Amazing Day Trips from Jacó, Costa Rica

Rainforest beauty
Rainforest beauty | © Emilie Chen / Flickr
Photo of Jenn Parker
8 May 2018
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Jacó is a happening beach town on the central Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It is a popular weekend and holiday destination for Costa Ricans who live in the city, as it is relatively close to San José. Jacó is more developed than a lot of other coastal towns in Costa Rica and is well-known for its happening nightlife, consistent surf, and its convenient proximity to multiple famous national parks and nature and adventure tours and activities.

Come face to face with massive crocodiles

Rio Tárcoles is host to the largest congregations of crocodiles in all of Central America, and it just so happens to be on the way to Jacó. You can actually stop on a bridge on your way to Jacó and observe dozens of massive crocodiles sunbathing on the riverbank below. For a day adventure, though, you will definitely want to take a guided river boat tour of this infamous river. Not only will you see an impressive amount of these ancient river monsters, but you will also observe an abundance of other wildlife and beautiful scenery.

Ancient giants | © Mike Baird / Flickr

Paddle the calm seas

If surfing pumping waves isn’t your thing, you can opt to go paddleboarding instead. There are several beaches around Jacó that are typically well-protected from the swells that consistently hit this coastline. Playa Herradura, Playa Mantas, Playa Agujas, and Playa Blanca are all gorgeous beaches and bays that are perfectly suited for paddleboarding and sea kayaking.

Spend the day on an island

Isla Tortuga is a dreamy tropical island in the Gulf of Nicoya. A spectacular way to spend the day is by taking a small cruise to this island. This day adventure typically includes a tour of some of the other islands in the Gulf of Nicoya, a chance to go snorkeling, a delicious and locally inspired lunch, and ample time to enjoy the island. The journey back to Jacó will be complete with one of Costa Rica’s magnificent sunsets.

Dolphins love this island, too! | © Greg Scales / Flickr

Cruise the canopy

Taking the Pacific Rainforest Aerial Tram near Jacó is a truly special experience. You will cruise over 90 hectares of rainforest canopy in an open-air gondola. This bird’s-eye view of the rainforest is an exceptional way to see this animal- and plant-rich ecosystem. You will learn all about the plant and animal life of this area while on this tour, as well as have a chance to do some hiking, visit a botanical garden, and spend time at a serpentarium.

Have an all-day adventure

Many people come to Costa Rica to experience the thrill of zip lining through the rainforest, ATVing through rugged jungle terrain, riding horses through the most exquisite landscapes, and rappelling down towering waterfalls. There are multiple adventure parks near Jacó where all of this is possible. Most adventure parks offer multi-tour packages so that you can spend the entire day adventuring in nature.

Fly through the canopy | © sean hobson / Flickr

Hike through Carara National Park

Just fifteen minutes from Jacó is Carara National Park. Carara National Park is especially famous for its birds. If you are a birding enthusiast, this is your park. There are two main hiking trails through this park. You can walk them alone or hire an experienced guide to accompany you. Exploring Carara, or any of Costa Rica’s national parks for that matter, is often more enriching with a guide since they will be able to point out things you might not notice on your own.

Set foot in paradise

The world-famous Manuel Antonio National Park is only an hour away from Jacó. This small, but biodiverse national park is a must-visit, especially because you are so close. The park includes lush tropical rainforest, several pristine beaches, and a lively reef and marine zone. You can easily spend the entire day hiking through the park, relaxing on the beach, and even surfing, paddleboarding, or snorkeling right off the coastline.

Rainforest beauty | © Emilie Chen / Flickr

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