Skip to Content

Tamarindo vs Jaco – Which is the Better Vacation?

Tamarindo vs Jaco – Tamarindo, and Jaco are both top surfing destinations in Costa Rica. Tamarindo is located on the northwest coast and is known for its surf waves and nightlife while Jaco is on the central Pacific coast and is known for its proximity to the Manuel Antonio National Park and its lively atmosphere.

While both Tamarindo and Jaco are top beach towns for surfing, Tamarindo is more laid-back and Jaco is more of a party town.

Related Travel Guides on Tamarindo vs Jaco

Comparing Tamarindo vs Jaco

Tamarindo is a small beach town popular in Costa Rica for its surf scene and nightlife. It’s a popular spot for both experienced and beginner surfers, with a variety of waves suitable for different skill levels. The town also has a vibrant nightlife, with a variety of bars and nightclubs to choose from.

Tamarindo is also known for its beautiful beaches, such as Playa Tamarindo and Playa Langosta, and its proximity to a variety of outdoor activities like hiking, zip-lining, and wildlife watching.

Jaco, on the other hand, is located on the central Pacific coast and is known for its lively atmosphere and proximity to the Manuel Antonio National Park. It is a popular spot for surfers and beach-goers, with a variety of waves and beaches to choose from.

Jaco is also known for being a party town, with a variety of nightlife options, as well as its proximity to the Manuel Antonio National Park which offers a great opportunity to explore the tropical rainforest and see monkeys, sloths, and other wildlife.

Comparing the two, Tamarindo is also a bit more upscale and has more options for luxury accommodations, while Jaco has more budget-friendly options.

Overall, both Tamarindo and Jaco are great surfing destinations in Costa Rica and while Jaco is the bigger beach town with a reputation for being a party place, Tamarindo is more laid back but has options for luxury accommodations. Either surfing areas are great, so we’ll compare both below for you to choose the better vacation.

SIM CARD AT SAN JOSE COSTA RICA AIRPORT – Jaco vs Tamarindo

I wouldn’t recommend you buy a sim card at San Jose Costa Rica airport. If you wish comfort and efficiency, you can buy eSim online and if you aren’t in a hurry just go around phone shops in the city and compare prices to buy the cheapest sim card in San Jose Costa Rica. Read here Costa Rica eSim and the best Costa Rica Sim card for tourist

You can find the cheapest Costa Rica eSim with Airalo Costa Rica eSim prepaid for $8 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days (USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%). for $8 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days. For $20 USD with 3 GB data and for $30 USD with 5 GB data. (USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%)

You can get an eSim for Costa Rica for €24 with 4 GB data valid for 14 days with MTX Connect eSim. Holafly Costa Rica eSim for $42 USD with 6 GB data in Costa Rica valid for 15 days and use our discount code GAMINTRAVELER.

Booking Your Travel Insurance – Tamarindo vs Jaco

Two of our favorite travel insurances are compared here: Heymondo Vs Safetwing cheapest travel Insurance.

For $135 USD, you can get your Heymondo Travel Insurance with this Heymondo discount code valid for 90 days. Read our full Heymondo Travel Insurance Review here

Read here for Safetywing Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads valid for 28 day. Safetywing for $50 per month with kids until 10 years old included.

Beaches in Tamarindo – Tamarindo vs Jaco

Tamarindo Beach

Tamarindo vs Jaco - Which is the Better Vacation?, Jaco vs Tamarindo
Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica – Tamarindo vs Jaco

This is the main beach in Tamarindo and is known for its great surf. The beach is also home to many surf schools, where you can take lessons or rent equipment. There are also a number of restaurants and bars along the beach, making it a great spot for a night out.

Langosta Beach

Tamarindo vs Jaco - Which is the Better Vacation?  Tamarindo vs Jaco, Jaco vs Tamarindo
Playa Langosta in Tamarindo – Jaco vs Tamarindo

This beach is located just north of Tamarindo and is known for its calm waters and beautiful sunsets. It is a great spot for swimming and sunbathing. There are also a number of restaurants and bars along the beach.

Playa Conchal

Tamarindo vs Jaco - Which is the Better Vacation?,  Tamarindo vs Jaco, Jaco vs Tamarindo
Playa Conchal

This beach is located about a 30-minute drive from Tamarindo and is known for its crystal clear waters and beautiful white sand. It is a great spot for snorkeling and sunbathing.

Beaches in Jaco – Jaco vs Tamarindo

Puntarenas Province, Jaco Coastline in Costa Rica - Tamarindo vs Jaco, Jaco vs Tamarindo
Puntarenas Province, Jaco Coastline in Costa Rica

Jaco is a popular beach destination in Costa Rica, known for its surf scene and proximity to the Manuel Antonio National Park. The town has several beaches that are popular among surfers, each with its own unique characteristics.

