Exploring the South Pacific Coast can lead you to one of Costa Rica’s old beach towns, still untouched by urbanization and overwhelming commercialism. Dominical is essentially a cool, laid-back Costa Rican seaside town to escape and feel happy. It remains authentic with its rugged and natural chill beach vibes.
Hanging on to its low-key presence being almost 4 hours from San Jose has helped Dominical sustain that essence. It isn’t a quick drive for a day at the beach so its attraction resonates with those in search of its unique bohemian spirit and a passion for the waves.
Once a remote village considered to be a sleepy fishing community the dirt roads along the highway became paved making way for curious travelers. Dominical became more accessible to those seeking out Costa Rica’s off the beaten path adventures. Only 40 minutes along the coastal highway from Manuel Antonio one can find themselves in a hidden utopia.
Hammocks strung amongst the palms, siestas, cervezas, and pura vida. It is what one would envision a true Costa Rican beach town to be. The beachfront greets you with vibrant colors lining the road with towels, sarongs, blankets, and hammocks from the local market. The creativity of one’s hearts and minds are on display with their handmade jewelry and crafts. It’s the quintessential destination of surf, jungle, ocean, mountains, and care-free energies.
An explosion of resorts and condos has yet to overtake the village so there is still the feel of earthy and natural energy. Hostels, surf spots, and bars radiate tropical vibes out onto the road. With a consistent population of under a thousand, you will still find some of the essentials you need especially as tourism and expats continue to expand into the area and the surrounding mountains.
Sea Views and Sunset Strolls
Characterized by its darkish, 4 km flat long beach, a panoramic postcard of the Pacific sprawls out beside you as you stroll the shores of Dominical. It isn’t the place to go if you want to spend a day swimming in the waters, the waves are a bit on the rougher side but it is the place to unwind and restore. The nearby Playa Dominicalito is where you can find a place to swim and enjoy the peace of a quiet unpopulated beach.
Walking along the ocean you are swallowed up by the amazing sea views of Dominical. The sunsets are even more epic with the contrast of the sky against the darker sands. It is considered to many as one of the many beautiful places in the country to gather and watch the sunset.
World-Renowned Surfer’s Paradise
Surfing is one of the main attractions to Dominical, it is the core love of the community making it what it is today. The seventies saw an uprising in those in search of consistent waves year-round and since then word has spread. Dominical is one place to be if surfing is in your blood.
Experienced surfers come to ride out the waves, especially when the tides are high in the summer months. If you aren’t quite ready to brave the board, those aspiring can sit back in admiration. There are plenty of surf schools that can help one that may be less skilled taking you out onto calmer waters.
Settled along the coastline of Costa Ballena you can expect plenty of fresh fish and delicious seafood on all the menus with amazing specials for the day to delight your tastebuds. Hidden gems of food stops and restaurants surprise visitors with the beachfront charm and glorious ocean views.
You will find nourishing foods in their cafes with smoothies, cold-pressed juices, vegan and vegetarian dishes all paired with the mellow and friendly vibes. Healthy organic options restore your body after a day in the tropical suns.
Typical sodas of delicious casados, ceviche at its best even Thai food and curries, Dominical boasts an array of international cuisines all in its small community. The river views through town paired with the flavors of the village are in itself a reason to come and experience the ambiance of Dominical.
Exploring and Things to Do
Hacienda Barú National Wildlife Refuge
Just north of Dominical is a place of pure wildlife and nature all combined into one well preserved and loved wildlife refuge due to the tremendous vision and efforts of Jack Ewing. Whether you stay at the lodge or explore one of the eco-tours you will be taken into a world of immense beauty and forestry.
Self-guided trails through a diversity of habitats traverse you into forests and mangroves with all the country’s exotic wildlife of monkeys, sloths, and coatis. Above you can search for some of the extensive birdlife of over 350 species being spotted, toucans, honeycreepers, mots mots, and more.
Reaching Nauyaca falls can be done hiking into the dense jungle or through a tour if you aren’t so sure about your abilities with the terrain. But once you reach it you will be glad you did, with its two-tier cascading waterfall plunging into a pool of water 6 meters deep surrounded by smaller natural pools.
Dominical is rooted on the Whale Coast so if visiting during whale season it is a must-do from August to November. As they arrive at Costa Rica’s tropical waters, tours from Uvita can take you out to see these majestic giants out in their natural habitat as they find sanctuary in Marina Ballena National Park.
It is more than worth the effort to make the drive and spend a few days in Dominical. Exploring the mountains and jungle, hiking through the wilderness of Costa Rica to Dominical’s secluded waterfall, your days are filled with pleasure. Riding out the epic waves or feeling free in the cocoon of your hammock, Dominical is all about unwinding and just enjoying life.
It is one place where you don’t need to try and describe to someone what pura vida is, here you just feel it, it is in the air and the spirit of the friendly people