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The 10 Best Things to Do in Dominical

Dominical is a small Costa Rican town located about 30 miles south of Quepos. While it’s a small, secluded area, it’s also home to some of the best tropical beaches in the country. If you’re planning a trip to Dominical, you can find plenty of exciting ways to pass your time.

Here are 10 popular activities in Dominical that you’ll want to try.

1. Swimming at Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa is the most beautiful beach in the vicinity of Dominical. It’s also one of the best places to swim. The waters at many other beaches are too turbulent to swim in, so Playa Hermosa is a great place to go if you want to bask in the ocean.

The water is warm throughout the year, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy it. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind if you go:

  • Some areas have a strong rip tide, so you must be aware of and avoid them.

  • There are occasional reports of shark and crocodile attacks, but they are few and far between. Just be on the lookout while venturing into the water.

  • Apply sunscreen every couple of hours, because the sun can be intense.

If you aren’t sure what to do while visiting Dominical, the beaches at Playa Hermosa should be at the top of your list. Visit also our Dominical property listings.

2. Stay In the Rainforest

If you don’t live near Dominical, then you’ll need to find a place to stay during your trip. Staying in the rainforest is a great option. There are some really unique rental properties available, like this one. It’s only five minutes away from the beaches of Dominical, and right next to the neighboring rainforest, so you can easily return to your room after you’re done swimming, snorkeling, or walking the sands. It offers amazing views overlooking hundreds of acres of jungle in the Rainforest Preserve. There’s also a waterfall with a natural pool and nature trails nearby.

This particular rental has 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, so you can accommodate multiple guests. It also has plenty of comforts, such as:

  • A two-room luxury tent on a large platform right next to the house

  • Wraparound balcony overlooking the rainforest

  • Air conditioning

  • Pool/spa

3. Explore the Nauyaca Waterfalls

There are plenty of other waterfalls in Costa Rica, but the Nauyaca Waterfalls are probably the most majestic. To get to the waterfalls, you’ll have to venture down a trail from Dominical into an eight-mile-wide canyon.

The awesome sight of the waterfalls alone is enough reason to visit. There are two sets of falls about 200 feet high, making them some of the tallest in Costa Rica. After you’re done looking at the water pouring from the precipice above, you can swim or wade in the huge pool below.

The waterfall is about 10 miles from the center of town, so you can either hike or ride a horse to get there. There’s an $8 admission fee, which is well worth the memorable experience.

4. Stand-Up Paddleboarding

If you’ve never done stand-up paddleboarding before, Dominical is the perfect place to try it. Uvita 360 SUP and a few other companies provide lessons on the beaches of Dominical. It’s a great way to enjoy riding the waves and keep in shape.

There are plenty of lifeguards and training coaches available. You’ll also be equipped with sturdy life jackets, a reliable board, and other accessories you need. You can also check out our ad section to see if anyone is renting a board (or jetskis and other watersports equipment).

You can go paddleboarding any time of year. However, the beaches tend to be much more crowded during the summer, as many American tourists are visiting (particularly college kids on break). You’ll have more time for personal lessons if you go during the winter, early spring, or late fall.

5. Look at Animals at Parque Reptilandia

Since Costa Rica is home to some of the most biodiverse rainforests in the world, there are plenty of exhibitions for exotic animals. Parque Reptilandia is the largest one that specializes in reptiles. It’s located about four miles from Dominical on the road to San Isidro.

This exhibit has a wide range of scaly creatures, including sea turtles, American crocodiles, and various rainforest frogs. The guides provide a lot of seminars and exhibits to educate attendees. You’ll learn how to distinguish venomous from innocuous snakes, and find out how they live in the wild.

Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children. The exhibit is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

6. Go On a Tour at Boruca Indigenous Reserve

The Boruca tribe is a group of indigenous people who live near Dominical. They are the descendants of a tribe of warriors that successfully thwarted European armies that managed to conquer the rest of Costa Rica. According to legend, the Boruca were protected by animal spirits.

There are currently about 2,000 tribal members who live on a 50-square-mile plot of land that’s designated specifically for their tribe. While the land belongs to the tribe, there is a reserve about 50 miles from Dominical that tourists can check out.

You can visit the reserve for free. The Boruca used to be very isolated, but have become very welcoming of tourists over the last 20 years. They will happily show you how they live, and occasionally put on exhibits for their guests.

7. Go Horseback Riding

Horseback riding has been a preferred form of travel for many Costa Ricans since the 1850s. It’s also a great way to enjoy the beautiful days in Dominical.

There are a number of popular places you can go horseback riding. It’s common to ride near Nauyaca Waterfalls and along the beaches.

Before you ride, make sure you have the right gear and rent a sturdy horse. It’s also important to take lessons beforehand, because horses can be difficult to control near these areas. Look for local stables that can provide horses and the equipment you need.

8. Walk the Sands of Dominicalito Beach

TripAdvisor lists visiting Dominicalito Beach as one of the top things to do while visiting Dominical. There are plenty of things that you can do here to keep yourself entertained:

  • Walk the sandy beaches

  • Wade in the warm waters

  • Go snorkeling during the sunny afternoons

Dominicalito is almost as beautiful as Playa Hermosa. It also tends to attract fewer visitors, so you don’t need to worry about it being too crowded.

9. Go Whale Watching in Costa Ballena

Costa Rica is home to nearly 30 species of dolphins and whales. While there are plenty of exhibits where you can see smaller whales, it’s more exciting to watch them in the open sea. Many of them congregate in the waters near Costa Ballena throughout the year.

You can take a charter out to watch whales in their natural habitat. There are frequent tours in the Marino Ballena National Park. Here’s what one guest had to say about the experience on TripAdvisor:

“My husband and I took the Whale & Dolphin Watching Tour with Bahia Aventuras at the Marino Ballena National Park, Costa Rica this August and I cannot recommend it enough.

“We saw a lot of humpback whales fairly close up – an absolutely incredible experience and something I'd always wanted to do! We also saw turtles, pelicans diving into the ocean, and dolphins. The dolphins came right up to our boat and were jumping out of the water playing with us.

“There were 14 people on our boat, which was a good number – it’s good to have 14 pairs of eyes looking for the whales! There was a mix of Spanish and English speakers but it didn't matter as the tour guide spoke perfect English and repeated everything in both languages. He was really friendly and very informative.”

You can usually expect to see a number of whales during your tour. Make sure to bring a camera to capture your sightings.

10. Try Parasailing

Have you ever been parasailing before? If not, Costa Rica is the perfect place to try it. There are several companies such as Aguas Azules and the Grampa Ninja House that provide parasailing lessons.

You’ll get a splendid bird’s-eye view of the coasts of Dominical. Since the weather is usually great, you can go almost any month of the year. Just make sure that you’re in good health and ready for the thrill, because parasailing can be scary the first time around.

Enjoy Your Stay in Dominical

Whether you’re visiting Dominical for a weekend or planning to stay there the rest of your life, there are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself entertained. It’s a great place for people who love venturing outdoors in one of the finest tropical paradises in Costa Rica.

What do you plan to do during your stay in Dominical? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below: