- Summary: Tranquil beach town popular among surfers; home to Ballena National Marine Park
- Landscape: Beaches, rainforest
- Attractions: Hacienda Baru Wildlife Refuge, Ballena National Marine Park, Nauyaca Waterfalls, Reptile Park, wildlife
- Activities: Adventure tours, dolphin & whale watching, snorkeling, surfing
- Caters to: Budget travelers, couples/honeymooners, families, wildlife enthusiasts
- Quick Facts: 28 miles south of Quepos ; Sea level ; Hot during the day, cool ocean breezes at night ; 78-85°F
When you're in Dominical the world outside is adrift in the ethers, somewhere beyond the rhythmic waves lapping against the shore of smooth cobbles and sun-bleached driftwood. Behind the beach, the breeze rolls through the trees among red, yellow, blue and green blankets ruffling in the wind along the shady market road where vendors display colorful mementos of your time spent in this tranquil beach town south of Manuel Antonio.read more close
Dominical's tropical sun, unpaved roads and palm-fringed beaches have the feeling of a world apart. A Robinson Crusoe destination, attracting surfers, adventurers and escape artists fleeing from their nine to five with their families and a pair of flip-flops.
Things to do
Surfers come for Dominical's consistent swells, formed by the confluence of the Baru River and the Pacific Ocean, but stick around for the beauty of nearby beaches including Hermosa's beach breaks, high-tide in Dominicalito and the prospect of mining the coast for its montage of beaches and surf spots.
Adventurers will want to branch out, get off the coast and go dolphin and whale-watching at the Ballena National Marine Park south of Dominical. In this watery realm, named for the humpback whales that migrate from August to October and December to April, visitors explore the park's more than 13,000 acres of ocean and nine miles of coastline, rocky islands, secluded beaches and wave-carved caverns that spume salt-water at high tide. The most renowned of these geological formations is Whale's Tail, a rocky beach connected to a sand bar shaped like the flukes of a humpback's tail in Uvita Beach.
Ten miles off the coast, snorkelers and divers swim around the shallows off the coast of Cano Island searching for rainbow parrot fish, shimmering blue jacks, white tipped reef sharks, manta rays and Olive Ridley sea turtles. Cano Island's white sand beaches and lush tropical vegetation hide other secrets; artifacts from the pre-Colombian Disquis tribe that have lead archaeologists to believe the island is part of an ancient burial ground.
The mountains surrounding Dominical thrive with dense, secondary and primary rainforest, cascading waterfalls and clear streams where visitors can encounter sloths, toucans, white-faced monkeys and poison dart frogs. Hacienda Baru, a mile north of Dominical, has hiking trails and tours winding through the depths of the forest while the Nauyaca waterfalls offer scenic horseback tours to their impressive 140-foot falls.
Places to Stay
Dominical downtown has primarily low- and mid-range hotels and hostels making it the best place to stay for budget travelers. Outside Dominical, along Route 34 visitors will find a range of great hotels close to the ocean including unique, boutique hotels like Cuna del Angel and tropical villas like those at Costa Paraiso. Up in the hills and mountains around Dominical, travelers will find some of the region's more prestigious luxury hotels like Kura – an exclusive couple's get away built along a high ridge overlooking the coast. While Uvita, popular with adventure travelers, has low- and mid-range hotels and the best eco lodges in the area.
The weather in Dominical follows patterns similar to the rest of the Pacific coast. The most popular time to visit is during the dry season (Dec.– April), though during the wet season (May-Nov.) you'll find cheaper rates at most hotels and hostels. Most of Dominical's restaurants and tours close down from the middle of September to the end of October when the rains come most frequently and sometimes last all day.