Jaco is Costa Rica’s most lively beach town with plenty of bars and watering holes. It’s perfect for bar hopping! But where do you start? Local expat Justin DeBoom weighs in with his favorite Jaco Beach bars to enjoy on a pub crawl.
As an expat living in Jaco, Costa Rica, my wife and I get asked all the time what our favorite beach bars are.
Jaco is Costa Rica’s largest beach town and so doesn’t fall short on the beach bar locations. We have a few favorites we seem to visit more than others, but each one listed below is a great place to check out.
And in case you’re doing them all on the same day, we’ve put them in an easy north to south order for you!
Established in 1964, Claritas is one of the original beachfront bars in Jaco and one of the most famous. On the north end of Jaco beach, Claritas is a must for any first-timers to Jaco and a frequent stop for locals. With a rustic feel and beachfront location, Claritas serves ice cold beer, great food, and offers an authentic Costa Rica vibe.
An authentic Costa Rican spot with a perfect location, Malecon is one of our more regular bars we visit. Most of the time we drop in on Saturdays or Sundays mid-morning lunch. The seafood soup here is amazing and a perfect prescription for a hangover after a fun night on the town.
Located right in the center of Jaco Beach, you get amazing views, ice cold beer and killer food. Trust me, if you’re suffering after a heavy night, the seafood soup here is the closest thing around for instant recovery.
Many who come here never realize its real name. Frogs is the actual name of the restaurant and bar of the Cocal Casino, one of, if not the most famous nightspot in Jaco. If you’ve been to the Cocal, you’ll know Frogs isn’t a place to bring the family to at night, but during the day, the restaurant along the beach is a great place to check out.
Ice-cold beers, great drinks, and excellent food. People always think I’m crazy when I recommend eating here, but the truth is the food at Frogs is awesome.
Better known as a great restaurant, El Hicaco is also a place to visit during the day and enjoy a cold drink. Few places like this in Jaco. My wife and I enjoy this place because you can dress up if you want, and not be the odd couple out. El Hicaco isn’t formal formal, but sometimes it’s nice to dress up a little and not stand out.
El Hicaco is a huge space and is as beachfront as you can get. When you enter, you’ll find an open U-shaped kitchen, surrounded by glass so visitors can view the culinary action. Sit on the deck and you’ll understand how beachfront you are. If you want great seafood, good drinks, cold beer, and amazing views, this will be one of your favorite places too. Not the cheapest place on our list, but a must visit for anyone in Jaco.
If you’ve traveled in Latin America, you’ve likely seen this name somewhere. Selina is a high-end hostel, that has taken Latin America by storm in recent years. And Costa Rica is no exception.
We first visited this bar with friends a couple of years ago, before the pandemic. The location and the good time surprised me. As far as bars go, there’s nothing super-special about it other than the direct beach location. It’s also prime property for people watching, one of my favorite sports. Great prices, ice-cold beers, and good drinks all help.
The real fun is the eclectic mix of people you’ll see. As a hostel, the vibe lends itself to a carefree feel, filled with people who love to travel. A great place to socialize and hang out while enjoying a cold brew.
A little further away than the previous bars, you’ll find this place towards the south end of Jaco Beach on a side road. We first found it by accident, when trying to find some friends on the beach. If you asked me for directions, I couldn’t tell you, but now I could show you after trying once or twice myself.
We haven’t spent a bunch of time here for the bar side of things, but the breakfast is off the chart. Like most places on this list, Aloha is direct beachfront and authentic. The key thing I remember from my first time here was the bacon and potatoes for breakfast. In Costa Rica, you get used to rice and beans for breakfast, so the bacon and potatoes thing stuck in my mind.
Like Ahola, we found the bar of this resort looking for friends on the beach. It’s direct beachfront and part of a small resort/hotel. The Tiki bar is a great place to visit and the views, location and ambient screams Costa Rica.
There are plenty of other Jaco beach bars I missed.
Let us know in the comments the ones I never mentioned or the ones you like. But the bars above are places my wife and I frequent as locals. They’re the ones we recommend checking out when visiting our beautiful beach town of Jaco.