Start your surfing vacation in Jaco

Jaco Beach with waves
Jaco Beach with waves

Costa Rica is renowned across the globe as one of the best places to surf in the world. Boasting pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters and stunning scenery, Costa Rica attracts thousands of surfers every year. However, some people may be intimidated by the strong waves and large crowds of surf destinations such as Playa Hermosa. If you've never surfed before, but are eager to try, head to Jaco in Puntarenas. Not only are the waves here ideal for beginners, Jaco is the closest beach from the San Jose International Aiport, just over 1 hour drive, making it an ideal spot to catch some surf before heading south to Domincal, Matapalo or Pavones.

A Gentle Learning Curve

Jaco is a beach break known for its lefts and rights, and is the perfect spot for beginners to learn how to surf. The waves are strong and consistent enough for intermediate surfers, but not too powerful to deter those new to surfing. No matter how experienced you may be, Jaco is best surfed at rising mid to high tide, with swells from the northwest and southwest. Be warned, however - the undertow can be strong, especially during large swells, so be cautious even if you're an experienced surfer. During the week, this beach is usually pretty quiet, but it can get busy on weekends.

Good Peaks

Optimal wave size at Jaco is about chest-high to around one foot overhead, as larger waves tend to close out. There are lots of spots where the waves form consistently, and if you're planning on taking surfing lessons, the best place to do so is at the low tide whitewater reform, as many local companies offer instruction here.

The best places to hit the waves are in front of Copacabana at the north end of the beach, Disco in the middle and Cabinas Alice to the south. Jaco measures around a mile and a half in length, and conditions are good along most of it, so you're likely to find a spot to work on your technique, even at high tide when there may be more people.

Rooms With a View

Jaco has a lot of places to stay if you're taking a surfing vacation. If you prefer to indulge in accommodations with more amenities, there are a number of hotels in the area with clean rooms and reasonable rates. Alternatively, you can rent a condo right on the beach so you can hit the waves whenever you want.

Ideal for beginners and intermediate surfers, Jaco is a great place to learn the ropes before tackling slightly more challenging surf like Santa Teresa.