“If we are truly to create lasting solutions to the environmental problems facing the planet, we have to do MORE than plant trees for global warming. . . . Ideally, we also have to find ways to preserve local communities and cultures, while immediately rebuilding deforested soils, wildlife corridors and protecting watersheds and old growth forests. Especially in countries like Costa Rica where the real estate development business threatens to destroy some of the last healthy, remaining coastal rainforest and whale breeding waters left in all of Central America.”
Although high season is December 15 to April 15, Dominical is never overcrowded except from Christmas to New Years and Easter Week. Then hundreds of locals come to visit, party, and camp on the mile long beach. All of the hotels will help you with arranging tours. They all have someone working who speak English (possibly French and German, too) Your car is pretty safe if you park it in front of the hotel, but take your stuff inside and keep the room locked when not there. Don't forget the mosquito repellent and the umbrella since you are in the rainforest. My favorites are listed below, including the best restaurants in the area.
This YouTube video gives you a great taste of Dominical. Created by: camerriman
Where the Talamancan mountains reach the sea, the town of Dominical is located 45 kms. south of Quepos, and 36 kms. west of San Isidro de General. There are over 15 waterfalls located between Dominical and Uvita (15kms. south) with breathtaking views of the numerous emptypoint and beach breaks along the coastal highway. The main break is a beachbreak with a strong rip current at times and a rivermouth separating the village from the Hacienda Baru Wildlife Refuge which expands 4 kilometers to the north.
If you need to find an internet cafe, there are three in town, and there's now an ATM at the top of the hill in the Playa Pacifica shopping center, across from the entrance to town.
How to get there
There are two direct routes. From the San Jose airport - I recommend driving west to the coast and then south through Jaco and Quepos. This route takes only three hours by car because of the new highway connecting San Jose to Caldera. Also, the road from Quepos to Dominical is now paved and so the last leg takes only 35 minutes. Drive slow to watch out for monkey and pizote crossings.
The other way to go is better if you are coming from the east or south side of San Jose. Then you would take the three hour "Cerro del Muerte" or Interamerican Highway route over to San Isidro, make a right at the McDonalds, and then follow the signs west to Dominical, which is another hour from the turn. It is a very scenic drive so try to do it in the morning when there is less cloud cover. From the top of Tinamaste you can see the highest peak in Costa Rica - Mount Chirripo - plus the Pacific coastline. Then just past Platanillo to the south you can see the Tinamaste waterfall amidst the surrounding primary and secondary rainforest.
Dominical Lifeguards S.A. - Special Report - May 2013
The Dominical Lifeguard program has had a good year so far and with a little help from our friends we can make it through the home stretch to the 4th of July. And now is the time to begin organizing our annual lifeguard party so this message is in part a request to all of you who would like to make a donation or contribution for the party. It can be something for our silent auction or our vocal auction or our ticket raffle or some new item or category. Many of you have your own 'gift certificate' forms which you send in each year; if not you can hit 'reply' to this email and ask how best to make a contribution.
Meanwhile we are in need of operating funds to carry us through the next two months. We have spent the money that has come in from our latest T-Shirt order as well as the proceeds from our 3rd annual 'Semana Santa Dominical Lifeguards Surf Classic' and the February 'Mini' lifeguard party as well as the collection from the Ingoglia Family Lifeguard Memorial fund.
We currently have only enough in the lifeguard account for one more full week of payroll which has been averaging under $400/week lately. Remember every little bit helps, it all adds up. To make a quick cash donation please visit our official website, www.dominicallifeguards.org - go to the 'donate' tab and use the 'PayPal' button provided for your convenience.
If you have any questions about the Lifeguard Program please call Steve at 2787-0310 or come by Jazzy's RiverHouse in Dominical or call Mike Witte at 2787-0036 or stop at Hotel Roca Verde or call Heather Reidy at 8313-1771.
The rainy season is underway which means bigger, more powerful swells, waves and currents making this a bad time to have to discontinue our lifeguard program. The last time we had to close it was only one week before we had a drowning. Remember without lifeguards our beach averages a drowning every 19 days and with lifeguards on duty we have not had a single preventable drowning with lifeguards on duty since the program began in 1996.
Weekly Events: Ladies night at Maracatu on Wednesdays, Taco Tuesday at San Clemente, Tortilla Flats has been having live music on Wednesdays starting at sunset.
