There is not a shortage of outdoor adventures in Dominical. This green area includes two national parks, magical waterfalls, wildlife and nature sanctuaries, legendary surfing and plenty of water activities for the novice and the pro. There are few places in the world that match the abundance of opportunity and fun families couples and friends can enjoy in Costa Rica. Only a short drive from San Jose, it’s one of the country’s favorite spots for nature enthusiasts and eco-minded people.
1. Nauyaca Waterfalls
A two-tiered waterfall that rises 61 meters (200 feet) high with a natural pool for swimming makes Nauyaca Waterfalls one of Costa Rica’s top destinations for adventure seekers. Arrive either by horseback (tour includes lunch) or hike to the waterfalls and spend the day. If you plan on hiking, the trail to the falls is very challenging and rugged but well worth it.
2. Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary
Visit the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary where you will find over 75 animals native to Costa Rica. This non-profit organization feeds, provides shelter and veterinary care to distressed animals brought under its care. The center also includes an educational program for school children. It’s dedicated not only to the care and preservation of wildlife but also to teaching the future generations about the importance of animals and preserving their natural habitats. It’s a remarkable place to visit when traveling through Dominical.
3. Hacienda Baru
This 800-acre wildlife refuge hugs the southern coast of Costa Rica neighboring Dominical. With a diversity of habitats, primary and secondary forest, mangroves, grasslands, and beaches, you can get pleasantly lost here for hours hiking through the reserve. A cattle ranch till 1990, the owner banned hunting on the land and quickly went to work to create one of Costa Rica’s most treasured reserves. It officially became a reserve in 1995. The lodge, restaurant and zip line tours fund the property. It’s a sustainable, self-supporting venture that relies on responsible eco-tourism to protect the wildlife and ecosystem. Here you will find treasures everywhere in the over 330 species that inhabit the land. You can take one of the many self-guided hikes to spot monkeys, sloths, caiman and more or opt for the zip line tour for a bird’s eye view of the reserve.
Dominical is home to one of the top yoga retreat centers in Costa Rica. The Danya Yoga Retreat and Eco-Lodge offer visitors retreats, yoga, surf, meditation and arts and crafts programs. There are daily drop-in yoga classes taught by well-regarded instructors. It’s a special place to reconnect with yourself, rejuvenate your spirit, and return to balance.
5. Marino Ballena Park
Just 20 minutes south of downtown Dominical, Marino Ballena Park attracts visitors from all over the world. Established in 1990, the protected 270 acres of land and 13,300 acres of ocean is one of the newest parks in the country. Home to the largest coral reef on the Pacific side of Central America it beckons scuba divers. The crystal clear blue waters make it perfect for snorkeling. You can also venture out to Cano Island for more scuba diving. Explore the mangroves, and spot the humpback whales during migration season. The beaches are also a favorite place to spot Olive Ridley and Hawksbill turtles. Spend hours here horseback riding, hiking, paddling through the mangroves or just laying on the beach; it’s a perfect refuge to take in the wonders of nature.
6. Surf Lessons and Surfing
In Dominical, surfs up every day of the week. One of the most popular destinations for both experienced as well as those new to surfing, Dominical offers consistent waves. With waves averaging anywhere from three feet to double overhead and a sandy bottom, it’s a top surfing destination. As a bonus, the town of Dominical extends to the beach making parking fairly easy. You can also take surf lessons and get some yoga in at Bodhi Surf School.
Escape into the wonder of waterfalls, zip-line across the rainforest canopy, explore the beaches on horseback, take in the surf and enjoy the wonder of the ocean at sunset in Dominical. It’s one of Costa Rica’s treasured spots for visitors and residents. All are welcome here.