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Jaco is a thriving hub for travelers located less than two hours from San Jose, so it is often the first stop for those seeking pristine beaches. But there is even more to Jaco than just the incredible beach and surf scene! The lush jungle and rugged mountains surround the city, providing even more outdoor adventures.
While I love a chill day on the beach, I am always looking for a way to explore the jungles of Costa Rica in an exciting way. One of the most thrilling ways to do so is by riding at ATV. Riding on All Terrain Vehicles, such as a quad or side-by-side, gets you deep into the jungle to scenic overlooks of Jaco Beach. Booking an ATV tour is the easiest way to partake in this adventure.
In this blog, we are going to answer all of your questions about ATVing in Jaco. While there are many ATV tours around Jaco, we have picked out the top 8 tours to add to your Costa Rica itinerary!
Don’t have time to read the full article? These are our absolute favorite ATV tours in Jaco:
Why book an ATV tour in Jaco?
Jaco is absolutely stunning; however, it can be a bit touristy! One of my favorite ways to escape any oversaturated area is to book an excursion of some sort. Getting off the beaten path and out into nature around other people who love adventure tours is a great way to experience Jaco.
In the lush jungles of Costa Rica, an ATV tour is the way to go!
ATV tours are not only exciting, but they get you to places you can’t reach by simply hiking. You’ll be sure to see beautiful wildlife and climb mountains to catch some incredible views. ATV tours are also great because you’ll have a guide who’s familiar with the area leading you and ensuring your safety.
Most of these tours include more than just riding an ATV, you’ll also get to visit beautiful waterfalls, or add to the adrenaline by ziplining or repelling! Some tours even include some truly delicious food.
On top of all of that, ATV tours are some of the cheaper activities on offer in Jaco. That’s right, while many people say Costa Rica is expensive, you can easily do an ATV tour in Jaco for under $100 USD per person.
Are ATV Tours in Jaco safe?
Yes, ATV riding in Jaco is generally considered safe!
Each tour is geared toward a specific skill level. Some are more family-friendly, like riding a side-by-side, while others are great for thrill-seekers! The best way to stay safe on an ATV tour is to ride to your ability and listen to the guides – they take hundreds of tours each year and are well-versed in the area, it is their job to ensure your safety!
Most tours require you to be at least 16 years old to drive the ATV and most allow children 5 years and older to ride as a passenger. Each tour will give you safety instructions and give you time to practice riding the ATV before you take off on the trail so you are comfortable and ready to have a good time!
Be sure to also wear a helmet (provided on all ATV tours in Jaco) as well as closed-toed shoes like runners/sneakers.
Note: Is is possible to have an accident while riding an ATV, but these are usually caused by poor driving and not following the directions of the guide.
The Best ATV Tours in Jaco
1. 3-Hour ATV Jungle Waterfall Adventure
If you’re simply looking for a classic ATV tour in Jaco, this particular tour is our top choice! You’ll ride along trails in the jungle, weaving between trees and splashing in the mud. You’ll eventually make your way up to a viewpoint overlooking the ocean – you can see as far as Manuel Antonio National Park on a clear day!
After enjoying the view, you’ll make your way to not one, but two waterfalls! Here you can relax in the natural pools, go for a little swim to cool off, or even try the cliff jump if you’re up for it.
This tour is suitable for first-time riders and the friendly English-speaking guide will teach you how to drive before you go. With that said, all drivers must be at least 16 years of age with a valid driver’s license.
The 3-hour tour costs $95 USD for adult drivers and $35 USD for passengers 4-15 years old, if you ask us it’s great value considering what’s all included and how highly rated the tour is! Roundtrip transportation is offered for those staying in Jaco. You’ll want to bring your GoPro, and bathing suit, and wear closed-toed shoes for this adventure.
Since this is one of the most popular ATV tours in Jaco, you should book online in advance here to secure your spot.
2. 4-Hour ATV Waterfall & Delicious Rainforest Lunch
This 4-hour ATV tour is one of the best ways to get into the jungle and explore the lush paradise. I really love this tour because not only are you sure to see animals such as monkeys, toucans, and sloths, but you’ll also explore a quaint mountain town to get an authentic Costa Rican experience!
Your tour will meet in Jaco and start by exploring the Agujas Mountains right behind the city. This route takes you through rainforests and rivers, past waterfalls, and up the mountain. Eventually, you’ll reach above the canopy and can catch a glimpse of the ocean. Here you’ll find the tranquil town of Bijagual.
This small town gives you a glimpse of authentic Costa Rican life with its town square, soccer field, and old church. It truly is a magical little pueblo! Here, you’ll have a traditional Costa Rican lunch with locally caught Tilapia and fresh ingredients.
You’ll continue your excursion down the mountain through rocky and muddy terrain. It’s not a true adventure if you’re not a little dirty by the end!