SAVE DOMINICAL BEACH!
For the past two years a small group of misdirected locals along with the Mayor have been trying to promote the 'Boulevard Project' in Dominical. The stated intention of this group is to turn Dominical into the next 'Jaco' They want to 'pave paradise and put up a parking lot' thinking this will increase tourism and benefit the community. This new plan is not included in the "approved" regulated plan for the town therefore is not legal.
Their plan is to cut down the trees that shade the beach and install a concrete walkway or (boardwalk) much like the ones in Jaco and Puntarenas. The Municipal Government with the backing of the mayor have tried to promote this through a series of 'Town Meetings' which have been well attended and have demonstrated that the group in opposition is both much larger and more articulate than the promoters of the 'Boulevard Project'.
In response to the protest group the Attorney General of Costa Rica has written a seven page letter citing many elements of the proposed project as strictly illegal. Large sums of public money have been appropriated and spent on this project but so far the opposition group has stopped any work from being done. The (in-full) prepayment of this project by the Municipality, has been scrutinized by the media making national headlines a few months ago. 'Constitutional Court temporarily stalls construction of tourist walkway in Dominical' reads a headline from InsideCostaRica.com dated January 15, 2013.
The Constitutional Court has halted the contruction of the “Playa Dominical Tourist Walkway” until a hearing requested by residents and neighbors of the area can be carried out. A public hearing has been scheduled for February 28th, 2013. Time: 2pm Place: Public School, Dominical. Attendance is strongly advised, the future of Dominical may be in the balance.
2/21 - From Jazzy's River House in Dominical: "Special thanks go to the folks at Ranchos Remo for their sponsoring a one day local surf contest at Playa Hermosa partly to help support the Dominical Lifeguard Program. The waves were small and the crowds and contestants were few but the conditions were good and hopefully everyone had a good time. The last of the lifeguard t-shirts are going fast - hurry and get one before they're gone: check Tortilla Flats and Dominical Tourist Info Center." Photos can be found here.
2/11 - Why I Support the Lifeguards in Dominical, Costa Rica. Read more..
2/5 - Classic teamwork resulted in a highly productive Lifeguard Party; Saturday, February second. Mike Witte of Hotel Roca Verde and Jennifer Brummer of Tortilla Flats combined forces and shared local resources and talent to collect $3694 for the lifeguard coffers. Musician and Dj Ken Maratta covered the arts and entertainment featuring himself and including South Carolina musical sensations: the 'Ben Fagan Trio' and solo guitar star Jamison. Musician and Dj Josh Wendel from 'Maracatu' added his twist as well. Cassandra and Christian Williams offered a very generous $500 nightcap to close the show. ~ Steve at Jazzys River House
Masked thieves in Marino Ballena National Park
On 11/20 two female German tourists were robbed on Marino Ballena Beach. They were told to not bring anything of value to this beach because the high amount of crime and decided to go to the bank and withdrew money before going to the beach instead. While on the beach they took precautions and straddled their bags with their arms and legs. Two men wearing black masks approached them and forcibly ripped the bags away from with force. Read more on CAP on Crime's website.
Movie Night Invite from Villas Rio Mar in Dominical on Facebook
From Steve at Jazzy's River House: Dominical Little Theatre had a good turnout for opening night of our annual Christmas Show and they were treated to a fine performance and tonight should be even better with tomorrow night (Thursday, December 13) is the closer. Showtime is 7pm/tickets at the door or Uvita Information Center. It's been a busy week for the Dominical Lifeguards - the beaches are filling up with blue sky crowds. Our bank account is dangerously low so please consider going to our website to make a much needed donation large or small: www.dominicallifeguards.org
Visit the Marina Ballena National Park and see Uvita's Whales Tail Beach
(map courtesy of MINAE and the Corcovado Foundation)
CR Surf is raising funds for a A.E.D. to give to the Dominical Lifeguard program. Even one life makes it a worthy cause, but this device will save many lives each year. Read more.
