Dominical, Costa Rica
Since being discovered by intrepid and adventurous surfers nearly thirty years ago, Dominical has slowly and steadily grown in popularity while retaining its hearty and resourceful base. Home to an ingenious local population of transplanted artists, musicians, and “creative types”, Dominical is a study in what happens when hearty creative individuals escape to a remote jungle and beach paradise, only to be reconnected to modern commerce and development a quarter of a century later.
Fifteen years ago, the “short” drive from Quepos to dominical could take a vehicle several hours and the general opinion was that a horse was the best choice in transportation in the area. Today, Dominical offers high-end rental homes with stunning views right alongside a modest selection of hotels, lodges, resorts and restaurants for every budget. Tiny cafe’s (soda’s) along the beachfront town might serve fresh lobsters, crabs, and shrimps alongside the traditional rice and beans. Dominical now has a permanent resident population of nearly one thousand inhabitants, but to walk from one end of Domincal to the other still takes less than ten minutes. The area surrounding Dominical, especially to the south, is almost completely unpopulated, and because of this, the area is full of hundreds of species of exotic animals including toucans, iguanas, native monkeys and parrots of all kinds, sloths, and the wild and exotic cats known to be reclusive to Costa Rica’s more primitive regions.
During the dry season the creative atmosphere in Dominical is in full bloom, and locals will gather for a jam session, reggae theme night, or a potluck followed by classic movies, every night of the week in a rotating local celebration in the spirit the Domincal area is known for – creative self-sufficient living and entertaining. Dominical has strong community ties with numerous educational and preservation projects where residents and visitors of all ages are welcome day or night, most notably the turtle egg nursery where volunteers gather and protect recently deposited turtle eggs from the beach and guard them for hatching and return of the babies to the sea, or the highly recommended nocturnal tour of Parque Reptiliandia. View Costa Rica’s famous bushmasters, the world’s largest pit vipers, at their most active hour, free of the danger of trekking into the jungle wilds at night just to get a chance to get a glimpse! (By appointment only, and don’t forget your flashlight!) The famous red-eyed tree frog is very prolific in the Parque, so bring your camera.
While swimming in Dominical is not recommended due to strong swells (hello, surfer’s paradise) and rip tides, visitors enjoy kayaking off the coast or participating in the snorkel and diving opportunities offered in the area. Horseback tours are still very popular, harking back to the days not long ago when horseback was the smart choice in local travel. The Marino Ballena National park is nearby, an underwater mating ground for turtles and whales that arrive seasonally. Day trips to Cano Island off the coast are also a recommended must-see for world traveling adventure diving, considered one of the planet’s best destinations for adventure diving.
Dominical is at its heart, the definition of ecotourism. Local development, education, activities, and tourism all revolve around a greater sense of the need for preservation of the lush and wild surrounds.
Summary: Tranquil beach town popular among surfers; home to Ballena National Marine Park
Landscape: Beaches, rainforest
Attractions: Ballena National Marine Park, Nauyaca Waterfalls, Reptile Park, wildlife
Activities: Adventure tours, dolphin & whale watching, snorkeling, surfing
Caters to: Budget travelers, couples/honeymooners, families, wildlife enthusiasts
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