Best known for its consistent and challenging surf, Dominical has evolved into a destination town after being discovered by the surf crowd in the early 1970s. From fishing shacks then, to a main street paved with river rock you will find real estate offices, restaurants, fruterias, surf schools and rentals, and even a Yoga dance and massage studio. The beach front village has everything to accommodate a growing population (1,200 +/- not counting part time owners) and tourist base.
Add to that, the bus line connection, van service from both Liberia international and Juan Santamaria airport in San Jose, and the Coastal Highway #34 that passes by just up the hill from the beachfront. The highway is in good condition and a new stretch of highway (#27) coming west from San Jose cuts time off the trip south and wear and tear on nerves. Plus, the scenery is exquisite! Get an up to date, waterproof map from www.amazon.com for $11.95 plus shipping. Toucan maps by Ray & Suzzanne Kaplan are the best. They include distance graphs, Espanol questions for lost travelers, locations of Wildlife Preserves, and tourist attractions, and zoomed detail maps of larger cities and regions.
Lifestyle & What To Do
- Watch a sunset from the beach or at the bar of one of the local hangouts
- Practice your Dutch, French, German or Spanish – Tico hospitality is catchy
- Wildlife Preserves are easy to find & access. Tours embark daily.
- Fish with offshore charters or try a native skiff on the river or nearshore
Dominical is still laid back. Entertainment is low key with the occasional contemporary band groups working mostly expat crowds on the weekends at several nightspots – – both in Dominical and south along the Costenero towards the next community of Uvita. On the beach front is Tortilla Flats serving big wings and the local take on ceviche. A few doors down is CoCo’s restaurant with large fresh salads. If you can’t adapt then there’s always hamburgers and french fries, along with standard beach style fare and seafood entrees.
At the newest and nicest, Hotel Domilocos, the restaurant Con-Fusione will surprise and delight you with simply prepared, fabulously delicious, contemporary food usually found in progressive metro areas but going strong at Playa Dominical. The Hotel and restaurant are just 200 meters south of the police station, then left another 75 meters in from the beachfront. Simply follow the signs.
During day light hours there is a market under the palms spread along the beach frontage road. After you attack the surf or soak up some rays you can buy fruit, coconuts, t-shirts, handmade jewelry and trinkets, beach wraps, towels and souvenirs.
People here are friendly and helpful. Smiles are abundant. Ticos live up to the calm, accepting, laissez faire, reputation they have. If you want to get to know new friends learn some “courtesy” Spanish i.e. Perdon – perdoname, Senor/Senorita. Entiendes? Por favor, Mucho Gracias, Mucho Gusto, Usted, etc. – - – Es un gusto conacerle (It’s a pleasure to meet you) & El gusto es mio (The pleasure is mine). Even if you speak Espanol slowly and mangle the sentence structure the people appreciate the fact that you try. It is their inherent nature to calmly accept the moment and your sincerity will open the door to their generous spirits. Worked for me! I have made friends that I will keep the rest of my life and it was their choice to allow me in.
Real Estate and Basic Convenience
There are several franchised and independent real estate offices between Dominical and Uvita, 12 kilometers to the south. Uvita has a commercial center with several mercados, a medical clinic, a hardware and building supply and even a rental car agency, along with other types of businesses. The long distance bus line stops on a regular schedule and it is possible to ride to the Panamanian border or to San Jose and beyond. Dominical has a small mercado, a bank, and utility offices on the main highway and in the town.
There are a number of considerations to examine when considering a move here. Independent insurance for physicians and private hospitals is available at reasonable premiums. Healthcare is first world in most cases. A permanent visa takes anywhere from 6 to 9 months and you can’t use the public system until you have a permanent visa. There are some excellent private hospitals, the best in or near San Jose, but there is The Labrador in San Isidro which is 26 kilometers into the mountains northeast of Dominical .
The telephone system is very high tech (quality) and reasonable. There are no long distance charges for the entire country. Internet service is lightning fast – better than the states. But, Wifi is still spotty in places. Dental and veterinary practices are listed in the local phone book, a big change from just five years ago.
Rentals are abundant. You can choose from one bedroom cabinas starting at $385 per month and up, including utilities. You can find gated condo projects where long term rentals (six months) start at $1,000 per month plus utilities & wifi and go up in size, number of bedrooms, and quality of views. A typical two bedroom home with a direct view of the Pacific rents for $1,650 plus utilities.
The existing home sales market is similar to the North American marketplace. New construction is slightly lower than the states but amentities drive up overall costs rapidly.
Spectacular ocean views from mountainside villas can reach over a million dollars and more. Further into the coastal mountains, moderate contemporary homes with distant views can be purchased for less than $200,000. There are condo developments also and the “resort” rental market is strong during the winter months.
Real estate company and private offerings are readily available on the internet.
Local knowledge is indispensable. Buyer’s agents are usually expats with good local attorney connections. An absolute necessity, as the law base here is Napoleanic. Real estate agents are not regulated or licensed. Buyer beware!
Costa Rica is the safest country in Central America. It is the oldest democracy (100 years plus). Firearms are banned There is visible police presence at major intersections, on foot in the towns, and in vehicles. When traveling by car be vigilant. Speeding fines are steep.
Dominical is just over an hour south of Quepos but certainly much quieter and more desirable unless you want Subway and KFC on the corner and locals standing in the street hawking timeshares!
The average temperatures in the “winter” months range from 85 to 89 degrees. Nights at the beach are mid 70’s. The rainy season begins at the end of May. Temperatures are a little higher but so is humidity and comfort levels go down as a result. A few miles into the mountains night time temperatures are much more moderate and nights are nearly perfect with lows in the mid 60’s.
The quality of life here is better and the pace slower than the more populated areas. Given time you will “suffer” culture lag as your blood pressure deflates and your happiness level goes off the charts. Pura Vida!
About The Author
Steve Kesterson is a professional writer. Visit his website and connect to his blog at http://www.stevekesterson.com