Destination Costa Rica: 48 Hours in Jaco

Updated: Aug 15

Jaco, Costa Rica is a vibrant beach town, known for its delightful beaches, amazing night life, and exhilarating adventure parks. It's an approximately 1.5 hour drive from the capital city of San, Jose and is the closest beach to SJO airport. In this post, we take you through our 48-hour itinerary in this lively coastal town.


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Getting There:

We rented a car and drove from La Fortuna to Jaco. The drive from La Fortuna is approximately 4 hours. From the capital city of San Jose, the drive is only about 1.5 hours. Be careful on the roads from La Fortuna to Jaco. Unlike the drive from San Jose to La Fortuna, the drive to Jaco from La Fortuna had many areas where the roads were very noticeably neglected. We traversed through constant winding roads, up steep inclines (at times, I didn't think our 2-wheel drive Geely was going to make it! lol), and over some large potholes. Take extra precaution when driving this route, though Google Maps may have steered us in the direction of the shortest route instead of the most paved. In retrospect, we should have navigated to Jaco using Waze, which seems to be the more popular navigation app in Costa Rica.




Accommodations:

During our stay in Jaco, we stayed at Croc's Resort, a four-star, beach-front property. There are many places to stay in Jaco, but Croc's was an affordable, four-star option that offered plenty of amenities, including a variety of restaurants of all flavors. We sampled Italian, Mexican, and American comfort foods while there. They also have two full service bars (including a pool-side bar), spa, and large pool with multiple jacuzzis. We stayed in the deluxe room with an ocean view (we were actually given a complimentary upgrade from our standard room with a mountain view. Read more here about how we find complimentary upgrades on vacation). The view from our room was serene, overlooking the expanse of Jaco Beach. The room itself was also very spacious with a king size bed, tiled floors, and modern design. The staff at the resort were also extremely friendly and accommodating. The best part of this resort was that it was steps away from the beach! Not only that, Croc's is also a short drive to the town's main strip...perfect for those who love to shop and experience the night life scene. I highly recommend this resort when staying in Jaco!



Day 1:


ATV Tour at Vista Los Suenos

Upon our arrival into Jaco, we drove straight into the parking lot of our first adventure, a three-hour ATV tour with Vista Los Suenos. (Note: This was a sponsored experience. All opinions are my own). Vista Los Suenos is an adventure park in the heart of Jaco that offers a variety of adventure activities including ziplining, mountain biking, horseback riding, and extreme canyoning. They are also known for their spectacular 2-hour and 3-hour ATV tours through the forests of Jaco. If you've never tried ATVs before, Vista Los Suenos Adventure Park is the place to do it. I had never driven an ATV before, and to be honest, I was very nervous before my first experience! The tour guides at Vista put all of my worries at ease.


Upon arrival, we checked in and had a brief orientation on our vehicles. Vista offered both automatic and manual ATVs. The tour guides directed me towards an automatic vehicle and instructed me on how to use the gas, brakes, and steering. Prior to setting off on our adventure, we were also given safety instructions and fitted for our helmets provided by the adventure park. I was very satisfied with the safety measures that the tour guides took to ensure we all had a stress-free experience. We even had an opportunity to practice using our ATVs on their private test track. In order to proceed with the tour, everyone had to demonstrate proficiency with their vehicles on the test track.



Soon, we were off! The 3-hour tour took us through miles of forests as we traversed inclines, some rocky terrains, and small creeks and ponds. The track through the forests was easily visible, and I never felt left behind in my tour group. Along the way, we stopped at scenic points to take pictures of the gorgeous elevations and bodies of water. We also made two stops at two separate waterfalls, the second of which was most memorable. To get to this larger waterfall, we hiked about 10 minutes over a shallow river and through some rocky pathways. When we got there, we set aside ~30 minutes to swim in the refreshing springs and bathe underneath the waterfall. Arias, the more adventurous of the two of us, even dove from the top of the waterfall! After nearly two whole hours of racing through the hot rainforest, the waterfalls were definitely a lovely treat.


