Dominical is a city in South Pacific Costa Rica. The number one attraction in Dominical is the beach. There's all the amenities to help you enjoy a safe and exhilarating time. Fishing and waterfalls tie for second in area attractions. Ziplines, caves, horseback riding, yoga, massage, socializing, and hiking are as well favorites here.
Usually people only need directions from the San José airport, SJO. There are three ways to get to Dominical, not counting the sea. The most common is from the east, via San Isidro (de General). San José is where you fly in and either bus or rent a car and head south to San Isidro. There you can buy some groceries at reasonable prices and head west (just ask for Dominical). This entire route takes you through cloud forests, mountain ridges, and river valleys and takes about four hours by car and six hours by bus (San José to Dominical). Coming in from the northern route now has a new, paved highway. From Quepos, Dominical is about a 1-hour drive. From the south what people do is fly into SJO, then make reservations for Sansa air flight to Palmar Sur and get a car rental to meet them there. From Palmar Sur to Dominical is the best road in the country, thought to support the future plans of an international airport in Palmar Sur. It only takes 45 minutes to drive from the airport to Dominical this way.
The best way to get to Dominical is using Easy Ride Shuttle[dead link] service daily shuttles from San José downtown and SJO airport shuttle leaves at 09:30, and 15:00 rate is US$45 one way per person in modern vans with professional drivers.
It is also best to already know more about the area, places to visit and accommodation, the town is becoming more touristic as it is considered a great surf spot and many retired surfers live here.
The town is walkable but most roads are not paved. There is a tourist office just down from the main road, and also a couple of supermarkets.
Lifeguards are not a given in Costa Rica. Children aren't taught to swim and the Red Cross comes to the beach only 2 or 3 times a year for a few days (and then without ocean safety provisions). Funding continuously challenges the professionally trained Dominical Lifeguards program as they are wholly donation funded. This mean these shepherds of the sea are always happy to accept donations from travelers of surf fins, red swim trunks, sunscreen, floats, and cans. Preventative measures are strong (training, public awareness, manning the lifeguard tower and walking or running the beach) as strong waves require alert beach-goers and fortunately there are Lifeguards in Dominical, dedicated to serving both national and international visitors. The Annual 4th of July Sunday Lifeguards Fundraiser Extravaganza at Roca Verde Hotel/Bar/Restaurant has live music, auction, children's games, surfing, beach party, and a huge BBQ.
Being less than 8 km (5 miles) from Marino Ballena National Park, whales are seen along the shoreline 9 months of the year. Thus, whale watching tours are popular and normally successful. This piece of the Pacific Ocean is one of only two places in the world where whales from the Northern Hemisphere and those from the Southern Hemisphere meet (the other is in North Africa). The Humpback is the star of the show, but six other species are also common.
Learning to surf is big here in Dominical. There are several businesses to help you accomplish this. Green Iguana Surf Camp[dead link] is the oldest running full service camp, followed by Dominical Surf Camp with surf pro Rony Obando, next oldest is Alejandro Cerdes Costa Rica Surf Camp and pro Jose "Gato" Montoya's Gato Surf Camp. Tres Olas Surf Camp offers a slightly different package more tailored to good surfers wanting to get better. For one-on-one Steve Fergus at Jazzy's RiverHouse, Debbie Zec (+506 344-2582) was 2nd in the National Circuit Women's category and gives lessons to young girls wanting to learn. For surf tours, El Tubo Surf.
- 1 Costa Rica Whale Watching, Dominical, Costa Rica, ☏ . Daily whale watching cruises from Dominical on Costa Rica's southern Pacific coast on Pacific Quest. Large, safe boat with restrooms and snack bar. US$80.
- Sunset Surf Dominical (Dominical Surf Camp), Hotel Domilocos (50m up from The Refuge), ☏ . Sunset Surf is in Domilocos and offers a wide variety of Dominical surfing packages to suit everyone.