Friend and founder of Community Carbon Trees, Costa Rica, Jennifer Leigh-Smith, was featured in the karmic blog - Where is my Guru Now. She helps plant native trees along the Osa Peninsula. You can sponsor you own tree here for only $25 - LINK
ISLS Specials: For all of our Youth Camps we offer Long Term and Multiple Student discounts. The Long Term Discount applies to all students that study for four or more weeks. For the teen camps we are offering Free Round Trip Airline tickets from the continental US. Contact us directly to find out more about the rules and restrictions for this offer. For the Children’s camp we are offering $50/week off the standard price. The Multiple Student Discount is for any two or more students, from the same family or not, that sign up together for the same camp or camps. This discount can apply to family members, friends or groups. The discount for Multiple Student is $75/week for our Teen Spanish Camps and $50/week for our Children’s Spanish Camp. Pick up a FREE brochure and CD today by clicking here.
Support the Dominical Lifeguards, a community supported private effort to save lives on the beach. Visit www.dominicallifeguards.org for more information and to donate to their cause.
CAP is for every person living or visiting in our area who wants our region to be safe and crime free. Get involved with the CAP initiatives to be part of the solution for putting a “CAP on Crime”.
Playa Dominical is known as the most consistent surf spot in Costa Rica. There is almost always a wave worth riding. It is also known as a powerful break. I've been on much bigger waves at other breaks, but I've never been hammered quite as hard as by a big, mid-tide wave at Dominical. It is almost impossible to surf at dead low tide as the waves close out into very shallow water. I recently broke my back at a lower tide by doing a head butt into the sand. The mid-tides are great for more advanced surfers. The waves at mid-tide are faster and hollower and always less crowded. The high tide wave is the most popular but on smaller days is too mushy and frustrates short boarders. This is a good condition to pull out the long board and frustrate the short boarders even more. The bigger the wave, the more you should focus on high tide.
On big wave days the current can be strong. It is usually best to walk to the end of the beach at the foot of the current and let it push you up or down as the case may be. The beach runs from the south east to the north west. Looking straight out to sea perpendicular to the beach you are looking at an angle of 210 degrees south west. This means that a swell coming from 210 degrees is most likely going to be closing out, where a swell coming from under 200 degrees or over 220 (rare) will have better form. Usually, but not always, when the waves come from less than 210 degrees the current flows south to north. When it rains, the river can act up and dump some pretty nasty, cold and muddy water. So, if it is raining, most people tend to stick further south near the cell tower.
Not to be confused with the Matapalo on the Osa Peninsula, this is just an average beachbreak with no one around surfing it for miles in either direction. Perfect for seclusion and riding chest to overhead high surf, any bigger and the sets close out. The best tide is an hour before high tide. At low tide the beach is very wide and fun for just playing around or bodysurfing.
Playa Dominical is known as the most consistent surf spot in Costa Rica. There is almost always a wave worth riding. It is also known as a powerful break. I've been on much bigger waves at other breaks, but I've never been hammered quite as hard as by a big, mid-tide wave at Dominical. It is almost impossible to surf at dead low tide as the waves close out into very shallow water. I recently broke my back at a lower tide by doing a head butt into the sand. The mid-tides are great for more advanced surfers. The waves at mid-tide are faster and hollower and always less crowded. The high tide wave is the most popular but on smaller days is too mushy and frustrates short boarders. This is a good condition to pull out the long board and frustrate the short boarders even more. The bigger the wave, the more you should focus on high tide. On big wave days the current can be strong. It is usually best to walk to the end of the beach at the foot of the current and let it push you up or down as the case may be.
Dominicalito is about 2 km. south of Dominical. It is a beachbreak with rocks offshore so at low will close out and can be trickly getting past the rocks. At high tide it can hold waves up to head high, any bigger and it closes out. Best tide is around high tide. Good for beginners since is usually small, knee to waist high for most swells.
Dominicalito - The Point
This left hand point break is about 3 km. south of Dominical. You can see it break from the road, but parking here is not always safe. It needs a big southwest or SSW swell to break, and can hold waves up to triple overhead with rides 300 meters or more, no barrels just big lined up walls. Breaks over a shallow rock ledge, best tides are low to mid tides. At high tide it mushes out.
Punta Achiote is at the north end of Playa Hermosa (not the one by Jaco but near Uvita). It breaks best from chest high to overhead, most bigger sets close out. At the right tide, there is a nice right that goes about 100 meters and a left that heads into a shallow cove. Never really crowded.
Playa Hermosa de Uvita
Playa Hermosa is a 2 km. stretch of beach that breaks best at higher tides. It is good for beginner to intermediate level surfers since it is usually smaller and less powerful than Dominical. It is very remote, with no development, and is never crowded.
