Jacó was Costa Rica’s first developed beach resort, when it was put on the map by wintering Canadian charter groups. Jacó faded from the spotlight for a few years but has bounced back with vigor.
There has been an explosion of high-rise development. The snowbird scene has been diluted by Ticos, as it’s the closest beach resort to San José  and therefore popular with Josefinos (a mix of families and young adults on a fling).
It also draws backpackers, surfers, the young offbeat party crowd, Europeans, and more recently, middle-aged North American anglers and prostitutes. It gets packed on holidays and on weekends in dry season.
Highway 34 runs inland, parallel to Jacó, which lies 400 meters west of the highway and is linked by four access roads. The main strip in town—Avenida Pastor Díaz—runs south two kilometers to the suburb of Garabito. Everything lines the single main street, which parallels the beach for its full length.
Personally, I don’t understand its appeal. The three-kilometer-long beach is downright ugly, and swimming is discouraged. (Signs warn of dangerous rip currents, and the river estuaries at each end of the beach are said to be polluted.)
If frogs and snakes interest you, check out Neofauna (tel. 506/2643-1904, 9 A.M.–4 P.M. daily, $15), outside the entrance to the Waterfalls Canopy four kilometers northeast of Jacó. It has educational tours of its exhibits.
There are a score of boutiques along the main drag. One of the largest souvenir selections is at ILoveSushi (on Hwy. 24, tel. 506/2643-3083), with a humidor stocked with Cuban cigars. Books & Stuff (tel. 506/2643-2508, 9 A.M.–9 P.M. daily), on the drag, sells magazines and used and new books.
Transportes Jacó buses (tel. 506/2223-1109 or 2643-3135) depart San José  daily from Calle 16, Avenida 3, at 6 A.M. and 7 A.M. and then every two hours until 7 P.M. (2.5 hours, $2.75); it returns every two hours 5 A.M.–5 P.M. From Puntarenas , buses to Jacó depart at 4:15 A.M., 5 A.M., 8 A.M., 11 A.M., 12:30 P.M., 2:30 P.M., and 4:30 P.M.; return departures leave at 6 A.M., 9 A.M., noon, 2 P.M., and 4:30 P.M., from the Supermercado at the north end of Jacó. Buses depart Quepos  for Jacó at 4:30 A.M., 7:30 A.M., 10:30 A.M., 12:30 P.M., 3 P.M., and 5:30 P.M.; return buses depart Jacó at 6:30 A.M., 9:30 A.M., 12:30 P.M., 2 P.M., 4 P.M., and 6 P.M.
Interbus (tel. 506/2283-5573, www.interbusonline.com ) and Grayline (tel. 506/2220-2126, www.graylinecostarica.com ) operate minibus shuttles from San José ($35) and popular tourist destinations.