Top free things to do around Jacó

09/08/2021 | by Gabriel Rocha | Local Area Things to do
Lookout point on Miro Mountain

Hike up Miro’s rainforest mountain trail and enjoy the views and nature

This is us locals’ little secret getaway. Walk, run, bike or simply take a car to the starting point of the trail on Route 34, across from the Delta Gas station. The first 100 meters are pretty steep but are also paved so anyone, literally anyone can do it. You will be rewarded with amazing views of the Jaco bay and surrounding green mountains. And if you listen and watch closely, you will get to see animals such as funny-looking insects, lizards, poison dart frogs and even white-faced monkeys and turkeys along your way. Don’t wander off the paths or offer food to the animals please.

Go past the first lookout point and make a left off the main trail on to the second ‘mirador’, where a never-to-be restaurant’s ruins still stand today with a large terrace with even more amazing view.s For the more nature enthusiasts I recommend coming back down continuing to the left on the main trail on to the next intersection. You will be treated to some awe-inspiring nature passages including some laden with ferns that seem to be part of a Jurassic movie set and possibly some half-fallen tree trunks that force you to bend down to go past under them.

The trails are normally very clean. Please leave only footprints behind and try to take your garbage back with you to your vacation rental or hotel as the trash cans are usually pretty full and sometimes overflow, which is counterproductive. We tend to collect bits of plastic and other debris from runner’s soles on our walks.

I would recommend only going during full daylight, preferably in groups of two or more, just to err on side of overcautious.


JACO letters at Jaco Mirador

Take a selfie or groupie photo at the JACO letters

I know, I know, this is such touristy thing but it is free and the view is quite amazing actually, particularly at sunset. So, yes, prove to friends and family that you were actually in Jacó (that’s pronounced hack-ó). Try to park on the letters’ side (ocean side) of the road to avoid having to cross Route 34 by foot. There’s no traffic light or pedestrian crossing and vehicles are constant and fast moving.


Take a walk or a jog on Jacó beach at dawn (or sunset)

The tightly packed cinammon colored sand makes for a perfect walk or jog during those early hours of the day when the sun is not yet beating the pulse out of you. Only about 2.4 miles or 4 kilometers long from north to south end, the stroll will be a great way to get your day started. The sunlight starts around 5:30 am but if that’s too early for you go no later than 7:30 am. After that, it will start to get hot pretty quickly. There will be some river crossings along the way so be prepared to get your feet or shoes wet.

Watch the surfers tackle the waves in Hermosa (and Jacó)

Head south to the sleepy village of Pochotal a.k.a. Playa Hermosa, whose fame extends far beyond Costa Rica’s borders as it has been the site of two World Surfing Championships and is proudly locally considered Costa Rica’s surfing stadium. Once there head to the beach to camp out or grab a seat and drink at one of the seaside restaurants such as the famous Backyard and watch them surf dudes and dudettes risk their integrity to catch the perfect tube.


Villa Caletas Amphitheatre

Watch the sunset at Hotel Villa Caletas’ Greek amphitheatre replica

OK so the watching part is free. However, the experience would not be complete, at least as I see it (and the hotel staff would appreciate it too), without any kind of drink in your hand. And of course, getting there is probably not free either, unless you are staying there or already have a rental car. In any case, the experience is ‘worth the detour’ as the Michelin Guide would say, were it to publish for Costa Rica.

The setting is surreal: you are sitting atop an 1100 foot or 335 meters high mountain blanketed with lush green tropical rainforest that seems to touch the ocean below. The ocean below is the entrance to the Gulf of Nicoya. On the other side of the Gulf you can clearly see the silouette of the Nicoya Peninsula and the gulf islands, including the famous Tortuga Island. The view is almost due west, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a jaw-dropping sunset viewing, unless mother nature decides to put some clouds in the way. Even if this is the case, the ambiance is guaranteed with the excellent music selection played out over the speakers, which I will not spoil for you now. Just go! (and tell them Gabriel sent you 😉 )


Fish off the rocks at the end of Jaco beach

Aside from the fishing gear and bait this experience is free though maybe not for all. Caution is advised to check on the tide charts before heading on the rocky outcrops on either end of the beach as these are covered during high tide. The hardware store El Lagar in downtown Jaco sells fishing gear.

Skate board or play hoops at the local Epicentro Civico recreational center

Visit our community center and skatepark for free. Ask the security officer for a basketball to play some hoops. Check out the local library.


Take a walking self tour of the outdoor mural art around Jaco’s walls

Outdoor mural art has exploded in recent years around Jaco as a way to beautify spaces and create a sense of community, in large part thanks to local cause ArtifyJacó and its donors. Parcours your way around Jacó to explore these works of art, which are in some cases tucked away out of the spotlight. You’ll also discover smaller works of art on electrical posts around town. Try to spot them all! Here are some the Google maps locations of the murals of I know of (there are very possibly more than I have not yet seen), ordered from north to south:

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