Playa Dominical could be called the Mini-Tamarindo of Costa Rica’s South Pacific zone. It offers not only waves of all types, but also amenities for surfers and tourists. Beachside restaurants, bars and small shops abound, with laid-back vibes and lush tropical surroundings. The waves, however, cannot be remotely compared to Tamarindo. Dominical is not for beginners. Even on smaller swell days, large, heavy, barreling waves are still found up and down the beach. Rip currents and heavy waves have caused many drownings, so this beach is for intermediate and expert surfers only. For beginners, Dominicalito is recommended, just 10 minutes south of Dominical.

How to get there

From the Liberia airport in the Guanacaste region, it’s a long six-hour drive south on the Pacific highway. You will pass many waves on the way, including Hermosa, Esterillos and Quepos, so take your time and surf your way south. From the San José airport, it’s a shorter drive of about four hours. Dominical is right off the highway after the bridge and police checkpoint. There are lots of signs and it’s hard to miss the turnoff. From the beach where the road ends, take a left to find less crowded waves to surf. However, be mindful of leaving anything in your car unattended, as you will be walking. The safer bet, for your belongings, is to take a right where the road ends and surf where most of the crowds are in front of the parking lot.

Where to surf

Dominical is a very long beach with dozens of peaks spread along the shore. The most popular surfed waves will be found directly in front of the car park, where your non-surfing friends and family members can enjoy restaurants and shopping. However, by walking either north or south along the beach, you will likely find your own secluded peak. Near the river mouth of the Río Barú, the surf gets even bigger. Be careful of rip currents, found here in abundance, and there is a risk of crocodiles, as in any Costa Rican river mouth. Dominical also has its own point break, aptly named Punto Dominical, to the far south of the beach. This is a left-breaking wave and normally for advanced and expert surfers only. However, on “smaller” days, beginners and intermediate surfers can have fun. It can hold over double head and works best on southern swells.

Surf times

The beach breaks of Dominical work during all tides. However, each part of the beach will be working at a different time. In front of the parking lot, it’s best to surf during mid to high tides. The river mouth can be surfed from low tide to high tide, but is much more tubular on lower tides. The point should only be surfed after mid tide. Although it is surfable at lower tides, the nearby rocks make it much more dangerous with big swells.

Local companies

The small town of Dominical has everything you need for catching waves. Surf shops with boards for sale and rent also typically offer surf lessons at nearby beaches. Be sure to stop by Costa Rica Surf Camp and thank Kaitlin for these photos. You’ll find restaurants of all types, bars, hotels and shopping
in abundance. Despite all of the local amenities, Dominical is very peaceful and laid back, surrounded by jungle, rivers and waterfalls. Check out the hiking and waterfall tours nearby, or launch a kayak from one of the more southern beaches. That is,of course, only if the water is at and there are no waves to surf!