Jaco Area Surf Guide

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jacoJaco is a resort town situated in the county of Garabito in the Puntarenas province of Costa Rica on the Central Pacific coast. Featuring a covey of silver sand beaches, impressive wildlife, majestic mountains, various sport opportunities and a tourist friendly ambiance, Jaco is a perfect destination to spend a sporty and fun filled holiday. The beach city is not a family oriented place and is mainly geared towards backpackers and sport enthusiasts. For a family time, beaches such as Herradura and Playa Hermosa, found on the northern and southern borders of Jaco respectively, are more than awesome. Furthermore, nature lovers will find a delightful place by the name of Carara National Park which is known to be a home of the world’s largest population of scarlet macaws. The famous beach of the town is Playa Jaco. It is a 4 km long strip of sand providing one of the best surfing platforms in the country. Weather it is surfing you wish to try, like to be a part of a fantastic nighttime party or want to spend some nature time in a reserve, you will be pleased to find Jaco to be up to the mark. There is no doubt that Jaco is one of the most beautiful and happening cities in Costa Rica.


Surfer girls in Playa Hermosa of JacoLying between a gathering of imposing mountains, Jaco was once a quiet town secluded from the world. It all changed when surfers discovered the amazing waves of the ocean to surf. Today, the beach town is the most popular tourist town in the Central Pacific coast of the country. Even though Jaco is quite small and people can travel through the entire town in just a day, there are numerous things to see and activities to do. Travelers can either explore on foot or rent a car. The beach city is located only a short distance away from Dominical, Manuel Antonio, Quepos and international airport of San Jose. For a leisurely drive and a chance to see beautiful scenery, drive along the highway to Costanera and snap some pictures from your camera.

Jaco features a good number of great surf spots that entice surfers from all over the globe. The weather is amazing and waves are consistent throughout the year. Additionally, the beaches are fairly steep with nice exposure to the swells from almost every direction. The climate of Jaco is humid with frequent rainfalls. The months from May to November offer the best conditions for surfing. Besides the popular points, there are many remote destinations and peaks found all long the beach where you can surf in peace. The adjacent beaches, Playa Hermosa and Playa Herradura, are also good for surfing. One of the great things about Jaco is that all kinds of surfers will find what they are looking for. Professionals can be challenged with strong waves, beginners can find a merciful, safe yet fun spot and intermediates can work on their skills to reach the next level! The remarkable town has numerous surf camps, schools and shops being operated by veterans. Also, many accommodations arrange surf trips for their guests upon requests.

Surf Breaks in Jaco

Below is a short description of the best-known surf spots you can find in the Jaco/Hermosa area.

    Playa Esterillos

    Surf-Adventures-In-Jaco-300x197Playa Esterillos is a large banana shaped beach located on the southern region of Playa Hermosa, a short drive away from Jaco. The beach is divided into three beach breaks; Esterillos Este in the east, Centro in the middle and Esterillos Oeste in the west. Although the waves are often weak and shallow, they are quite fun to surf especially during the windless conditions. The consistent waves break to both right and left over a sandy bottom with rocks. Usually, the waves ride up to 150 meters but on a good day, waves as high as 7 feet have been documented. The best time to surf the beach breaks of Playa Esterillos is from June to August and from January to March. For beginners and long boarders, Oeste is a perfect spot for surfing. The waves are gentle, hollow and barrel shaped with swells rising from the south and southwest direction. The best time to surf is when the tide is mid range. Even though the beach break of Este has faster and stronger waves, the spot is the least popular out of the three. Centro is located directly in front of the hotel called La Felicidad. It boasts powerful waves with good right and lefts that ride up to 300 meters. The middle part of Playa Esterillos is great for advanced surfers looking for a challenge. The dangers of Playa Esterillos include stingrays and crocodiles.

    Playa Jaco

    The long beach of Jaco is a surfer’s paradise. It boasts a small beach break with plenty of peaks. The waves are quite ordinary yet super-consistent breaking to the both right and left directions over a sandy bottom. An hour or two before a high tide is the best time to go surfing. Most of the times, the waves are short reaching only up to 50 meters in height, however on good days, the waves can get 300 meters long. There are numerous shops and camps on the beach so people can always buy the necessary equipment and take surfing classes. Because of its epic popularity, the beach is ultra crowded. Be it beginners, intermediates or veterans, the beach break of Playa Jaco is perfect for all.

    Playa Agujas

    Playa Agujas features a point break with a left peak offering a thrilling ride. The waves are fun to ride and can reach a fairly good length. Best time to surf is at a mid to high tide. The spot is remote most of the times and is suitable for all levels of surfers. The spot is easy to find and be reached by driving from Orotina to Jaco.

    Playa Escondida

    Playa Escondida is a small beach located just north to Playa Jaco. It features a killer reef-coral break with fast, hollow and strong waves that break nicely to the left and right over a sharp reef bottom. The waves are world class, very consistent and ride up to 150 meters. Due to its powerful waves, frequent rips and undertows, the reef break is only suitable for experienced surfers. The spot can be accessed through a boat ride from Isla Herradura. Playa Escondida is a super-crowded place especially on weekends.

