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3 days in Dominical

3 days in Dominical

Dominical's a tropical beachside town famous for its surf and laidback attitude. Its shady dirt roads are lined with surf shops, bars and restaurants where shirts and shoes are optional. South of Manuel Antonio, Dominical is the last major tourist destination before heading down into the wilderness of the Osa Peninsula. Secluded and surrounded with jungles, waterfalls, beaches and islands, Dominical's natural setting intrigues explorers and adventurers looking to fill their days with activities like hiking, surfing, whale watching, kayaking, snorkeling and surfing.

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Here's a sample itinerary including some of our favorite activities around Dominical.

Day 1: Nauyaca Waterfalls
 A series of cascading waterfalls, some as tall as 140 feet, hidden among the rainforest six miles outside of Dominical.

Wake up early and catch the bus heading for San Isidro outside the church on the Dominical's main road by 7 a.m. Ask the bus driver to drop you off at the Nauyaca Waterfalls. Upon arrival, you've got two choices: pay the $10 entrance fee and hike the two miles to the waterfalls, or make a reservation for the 8 a.m. tour for $60. We recommend the tour, it's a good value and includes a horseback ride, breakfast, lunch, a guide and a special treat – cliff diving off the Nauyaca Falls from heights of 35 feet.   Tours usually end in the early afternoon, in time for you to catch some waves in Dominical before the sun sets.

Day 2: Ballena National Marine Park Kayak Tour
Local guides lead you on a Kayak and snorkel tour to the Whale's Tail and through a mangrove forest.

Victor, local guide and tour operator, will pick you up from your hotel at a time you'll negotiate based on the tides. Together you'll head into the Ballena National Marine Park where Victor will unload the kayaks, teach you the basics and provide you with the safety equipment. Together you'll paddle out to the Whale's Tail. A geographic oddity, the Whale's Tail is a sand bar located about a half-mile off shore connected to the mainland by a thin strip of sand that disappears when the tide rises.

Snorkel around the rocks off the Whale's Tail looking for star fish, conch shells and tropical fish then rest along the sandy shores of the Whale's Tail. When the tide comes in, it creates two sets of waves smashing into each other as the thin strip of sand connecting the Whale's Tail to the mainland disappears.  Jump back in your kayak and learn to surf the waves, paddling between the swells as they crash into each other – an incredible and unique experience. Afterwards head into the placid and tranquil mangroves for a relaxing kayak ride upriver while looking for local flora and fauna.

Day 3: Snorkeling or diving at Cano Island
The snorkeling and diving off the coast of Cano is considered among the best in the Pacific.

Day trips to Cano Island take the adventurous snorkeling, diving, whale and dolphin watching 45-minutes off shore from the Ballena National Marine Park. From Dominical, you can arrange a tour through Dominical Surf and Dive. Tours depart around 7 a.m., shuttle you to Ballena National Marine Park where you'll jump in a boat and head out to the island. Along the way you'll look for humpback whales and dolphins that frequent the area.

Visit two different locations for snorkeling and diving while swimming among cerulean waters off the coast of the island.  Search for tropical fish, sea turtles, white-tipped reef sharks and rays between the rock formations, the sandy sea floor and coral reef.  Between sessions, you'll have a chance for a little beach time along the island's white-sand rimmed shores. Lunch is served on the boat after your second session, before heading back to Dominical.

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