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Choosing the place for you: Jaco, Herradura, Hermosa, Esterillos, or Bejuco

Choosing the place for you: Jaco, Herradura, Hermosa, Esterillos, or Bejuco

Jaco's popularity may dwarf some that of the surrounding area, but it's only one popular beachside town surrounded by several satellites each with its own unique features: Hermosa's world-class surf, Herradura's marina and golf course, Esterillos' local flare and Bejuco's quiet grace.

Here's a quick guide to choosing the right beach destination for you:

Jaco

Jaco has a well-rounded combination of culture, surf and adventure that makes it a popular destination for locals and visitors. Just an hour and a half outside San Jose, Jaco's the biggest beach town in the central Pacific nestled along a two-mile stretch of dark velvet volcanic sands – a great spot for learning to surf and watching the sunset.

Most of the town's hotels, hostels, restaurants, bars, cafes, clothing stores and gift shops reside along the main street that runs parallel with the beach.  A mix of affordable and luxury accommodations, Jaco has a little something for everyone including an assortment of canopy, ATV, surfing, fishing and horseback riding tours.

Hermosa

Beach bums unite! Delight in the beach breaks mere seconds from your hotel and spend your evenings sipping on happy hour cocktails with your like-minded brethren. Hermosa Beach has world-class waves and a surfer culture to match. Most hotels and hostels offer low- to mid-range prices close to the beach and if you ever get tired of the surfing, you can walk the beach looking for the party at any of Hermosa's beachside bars.

Herradura

Herradura is Jaco's luxury destination home to the Marriott, La Iguana golf course, Costa Rica's most expensive marina and a slew of casual and fine dining restaurants.  Nearby, you'll find the Los Suenos adventure park with horseback riding, ATVs and zip line tours – a great outing for families looking for some adventure. Additionally, Carara National Park and the Tarcoles River are only a short drive away from Herradura, Hermosa or Jaco.

Esterillos Este and Oeste

Many locals, surfers and ex-pats live in Esterillos to escape the chaos of Jaco. A mix of good surf, low-key attitudes and long stretches of isolated beach make Esterillos the perfect choice for visitors looking to escape the hustle of the city and enjoy life at a slower pace. Esterillos has low- to mid-range lodging, a few small restaurants and more of a local feeling than the other beaches in the area.

Bejuco

It's all about the hotels in Bejuco. Even farther south of Jaco than Esterillos, Bejuco offers seclusion, nature and comfortable budget and luxury accommodations best suited for couples and families. For visitors interested in getting away from it all without ever having to leave the hotel or the beach, Bejuco is the best place for you. That said, if you do want to catch movie and a bite to eat it's only a 25-minute drive to Jaco.