Playa Hermosa, known for its consistent surfing waves and easy going atmosphere is an excellent place to stay if you’re looking to experience the best of the Central Pacific. As it is very close to Jaco, visitors can enjoy the conveniences and pleasures of that bustling beach town but come back to a quiet, low key beach to sleep. Here is our guide to Playa Hermosa (Jaco), Puntarenas.
Hermosa means beautiful in Spanish and with so many beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, make sure not to get it confused with the Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste, Playa Hermosa in Santa Teresa or Playa Hermosa by Uvita!
Playa Hermosa map
Playa Hermosa is 106 kilometers (66 miles) from San Jose. It is 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Jaco beach.
How to Get There
Driving: From San Jose, it is about a 2 hour drive on a route that goes through a well paved highway.
Bus: Take the bus in San Jose to Jaco from Terminal 7 10, then at the Jaco bus stop, take the bus to Quepos. Tell the bus driver you want to get off at Playa Hermosa and they will drop you off in town.
Shuttle: You can take shared shuttles with Interbus from San Jose to Hermosa (~$47 USD per person) or private shuttles that are around $120-150 USD one way depending on the number of people.
You can use GPS or a GPS app like Waze or Google Maps to get to Hermosa. The turn will be to your right off the main highway and you will see lots of signs along the way.
If you’re driving, there is a very nice viewpoint right outside of Jaco that I recommend to stop at. There is a big JACO sign and you will see several cars stopped there. You may even see some Scarlet Macaws there!
There isn’t really one dedicated parking lot at Hermosa beach. Instead, you will find areas to park on the street running parallel to the beach. You’ll see lots of cars parked like the photo below and anyone can park there.
There aren’t any parking guards or security so make sure to lock your doors and roll up your windows if you park. If your whole group plans to go surfing, we recommend to purchase a Master Lock to lock the car key, especially if you have an electronic car key.
Nope! The road to Playa Hermosa is on a highway and then road through Hermosa is on a partially paved road. There are some big potholes so just drive carefully around them but a 4×4 is not necessary. You will see most visitors rent a 4×4 however as they probably plan to drive further down south where that type of car is required (Costa Ballena, Osa Peninsula).
The road is partially paved and it will end at a gated community. Because Hermosa beach is also part of a wildlife refuge, they don’t have roads that go further down the beach.
How to Get Around
If you decide to use Playa Hermosa as your home base in Costa Rica or are simply staying for a few days, the best way to get around is by car. There isn’t too much at Hermosa except for the several restaurants and hotels spread out in the town. Most of the restaurants, shops, banks, supermarkets are in Jaco.
Playa Hermosa Beach
Hermosa beach is a long and wild one, stretching for a total of 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) total including the part of the refuge. It has dark sand, not much shade and consistent surfing waves.
You won’t find large crowds, bars blasting reggaeton or parties on the beach here. Instead, you’ll notice it’s quiet, with just the sound of the birds and waves to listen to. Every time we’ve visited this Playa Hermosa by Jaco, we only see a handful of people and majority of them are surfers.
The tranquility is one of the reasons why people love Hermosa, even those who don’t surf.
It’s perfect for long strolls on the beach, watching the sunset and relaxing with a cold beer while you watch the surfers paddle out.
But if you are a surfer, then Playa Hermosa is a beach you must catch waves!
Surfing Playa Hermosa
Being on the Central Pacific coast and a surfing beach, Playa Hermosa is not suitable for swimming but perfect for catching sweet waves which is why this beach is known as the national stadium for surfing in Costa Rica. This name is now even more appropriate as Playa Hermosa was named the first World Surfing Reserve in Central America in 2020. This is a huge deal for the local community and for the beach as it’ll pump up its status as a premiere surfing beach even more!
Note: This beach does experience rip tides and strong currents so it is not for swimming, whether you’re an adult or experienced swimmer. Take extra precaution if you dip your toes.
In addition, Hermosa beach is not very suitable for first timers or fresh beginner surfers. If you want to take a lesson, then Jaco is your best option for surf lessons, especially beginners. But if you are a shredding shortboarder, then Hermosa is a surfing beach you MUST visit in Costa Rica!
Hermosa beach is also great for stand up paddle surfers and kayak surfers. Most experienced local surfers prefer Hermosa to Jaco as well, due to less crowds and bigger waves so it’s a great beach to go to surf with locals.
If you need to rent boards, you can rent surf boards in Playa Hermosa at Hermosa Rider Surf School or any of the surf shops in Jaco. You can rent daily or weekly, daily is around $20 USD and weekly is around $120 USD.
Hotels and Surf Camps
- Hotel Tramonto: Small beachfront hotel, just steps away from the beach. Further into Hermosa beach so the road to the hotel is a dirt road. They have a small pool, restaurant and is dog friendly. We had a pool view and it was kind of noisy since it was right next to the restaurant. Around $75 USD a night.
- The Backyard Hotel: Small boutique-like hotel on the beach where they hold the Saturday local surfing competitions. They have an open air restaurant where you can have drinks and watch the surfers. Also has gated parking. Around $120 USD a night.
- Hermosa Beach House: Beachfront hotel with a pool and suites with semi-furnished kitchens. Popular for yoga retreats.
- Sandpiper Hotel: Beachfront hotel great for families as they have a game room with ping pong tables, table football and hammocks.
As for surf camps, Hermosa Riders Surf School and Surf Inn Hermosa are two places in Hermosa that offer surf vacation packages and intermediate to advanced lessons.
You can find several restaurants throughout Hermosa, most as part of a hotel. The Backyard Hotel has a good restaurant, Pizza Pata is a nice local spot for pizza, Vista Hermosa is a good restaurant and bar and Hotel Las Olas has good sushi.
Things to do and Day Tours from Playa Hermosa
Playa Hermosa by Jaco is in a great location to experience beach, jungle, wildlife and nature, not just surf. You’re only 2 hours from San Jose, 1 hour from Manuel Antonio and 5 minutes from Jaco. Two wonderful national parks, Carara and Manuel Antonio are in easy driving distance and there are many adventures park like Vista Los Sueños, Rainforest Adventures and the Ranch nearby to zipline, horseback ride, ATV and go canyoning. An awesome day tour is the Tortuga Island 1 day cruise to see a white sand beach and go snorkeling.
You can check our post “things to do in Jaco” for more ideas.
There are tour companies in the Jaco area that include roundtrip transportation from Playa Hermosa. Feel free to contact us if you’re interested in booking tours from Hermosa!
If you happen to visit during the rainy season months like June – November, it is possible to go with a guide for sea turtle nesting tours. When we stayed at Tramonto in November 2016, there was a guide offering turtle tours and the guests saw two turtle nesting that night.
What to Know About Visiting Playa Hermosa, Puntarenas
- Although most non-surfers stay a night or two, it is possible to stay at Playa Hermosa as a homebase or for a longer stay. If you do stay longer than a night or two, we highly recommend renting a car to get around.
- Not the best place to base yourself in Costa Rica for young families due to lack of accommodation options, restaurants and services.
- Mostly catered to surfers (just keep that in mind).
- Not a good beach for swimming.
Read About Other Surfing Beaches below!
Tamarindo (beach town in Guanacaste)
Playa Grande (popular surfing beach in Guanacaste)
Playa Avellanas (another popular surfing beach in Guanacaste)
Cocles (beach in the South Caribbean)
Dominical (popular surfing beach town about 1.5 hour drive from Playa Hermosa)
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