- Autentico Rafting Adventures, ☏ . Rafting trips near Dominical featuring rapids class 2, 3, and 4. Guides have years of experience guiding the rivers near Dominical. from US$65.
- 2 Tree of Life Tours (high adventure soaked with pure adrenaline, or peaceful hiking through pristine rainforests), Las Tumbas, Costa Rica (30 minutes from Playa Dominical and 3.5 hours from San Jose), ☏ . Family-run business offering awe inspiring tours since 1996 of majestic vistas, cliff jumping, multiple waterfalls (one is 180 m, 600 feet), overnight stays inside a waterfall's cave, canyoning, beginner and advanced rappelling, all reasonably priced with excellent guides and food.
- Costa Rica Surf Camp, ☏ .
- Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary, ☏ .
- Hacienda Baru has very interesting eco tours including a night venture.
The only ATM is next to the tourist information in a corner under the area with the wooden roof. Just a small green machine without a cabin around. It provides US dollars and colones. To be safe, better bring some money with you, as credit cards are not accepted everywhere and the ATM can be out of order.
- Bamboo YogaPlay (Bamboutique), In front of the school in Dominical, ☏ . 08:30-18:30. For daily yoga, dance, massage and the cutest clothes and adornments at the Bamboutique come to Bamboo YogaPlay in the center of Dominical on the main road. US$12 a class and $60 for highly qualified therapeutic massage.
- [dead link] Gato Suf Camp, Dominical, ☏ . Pro surfer and Costa Rica national team member Jose "Gato" Montoya has opened Gato Surf Camp. Packages are available for all levels and budgets. Besides surfing Gato Surf Camp offers other local adventures to neighboring waterfalls, paddle boarding, kayaking, yoga, and more. Pura Vida!
- Sunset Surf School (In lobby of Domi locos hotel, on the beach), ☏ . M-Sa 08:00-17:00. A family-owned and -run business from Hawaii, affiliated with Hotel Domi Locos where they work and run a surf camp and a surf school with certified instructors.
Restaurants are varied and many. "Typical Comida" is found in every restaurant.
- The Gecko Restaurant at La Cusinga Eco Lodge - An organic restaurant, next to Ballena Marine National Park that aims to offer guests spiritual and physical sustenance.
- San Clemente - Mexican American
- Coconut Spice - Thai
- Tortilla Flats - beach seafood
- Rio Mar - steak and seafood
- Nanyoa - budget Costa Rican
- La Parcela - international cuisine in an exquisite setting
- La Macha - seafood
- The Soda - typical local restaurant, right behind the Cool Vibes Hostel has great smoothies and shakes from local fruits for reasonable prices. Also cheap local food. The surf guides eat there.
- Que Nivel - great food and serves until 14:00. Their food is different from everywhere else. Everyone goes there late night to drink and get a good late night meal.
All grocery stores have sandwich makings and dinner preparations.
- Roca Verde. Most popular even if it is only one night a week (Sa) as the nearby San Isidro city parks itself there and Latinas sway in the moonlight.
- Tortilla Flats closes at 21:00 but serves it up from breakfast till then and is perfect for a surf and a beer or three.
- Maracatú has ladies' nights, reggae nights, and live nights.
- Cocos is all about the Tico flavor and terrific for sports nights.
- Confusione often has violin music on Saturday nights.
- San Clemente has Friday night covered with a discothèque throb.
- Que Nivel has happy hour every night from 18:00-20:00. Also they have weekly events: Monday Movie Night, Ten Thousand Tuesday (Costa Rican Dice Game), Thursday is Ladies' 80s Night, and Saturday they have the preparty for Roca Verde with Power Hour.
- La Cascada on the Beach is a club with all the amenities on the beach.
There's even a delivery service, NightFlight, in town to get booze and food to your vacation home until three in the morning.
- The Refuge. Really good burgers & fries toward the south end of town.
- Maracatu, ☏ . World music bar and natural tropical cuisine.
