Dominical Costa Rica is one of those places that turned out to be exactly what I expected from it. We had heard that Dominical had a very relaxed hippie vibe and that is exactly what we experienced. We love that Dominical has it all. You can be on the beach and drive five minutes to be in lush forests.
Also, something that we were not expecting was the awesome variety of excellent restaurants here. I may have eaten my way around the world within this little town and enjoyed every second of it!
Now on to the rest of the Dominical Costa Rica travel guide!
Every time we have been in Dominical it has been really hot. Bring a lot of strong sunscreen here. You’ll need it!
The most popular time to visit Dominical is between the end of December through early May. This is dry season in Dominical. You can expect extremely hot weather and no rain.
We like to visit this area between May through mid-August. At that time of year, you will likely have a daily afternoon thunderstorm, but there are far fewer tourists. The downside is that the humidity is ridiculous. Everything just feels wet at all times.
From mid-August through mid-December you can expect the temperature to cool off a bit and more rain.
Getting to Dominical
Your best option for getting to Dominical is to fly into San Jose airport and drive down. The drive will take about four hours depending on traffic.
You have two options for driving, you can either drive down the coastal road or through the mountains.
The coastal road involves well-maintained highways the whole way down. You will pass by the beach towns of Jaco and Manuel Antonio on your drive down. On a sunny day this drive is absolutely beautiful. There are several places along the way where you can pull off to get a nice ocean view.
The mountain route will take you at least an hour longer than the coastal route. This route is really pretty, but the roads are a bit scary. Everything is paved but you can expect lots of curves and switchbacks. As someone who gets really car sick, this ride is a bit of a nightmare. Plus, if you get stuck behind a slow-moving truck it can be very difficult to pass them.
We suggest using Adobe for car rentals because they are the most trustworthy rental car company in this country (in our opinion) and we have a 10% discount for you. You can read more about renting a car here.
You will not need a 4×4 to get to Dominical Costa Rica if you are taking the coastal road, but you might want one once you are in Dominical.
If you don’t feel comfortable driving to Dominical on your own, the best option we have found is to take the Tracopa bus. The bus leaves from downtown San Jose every day at 6:00 am and 3:00pm. It will cost about $12 each way. This bus is air-conditioned, semi-comfortable, and drives directly to Uvita. You can just ask to get out at Dominical and they will let you out. You can find out more on the Tracopa website here.
Getting Around in Dominical
We suggest depending on a rental car while in Dominical. Dominical has a really cute downtown area that you can easily walk, but you’ll probably want to do a lot of exploring in the surrounding areas as well.
This means that if you don’t rent a car you will have to book day tours which include transportation. This can be really expensive.
Also, when you look at our favorite budget Uvita activities you will see that most are off the beaten path activities. Day tours usually do not go to these locations.
If you opt to take the bus to Dominical, you can rent a car from Adobe and input Uvita as your pick-up location. They have an office directly in the downtown area of Uvita. You can take an Uber there for a few dollars from Dominical
In the comments section of the rental car reservation, you can also specify that you need the car delivered to you at your hotel in Dominical. Adobe will deliver it to you free of charge if you are within 12 miles of their location. Usually, they are really awesome and will deliver it even if it is a bit more than 12 miles away. If you’re unsure if your hotel is over 12 miles, just leave us a comment in the comment section and we will check with Adobe to get it approved.
Pro Tip: Rent a car with Adobe through our site and you will get a 10% discount! Score! You can find out more about it here.
Visit Nauyaca waterfall: Nauyaca waterfall is one of the most impressive waterfalls we have seen in Costa Rica. We loved it so much that we made a complete guide to visiting. You can check it out here.
Go surfing: Dominical is a popular surfing town. There are plenty of places where you can take surfing lessons or just rent a board for the day.
Go fishing: There are tons of options for fishing tours in Dominical, but if you want to fish on a budget you might even have good luck fishing from a hand line on the beach. We saw plenty of locals doing this, so it must be possible to catch stuff.
Check out the artists stands: All along the road to the beach in Dominical artists set up stands to sell their artistic creations. This is the perfect spot if you want unique souvenirs for your family and friends back home. We like to just browse all the creativity. Just be warned, everything is so unique that it is hard to leave without buying something.
Relax on the beach: The Dominical beach is nice and really long. It is the perfect place to spend the day relaxing, walking, and enjoying the waves.
Take a yoga class: Dominical is known as a yoga paradise. There are so many yoga companies. I suggest asking at your hotel if they have any recommendations. Sometimes they can get you good discounts.
Go to Envision festival: Envision festival is the big music festival that takes place once a year in February. It’s a really fun and unique experience that doesn’t just focus on music but spoken workshops, artistic expression, etc. as well.
Cool Vibes Beach Hostel: For about $35 a night you can stay in a double room. It is only a one minute walk from the beach and there is a shared kitchen on site for guests to use.
Tropical Sands Dominical: For about $55 a night you can get a double room with a fan. We like this spot because it feels really tropical and secluded. Plus it is only a two-minute walk to the beach.
Hotel Villas Rio Mar: For about $65 a night you can get a double room with breakfast included. This place has great amenities such as a nice pool, tennis court, mini golf, and outdoor exercise equipment. It is a larger place with about 50 rooms in total.
We definitely suggest checking out Airbnb as well. Sometimes you can get some really great accommodation deals at beautiful places on Airbnb. We like Airbnb because often you can get a place with a private kitchen. This definitely helps us to save some money so we are not constantly eating at restaurants. Also, often staying at an Airbnb will give you a more local experience.
Save $30 off your first Airbnb stay here
Dominical Sushi: Holy sushi guys! This is some of the best sushi I’ve ever eaten, something I would have never expected in Costa Rica. They also have a nice selection of cocktails.
Phat Noodle: Another amazing ethnic restaurant in Dominical. If you are into Thai food, head here. You certainly won’t be disappointed. Their portions are huge and the vibe here is perfect.
Del Mar Taco Shop: Two words….Taco Tuesdays! Yeap, on Tuesdays they have one taco for 1,000 colones ($2). It’s not just the tacos here though which are excellent. Everything is super tasty.
El Pescado Loco: This place is nothing more than a small stand with some tables and chairs. We weren’t really sure if it would be that good, but we ended up being really impressed. Get the fish tacos!
Fuego Brew Co: We went to Fuego planning to only get a beer. We ended up each having two drinks and a huge and delicious lunch. They brew their own craft beer here with a Costa Rican twist. We really liked the hefeweizen brewed with Costa Rican fruits. The food was excellent upscale bar food. However, the real cool thing about this place is the architecture. Someone spent a lot of money making this place absolutely beautiful.
– Please be careful when swimming at the beaches around Dominical. There is a powerful rip current in this area.
– If possible, pack fast drying items. It is ridiculously humid here and nothing ever seems to dry.
– I wrote this in the Uvita guide as well, but please please be careful during the rainy season. This area is known for flash floods in the rivers during heavy storms. A young man on his honeymoon died in 2018 due to being sucked out during a flash flood after his car went off the road. Please be careful.
Would like a more customized Costa Rica experience?
Just fill in our Costa Rica Trip Planner form!
One of our favorite Costa Rica experts will contact you and help with the entire Costa Rica planning process.