This tour can accommodate children 5 and older, but you must be at least 16 years old to drive the ATV. It’s recommended that you wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and closed-toe shoes.
You can book this unforgettable experience online here for $129 USD for adults and $29 USD for children.
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Check out the Viator website here!
3. Zipline + 3hr ATV & Waterfalls Combo Tour
For adventurers looking to spend a great day outdoors, this zipline and ATV combo tour comes highly recommended and is one of the memories from a trip a couple of years ago that we still talk about today! We love that the tour combines two of the most popular adventure activities in Jaco – ATVing and ziplining – plus it includes visiting waterfalls, what more could you ask for really?!
This tour starts by heading up a mountain to gain elevation so you can fly down it. You will soar down a 10 cable zipline circuit amongst the jungle treetops. If you’re lucky you’ll even see native wildlife including rare Costa Rican birds!
Once you get to the bottom, you’ll climb on some ATVs and explore the jungle floor riding through the mud, weaving along the mountain trails, and jumping in the refreshing waterfall.
In total, this tour lasts about 5 hours and costs $140.40 USD per person. This tour does not include transport and will instead start at Vista Los Sueños Adventure Park, about a 10-minute drive from Jaco. If you don’t have a rental car in Costa Rica, it is possible to organize transportation for an additional cost. This is not a tour for young families as there are age restrictions requiring zipliners to be at least 4 years old, and 8 years old to ride the ATV and all passengers must be under 260 lbs (118 kg).
4. Full Day Fun Pass Jaco Jungle Adventure
If you’re wanting an adventurous do it all style day, this tour guarantees a fun action-packed day! You’ll spend the day in the jungle horseback riding, ATVing through the forest, ziplining amongst the treetops, and even rappelling down a waterfall. The guides are friendly and talk you through every experience, making this a great option even if you’ve never tried some of these activities.
This 7-hour adventure tour costs $195 USD and has 3 three departure times depending on how early you’re looking to start. If you’re booking for a group of 2 or more, transportation from Jaco and the surrounding area is included. Lunch and all necessary equipment is also included in this activity.
I highly recommend dressing appropriately and bringing a change of clothes for when you’re wet from rappelling as you will want water shoes, shorts, extra socks, and closed-toed shoes.
You can book this full-day tour online here!
5. 5 Hour Off-Road ATV+ Zipline+ Waterfall Rappelling+ Tractor Jungle Tour
Your day begins by riding an ATV through the rugged trails up to the beautiful El Encanto waterfall. Here is your chance to rappel down the waterfall, with the watchful eye of your guides in case heights make you nervous! Our guide Diego was so patient and kind, so if you’re lucky to get him too, it is sure to be a great time.
The ATViing continues as you follow the trails up the mountain to a zipline! This is often the highlight of the tour. You’ll zip down 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) of the El Encanto Zipline, which is surely enough to get your adrenaline pumping.
This jam-packed day of adventure is sure to be a memorable time!
This tour includes hotel pickup within certain areas. Their guidelines are rather specific, so I recommend looking into it closely once you know exactly where your accommodation is located. Your safety equipment, the guides, and light refreshments are also included for $160 USD per person.
6. ATV Adventure & Horseback Riding with Waterfalls
We love this tour because it has a mixture of horseback riding, hiking, and ATVing, and allows you to see the jungle, waterfalls, and beach! It is the perfect combo adventure tour.
Your tour meets right outside of Jaco, just 10 minutes from the beach. There is an option for hotel pickup as well. You’ll meet your guides who will get you acquainted with your horse and make sure you are comfortable to ride.
Then, you’ll take a 45-minute ride up the mountains, giving you time to enjoy the scenery. Here, you’ll let the horses take a break as you hike down to a waterfall and natural swimming pools. This area is simply gorgeous, and swimming in waterfall-filled pools is a Costa Rica must-do!
You will head back to the base to refuel with some fresh fruit and snacks. At this time, you’ll switch from riding a horse to riding an ATV! While the horses are a calm and relaxing experience, the ATV ride will be sure to be a thrilling adventure. The next few hours will be filled with muddy jungle trails and incredible ocean viewpoints, giving you the chance to see some of the most beautiful parts of Costa Rica.
This 4-hour adventure includes all adventure and safety equipment, snacks, your guides, and the pretty scenery is complimentary! This tour can be booked online here for $140 USD per person.
Related Read: Horseback riding is also one of the best things to do in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica!
7. ATV Adventure + Chocolate Experience
There is nothing better than rewarding yourself with something tasty after an exciting day. I feel like it somehow makes everything taste better if you are exhausted from the day’s activities. This makes this ATV Adventure + Chocolate Experience the perfect tour for excitement and delicacy!
