ATV Tours: Several operations run ATV tours through the surrounding countryside. Tours range in length from 2 to 4 hours up to a full day, and cost between $99 and $175 per person. Contact Adventure Tours Costa Rica ((tel) 2643-5720; www.adventuretourscostarica.com) or Xploratura ((tel) 8695-7985; http://jaco.xploratura.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 Jacó, you may want to visit other nearby beaches, like Playa Manta, Playa Blanca, Playa Hermosa, Esterillos, and Playa Bejuco. These beaches are just south of Jacó and easily reached by car or even bicycle—if you’ve got a lot of energy.
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 50-minute tram ride and a guided 45-minute hike on a network of trails, which feature an orchid garden and serpentarium. You can hike the company’s trails for as long as you like. There are also options for a zipline canopy tour, sky bridge, and waterfall climb on the same grounds. The Aerial Tram is a few kilometers inland from an exit just north of the first entrance into Jacó.
Another notable zipline tour is available at Chiclets Zipline ★ ((tel) 2643-1880; http://chicletzipline.com) in nearby Playa Hermosa. This is an adventurous tour, with 16 platforms set in transitional forest, and sweeping views of the Pacific.
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 take travelers away from all the development in Jacó to see some nature. The best operator in the area is Discovery Horseback ((tel) 8838-7550; www.horseridecostarica.com) in Playa Hermosa. It’s $85 per person for a 2 1/2-hour tour. Options range from beach riding to trails through the rainforest with stops at a jungle waterfall.
Kayaking: Kayak Jacó ((tel) 2643-1233; www.kayakjaco.com) operates several outings in either single or tandem sea kayaks, as well as eight-person outrigger canoes. Customers can 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 tours run around 4 hours and include transportation to and from the put-in, as well as fruit and soft drinks during the trip. The tours cost $60 to $140 per person, depending on the tour and group size.
Organized Tours Farther Afield: If you’re spending your entire Costa Rican visit in Jacó but would like to see 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 trips, including jaunts to Arenal and Poás volcanoes; whitewater rafting trips; and cruises to Tortuga Island. Rates range from $60 to $160 for day trips. Overnight trips are also available. In addition to the above-mentioned companies, many local operators offer tour options in Manuel Antonio, including trips to the national park, the Rainmaker Nature Refuge, and the Damas Island estuary.
Spa: Acqua Spa & Salon ★ ((tel) 2643-3005; www.acquaspajaco.com) offers massages, mud packs, face and body treatments, and mani/pedis. The spa is located across from Banco de Costa Rica.
Sportfishing, Scuba Diving & Seaborne Fun: Since the Los Sueños Marriott Resort and its adjacent 250-slip marina opened, most local maritime activity has moved there.
Surfing: The same waves that often make Playa Jacó a bit rough 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 to $5 an hour or $10 to $20 per day, from any of the many surf shops along the main road. For lessons, try the Del Mar Surf Camp ★★ ((tel) 855/833-5627 in the U.S. or 2643-3197 in Costa Rica; www.delmarsurfcamp.com) or Jacó Surf School ((tel) 8829-4697; www.jacosurfschool.com).