    Playa Hermosa

    Playa Hermosa is situated 5 km south of Jaco boasting a number of consistent beach breaks. The waves are consistent all around the year, enormous in size and the swells hit the shore with full force as it has no protection. The beach break features fast, powerful and hollow waves that break nicely to the right and left over a sandy bottom. The waves are fairly short riding up to only 50 meter on a normal day while on some days it can go as high as 150 meters. Good swells are raised from Northwest, West and Southwest and wind blow from Southeast, East and Northeast. The best time to surf is during rising and falling tides at a mid tide. Due to the presence of different types of sandbars, pounding and tubular beach breaks are created. There are several more beach breaks found in Playa Hermosa. They are:


      Terraza features a fast and hollow right break overlooking a large group of visible rocks. The best swells rise from west and southwest directions. The best time to surf Terraza is at a mid tide.


      Backyard is a regular and clean sandbar found at the opening to the dirt road in Hermosa. It has hollow waves breaking nearby the beach with lefts and rights.


      Almendro is located in front of a tall almond tree breaking in deep water and featuring a sand bottom with rights and lefts.


      Tulin is found south of the backyard in front of the Soda Tulin. The break is consistent and a bit bigger than other breaks. Surfers will also find a rivermouth break on the southern end of the beach.

      Extensive details about Playa Hermosa surf spots: Click Here

    Isla Herradura

    Playa Herradura is a horse-shoe shaped beach found north of Jaco. In the recent years, Herradura has become a holiday hotspot. Those who wish to escape from Jaco’s exuberant environment and sneak away to a quieter place will find Herradura a serene sanctuary. The latest attraction of the town is Marriott Los Suenos, a luxurious hotel with marina and golf course. Unlike Jaco, it is not a surf town and doesn’t have any nice surfable waves. However Isla Herradura, a small isle found nearby the beach, has a rocky reef break with a long left that break over a rocky bottom. The deserted surf point is inconsistent and potentially unsafe, hence it is only recommended to professional surfers.

    El Gato

    El Gato, also known as Perro Fino, is found south of Jaco. The waves are fast and powerful breaking to the right and left in front of Punta Guapinol over a rocky bottom. The best time to surf the spot is at a low tide. The spot is suitable for advanced surfers. The spot remains secluded almost all the time.

    Roca Loca

    Roca Loca is reef rocky break with regular, fast and powerful waves breaking over a sandy bottom with rocks. The break is perfect for advanced surfers.

Surf Camps and Schools in Jaco

Jaco is a surfer’s sanctuary with numerous surf shops, resorts, camps and schools present all over the town. A surf camp actually meant going on a budget friendly vacation. Get your surf equipment, choose location, camp out on the beach and ride the ocean. Today, surf camp has taken a new meaning in which students enroll in classes conducted by instructors, accommodating in a comfortable lodging and visit best spots in the area. Some of the renowned camps in the town are:

    Costa Azul Surf Camp

    Costa-AzulCosta Azul Surf Camp is a Billabong certified surf camp located in Playa Jaco. The surf camp was opened more than 15 years and is considered as one of top surf camps in the country. It is run by a group of ISA certified professional surfers who are multilingual, qualified in CPR, ocean safety and first aid. The school provides surf lessons to beginners, intermediate and advanced surfers of all ages. This surf camp is a great choice if you’re new to surfing or to the Jaco area, since they have a great reputation and are able to provide for all skill levels.

    Del Mar Surf Camp

    delmar surf campDel Mar Surf Camp and Yoga Retreat is owned by a local Tico surfer, Maria Del Mar. It is a certified luxury surf camp quite popular among both locals and tourists. The camp provides excellent surfing lessons, coaching, tours and great packages. Besides surfing, the camps offers guests a chance to indulge in inclusive spa treatments, detox retreats, yoga and mediation. The camp is a perfect place for kids and adults alike. Del Mar also at times operates in other parts of Costa Rica, and is very well established. In Jaco, they have a great location at the end of the beach, with great beginner surfing directly in front of the hotel they’re located in.

    Jaco Surf Academy

    jaco-surf academyFounded more than 10 years ago, Jaco Surf Academy is a premium surf camp and school located in Playa Jaco. It has several branches located throughout the country. One of the most renowned surf camps in the area, Jaco Surf Academy offers an ultimate retreat for wave worshipers. From arranging transportation, offering charming accommodations to taking you on great expeditions, Jaco Surf Academy ensures a merry holiday.

    School of the World

    school-of-the-world-costa-ricaSchool of the World is based in Jaco. It is a fabulous combination of a cozy boutique hotel, a superb surf camp, a language institute, Yoga retreat, digital photography workshop and wellness center. School of the World utilizes the opportunity and arranges surf sessions right on the Jaco beach. There are specifically designed courses for beginners, intermediates and advanced surfers. Travelers can join a new surfing program with School of the World every week. They can combine it with different elements such as Yoga, Spanish classes and other activities. The surf lessons are conducted by professional surf instructors who have years of experience in Costa Rica. With School of the World, you can have a dynamic holiday with plenty of adventures.

