The drive from the San Jose airport (Juan Santamaria International Airport) to Jaco will take about 1 hour and 30 minutes and is fully paved with the new highway in place. We suggest exchanging at least $5 US dollars into Costa Rican colones for the tolls on the highway. Ask the rental car agent to send you off in the right direction, which should be west on Route 1, past the airport. Drive defensively and be aware when two lanes become one, “CEDA” means “Yield”.
Note: The first 13 km uses the same “old” route to Manuel Antonio. GPS devices might not be updated and will likely still have the “old” route so do not rely on them to follow the complete recommended route.
Once on Route 1 – follow signs to San Ramon, and continue straight ahead for about 10 km. After the second bridge crossing, get in the right lane and take the next exit (Route 3) for Jaco / Quepos / Manuel Antonio. There is also a sign here for Punta Leona and Atenas. Turn left at the stop sign, crossing back over Route 1.
Follow Route 3 for about 3 km. Look for a large Christian church on the left and then a soccer field and make a left on the road immediately after it. You are on the road to Turrucares. There are no signs and it’s a secondary road, so don’t think you’ve made a mistake. It’s currently the best connection to the toll highway from the airport.
Drive for another 3 km through this somewhat winding road. Once you arrive at the highway intersection turn left BEFORE the highway. Again, there are no signs here yet. Be careful as it’s a narrow two-way gravel access road. After some 300 meters you will arrive at a roundabout. Make a right following the highway signs to Orotina / Atenas.
Drive on the highway through 2 toll booths. Then, take the next right exit to Route 34, follow signs for Jaco / Quepos. This exit forms a loop and then you bypass a roundabout to continue straight to Jaco (another 36 km).
Follow Route 34 (also called Costanera) for a while and you will cross over the Tarcoles River Bridge – there are usually a few cars parked before/after the bridge since it is a popular viewing point for the crocodiles lurking in and around the river.
Shortly after this you will see the ocean on your right hand side. Pass Punta Leona and Herradura – you will see the Automercado supermarket on the right hand side of the road. Finally you will see signs for entering Jaco on the right hand side.