Famous for its white sands, world-class surf, and electric nightlife, Jaco is one of the most popular beach resorts along Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast. The laid-back coastal town is also an ideal base for exploring the beaches of Puntarenas province—here are some of the best options.
Jaco Beach (Playa Jaco)
First things first—you can’t visit Jaco without a stop at Jaco Beach. Sheltered in a beautiful shallow bay with dove-gray sands and a waterfront crammed with surf schools, seafood restaurants, and beach bars, this is the place to learn to surf or paddleboard, top up your tan, and party the night away. It’s also a good base for tours of neighboring beaches with excursions including kayaking and snorkeling, paragliding, horseback riding, or a day trip to Tortuga Island.
Herradura Beach (Playa Herradura)
North of Jaco, in the luxury development of Los Suenos, Herradura is the beach of choice for travelers staying at the upmarket Marriott or the plush vacation villas that line its shore. There is a beach, but it’s the adjoining Los Suenos yacht marina and a handful of oceanfront restaurants that make it a chic choice for sunbathing and cocktail-sipping.
White Beach (Playa Blanca) and Playa Agujas
Up the coast from Herradura Beach, Playa Blanca and Playa Agujas are two of the least developed beaches in the region with miles of pristine white sand and swaying palm trees. The crowd-free beaches make them ideal for a horseback riding adventure, a kayaking excursion, or activities like paragliding, all accessible on a day tour from Jaco.
Hermosa Beach (Playa Hermosa)
Located about six miles (10 kilometers) south of Jaco, along the scenic coastal highway, Hermosa is the go-to beach for adrenaline-seeking surfers. The big surf breaks are for beginners, but arrive at sunrise and see pros hitting the waves.
Located along the Gulf of Nicoya, Tortuga Island boasts sandy beaches, lush rainforest, and clear blue waters ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. Sail out from Jaco on a full-day cruise and enjoy views along Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, before touring the island.
Manuel Antonio National Park
A 90-minute drive south of Jaco, the Manuel Antonio National Park is renowned for its remote beaches and protected landscapes. Head there on a day tour from Jaco and spend the day hiking the jungle; spotting sloths, iguanas, and squirrel monkeys; and enjoying ocean views.