What to Do and See Around Playa Dominical, Costa Rica

Get shacked!
Get shacked! | © Roman Königshofer/Flickr | Roman Königshofer/Flickr
Jenn Parker

Dominical is a beach-front town on the central Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It is renowned for its consistent surf, small-town vibes, picturesque aesthetic, and easy accessibility to numerous national parks, further beaches, waterfalls, nature tours, and adventure activities. You can easily do something different every day when you are in Dominical.

Loved by over 40s

Go surfing

Dominical is notably popular for its surf. There are several breaks in the area, including an expansive beach break right in front of the main part of town. While the surf can get very big and powerful here, on days when there isn’t much swell, this is a good place to learn how to surf. There are several surf camps and lessons options for those who want to learn to surf or improve their technique with a local guide.

The surf is almost always up here

Shop along the beach

Running parallel to the ocean is a lovely cobblestone road, lined with independent artisans and vendors. The street is shaded by towering palm trees, which makes this experience all the more pleasant. This is a fantastic way to shop for unique souvenirs, while also being by the sea and close to a number of restaurants and bars.

Stroll and shop by the sea

Watch some whales

Just a short drive to the south of Dominical is the Marino Ballena (whale) National Park. Coincidentally, the main beach which is part of this marine park is shaped like a giant whale’s tail. This is one of the best places in the country to go whale watching, as humpback whales migrate north to south and south to north throughout the year passing through this area. The Pacific coast of Costa Rica has one of the longest whale migration periods since both northern and southern whales visit the waters off the coast here. A whale watching tour is an amazing way to spend the day at sea and likely observing some of Costa Rica’s incredible marine species.

Sweet souls of the sea

Visit a valley of waterfalls

Close to Playa Dominical is a valley that is host to multiple exquisite waterfalls, including one of Costa Rica’s most famous, the Nauyaca waterfall. Off the beach, the landscape becomes dense tropical rainforest. You can either hike or take a horseback riding tour to the fall. There are plenty of natural swimming pools and endless opportunities for unique wildlife encounters during your day in the jungle.

Pick a national park

Dominical is centrally located and a perfect starting point to visit some of the surrounding national parks. A visit to Manuel Antonio National Park, Carara National Park, Corcovado National Park, Chirripó National Park, Marino Ballena National Park, and Piedras Blanca National Park are all do-able as day trips from Dominical. You’re spoilt for choice.

Rainforest locals

Explore a mangrove forest

The Sierpe Mangrove forest is the largest of its kind in Central America and lies not that far away from Dominical. This important ecosystem is home to an abundance of wildlife. There are three ways to explore. You can take a guided boat tour, kayak, or paddle board through the mangrove forest. You will likely see crocodiles, monkeys, and a lot of beautiful birds, among other fascinating animal species.

Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

Natural Feature, Park

© Brian Gratwiche/Flickr | Brian Gratwiche/Flickr
Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary rescues and cares for abandoned, injured, or displaced animals. The goal is always to rehabilitate and release the animals that find their way to the sanctuary, but for many this is not possible. The sanctuary often has sloths, coatis, armadillos, white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, and a variety of exotic birds. This is a wonderful place to visit and learn about some of the native animals of Costa Rica while getting to see them up close and personal.
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.