7 Best Things to Do in Jaco & the Central Pacific Coast

Don't Miss: A sunset cocktail at the spectacular Villas Caletas amphitheater.

A lush, mountainous shoreline with strips of sandy beaches overlooking a sparkling expanse of blue are characteristic of the Central Pacific coast. The region is home to the popular surf town of Jaco, Carara Biological Reserve, and the beloved Manuel Antonio National Park.

Jaco Beach

To the north of Manuel Antonio National Park lies the small seaside town of Jacó, known for its hidden beaches, sportfishing, excellent surfing spots, and its unique position between the dry northern regions of the country and the tropical southern zone. Between the natural beauty and the luxury accommodations, it’s no surprise Jaco is swiftly developing into a major tourist attraction. Whether you’re looking for a secluded hilltop hideaway, a family-friendly ocean resort, or a top surfing destination, the Central Pacific Coast may provide just what you’re looking for.

Related Article: Best Beaches of Costa Rica

Carara National Park

Carara Biological Reserve

Scarlet Macaw at Carara Biological Reserve

Carara National Park is a birdwatcher’s paradise on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica in the middle of the dry forest in the north and the tropical rainforest in the south. It is well-known for the endangered scarlet macaw population that can be found living within the tropical forest and other tropical birds. Originally created as a biological reserve, Carara upgraded to a national park in 1998. Carara National Park is the most northern rainforest on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. Travelers can see both the three and two-toed sloth within the park as well as the famous Crocodile Bridge overlooking Tarcoles River, where wild crocodiles – some as large as 16 feet in length – can be observed in their natural setting from the bridge. There are two hiking trails in the park: the 2.7-mile Laguna Meandrica Trail and 0.6-mile Araceas Nature Trail. Carara National Park’s is a great day trip for travelers staying on the Central Pacific Coast and in the San Jose area. The walking trails are accessible for kids and travelers with disabilities.

Manuel Antonio National Park

About 1 hour and a 15-minute drive from Jaco, Manuel Antonio National Park is an accessible day trip to just about anywhere in the Central Pacific region. Manuel Antonio has long been celebrated has long been celebrated as Costa Rica’s favorite little national park. It’s one of the most northern rainforest destinations in the country with incredible raw and picturesque beaches. Wildlife here abound. Explore the park with a professional naturalist guide as they point out monkeys, sloths, iguanas, Morpho butterflies, and more.

Related Article: Best Costa Rica National Parks

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Bijagual Waterfall Horseback Ride

In Bijagual, a mountain town near Jaco, Bijagual Waterfall is the main attraction. The most popular way to experience the 590-foot waterfall is on a guided horseback riding tour. Be on the lookout for wildlife such as frogs, monkeys, toucans, sloths, and scarlet macaws and enjoy views overlooking the Pacific Ocean and seaside fishing villages. Tours can be arranged upon request.

Related Article: Costa Rica Waterfalls You Must Visit


The nearby port town of Puntarenas serves as the embarkation point for picnic cruises to the idyllic islands in the Gulf of Nicoya. The fishing port also sources some of the regions freshest seafood.

Herradura Beach

Things to Do in Jaco Costa Rica

Playa Herradura is a beautiful beach to escape to, and the calm waters are perfect for swimming. Situated on the Playa Herradura is the Los Suenos Marriott, one of the most popular resorts in the area. The Marriott is especially popular for its marina and golf course.

Jaco Sportfishing

Things to Do in Jaco Costa Rica

Sportfishing in this area is a popular pastime, and the Marriott Marina is a launching point for a number of charter fishing boats. Sailfish are a favorite – and anglers seldom disappoint!

Related Article: Top Places for Fishing in Costa Rica

 More Things to Do in and Around Jaco

  • Sea Kayak & Snorkeling
  • Tortuga Island Cruise
  • Canopy Tour
  • Mangrove & Crocodile Adventure
  • Pura Vida Botanical Gardens

Jaco & Central Pacific Travel FAQ:

Dry Season- December to April, Green Season- May to November, Wettest- September & October
Average high 92° Fahrenheit, tropical weather with afternoon showers typical May to November
Jaco is known for its surfing, beaches, and nightlife. The Central Pacific Coast is known for its beaches, incredible sunsets, and close proximity to San Jose international airport.
  • Jaco Beach
  • Carara National Park
  • Surfing
  • Scuba & Snorkeling
  • Gulf of Nicoya
  • Nightlife
  • Tarcoles River
  • Fishing
  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Tortugua Island Cruise