Playa Ventanas 'Windows' is named for the two caves at the northern end of the beach. At low tide you can walk through them to see waves breaking inside the cave. (At high tide during big surf it will shoot spray out of the mouth of the cave) There is access to parking on the property of the only landowner there, but don't leave any valuables in the car. The beach is protected by offshore rock outcroppings, so most of the time the surf is knee to waist. Good for beginners when it's small, at all tides. When it is any bigger than chest high it closes out, with only a few makeable waves at higher tides.
After a long trip, I've found the BEST massage therapist - Fabiola Gomez
Call for her at Villas Rio Mar (2787-0052) or she will come to your room or rental - cell: 8829-6125
Description: A Yoga and surf camp that specializes in providing one-of-a-kind vacation experiences. They are located in Bahia Ballena – Uvita in the south Pacific of Costa Rica, a gorgeous and still pristine region where you are likely to see animals in their natural habitat and be filled with awe at the beauty that this country is so famous for. They aim to be a sustainable business, catering to individuals, couples, families, and student groups. They provide holistic travel and voluntourism opportunities for those who want to go the extra mile and make their time in Costa Rica as informative as it is unforgettable.
Description: Check out their unique surf camp packages and decide which one fits you the best! They can customize your own, (contact us) let us know what you would like to have, after all it is your vacation. It's their pleasure to spoil you. They are located in two different beach towns, Jaco and Dominical. They are certified surf instructors through the International Surfing Association and Asociacion Nacional de Guardavidas. They offer personalized attention (only 2 students per Instructor). Responsible, Friendly, Patient and Bilingual Coaching, with over 9 years of experience instructing people of all ages.
Description: They get people to improve their surf sustainably -not only in the week while they are here, but also after they leave. Their aim is to get you to understand how you can continue to improve and enjoy surfing at your next destination or at your own local beach. It is at the core of their operations: from the instructors selected, with the methods and tools used (e.g. video analysis), to the products they have chosen to provide: Santa Cruz surfboards, Watermans Sun Block, and West Surfing Rashguards. All premium quality brands that will help you to develop even quicker and be protected while you do.
Description: The Surf and Spanish program is popular for those who want to surf early in the morning and later in the afternoon, while getting quality spanish lessons during the middle of the day. Programs include lodging and lessons, plus include opportunities for surf lessons, adventure tours, and volunteer opportunities. ISLS also has campuses in Tamarindo, Turrialba, and San Jose for a complete Costa Rica experience.
Description: A truly local surf school run by guys who grew up surfing Dominical. Many instructors are also trained as lifeguards, so you can feel truly safe when out on the water with them. Packages can be single day lessons to all inclusive surf tours.
Description: Tucked away just off the Plaza In the center of town down a shady little lane along the south bank of the Rio Baru. Their upstairs balconies look out over the Baru estuary, the sandy beach, and breaking surf beyond. They are a tree sheltered garden. Protected. Secure. Affordable. And Convenient. No car necessary. Beaches are a pleasant 5 minute walk away. Get one on one basic or advance surf instruction from a veteran surfer with over 35 years experience.
Description: The hotel has a large swimming pool with wet bar and Jacuzzi, a tennis court, an in-house tour agency, and a romantic palenque style restaurant featuring many local and international dishes. Furthermore, we offer Internet access, International telephone, Conference Center, Spa, and Transportation Services. Our Standard Bungalows will sleep up to 2 people and have a private, terrace like living-room and are equipped with private baths with hot water, refrigerator, fans, and telephone. They also have superior rooms, junior and superior suites.
Read our review. CST Hotel (Certificate of Sustainable Tourism)
Description: Beachside location on a rocky peninsula where the surf pounds relentlessly, sending 30-foot blasts of water into the air - the perfect setting for countless hours of inspired relaxation. All suites come with High-speed wireless internet, Simmons Beautyrest beds, Air Conditioning, In-room safe, Daily Housekeeping, Laundry Service, 120 Volt Electical Outlets, and Hot/Cold Showers. Free form pool for all guests to share, and a new kitchen serving breakfast. Delicious menu items can be enjoyed on the patio in the mornings from 7am to 10am.