Hermosa Beach / Playa Hermosa

Hermosa is located just a few minutes south of Jaco and is known for its long, consistent waves that are perfect for beginner and intermediate surfers. The waves are relatively easy to catch and the beach is wide, providing plenty of space for surfers.

Esterillos Beach

Esterillos is located about 20 minutes south of Jaco and is known for its long, peeling waves that are suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers. The waves are more challenging than Hermosa but still provide a fun ride. The beach is also wide, providing plenty of space for surfers.

Jaco Beach

Playa Jaco, Puntarenas - Jaco vs Tamarindo, Tamarindo vs Jaco
Playa Jaco, Puntarenas

Jaco Beach is located in the center of the town and is known for its powerful waves that are suitable for advanced surfers. The waves are fast and hollow and can be challenging to catch. The beach is also wide, providing plenty of space for surfers.

Playa Bejuco

Playa Bejuco is located about 30 minutes south of Jaco and is known for its powerful and hollow waves that are suitable for advanced surfers. The waves can be challenging to catch and the beach is not as wide as others in the area, but it’s a good spot for experienced surfers.

All these beaches in Jaco are great spots for surfing and offer a variety of waves for surfers of different skill levels. Hermosa and Esterillos are great for beginner and intermediate surfers, while Jaco and Playa Hermosa are great for advanced surfers. Playa Bejuco is also a great spot for advanced surfers looking for a challenge.

Playa Blanca

Located about 30 minutes north of Jaco, Playa Blanca is a secluded beach known for its long, gentle waves that are perfect for beginner and intermediate surfers. The waves are easy to catch and the beach is wide, providing plenty of space for surfers.

Playa Herradura

Located about 15 minutes south of Jaco, Playa Herradura is a beautiful beach known for its calm waters and great swimming. The beach also has some small waves that are suitable for beginner surfers.

All these beaches are great options for surfers of different skill levels and offer a variety of waves and activities. Some of them like Playa Blanca and Playa Herradura are also great for swimming and sunbathing.

Tamarindo vs Jaco – Prices of Accommodation

Tamarindo tends to be more upscale and has more options for luxury accommodations, with prices for hotel rooms and vacation rentals ranging from $100 to $500 per night. Jaco, on the other hand, has more budget-friendly options, with prices for hotel rooms and vacation rentals ranging from $50 to $200 per night.

Tamarindo vs Jaco – Surfing waves

Both Tamarindo and Jaco are popular spots for surfers, but the waves and beaches are different. Tamarindo has a variety of waves suitable for different skill levels, with Playa Tamarindo and Playa Langosta being popular spots for beginner and intermediate surfers. Jaco also has a variety of waves and beaches, with Playa Hermosa and Playa Esterillos being popular spots for beginner and intermediate surfers. The waves at Jaco are also known to be more consistent and powerful, making it a popular spot for advanced surfers.

Check the weather and surf breaks here for updated surfing information on Tamarindo and Jaco

Jaco vs Tamarindo – Nightlife

Both Tamarindo and Jaco have vibrant nightlife, with a variety of bars and nightclubs to choose from. Tamarindo is more laid-back and has a variety of bars and restaurants, while Jaco is known for its party atmosphere, with a variety of bars, nightclubs, and live music venues.

Best Nightlife in Tamarindo

  • Monkey Bar: Monkey Bar is a popular spot in Tamarindo known for its lively atmosphere, great music, and friendly staff. The bar serves a variety of drinks and has a large outdoor area where you can dance and socialize.
  • Pacifico Beach Club: Pacifico Beach Club is a popular spot for nightlife in Tamarindo, known for its lively atmosphere, great music, and beautiful views of the ocean. The club has a large outdoor area with a pool, where you can dance and socialize.
  • Pangas Beach Club: Pangas Beach Club is a popular spot in Tamarindo known for its lively atmosphere, great music, and friendly staff. The club serves a variety of drinks and has a large outdoor area where you can dance and socialize.
  • The Beach House: The Beach House is a popular spot in Tamarindo known for its lively atmosphere, great music, and friendly staff. The bar serves a variety of drinks and has a large outdoor area where you can dance and socialize.
  • The Green Room: The Green Room is a popular spot in Tamarindo known for its lively atmosphere, great music, and friendly staff. The bar serves a variety of drinks and has a large outdoor area where you can dance and socialize.

Best Nightlife in Jaco

  • Le Loft: Le Loft is a popular spot in Jaco known for its lively atmosphere, great music, and friendly staff. The club serves a variety of drinks and has a large outdoor area where you can dance and socialize.
  • The Backyard: The Backyard is a popular spot in Jaco known for its lively atmosphere, great music, and friendly staff. The bar serves a variety of drinks and has a large outdoor area where you can dance and socialize.
  • The Beach Club: The Beach Club is a popular spot in Jaco known for its lively atmosphere, great music, and beautiful views of the ocean. The club has a large outdoor area with a pool, where you can dance and socialize.
  • El Gato Negro: El Gato Negro is a popular spot in Jaco known for its lively atmosphere, great music, and friendly staff. The bar serves a variety of drinks and has a large outdoor area where you can dance and socialize.
  • Green Room: Green Room is a popular spot in Jaco known for its lively atmosphere, great music, and friendly staff. The bar serves a variety of drinks and has a large outdoor area where you can dance and socialize.

