Dominical in Pictures
If working is trading time for money, then vacation is trading money for experience; and Dominical is full of experiences. Dominical is the best type of tourism destination, still in that raw phase, the industry has grown out of respect for nature. In just a few weeks I've touched the soft pads of a capuchin monkey's feet, tasted the brine of the pacific while snorkeling off the coast of Cano island, jumped off waterfalls, swung from rope swings, kayaked through oncoming waves and surfed three different beaches; each with different swells, breaks and periods.
Here are a few highlights from my trip:
Erik begins his performance swimming to the center of the 60-foot Nauyaca waterfalls. He ties one end of his rope somewhere inside the wall of whitewater and climbs halfway up the cascades. At this point the doubt sets in, "There is no way I'm doing that." Just to cement the anxiety in your stomach, Erik ties off the rope at the top and finishes his performance with a backflip off the falls into the plunge pool beneath. Then it's your turn. Erik helps you reach the center of the falls then shows you where to place your feet as you climb hand over hand using the rope, water spilling over your body in a torrential downpour. At the top of this Costa Rican throne, you are 30 feet over the gorge. Jumping off is easier than it looks, just don't think about it.
Whale Tail Kayak Tour
Out on Uvita Beach, inside Ballena Marine National Park, a sand bar breaks free from the coast line connecting an l-shaped rock, coral island forming the Whale's Tail, a geographic replica of the humpback's flukes. Snorkeling along the reefs beside the tail, you'll find conch shells and puffer fish, snapper and Sgt. Major circling the rocks while star fish creep along the brain coral. Guides search out the best the waters have to offer for the day, putting marine life like star fish in your hands to feel its sand-paper texture.
As the tide rises, it begins to roll over the Whale Tail's main sand bar forming waves on both sides that crash together over the center of the sand bar. Learn to catch the waves, kayak surfing, and ride into the tumultuous center where the waves crash together like a thunder clap. Don't worry about flipping; you'll still be able to stand up on the sand bar.
Snorkeling at Cano Island
White sand beaches and blue water alive with tropical fish, manta rays and sea turtles, Cano Island is the most popular diving destination in this side of the Pacific coast. Snorkeling and diving trips leave from all along the Pacific, spotted dolphins swim in the wakes of the boat and let their curiosity lead them right up alongside the boat, while off in the distance you can spot humpback whales breaching the surface to breathe, their fins jutting out of the water as salt water glitters and slides off their backs. Day trips to the island usually include two different dives/ snorkeling sessions, time to relax on the beach, and the possibility to watch the whales and dolphins.
Osa Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary
When you're in a cage with monkeys, you wait for the monkeys to come to you. It's a rare opportunity to actually pet Costa Rica's wildlife, but at the Osa Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary that's what you'll have the chance to do. Owner Mike Graeber, personally takes care of all of the shelter's animals including coatis, agoutis, pacas, parrots, macaws, howler and capuchin monkeys. Visitors have a chance to meet with some of the different animals like Mike's pair of capuchin monkeys, taken from neglectful owners and not fit to be released into the wild. Because the monkeys haven't yet reached sexual maturity, they're still cute, fun and docile. They hop around the cages looking for food, then jump on your back and crawl up your arms to investigate.
Rent a board for just $10 for a half-day and head out for a session with the Dominical surf. Cross over the cobblestones and drift wood to where the tide breaks along the sandy shore, wait for a small set and paddle out. Power through the whitewater and you're rewarded with green-blue jeweled waters, big, barreling waves. Hang out in the green and get tips from the other locals or just concentrate on the surf and the sun waiting for that perfect set.