many patio restaurants and just watch the time disappear. At night the parties really get started as the beaches empty and the bars and restaurants fill up. One of the larger places called the Beatles Bar looks harmless enough from the street and it’s a great place to watch sports and drink cheap beer, but later in the evening the place fills up with local prostitutes so it’s also a good place to hang out with sex tourists if that’s your thing.

Read: Five Days in Costa Rica.

Getting There

There is no airport close to Jaco so you’ll want to fly into San Jose Airport 80 miles away and then take a bus or even rent a car. There are cheap bus services that cater largely to locals, but there is also a much nicer service that runs small vans between every major city in Costa Rica at least once a day. It’s more expensive, but still not too bad so it might be worth a small splurge.

Read: Surfing Costa Rica's Southern Nicoya Peninsula.

Where To Stay

There are a few really swank beach resorts near town but they tend to cater to package tourists and families so if you’ll be traveling more on the cheap you’ll want to look into the hostels and hotels in Jaco on the main business strip. In general prices tend to be low, but during busy holiday periods the places can fill up well in advance so plan ahead.