You’ll start your tour by taking a 2-hour ATV ride through the jungles surrounding Jaco Beach. Exploring the area by ATV gives you a new perspective of Jaco Beach and allows you to get further into the jungle than simply hiking! You’ll climb mountains and be able to see the beautiful blue ocean below.
You’ll even make your way to a waterfall that has a natural rock slide. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can slide into the crystal pool! This was my favorite part of the tour because I’d never seen anything quite like this!
After your two hours of adrenaline, you will get to slow things down by learning about the chocolate making process. The tour explains the International Cocoa collection where you can learn all about the cocoa fruit, its history, and its importance to the local economy. You’ll then get to be part of the chocolate-making process and try it yourself! If you’ve got a sweet tooth, this might be the best tour for you!
This unique ATV and chocolate tour includes all ATV and safety equipment, the chocolate tour, your guides, and snacks! It is only available for those 16 and older and can be booked online here for $110 USD.
8. Buggy Tour in Jaco
While most ATV tours are on quads, this Buggy Tour in Jaco offers you to ride in a side-by-side! This is a great experience if you’re in a group so you all can share in the adventure right next to each other.
You can choose if you want this experience to be 1 hour, 3 hours, or 4 hours. You’ll meet your tour in Jaco and take a short 5-minute drive to access the trails. This is where you’ll spend hours traversing mountains and exploring the great outdoors. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop and get out to explore by foot to get an up-close look of the area, and maybe even spot some wildlife!
If you select the 3 or 4 hour tours, you’ll have the chance to pass by waterfalls and natural pools! You’ll also stop for lunch with incredible views, and possibly even better food.
Regardless of which length of tour you choose, you’ll have lots of chances to stop at beautiful viewpoints to break up your time exploring. This is a great family-friendly activity, as the side-by-sides are very safe and exhilarating for kiddos.
This tour has options of length and party size to fit your needs. The 1-hour tour that accommodates up to 2 people cost $110 USD, whereas for 3 people it is $120 USD, and for 4 people it is $130 USD. The 3-hour 4-person tour is $270 USD per group, the 4-hour 3-person tour is $280 USD per group, and the 4-hour 4-person buggy tour is $320 USD per group. While this tour is on the pricier side, it is a super fun experience to share with friends or family that will make your Jaco trip awesome!
Related Read: For another fun activity, consider going whale watching in Costa Rica!
Other Things to do while you’re in Jaco
Jaco is such a fun destination, so be sure to do more than just ziplining while you’re here. Below are a few of the best things to see and do in Jaco:
- Visit Carara National Park – Located only a short 30-minute drive from Jaco is the stunning Carara National Park. This is your best opportunity for walking pristine trails through the jungle. It’s the most northern Pacific coastal rainforest in Costa Rica and also the closest national park to Jaco. You can see plenty of reptiles here and the entrance fee is $10 USD for foreigners.
- Go ziplining – Zipline tours in Jaco are extremely popular, and for good reason! This two-hour zipline tour starts with a long-long tram ride up above the jungle. Your guides will help you spot wildlife on the way! Then, it’s time to zipline back down over 10 different cables. The tour costs $85.50 USD per person.
- Surf – Jaco is the perfect place to ride a few waves in Costa Rica! You can easily rent a board in town and go out on your own, or choose to join a surf lesson like this one! It is a two-hour lesson that’ll have you standing up on the board in no time.
- Eat incredible food – There are some really tasty restaurants in Jaco that you don’t want to miss! For a HUGE burger, be sure to head to Ridiculous Burgers. For a seaside meal, check out El Point. They offer a huge menu and everything we tried there was delicious (we’ve eaten there several times), and the oceanviews and tasty cocktails are a bonus!
- Day trip to Tortuga Island – Tortuga Island is one of the most beautiful places to visit! A day tour from Jaco is one of the easiest ways to experience this beauty for yourself. This particular tour from Jaco includes transport with a stop at the Tarcoles River to see the crocodiles. Then it’s off to catch your speed boat to Tortuga Island where you will eat lunch, enjoy drinks, and do plenty of snorkeling and relaxing on the beach.
Where to Stay in Jaco, Costa Rica
As you can imagine, Jaco is a tourist city filled with beautiful hotels, holiday apartments, and even backpacker hostels. In fact, the hardest part about finding a great place to stay in Jaco is choosing from all the options – trust me, I’ve been there before!
Room2Board Hostel – $
For budget travelers and backpackers, I love Room2Board Hostel. The hostel is on the pricier side of budget hostels, but it has a beautiful pool, surf camp, yoga, and modern facilities. The atmosphere is also great for meeting other travelers.
Apartotel Flamboyant – $$
If your backpacking days are over and you can spend a little more, Apartotel Flamboyant is a top choice in the medium budget range. The hotel is centrally located, and you can see the beach from the pool. The rooms are a more typical Costa Rica design, but it’s one of the best for location and amenities.
