CENTRAL PACIFIC COAST
The beautiful beaches continue down the Pacific Coast, one after another.
CENTRAL PACIFIC COAST
Including Carara National Park, Playa de Jacó, Bahía Ballena
The beautiful beaches continue down the Pacific Coast, one after another. It is a piece of paradise, swaying palms and stunning sunsets set the scene. Playa de Jacó is just one of the popular beaches in this area, but there are plenty of others. Visit our Beaches page for more information.
If beaches are not your thing, don’t worry, there are also some amazing national parks along the coast. The most famous and wildlife rich in this area being Manuel Antonio National Park. But there are others deserving of attention too, read on for more information.
Playa de Jacó
For those looking for a change of tempo and a bit of nightlife, excitement and surfing then this is the place for you. Located on the coast, just north of Manuel Antonio National Park, this area is popular with surfers, backpackers. It’s also a weekend getaway from busy life in San José as it is the closest beach to the city. The town has a bustling nightlife with bars a-plenty and even the odd nightclub. If you fancy a swim, check first, as there are often riptides in the area.
There are several beaches which stretch south between Jacó and Manuel Antonio National Park. Playa Hermosa is for the more experienced surfer with powerful breaks and strong riptides, you need to know what you are doing. Playa Estrella is much quieter and parts have a more authentic Costa Rican feel to it than Jacó.
Highlights in Playa de Jacó:
- Surfing – Catch some waves. Jacó has consistent breaks year round, unlike some of the other areas in Costa Rica.
- Hiking – Hike the trail up Mount Miros for spectacular views of Jacó and Playa Hermosa.
- Nightlife – explore the town and meet the local people.
Carara National Park
At the top of the Central Pacific region is Carara National park, the dry season is the best time to visit Park (December to April). Another birders paradise with over 400 species to be found. This is one of the few places where you might catch a glimpse of the endangered scarlet macaw. Once seen across most of Costa Rica, this beautiful bird is now only found here and in the Osa Peninsula. An early start will give you the best chance of spotting wildlife. There is no accommodation in the park but it is easy to visit here from Jacó or close by.
Highlights in Carara National Park:
- Scarlet Macaws – Stay around until dusk as there’s more chance of seeing the stunning scarlet macaw in all its splendid glory.
- Visit local sites – Hire a local guide and visit archaeological remains of various indigenous burial sites.
- Crocodile spotting – View the large crocodiles from the safety of Crocodile bridge
To the south of Manuel Antonio National Park is Bahía Ballena (Whale Bay). Part of this area is set aside for the Marino Ballena National Park. This beautiful park is a forgotten paradise and a perfect and peaceful place to try a spot of whale watching. You may be lucky enough to see the magnificent humpback whales swim near to shore on their long journey. This park is hugely important as it also serves to protect coral and rock reefs surrounding the nearby offshore islands. Co-incidentally, when seen from the air at low tide, the distinctive sandbar and rocky reef outcrop are reminiscent of the shape of a whale’s tail.
Highlights in Marino Ballena National Park:
- Whale Watching -Try your patience at whale watching or dolphin spotting (August to October and December to April).
- Chill out – Relax in almost solitary splendour on one of the quieter beaches in Costa Rica
- Snorkelling – Take a boat trip to Isla Ballena and enjoy some excellent snorkelling.
- Turtles – From May to November watch both olive ridley and hawksbill turtles bury their eggs in the sand at night.
When to visit the Central Pacific area:
What you are looking for determines the best time to visit the central Pacific region. If it’s beaches then definitely opt for the dry season from December to April but if it’s turtles, then see above. Chat to our experts to find out when would be best for you.
Get more advice about when to travel to Costa Rica on our When to Visit page.