    Surf Costa Tours

    surf-costaSurf Costa Tours is a luxury surf camp and resort located in Playa Jaco. The resort is exclusively built for wave riders who wish to learn surfing with the best instructors as well as indulge in luxury and comfort on their tropical holiday. During the excursions, travelers will be allowed to design their own travel schedules so they can enjoy plenty of things within time. The camp hires professional surf instructors who will have you riding the waves in no time with their professionalism and encouragement. The students are divided into three separate classes according to their surfing skills, namely; beginner, intermediate and advanced surf lessons.

    Vista Guapa Surf Camp

    vista guapa surf campVista Guapa Surf Camp is a stand up paddling and surfing camp. Perfect for novices and advanced alike, students can either learn individually or in small groups. The camp features cozy and affordable accommodations in a shape of fully air conditioned bungalows with fantastic vistas of the ocean. Adventure tours such as mountain biking, hiking, trips to nature reserves and yoga classes are also offered. Depending upon the guest’s wishes, duration and surf experience, the camp offers a package for everyone. For every level of surfers, the camp has a package which is usually seven days long, offers bed and breakfast, airport transfers, daily breakfast and dinner, 5 surf lessons, daily guided surfing, surfboard rental included, excursion with an eco guide. Vista Guapa Surf Camp

Surf Shops in Jaco

    Chuck’s WOW Surf

    chuckChuck’s WOW Surf is a great place for people looking for anything related to surfing. The shop is in Playa Jaco and is famous among locals and tourists alike. The shop was founded about 20 years ago and today, it has become one of the favorite shops due to its high quality products, reasonable prices, variety and superb customer service. If you have any queries, call them 506-2643-3844 or email chucks@wowsurf.com. Chuck’s WOW Surf Website

    Jaco Surf Shop

    jacosurfJaco Surf Shop is located in Calle Madrigal in Jaco. The shop has been in the town for about 12 years and is a perfect place to stock up on your essential surfing good. You will a wide range of surfboard rentals and sales along with other accessories. Besides supplying surf gear, the company offers surf tours and classes to the customers. Moreover, they provide online service so people can buy things right from the comfort of their home. For further details, visit their website or call +506 2643 3762. Jaco Surf Shop Website


    jassJass Surf Shop is located about 200 meters north of the National Bank in Jaco. It presents a large variety of used and new surf supply including short, long, fun and high performance boards, ding repair kits, rash guards, surf wax, ankle leash, fins, wetsuits and other accessories required on a surf trip. To know more, you can call 2643–3850 and check out their website. Jass Website

Other Activities in Jaco

The lively beach town of Jaco is not just limited to surfing. Amazing trips to Carara Biological Reserve, Manuel Antonio National Park, activities such as horseback riding, mountain biking, ocean kayaking, bird watching, sportfishing and sailing are some of the other main highlights of Jaco.


    nightlifeWhen the sun goes down, Jaco becomes totally alive. For buoyant parties, merry drinking rounds and gleeful dances, Jaco is probably the best town in Costa Rica. The town has many night clubs, bars and discos. Popular clubs and bars are Club Vibe, Cocal Casino and Tiki Bar, Moneky Bar, Pancho Villa , Space Jaco, Orange Pub, Le Loft, Orchid Room and The Backyard Bar.  A nighttime party in Jaco is a great way of letting your hair down and socializing with people. If you believe in partying all night and letting go, you won’t be disappointed!

     Recreational Fishing

    jaco-fishJaco has become one of the major spots for vessels and boats providing fishing expeditions to sportfishing enthusiasts. recreational fishing in the country. The town has various charters with their own During the right season, people can catch amazing species such as yellowfin tuna, sailfish, dorado, mahi mahi, blue, black or striped marlin, rooseterfish, snook and snappers. While on the trip, you might catch fine glimpses of dolphins, whales, giant manta rays, sea turtles and sharks!

    Trip to Carara National Park

    cararaFlourishing with flora and fauna of all kinds, the park is simply heavenly for nature lovers. There are more than 400 species of birds along with numerous reptiles and mammals. The best place to spot the tropical creatures is the rain forest located on the southern region of the park. Carara National Park is a renowned nature reserve located on the Pacific coast of the country. To appreciate the biodiversity, walk through tree trails and be amazed by a variety of impressive plants. Popular activities in the park are hiking, bird watching, crocodile tours along the Tarcoles River and into the Pacific Ocean.

For more information on Jaco, visit:

Jaco and Playa Hermosa – More info about the area on Costa Rica Journeys.com
Jaco Wikitravel – Wikitravel’s article about Jaco
Jaco Surf Guide – Lots more information about surfing in Jaco on Costaricasurfing.org

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