Dominical is ideally located in the middle of the Pacific southern coastline in a region known as "Costa Ballena". We are surrounded with waterfalls, rivers, hiking trails, animals refuges, beaches, great surfing spots and beautiful beaches.
In town you can have surf lessons, yoga classes, dance classes, Spanish lessons, walking guides, farmers markets (Fridays), a market (10am-4pm) every day on the front beach road, join a cacao ceremony, go shopping at several store, our Organic grocery store Mama Toucans, sign up to scuba dive, water rafting down several rivers, join kayak tours in the ocean or in the mangroves, visit the Alturas WIldlife Santuary (book online), aerial aerobatic classes or sign up to learn to Surf!
Dominical has amazingly delicious restaurants, Phat Noodle(Thai), Cafe Mono Congo (sandwiches, salads, coffees & pastry) , SOl Dominical (frozen yougurt, fruits, acai bowls), Sushi Dominical, Pescado Loco (best fish tacos in town), Tortilla Flats (sports bar and lively general restaurant) or Fuego, our local brewery and restaurant. There are also many "Sodas", a local CostaRican restaurant run by several local families for you to try local food and fresh fruit shakes.
Nauyaca Waterfall, 20 mins away, is one of Costa Rica’s most impressive cascades with two sets of falls measuring a combined 200 feet tall. The lower falls have a large pool where you can swim and jump into the cool water from the rocks. The upper falls have an impressive 140 foot cliff and a great place to picnic. You can access the Nauyaca by horseback on a tour or hike in.
Diamente Waterfall is about 25 mins farther up the road and is said to be the largest falls in Costa Rica at 183 meters (600 feet). After a rigorous 2-3 hour hike up the mountain you will not only come to the set of two waterfalls but also the caves which are accessible with the flowing over.
In the small town of Dominicalito, 5 minutes away, you’ll find the beautiful waterfall Poza Azul. On the side of the road down a 5minute walking path this waterfall is free to visit with a rope swing and good size swimming pool. 20minutes away above Uvita there are a few more waterfalls, these are on private property but 1,000c gets you in!
Quepos, Manuel Antonio and its famous National Park are just to the north at a 45min drive. The beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park has 680 hectares of hiking trails, rugged rainforest, white-sand beaches and coral reefs. It’s renowned for its vast diversity of tropical plants and wildlife. It has well-maintained trail network that allows visitors to easily visit the rocky headlands with their impressive beach and ocean views, access the beaches, and explore the forest without disturbing the plants and wildlife. In the forest, you’ll see lizards, iguanas, monkeys, snakes. sloths, coatimundis and hundreds of exotic birds.
Marino Ballena National Park south of Dominical is where the famous “whale tail” beach is located. There are both northern and southern hemisphere pods that share these waters in opposite seasons so there are whales in the area nearly year round. In December the humpback whales are here to mate while in August they come to calve. From May to November is when the Olive Ridley and Hawksbill turtles come to lay their eggs.
There is the Cano Island Biological Reserve also south of Dominical. It is considered one of the best adventure diving spots in the world! The snorkling or diving is great and you can also charter a fishing boat for deep sea fishing. You would drive (or pick up by a tour operator) 1 hour to Sierpe then take a boat tour. In Whale Season, twice a year, you have the pleasure of seeing these magical creatures jumping, swimming with their babies and breeding.
Corcovado National Park lies a short distance to the south of the Costa Ballena on the Osa Penisula. This is a large park with extraordinary ecosystems – often called the Amazon of Costa Rica, the park is estimated to contain 3% of the biodiversity in the Americas. The park is the largest preserved area of primary forest on a Pacific coastline, and is said to be “the most biologically intense place on Earth.” Estimates of the biodiversity are astounding – 500 tree species, 140 mammal species, 117 amphibian and reptile species, 367 bird species, 6,000 insect species, and 40 freshwater fish species take habitat in this park.
Encompassing about 54,500 hectares and protecting eight distinct habitat types, this park is the best example of Pacific Coastal Rainforest in Central America. Thousands of species of flora and fauna are protected here including mammals such as jaguars, anteaters, deer, spider, howler, and white-faced monkeys, sloths, coatis, raccoons, tapirs, agoutis, peccaries, and pumas.
The park also contains miles of solitary beaches, and other activities include snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, bird-watching, animal and bird photography, horseback riding, sport fishing, and hiking.
Care to see some animals? Visit/Donate to a wildlife refuge. The Alturas Wildlife Santuary is definitely worth a stop! They help, house and rehabilitate the animals. All their proceeds go back into the Sanctuary to run the center and help more animlas. Book your ticket online for tours at 9am, 11am, 1pm & 3pm. (lasts 1 hour).
Oro Verde Nature Reserve is another small privately-owned reserve that is popular with bird-watchers. Hundreds of species of birds have been identified in this small reserve, its isolation provides a refuge from the tourist bustle that might frighten birds elsewhere.
The Terraba Sierpe mangrove forest provides outstanding opportunities for boating, bird watching and photography. As one of Central America’s largest mangrove swamps, this area provides habitat for more than 55 species of fish, three species of monkeys (the white-faced capuchin, squirrel and howler monkeys) and numerous rare birds, such as the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), black mangrove (Avicennia germinans), white mangrove (Languncularia racemosa), and Mangle Piñuela (Pelliciera rhizophorae). Daytime boat tours cruise by iguanas, tree boas and other rare snakes, crocodiles, fruit bats, wading and colorful tropical birds such as herons, egrets, jacanas, scarlet macaws, toucans, and parrots. Night tours in the Sierpe mangrove forest and along the Terraba river let you observe the stealth and power of the native crocodiles. There are several tours available to cruise through these mangroves.
Cocos Island National Park is a verdant bouquet in the middle of the sea, thanks to its palm trees and plentiful drinking water, this oceanic island became very well known. It has plants, fish, lizards and birds (the Cocos Cuckoo, Flycatcher, and Finch) generate the most interest. Sharks abound everywhere, especially gigantic hammerheads, but there are also white-tipped sharks, and even some whale-sharks have been spotted in this area. Other fish that live in this waters are jacks, tuna, parrot fish and manta. Cocos Island is about 30 hours from the mainland by boat. Charters and Diving tours are the only practical options for visitors.
Ojochal, 35 mins south of Dominical has become a culinary destination in Costa Rica. It is become quite well know with Foodies as the place to visit when hungry!
Want some excitement? How about Zip Lines!?! Costa Ballena has 3 of its own Zip & Rappel possibilities! Osa Canopy Tour 45mins. south of Dominical, where you can zip-line, rappel down a tree and swing into the wide open on their Tarzan swing. TiTi inside Quepos, north of Dominical by 40min drive and just 5 minutes for older or younger enthusiasts, there is a more gentle Zip Line in Hacienda Baru.
The Costa Ballena is truly one of our favorite destinations in Costa Rica because of its unhurried pace of life and outstanding natural wonders. Tourism has slowly developed here so we are lucky in that it is not overwhelming. Those seeking amenities at every corner and big town parties will probably want to look elsewhere, but those seeking a connection with nature and the ocean will find just what they need.
Come by our Reception and get more information about this wonderful area or book your tour !