Five Things to Do in Dominical

Last updated on March 12, 2024
Things to do in dominical costa rica

Five Things to Do in Dominical: An Insider’s Guide

Nestled in along the Southern Pacific Coast in Costa Rica – where the jungle meets the sea – lies Dominical.  Dominical is the kind of place where stories begin, or end, depending on how adventurous you are. It’s a spot that refuses to be polished for the tourist brochures, and maintains its rugged charm and a laid-back vibe. For those looking to dive into the heart of Costa Rica, away from the high end hotels and manicured lawns of resort towns, here’s your unvarnished guide to the top five things to do in Dominical, courtesy of an expat who’s seen it all, done most of it, and is still around to tell the tale.

Topping the List of Things to do in Dominical is… Surfing 

Since the disco era of the ’70s, Dominical has been on every surfer’s radar. It’s what attracts a number of surfers year after year. 

Playa Dominical is renowned for its consistent swell, but here’s the insider scoop: head to the beach early in the morning before the wind picks up, or late in the afternoon for that magical golden hour. 

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a kook, Playa Dominical serves up the kind of waves that will either mold you into a legend or humbly remind you of your place in the natural order. 

Local tip: Chat up the local surf instructors. Not only will they know the best spots, but they might also invite you to a post-surf cerveza, where the real stories of Dominical are shared. Next up on the list of things to do in Dominical is…

Visit Hacienda Baru

Next on the list is a visit to Hacienda Baru, a short 10 minute ride up the Costanera. It has everything you could want in a day trip into the jungle. 

It’s got more bio-diversity crammed into 815 acres than stars in the sky. We’re talking tropical rainforest, mangrove, wetlands, river bank, and yes, even an empty slice of beachfront for when you want to work on your tan while dodging coconuts.

This joint has been in the ecotourism game for over 30 years, and they’ve got a whole menu of tours on offer. Rainforest canopy tours, hiking tours (day and night) and, of course, bird-watching tours. Rumor has it, 365 species of birds have been sighted in this preserve. That’s one for each day of the year, my friends. How’s that for a bucket list?

The flora isn’t too shaby either. An orchid garden that’s probably as diverse as the avian population wraps around the lodge, and they’ve even popped up a bird-watching tower, presumably for those wanting to get a bird’s eye view of… well, birds.

And if you want to stay the night… there’s an Ecolodge. A spot where you can count toucans instead of sheep while you sleep, with an open-air restaurant slinging local dishes at prices that won’t require you to pawn your passport. Their specialty? I’m betting it’s something involving rice, beans and a local protein like pargo (snapper), chicken or beef. Classic Costa Rica.

When you’re done with a day in the jungle, you can head back into town. and watch the sunset, sip on an Imperial and mingle with surfers relaxing after a day of surfing. 

Dining in Dominical

One such gathering spot is Tortilla Flats, the unofficial clubhouse for the surfer crew. If you’re looking to start your day with a healthy kick, try Mono Congo. It’s nestled on the Barú River where it spills into the Pacific, and it’s got a wholesome menu that won’t burn a hole in your wallet. Make sure to snag a table in time for the sunset – it’s a spectacle you won’t want to miss. The same folks also run a Thai joint across the street called the Phat Noodle.

For a taste of the sea, check out the Del Mar Taco Shop for some fish tacos. And if it’s sushi you’re craving, Dominical Sushi is a sure bet. Thanks to the daily catch of tuna and red snapper, you’re guaranteed some of the freshest and tastiest sushi around.

But the crown jewel of Dominical dining has to be the Fuego Brewing Company. This two-story, open-air beauty is built entirely out of local bamboo. It’s like dining in a beer-lovers dream. They’ve recently branched out into coffee, opening the Fuego Coffee Roasting Company. Grab a fresh coffee in the morning or snag a bag of beans for the road. Nest on the list of things to do is…

Nauyaca Waterfalls

Just a short drive from Dominical, the Nauyaca Waterfall is Costa Rica’s not-so-secret gem. Getting there is half the adventure, involving a hike or horseback ride that makes you question your life choices, but the reward is a natural spectacle that’s straight out of a fantasy novel. The upper falls have a drop that would make a base jumper think twice, while the lower falls offer a swimming hole that’s the epitome of a tropical paradise. Bring your bravest self and a waterproof camera, because this is one story you’ll want proof of.

If Fishing is on Your List of Things to do…

Now, if your idea of fishing is more ‘catching dinner’ than ‘finding Nemo’, you’re in luck. Just a 30-minute drive north on the coastal highway in Quepos, you’ll find Marina Pez Vela, a charter fishing hub. You can get your Hemingway on and battle with billfish, tuna, mahi-mahi, and other game fish. And after a day on the water, why not kick back on a catamaran cruise from the Quepos marina? The view alone is worth the $80 price tag. But the waterslides, snorkeling, and dinner buffet seal the deal. And did I mention the open bar? Because yeah, there’s an open bar…