Surfing in Dominical, Costa Rica

Dominical is located on the Southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, about 30 miles south of Quepos, where the coastal and mountain highways meet. What used to be a thirty mile stretch of dirt road that would take over an hour of travel now takes approximately 25 minutes. This makes getting to Dominical and the rest of the Southern Pacific Zone, including Costa Ballena, Uvita, and Bahia Ballena a lot more realistic and enjoyable for surfers and tourists alike. Heading south, Bodhi Surf + Yoga is another 15 minutes down the road from Dominical, in Bahia Ballena.

Though not as popular as Playa Hermosa (near Jaco), Playa Dominical is a popular beach for surfing and is frequented by experienced surfers looking for good, consistent waves and a more laid back atmosphere. The beach at Dominical is about two kilometers long, from its northern river mouth to a rocky cliff on its southern end. A beach break with surf scattered along the entire stretch of beach, it offers the most consistent surf in the region (and possibly in the country) and when the swell gets good it’s known to offer up hollow and powerful waves. The best waves are typically found between the lifeguard towers in front of the river mouth on the north end.

Dominical Wave Information

  • Best swell size: Head high to overhead
  • Best swell direction: S-SW
  • Best wind direction: E
  • Best season: Waves pretty much year-round with the biggest waves between June and September due to tropical storms, and the cleanest waves between December and April
  • Type of break: Beach break with river mouth
  • Bottom: Sand
  • Consistency: Very consistent
  • Best tide: Medium to High
  • Best suited for: Intermediate to advanced
  • Access: The beach is right in town and it is possible to park right at the edge of the sand
  • Crowd factor: It can get a bit crowded by Costa Rica standards. It is typical to find a group of local Ticos and expat surfers who live in the area, as well as a number of surf travelers at any given time. But the waves are spread out enough for all to catch some waves, and if you’re respectful you’ll catch more than your share.
  • Potential dangers: The beach is known for having strong rip currents as well as stingrays, and jellyfish are seasonal

Safety Information

Playa Dominical is known for having dangerous rip currents, so much so that it was the first beach in Costa Rica to employ full-time lifeguards. Despite this security measure, it is important that beach-goers exercise caution when swimming, surfing, or in any other ocean activity. Other safety hazards that can be found at Dominical are stingrays and jellyfish. Like at any other beach, the threat of either is not great but it’s better to be aware of all potential dangers.

Keep in mind that ocean conditions are consistently changing and with it the risk of dangers. This means that what is typically considered a "safe" beach can be dangerous under certain conditions, and a typically "dangerous" beach can be considered safe under the right conditions. The safety information is provided as precautionary and taking into account the most common conditions for a given beach.

For surfers just starting out, or individuals not comfortable in the ocean, it is recommended that you check in with the on-duty lifeguards, where available, or ask local surfers for tips on hazards, rip currents, or best places to surf. 

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Surfing with Bodhi

While Dominical is an incredibly fun place to surf, it is also a nice place to spend some time, featuring international restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. We would not recommend Dominical as a place to learn to surf; Playa Dominical is a powerful wave that is best suited for intermediate and advanced surfers with ample ocean experience. The surf line-up at Playa Dominical is often more crowded than Playa Hermosa or Playa Colonia, so for those seeking more of a relaxing time away from the crowds in order to unwind, reconnect with nature, or get in some quality personal time, we recommend getting a little more off the beaten path.

Bodhi Surf + Yoga is a surf and yoga camp in Bahia Ballena that was founded in 2010 which focuses on community-engaged and nature-based experiences. It is specifically designed for those who come from busy lifestyles and are looking to take a moment for themselves. Bodhi excels at helping novice and intermediate surfers progress on their path to becoming independent surfers. Yoga is an activity of equal importance at Bodhi as it is proven to benefit our students a great deal in stretching tight muscles, releasing built-up tension in the body, improving balance, and training the mind to focus. Bodhi offers a surf and yoga vacation experience like no other in the area.

Why choose Bodhi Sessions

We believe that one of the greatest benefits of doing our Bodhi Sessions is the fact that yoga is not just an add-on activity, but a fundamental part of the surfing experience. Many of our guests arrive without having any prior surf experience, and without having had the time to prepare physically for five surf sessions in six days. The yoga provides much-needed balance (no pun intended) of physical strength-building and stretching, and is designed to complement the building crescendo of the surf sessions. More importantly, the yoga sessions address the more persistent challenges to learning to surf — refining the already-existing strength and mental discipline that every person has. As we mentioned, surfing is in large part mental, and yoga is an incredible tool to help us look inward and become more aware of our own thoughts and consciousness.

Surf breaks near Dominical

Already know how to surf? There are a number of surf breaks in the Costa Ballena region that offer something rideable year round and are suitable for surfers of varying abilities.

Playa Hermosa de Osa

Playa Hermosa is a beach break located 3km north of Uvita and is generally a great wave for intermediate surfers. On a higher tide, and with a smaller swell, the break is suitable for beginners. It is a popular beach on the weekends so be cautious of swimmers and other surfers. There are lifeguards on duty 7-days a week from 8am - 4pm.

Dominicalito

Playa Dominicalito is located 3km south of Dominical. The surf break sits in a protected cove and is a beach frequented by Dominical surf schools. For beginner or intermediate surfers this surf break is recommended on a higher tide as there are rocks scattered across the bottom. There are no lifeguards on duty at Playa Dominicalito.

Playa Colonia

Playa Colonia is a beach break in Bahia Ballena. This beach is located within the Marino Ballena National Park, making it a less visited beach than other neighboring beaches and a great place to learn to surf or to hone your skills. This surf break is ideal for beginners and families with children who surf but be aware that there are not lifeguards on duty.

Punta Dominical

Punta Dominical is a reef break located just south of Dominicalito. It gets good when the swell is too big for the beach breaks. On smaller days it's suitable for intermediate surfers looking to gain some experience at a reef break. The rocky bottom is a major hazard so be aware paddling out, in, and taking off on waves. There are no lifeguards on duty and beware of car break-ins.

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