"One of the country's most beautiful uncut gems"
On the central Pacific coast of Costa Rica is one of the country's most beautiful uncut gems, Dominical. From its turquoise green water to its fiery red and gold sunsets, the natural beauty of the area is second to none. The town sits on the Pacific ocean bordered to the north by the Río Barú, on the east by three thousand foot high mountains and to the south by dark, coffee brown, beaches and coves. One of the most striking features of Dominical can be found while swimming in the water, the town simply disappears. All you see are the tall beach palms and mangroves surrounded by verdant green hills reaching up into the mountains.
Dominical has been know for many years to the international surfing community because of its consistently good waves. "Discovered" in the early seventies by a group of intrepid and dedicated surfers, Dominical has steadily gained in popularity over the last 30 years. The town has become a heaven for surfers with local restaurants offering "Starving Surfer" specials and nonstop surf videos. The unusual conditions of the beach is what gives its surf both size and dependability. The wave is a beach break with a twist, that twist being the mouth of the Río Barú to the north. The river empties out of the mountains to the east and deposits sediments that form into a sand bar that spreads like a pair of lazy rabbit ears north and south of the mounth.
Only recently has it been discovered by those people attracted to its natural beauty. Not more than fifteen years ago the only buildings to be found were a few dilapidated fishing huts built by local fishermen. Since then the town has grown to over 700 permanent residents with a number of small beach front restaurants, bars and cabinas. Even with the emergence and growth of the town, it is possible to walk from one end of Dominical to the other in less than ten minutes.
The area surrounding Dominical, especially to the south, is almost completely unpopulated. Because of this, the area is full of hundreds of different species of exotic animals including; three different types of toucans, giant green and red iguanas, all four types of native monkeys, parrots of all sizes and hues, three toed sloths and various small cats such as jaguarundis and montegordos.
There are two national reserves in the immediate area with three more (Manuel Antonio National Park, Corcovado National Park and Caño Island National Preserve) only an additional hour and a half away. To the south is the country's only totally underwater National Park Marino Ballena. Here it is possible to see a pristine and virgin underwater world with scores of multi-colorful marine creatures, coral reefs and jagged, ash black, volcanic rocks and tide pools. In the hills directly east of tow.
Reaching Dominical and the surrounding area is easier than one might expect. It is a three and a half hour drive from San José by car through some of the most visually stunning scenery in the entire country. Traveling south down the Pan-American Highway below Cartago takes you through the country's largest cloud forest and the worlds last remaining, sustainable habitat, for the endangered quetzal. The trip by bus is only an hour more with one stop and change in San Isidro. It is only necessary to rent a four wheel drive car if you try to do some exploring in the mountains or continue traveling further north or south. From Dominical, it is a one and a half hour drive to Quepos by car, 4 x 4 recommended, or an additional half hour by bus.
In a country full of beatiful vistas and lush tropical landscapes, this area not only holds its own, it shines. Dominical, the quiet little out of the way place that's not so out of the way.