- Casi el Cielo (Almost Heaven), ☏ . Bed and breakfast vacation villa on the Pacific Coast near Dominical, includes meals and fresh baked goods.
- El Castillo (Ojochal), Perasosa Rd (18 miles south of Dominical), ☏ . Perched on a cliff 100 m (300 ft) above the Pacific. Stunning location, Spanish colonial masterpiece. 10 bedrooms, AC, infinity pool, bar. US$100.
- El Coco. Check-out: 11:00. Cheapest hostel in town (all of the rooms are US$16, the price is for a room of 3 or 4 people), at the end of the unique road, 10 m from the beach. You see a big restaurant with very reasonable prices ($6, average for a dinner, is cheaper than getting products at the supermarket). The rooms are basic, with fan. There are shared bathrooms and showers, no hot water. The owner is very friendly and helpful. US$16.
- Costa Paraiso Beach Resort (2 km south of Dominical), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Luxury oceanfront cabins with good views and a restaurant. Around US$110.
- La Cusinga Eco Lodge (Next to Ballena Marine National Park), ☏ . See the whales from your room, toucans, cusingas, howler monkeys, etc., from your room, from the restaurant, in the parking lot.
- Hotel Domilocos (50 m up from The Refuge), ☏ . Touts its low prices. US$45.
- 1 Jazzy's River House Cabina Rental, Main St, On Rio Baru (Across the street from Soccer Field, behind Maracatu Restaurant), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: noon, check-out: 11:00. Nestled in its own tropical jungle, this “tico chic” tree house is a real treat. It is two stories with a fully loaded kitchen, a gorgeous tiled bathroom with hot water, comfy living quarters and the upstairs bedrooms offer gorgeous views of the sunset over Rio Baru. Sleeps 4. The hosts offer their host of unique Tico talents like palm sheath weaving, surfing and kayaking. US$60 low season, $75 high season.
- Piramys Beach Front Hostel, 100m south of restaurante el Coco (Along small beach road), ☏ . Facilities include a kitchen, free Wi-Fi, free coffee for dorm guest, lockers, tour information & car rental, shuttle transportation from/to Dominical, surf board rentals & lessons, fully equipped gym, basketball court, and "The Refuge" restaurant.
- Que Nivel, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Eight-room hostel, restaurant and bar US$10-35.
- Rio Magnolia Ecolodge, La Alfombra, ☏ . Rio Magnolia eco-lodge sits on a 110 ha (280 acre) mountain rainforest overlooking the Pacific halfway between Playa Dominical and San Isidro.
- 2 Villas Rio Mar (Villas Rio Mar), 800 meters upstream the Baru river, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Comfortable rooms with hot water, fans and A/C in the Superior Rooms and Junior Suites. Big pool, spa, kids playground and in house activity center. Good restaurant with local and international food. US$60.
- 3 Dominical Adventure Treehouse, Ayacucho neighborhood (Across street from Roca Verde, and up into the gated community), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: Anytime, check-out: noon. Airbnb listed, oceanfront, perched 90 m above town with viewing balconies, water yoga and sunset yoga platforms, garden. Not a typical hotel room. Avatar-like luxury camping amongst monkeys and toucans. The ocean waves provide the background music. $185.
- Pacific Edge Jungle Cabinas (Pacific Edge Eco Retreat), KM 148 Costanera Sur, Dominical, Puntarenas, Costa Rica, firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Perched in the jungle above the Pacific Ocean south of Dominical in the area known as Escaleras de Dominical. 90 m above the coastal white water surf line, and the other side is a densely wooded primary rain forest wildlife sanctuary, alive with the cry of Howler Monkeys and Toucans, backgrounded with the sound of the crashing surf below. US$80-135.
- Villas Alturas, ☏ .
The tourist information at the entrance of the village (on the right side, 50 m from the junction) has bus schedules for several directions.
Backpackers: There are daily airport shuttles to San José (SJO) at 06:30, 10:45 and 15:45 for US$35 per person (that is the cost for a taxi in San José to the airport alone).