Tamarindo vs Jaco – Digital Nomad Scene and Overall Vibe

Tamarindo and Jaco both have a growing digital nomad scene, with a variety of coworking spaces and cafes with good internet. Tamarindo has a more laid-back atmosphere, while Jaco is known for its party atmosphere.

Best restaurants to try in Tamarindo

Tamarindo also has a lot to choose from and some of the best are:

Kika: Kika is a popular spot in Tamarindo known for its delicious Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. The restaurant has a cozy atmosphere and the staff is friendly and attentive.

Seaside Tapas & Wine: Seaside Tapas & Wine is a popular spot in Tamarindo known for its delicious tapas, wine, and cocktails. The restaurant has a cozy atmosphere and the staff is friendly and attentive.

La Baula: La Baula is a popular spot in Tamarindo known for its delicious seafood and international cuisine. The restaurant has a great ocean view and the staff is friendly and attentive.

El Lagarto: El Lagarto is a popular spot in Tamarindo known for its delicious Mexican cuisine and lively atmosphere. The restaurant has a great outdoor seating area and the staff is friendly and attentive.

Casa del Mar: Casa del Mar is a popular spot in Tamarindo known for its delicious Mediterranean cuisine and ocean view. The restaurant has a great outdoor seating area and the staff is friendly and attentive.

All these restaurants are great options for travelers looking for delicious food and a great atmosphere. There are plenty of options in Tamarindo, including seafood, Mediterranean, Mexican, and international cuisine. You can also find options for vegetarian and vegan food as well.

Best Restaurants in Jaco

Jaco has a variety of restaurants to choose from, catering to different tastes and preferences. Some of the best options for restaurants in Jaco include:

La Luna: La Luna is a popular spot in Jaco known for its delicious seafood and Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant has a great ocean view and the staff is friendly and attentive.

El Wagon: El Wagon is a popular spot in Jaco known for its delicious wood-fired pizza and Italian cuisine. The restaurant has a cozy atmosphere and the staff is friendly and attentive.

Pacifico Azul: Pacifico Azul is a popular spot in Jaco known for its delicious seafood and international cuisine. The restaurant has a great outdoor seating area and the staff is friendly and attentive.

Rancho Santana: Rancho Santana is a popular spot in Jaco known for its delicious Costa Rican cuisine and lively atmosphere. The restaurant has a great outdoor seating area and the staff is friendly and attentive.

El Hicaco: El Hicaco is a popular spot in Jaco known for its delicious seafood and international cuisine. The restaurant has a great outdoor seating area and the staff is friendly and attentive.

All these restaurants are great options for travelers looking for delicious food and a great atmosphere. There are plenty of options in Jaco, including seafood, Italian, Costa Rican, and international cuisine. You can also find options for vegetarian and vegan food as well.

Where To Go Before or After – Tamarindo vs Jaco

Before or after Tamarindo or Jaco:

San Jose

Many people fly into the capital city of San Jose before heading to Tamarindo or Jaco. San Jose is the largest city in Costa Rica and offers a variety of cultural and historical attractions, as well as restaurants and nightlife.

Manuel Antonio

This is a national park located on the central pacific coast and is often visited before or after Santa Teresa, Nosara, Jaco or Tamarindo. The park is known for its beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and wildlife, and it’s a great spot for those who want to explore more of Costa Rica’s natural beauty.

Montezuma

This small town located on the Nicoya Peninsula is often visited before or after Santa Teresa, Nosara, Jaco or Tamarindo. Montezuma is known for its beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and laid-back atmosphere, and it’s a great spot for those who want to explore more of the peninsula’s natural beauty.

Currency and ATMs – Tamarindo vs Jaco

The currency of Costa Rica is called Costa Rican colón and as of now, $1 USD is worth 620 CRC Costa Rican colón. Do not exchange your currency at the airport because you’ll get less than what you’ll get with the city’s exchange.

Summary: Which is Better between Jaco vs Tamarindo?

While both offer beautiful beach waves, nightlife, and things to do, Jaco is a bigger beach town than Tamarindo and is considered more of a party town compared to Tamarindo.

Tamarindo is more laidback in comparison to Jaco’s party scene, but with more options for luxury accommodations. Surf-wise, Tamarindo offers waves good for all surfing levels while Jaco’s surfing beaches are more for intermediate and advanced surfers. Either way, you’ll be sure to have a good time in both, so make sure you really compare and choose the right place for you in Costa Rica. Til our next travel guide!

Ruben Arribas is the co-founder of Gamintraveler and a Spanish traveler who has traveled to more than 100 countries around the world. He is now a full-time digital nomad.