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  • A Cruising Couple | April 6, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    A Quick Guide To Off-The-Beaten-Track Dominical, Costa Rica

    A Quick Guide To Off-The-Beaten-Track Dominical, Costa Rica

    Beaches that stretch on as far as the eye can see, lush jungle, forested mountains … It’s no wonder that Costa Rica is considered by many to be pure paradise. However, an influx of tourism over the past decade means it can be difficult to find a place that doesn't feel overrun with sunburnt tourists and souvenir stands.

    But while the popular towns of Tamarindo, Guanacaste, and Arenal become more and more crowded every year, the dirt road leading to the beach town of Dominical keeps a humble balance of relaxed vibes and plenty of opportunity for adventure. If you’re ready to explore one of the most beautiful regions in all of Costa Rica, then don’t miss this guide to Dominical and the surrounding region:


    Getting in:

    From the capital city of San Jose, Dominical is a beautiful four-hour drive along the Pacific coast. Car rentals can be arranged from the airport. There are also private shuttles that can transport you from the San Jose airport to Dominical in about the same time. The most economical option is the surprisingly comfortable coach bus. While they take a bit longer, the cost is considerably less than the price of a rental car or private shuttle. If you do decide on taking public transport, both Alamo and National Car Rental have offices in Dominical, so you can rent a ride once you arrive in town.

    Where to stay:

    You won't find a Marriott or Hilton here. Most of the accommodations in Dominical are privately owned hotels or hostels. Depending on your budget, you can rent a bed from $15 to $50 a night. If you're looking for something a bit more upscale, there are also numerous apartment and house rentals in the surrounding area, many of which include ocean views and private pools.

    Activities in and around Dominical



    One of the biggest activities that draws visitors to this area is the region's famous surf. Surfers of all abilities will find waves to enjoy here. The rolling whitewater offers the perfect opportunity for beginners to get their feet wet, while the outside throws beautiful barrels. If you’re worried about bringing your own board, there are plenty of shops that rent boards of all shapes and sizes for just 15 bucks a day. 



    After a day full of surfing, stretch out those sore muscles and re-align at one of the many classes offered at Casa de Yoga. Located right on the beach, you'll be able to hear the sound of the waves from your down dog. Classes range from vinyasa flows to ecstatic dance. There is even a free community class offered every Wednesday night.

    Horseback Riding and Waterfalls


    The Nauyaca Waterfalls just up the road from Dominical are a spectacular way to spend a half-day. Up the adventure and opt for the horseback ride down the 6 km trail through the jungle to the two sets of waterfalls that stand 61 meters tall. Feeling up for some extra fun? There are a few safe places to jump off the rocks into the cool and clear water below.

    Motorized Hanggliding


    This is one activity we have yet to try, but it looks totally awesome! Gracefully glide from the surrounding mountains over the forest canopy towards the open ocean and land safely on the soft sand at Dominical Beach.

    Beautiful Beaches

    Playa Dominical


    The main beach at Dominical is a long strip of sand and polished rocks with the mountainous jungle rising in the background. The tide is quite large here, and the beach really opens up at low tide. Camping on the beach is allowed so don't be surprised if you see a few hammocks and tents nestled under the palm trees.

    Playa Hermosa

    Translated from Spanish, Playa Hermosa means "Beautiful Beach." And this spot certainly lives up to the hype. The soft white sand beach is tucked right off the highway, but feels worlds away. With no permanent restaurants or structures, this beach feels far more secluded than the other big tourist beaches of Costa Rica.

    Playa de Arcos


    While not as easy to reach, once you arrive you'll be rewarded with a solitary beach surrounded by cliffs. The beach gets its name from the caves and arches that have been dug out by the ocean. Make sure to time your visit during low tide as the beach is only accessible during this time.

    Marino Ballena National Park 

    The Punta Uvita Whale Tail is the main attraction here. A 1 km sandbar stretches straight out into the ocean during low tide and resembles the shape of a whale's tail. There is also a hike in the surrounding rainforest that offers a bird's-eye view of the incredible scenery. This is the only beach with an entrance fee but is well worth the $6 USD admission.



    One of the best benefits to being on the Pacific side of the country is the spectacular sunsets. Grab an Imperial or Pilsen, Costa Rica's two most popular beers, and pick your spot of shoreline for the show. 

    If you’re looking for an authentic Costa Rican vacation filled with beautiful spots and adventurous activities, then you can’t go wrong with Dominical.

    Have you ever visited Dominical? 

More Costa Rica


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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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