All of the rooms have a private bathroom, and the property’s gardens are beautiful. Rates for a room begin at $115 USD/night. You can check availability and book a room online here on Booking.com.
Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort – $$$
Luxury travelers have tons of great options depending on what you’re looking for. If you don’t mind staying out of town, Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort is beautiful. This beachside resort is like something out of a fairytale.
Located on Herradura Beach, the resort grounds include a huge pool, restaurant, fitness center, and spa. Room rates begin at $269 USD/night. You can check availability and book a room here on Booking.com.
For more info, check out our where to stay in Jaco guide.
Getting Around Jaco, Costa Rica
Jaco is a pretty big city, so getting around on foot isn’t always the most ideal. If you already have a rental car, then great, you’re all set! If not, you’ll need to know how to get around this city to explore all of the fun activities and attractions.
If you’re up for it, rent a scooter, motorbike, or ATV. A scooter is a good budget-friendly option as you can get them for as little as $45 USD per day – cheaper than taking multiple taxis. ATVs are obviously more fun, they cost around $180 USD per day. A motorbike will cost you about $75 per day, but keep in mind, you must have a motorbike license to rent it. Both a scooter and ATV only require a normal driver’s license.
We rented from AXR when we were in Jaco and they were a good company, professional with good quality scooters and ATVs.
If you don’t want to rent any vehicle, you can easily take taxis and Ubers around Jaco. For shorter trips in town and nearby, they are a good option. However, they can get pretty pricey for longer trips like out to Crocodile Bridge. For these types of day trips, it’s best to book an organized tour.
There is also a public bus that operates to select areas in and around Jaco, however, the schedule isn’t widely known and can change frequently.
Related Read: ATVing is also one of the best things to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica!
Getting Around Costa Rica
How you choose to get around Costa Rica is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when planning your holiday here! How you do it depends on your budget, travel style, and comfort level.
Renting a Car
Without a doubt, the number one way to explore Costa Rica is in a rental car. We book rental cars on the Discover Cars website as we have had good experiences with them in the past.
One of the things you need to watch for when renting a car in Costa Rica is the mandatory insurance that the government requires you to have. There are a lot of very cheap rentals that don’t include this mandatory insurance (TPL) in the original booking price, but there are also ones that do. To avoid additional surprise charges when you pick up your rental car, be sure to rent a car that includes the mandatory insurance when you book.
Thankfully, on Discover Cars it’s easy to tell apart the companies that include the mandatory insurance and those that don’t. The trick is you can’t pick any car on their website. In the picture below, you can see this rental car, with pick up in Jaco, includes the TPL. That means the mandatory insurance is included in the price. Any cover you get above that is extra.
Of course, I still suggest getting the full coverage offered by Discover Cars, which covers you even more.
You can browse cars on Discover Cars here.
If renting a car isn’t in your budget, you don’t feel comfortable driving in Costa Rica, or you just don’t like driving, shuttles are the next best option. There are hundreds of shuttle routes available all over the country, and they are very affordable.
Shuttles in Costa Rica are specifically for tourists and often include pick up and drop off at your selected hotels and airports. The drivers also speak some English, and the vehicles have air conditioning. You’ll also be guaranteed a seat when you book a shuttle (which isn’t the case with the public bus system.)
To get the best price, use the website Bookaway. They compare all the offers and prices of shuttle companies in Costa Rica so you get the best price! Honestly, we have saved so much money using Bookaway!
You can search for shuttles online on Bookaway here.
Lastly, you can use the public bus system. On short journeys, such as from San Jose to La Fortuna or Uvita to Manuel Antonio, this system is great. However, the longer the journey the more hassle and time spent on a bus. It’s undoubtedly best to save the public bus in Costa Rica for short and straightforward trips!
The public buses are definitely the cheapest way to get around Costa Rica, but they are not always very reliable and schedules often change without notice and delays are to be expected. The buses can also be very crowded and hot – so just be prepared!
It’s also good to speak some Spanish if you plan on riding the public bus since most drivers and ticket booth operators don’t speak English.
Invest in Travel Insurance
Paying out of pocket for trip interruptions or medical treatment will add to what might already be a stressful situation. We always travel with SafetyWing travel medical insurance.
The best part is that it costs only a fraction of what most insurance policies charge, which makes it perfect for digital nomads, long-term travelers (like us), and budget travelers. It only costs $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage, you must purchase it after leaving your home country. We usually purchase it as soon as we land at the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada from Colombia before the border closed!
Thanks for reading!
There you have it, the best ATV tours in Jaco, Costa Rica including tips to know before you go. I’m sure that if you choose any of the above recommended tours, you’ll have such a fun time!
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