ATV Tours -- Several operations take folks out on ATV tours through the surrounding countryside. Tours range in length from 2 to 4 hours and cost between $70 and $120 per person. Contact Jaguar Riders ((tel) 2643-0180; www.jaguariders.com).
Beaches -- Jacó’s beach has a reputation for dangerous riptides (as does most of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast). Even strong swimmers have been known to drown in the powerful rips. In general, the far southern end of the beach is the calmest and safest place to swim.
As an alternative to Playa de Jacó, you may want to visit other nearby beaches, like Playa Manta, Playa Blanca, Playa Hermosa, Esterillos, and Playa Bejuco. These beaches are easily reached by car, moped, or even bicycle—if you’ve got a lot of energy. All are signposted, so you’ll have no trouble finding them. These are just south of Jacó.
Canopy Tours -- The easiest way to get up into the canopy here is on the Rain Forest Aerial Tram Pacific ★ ((tel) 866/759-8726; in the U.S. and Canada, or 2257-5961 in Costa Rica; www.rfat.com). A sister project to the original Rain Forest Aerial Tram, this attraction features modified ski-lift type gondolas that take you through and above the transitional forests bordering Carara National Park. The $60 entrance fee includes the guided 40-minute tram ride, and a guided 45-minute hike on a network of trails. You can also hike the company’s trails for as long as you like. These folks have a zip-line canopy tour, botanical gardens, and serpentarium on the same grounds, and offer guided tours, including transportation from both San José and any hotel in the area. The Aerial Tram is a few kilometers inland from an exit just north of the first entrance into Jacó.
Quite a few zip-line and harness-style canopy tours are in this area. Chiclets Tree Tour ((tel) 2643-1880) offers up a canopy adventure in nearby Playa Hermosa. This is an adventurous tour, with 16 platforms set in transitional forest, with some sweeping views of the Pacific.
You can also easily use any of the canopy tour options mentioned in the Playa Herradura section above.
Golf -- The excellent La Iguana, an 18-hole golf course at the Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort ((tel) 2630-9028; www.golflaiguana.com), is open to non-guests.
Horseback Riding -- Horseback riding tours give you a chance to get away from all the development in Jacó and see a bit of nature. The best operator in the area, with the best horses, is Discovery Horseback ((tel) 8838-7550; www.horseridecostarica.com), down in Playa Hermosa. It’s $75 per person for a 2 1/2-hour tour. These folks offer a variety of options from beach riding to trails through the rainforest with stops at a jungle waterfall.
Kayaking -- Kayak Jacó ((tel) 2643-1233; www.kayakjaco.com) runs a couple of different trips. Tours are offered in single and tandem sea kayaks, as well as eight-person outrigger canoes. Along the way, you’ll be able to admire the beautiful coastline, and—when conditions permit—take a snorkel break. Kayak fishing tours and sailing trips aboard 25-foot Trimarans are also available. Most options run around 4 hours and include transportation to and from the put-in, as well as fresh fruit and soft drinks during the trip. The tours cost between $55 and $80 per person, depending on the particular trip and group size..
Organized Tours Farther Afield -- If you’ll be spending your entire Costa Rican visit in Jacó but would like to see some other parts of the country, you can arrange tours with Piko Travel ((tel) 8833-1772; www.pikotravel.com) or through the local offices of Gray Line Tours ((tel) 2643-3231), which operates out of the Best Western Jacó Beach Resort. Both offer a wide range of day tours, including trips to Arenal and Poás volcanoes; white-water rafting trips; and cruises to Tortuga Island. Rates range from $65 to $180 for day trips. Overnight trips are also available. In addition to the above-mentioned companies, many local operators offer a variety of tour options in Manuel Antonio, including trips to the national park, the Rainmaker Nature Refuge, and the Damas Island estuary. Thanks to improvements to the road, you can reach Manuel Antonio in about 1 hour from Jacó.
Spa -- Catleya ★ ((tel) 2643-1624) offers massages, as well as mud packs, face and body treatments, and manicures and pedicures. The spa’s Jacó branch is on the first floor, among a tiny little cul-de-sac of shops next to Zuma Rent-A-Car.
Sportfishing, Scuba Diving & Seaborne Fun -- Since the Los Sueños Marriott Resort and its adjacent 250-slip marina opened, most local maritime activity has shifted over there.
Surfing -- The same waves that often make Playa de Jacó dangerous for swimmers make it one of the most popular beaches in the country with surfers. Nearby Playa Hermosa, Playa Tulin, and Playa Escondida are also excellent surfing beaches. Those who want to challenge the waves can rent surfboards and boogie boards, for around $3 an hour or $10 to $20 per day, from any one of the numerous surf shops along the main road. If you want to learn how to surf, try the Del Mar Surf Camp ★★ ((tel) 2643-3197; www.delmarsurfcamp.com) or Jacó Surf School ((tel) 8829-4697; www.jacosurfschool.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.