Description: Cabinas are popular among couples. It holds 2 people (some can accommodate 3 people). It has a double bed, private bathroom, private shower on the terrace with hot water, ceiling fan, reading lamps and a private terrace with hammocks. The Casa Prefabricado is perfect for families or bigger groups travelling together. It holds up to 7 people. Adelante Hotel has two separate areas for an open-air bar and restaurant. You can also sit back and relax in our stress-free and cozy lounge with hammocks. The restaurant offers a fusion of intercontinental cuisines with the bar complementing the dishes with a wide selection of cocktails and drinks. The closest private beach, Playa Tortuga, with palm and coconut trees is just 5-minutes walk away from the hotel.
Description: The guest house is a 960 sq.ft. two story river front house, fully furnished, handcrafted from native hardwoods and colorful tiles. It includes a full kitchen with oven, fridge, blender, coffeemaker, and cookware. The full bathroom includes a luxurious tiled sunken bath-shower. Laundry facilities on site. Clean towels & linens provided. Housekeeping services optional.
Restaurante La Parcela has served locals and visitors continuously for nearly 40 years. Local and international cuisine, specializing in seafood.
Villas Rio Mar Restaurant
3-star restaurant with international and local chefs. 52" screen T.V. for football season, and a pool bar for those who want to be outdoors.
Original cuisine from the chefs native Argentina, with a great view overlooking the Baru River, in the Pueblo shopping strip.
San Clemente Bar & Grill (and the Sandwich Shack)
The buses drop you off right in front. Broken boards line the ceiling and the discos are the place to come dance on Fridays. Good mexican food and great waitresses. Pool, foosball, surf videos, and CNN with endless coffee in the morning. The "snack shack" is part of the cabinas on the beach and has frozen shakes and pitas.
Restaurante Su Raza (Tico)
Good food all around and the best club sandwich you'll ever have. It is where you will see everyone watching Futbol on the weekends. Favorite dishes are the casados and the club sandwich.
Restaurante Nanyoa (Tico)
The owner takes great pride in providing good meals with a local flair. Located right across the street from Hotel Posada del Sol, inexpensive breakfasts and casados.
Thruster's Surf Bar and Restaurant
Pool tables, foosball, and surf flicks. Good pizza and big casados. A locals hangout. There's even a sushi bar right next door.
Tortilla Flats Restaurant
Right across from the ocean, they open at 7 a.m. with hot coffee while checking the surf.
Post surf they offer delicious breakfast options, and it stays busy for lunch and dinner, with a full bar, happy hour, and weekly ladies night.
Roca Verde Bar & Restaurant
Expect high quality dishes every night, plus they have a great party every Saturday night with DJs and occasional live performances. Roca Verde also is the top supporter of the Dominical Lifeguards.
Description: Known for its zipline tour through tracts of primary and secondary rainforest, the protected reserve is home to sloths, pizotes, and monkeys. Also has some great hiking trails and tree climbing, and night in the jungle tours.
5/16 - The size bumped up this morning - head and a half with some bigger set waves but the early high tide session was largely closed out and dumping hard. Only a handful out finding it mostly take a drop and get bombed. As the tide dropped Murf and a few others found some useful shoulders. The rainy season routine makes for iffy afternoon surfing but the windows of clear skies have provided fun interludes for those with good timing. It's been inconsistent for days but their have been some great waves popping up now and again.
If the increased size holds the Point might start working and Dominicalito and Hermosa South could be fun.
The community of Dominical would like to thank Huntington Beach CA lifeguards and ISLA members Noah Sinclair and Greg Eisele for delivering some lifeguard equipment and bringing good energy and fresh ideas from up north. They left today with a list of goals to benefit both the Dominical and Huntington Beach lifeguard programs. Thanks again Amigos! Read our update
5/16 - This morning during the high tide phases the set waves were a couple feet overhead with poor, closed out shape. There were a few great waves if you were patient. Lately there has been more current in the water due to the swelling river mouth. The swell looked like it backed off slightly this evening, but tomorrow I'd expect similar conditions. Early mornings from sun rise to 8:30am has been best. We have been getting mid day and afternoon winds that makes for choppy surf. Just after a rain in the late afternoons have also been good. For this weekend we should have more head high to over head surf.
Dominical, Playa Hermosa, and local points should all be working this weekend. Have fun!
Tuesday-Ladies Night at Que Nivel, Wed Ladies Night Maracatu, Happy hour sun set beer specials at Tortilla Flats. Dominical is pretty slow right now, so there are some great deals on surf side long term/short term rentals. Just contact me.