The 3-hour ATV tour was certainly one of our favorite activities in Jaco and during our entire time in Costa Rica. Our tour guides were super friendly, engaging, and made sure that we had the experience of a life time. Pura Vida!



Dinner at Croc's

After settling into our hotel at Croc's and refreshing after our exciting ATV adventure, we decided to eat at one of the many restaurants at Croc's. I'll also mention that every evening near the Liquidity Bar at the resort, there is a live band/live performance. The bands perform a variety of music, which features popular covers and band original compositions.


 

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Nightlife - Jaco's Main Strip

The Main street in Jaco is Pastor Diaz. Pastor Diaz is lined with a variety of bars, restaurants, and night clubs. This street is what makes Jaco one of the epicenters of night life in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, during our stay, the streets and bars were somewhat sparse, as there was a 10 pm curfew in some parts of Costa Rica secondary to COVID. Although Jaco was not strict about this curfew, we could easily tell that COVID had impacted the crowds at night.


Our first stop was Orange Pub. This establishment was pretty empty when we went around 10 pm. We linked up with a couple that we met during our ATV excursion and had a few drinks. The cervezas and mixed drinks were reasonably priced. The place also had a nice vibe, with cool purple and blue lighting. Around midnight the place started to liven up with more crowds of people arriving. But by that time, we were off to our next destination!


Our next stop for the night was XTC! XTC is one of the newest nightclubs in Jaco. It is a 2 floor dance club with a bar and multiple sections if you're interested in bottle service. The club even has a balcony on the second floor. We were in a private section, so there was plenty of space to party and dance. The DJ was very lively and mixed a bit of everything, from hip hop, to reggae, to house music, as well as some throwbacks. The club also stayed open until 2:30 am, comparable to many clubs in the United States.


 

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3- star

4-star


 

Day 2:


Massages at Croc's

Day 2 in Jaco was actually our last full day in Costa Rica. After a week long trip, including long drives and adventure activities, we were looking forward to a day of relaxation. We decided to start off our final day in Jaco with the resort's signature relaxation massages. The spa at Croc's is the Carara Spa. Carara offers a full spa menu, complete with a selection of massages, facial and body treatments, as well as hair and nail salon packages.


For meals, we enjoyed lunch and dinner at two of the resort's signature restaurants.



Sunset at Jaco Beach

Prior to traveling to Costa Rica, Arias and I arranged for a sunset photo shoot at Jaco Beach for our last evening in Costa Rica. Why did we decide to do a photoshoot? I'm still not quite sure (LOL). We realized that during many of our vacations to so many stunning destinations, we were missing out on capturing the moments because we were so busy LIVING them. We also wanted some great travel photos for our blog and social media pages. I had learned that a sunset in Costa Rica, and specifically a sunset in Jaco, was a sight not to be missed. We decided to book our photo shoot with Pacific Photography (go follow them on Instagram @pacificphotographycr). They photograph it all: from weddings, to venues, to solo portraits. Our photographer, Rafael, was incredible and was able to effectively coach us through an hour and a half of poses along the beach during the golden hour around sunset. Arias and I had never done a photo shoot together, and I must say, it was a ton of fun. We had a chance to be silly, to dance, to splash each other with waves....and all of it was captured on camera. Not to mention, the sunset on Jaco Beach was absolutely gorgeous. If you've never paid for a professional photoshoot abroad, I definitely recommend. 10/10!



Ready to explore more activities near Jaco? CLICK HERE.


Final Thoughts:

Jaco is definitely a must-see during your first vacation to Costa Rica. With such a variety of things to do, from night life to adventure activities, there's surely something for everyone. It's also a short drive from the capital of San Jose, so it makes for an easy day trip from the country's central city.


Have you ever been to Jaco? Share your experiences in the comments!


 

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