Dominical, South Puntarenas

Some beaches are for sunbathing and swimming, and some are for sailing and other watersports. Dominical is for surfing.

In fact, it’s world-renowned, drawing surf fans from all over the globe to this small village in Costa Rica’s Puntarenas province.

Surfing in Dominical

Waves can get to 10 feet off of this beach break, tall enough to please even hard-core thrill-seekers and make this beach a surfers vacation destination.

Don’t be surprised if you find surfers camping out on the beaches. The warm, year-round temperatures make it an ideal spot for beach-campers who don’t want to waste a minute getting back to the surf after a night’s rest.

Only experienced surfers should surf at this beach and don’t try swimming here; there are rip tides and strong swells that are not only difficult to manage but dangerous as well.

If you don’t surf, don’t worry, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the water.

Caño Island

Costa Rica is known for its amazing number of plant and animal species, and the waters off the Pacific Coast are no exception.

An excursion to nearby Caño Island is scuba-diving heaven, offering you stunning coral reefs and a variety of marine life, from sea turtles, dolphins and snapper to stingrays, barracudas, sharks and even whales. Even the starfish are colorful here, and gorgeous coral reefs are another underwater attraction that you won’t want to miss.

The island waters are part of a biological reserve that limits the number of divers, so reserve a spot before you go. Snorkeling is another option for viewing this marine world, and camping is available on the island as well.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Just 30 km north from Dominical is Manuel Antonio National Park, the most visited park in Costa Rica, and also the smallest.

Like other parks here, Manuel Antonio is brimming with wildlife, including white-faced monkeys, squirrel monkeys, sloths, colorful tropical birds of 350 different types, and many lizard and insect species.

Hike the park’s Perezoso Trail for views of beach areas and offshore islands that are part of the park, stunning against the setting of the blue Pacific.

Save the beaches for last and enjoy snorkeling and swimming opportunities when you’re done exploring the park.

If you want a little adventure with your sight-seeing, choose a canopy tour of Manuel Antonio.

You can choose from several different lines that cross the park; some also take in neighboring farms and plantations. If you’re not the zip-line type, the park also offers a suspension bridge that offers views almost as good as the zip-lines.

Getting to Dominical

Dominical is a strip of beach that stretches over 4 km, with several area hotels and restaurants.

Bring some binoculars while you’re waiting for the swells to arrive and take in some of the hundreds of bird species that you can see in the lush forest greenery and palm trees that encroach upon the beach.

Dominical is in the Puntarenas province of Costa Rica, and you have two scenic options to get here:

1) Through the mountains or along the coast. Drive south from the San Jose area using the San Isidro de General highway, which takes you over the Talamanca Mountains.

2) Take in the views as you travel the coastal highway from Quepos to the north.

Costa Rica Eco-Adventure Tour
12 Days / 11 Nights or 10 Days / 9 Nights
Starting at $2,352 per person
Eco Experience: A Costa Rican Adventure
11 Days / 10 Nights
Starting at $3,874 per person
Travel Time Clock
Travel Time
Travel Time From:
Travel Time To:
Distance: 87 miles / 139 km
Drive Time: 3 hr
Distance: 95 miles / 152 km
Drive Time: 3 hr 30 min
Distance: 62 miles / 100 km
Drive Time: 1 hr 30 min
See More Travel Times