Stop right there and close your eyes. I want you to picture the perfect tropical surf town. Somewhere laid back? Somewhere with warm waters? Fun waves? Consistency? Good grub? And maybe the odd after-hours venue to knock back a cold one after surfing all day…It’s the stuff we dream about, right?
Well, surfing in Costa Rica looks very much like this in several of its best surf towns. While less famous than Santa Teresa, or Playa Hermosa, Dominical is still up there with one of the best surf spots in the country.
A laid-back cluster of surf hotels and surf schools right on the sand of a long stretch of super consistent, punchy beach break, it’s no doubt why Dominical is a laid-back surfer’s favorite! Here’s everything you need to know about surfing in Dominical.
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Dominical is a long, open beach that gets its share of swell. Although the majority of the time, the waves stay between 2-4ft, the wave packs a punch, and the exact shape will depend on the banks at the time.
Where is Dominical?
Dominical is in Puntarenas on Costa Ricas’ pacific coast. The town is tiny, with jungle dominating the land and the vast expanse of the Pacific out front. Getting to Dominical can be tricky and take longer than you anticipate.
How to get to Dominical?
The best way to get to Dominical is by car. You can hire a car from Jaco (the nearest large town) or the international airport in San Jose. Be prepared for potholed roads, traffic, and wildlife crossing the highways. Yep, sloths and monkeys do cross the road here!
If you’re on a budget surf trip to Costa Rica, take a local bus; these are often sweaty and take ages but only cost a few dollars. For longer journeys, such as from San Jose to Dominical, you can take the coach or check out Carribe shuttle; where you’ll share a minivan with other travelers and is quicker and a tad comfier than the local bus.
Dominical Surf Season
The best season to surf in Dominical is during the wet season (April – October). This is when the biggest swells grace the coast and transform the usually mellow beach break into some hollow sandy brown barrels. However, in the dry season, Dominical stays consistent, offering 1-3ft waves most of the time.
Where to Stay?
If you’re on a budget surf trip to Costa Rica and want to say somewhere basic, right on the sand, this is your spot. While by no means luxurious, Permays Hostel puts you in prime location for slipping out for a quick dawny or sunset session. The place has been newly “refurbished,” and dorms start at $15 per night. By far the cheapest option for staying and surfing in Dominical.
River Road Hostel
While not right on the sand, River Road Hostel is only a 2km walk from Playa Dominical. A better-built property than Permay’s and a refreshing palace to stay further out into the jungle! Rooms start at $17 per night.
Hona Beach Hotel
For somewhere comfortable, cool, and facing directly toward the beach in Dominical, the Hona Beach Hotel is ideal for surfing in Dominical. With A/C, free wifi, a restaurant, and four stars to its name, it’s one of the best places to stay in Dominical. Prices for rooms start at $100 per night. (Sleeps 2).
Rio Lindo Resort
Only 300m from the sand at Dominical, Rio Lindo Resort puts you in the ideal spot. With A/C, wifi, and each room boasting a patio and pool view, you can’t go wrong here. Prices for a room with a patio view begin at $102. Learn more here.
Tribe Boutique Hotel
This adults-only resort is a wicked place to stay if you’re looking for something comfortable and semi-luxurious while you visit Dominical. With a pool, wifi, room service, and a team of staff working hard to ensure you have the best time, The Tribe Boutique is a no-brainer.
Dominical Surf Camp Packages
If you’re looking for a more immersive surf experience, check out Book Surf Camps make it super easy to book your surf coaching, accommodation, and airport transfers all in one easy booking. They have some great packages for all abilities and take the stress out of surf trip organization. Check out the best packages in Costa Rica here.
Tips for Surfing in Dominical
As you’d expect for a long, exposed beach, rips can be intense on bigger days, so this is something to note if you’re a beginner surfer. When he swells jacks up, these rips can be ferocious and can even make it hard for advanced surfers trying to get out back.
During the wet season, Dominical gets a ton of swell. But during the dry season, waves are typically in the 1-4ft range, with the occasional jump to 4-6ft. Be aware on larger days, there can be a ton of water moving around.
Like anywhere in the tropics, the heat is super intense when surfing in Costa Rica. You’ll need some decent sun protection when surfing between 11 and 3. I’d suggest some good zinc, a sun hat, and a rash vest at any time other than the dawn session. Also, because the beach is black sand, it’s frickin hot and you’ll need to sprint across it!
Dominical is not close to any of the major towns/cities in Costa Rica. Throw in the slower pace of life, and poor roads mean getting to Dominical can take longer than expected. But once you’re here, it’s the laid-back sleepy surf town you came for!
Dominical Surf Lessons
On smaller days, Dominical can be a great place to learn how to surf, and tapping into some local surf knowledge can help you get the most from your experience. See the map below for some of the best surf schools and shops in town!
Dominical Surf Shops
If you’re spending a few weeks surfing in Costa Rica, chances are you’ll pick up a few dings or wear out your surf gear. Thankfully, there are a few spots around town to fix your dings and find spare fins!
Non-surfing Activities in Dominical
If you’re sun and surfed out, you can hang by the pool, relax on the beach, and take in tropical paradise, but there are also some other cool things to check out around Dominical. Go hiking at the impressive Nuayaca Falls, take a horseback ride on the beach, or check out some of Costa Rica’s most exotic wildlife at Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary.
If you’re after the quintessential laid-back Cost Rican beach break vibe, Dominical is for you. With a long open stretch of beach, the palace proves super consistent waves and something for all abilities.
Dominical is a true place to immerse yourself into Cost Rican nature and surf paradise. I hope this guide has given you all the information you need to know for surfing in Dominical, and if you’ve got any questions or tips, please comment below! Yew!
Dominical Surf - FAQs
Yes! However, this will depend on the conditions. When the swell is small and under the right guidance, small days can be great for beginners. Watch out for rips and other surfers!
Yes, Dominical is an exposed stretch of beach and has waves year round.