Uvita & Dominical, Costa Rica are typically not the first place people visit when planning their Costa Rica holiday. But this will be quick to change. These towns and their respective areas should NOT be missed.
This region of Costa Rica is one of the most stunning. Majestic waterfalls, beaches lined with palm trees and amazing wildlife, you have to add this to your next Costa Rica holiday!
Explore rainforests, go surfing on big waves, witness humpback whales during migration, it is one of those once in a lifetime places.
So let’s go!!
Some links in this Uvita Dominical Costa Rica Itinerary post are affiliate. If clicked, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
QUICK FACTS: UVITA DOMINICAL COSTA RICA ITINERARY
- Uvita: Golden Pineapple Villas Adults Only (Luxury)
- Uvita: Ballena Rey Hotel (Good value!)
- Dominical: Hona Beach Hotel (Right on the beach)
How many days in Uvita, Dominical, Costa Rica
How many days should I spend in Uvita?
1-2 days in Uvita for Marino Ballena National Park & Uvita Waterfall.
2 days is highly recommended if you are visiting during whale watching season(s) (December – March & late July – October), to be able to have time for a whale watching tour!
How many days should I spend in Dominical?
1-2 days in Dominical for Nauyaca Waterfalls, Playa Dominical for surfing and Playa Dominicalito.
I recommend doing at minimum 2 days here to split up your activities for a more relaxed pace.
Where are Uvita & Dominical located?
Uvita and Dominical, Costa Rica are located in Puntarenas Province, the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.
Puntarenas Province is home to lush rainforests, stunning beaches and an abundance of wildlife. This was by far my favourite province, and has a lot to do with these two towns / regions.
The closest international airport to these two towns is SJO in the capital of San Jose, Costa Rica. SJO accepts flights from major airlines worldwide and is a great place to fly into to get to Uvita & Dominical.
Check out Skyscanner for deals & discounts. Use the toggles to watch for cheap flights.
How to Get to Uvita & Dominical, Costa Rica
Driving to Uvita or Dominical
If you’ve read my other Costa Rica blog posts, you know I am a big fan of renting cars for getting around. There is just so much to see and do in this country that I find it to be the most convenient option.
There are a few main driving routes from the capital San Jose, Costa Rica to Dominical & Uvita:
- The shortest route, approximately 3 hours and 20 minutes, goes past Jaco and Quepos via route 27 & 34. This is a great option if you plan to visit Jaco or Manuel Antonio before visiting Dominical & Uvita, Costa Rica.
- We took the second fastest driving route as we visited Manuel Antonio National Park after Dominical & Uvita. From the capital of San Jose we drove along Highway 2, changing to Route 243 in Pérez Zeledón, with a short drive along Route 34 to reach Dominical. This route takes approximately 3.5 hours from San Jose to Dominical.
Once in Dominical, simply continue along *Route 34 for 20 minutes until you reach Uvita!
*Route 34 is a two lane highway lined with palm trees. It is a pretty drive that connects the nearby towns in Puntarenas Province.
Taking a bus to Uvita & Dominical, Costa Rica
Tracopa Station in San Jose has buses that leave regularly from San Jose and pass through Jaco, Quepos, and eventually reach Dominical.
The bus ride is approximately 4 hours in length (due to the stops), and costs anywhere from $15.00 – $30.00 per ticket.
Tickets can be purchased online or in person at the station. Ensure you arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled departure time.
Getting around Uvita, Dominical, Costa Rica
Driving is the most convenient option and my personal preference. I understand that a lot of people may not be able to drive. If that be the case, taxis are very friendly and affordable in this region.
TIP: If you take a taxi, negotiate the price before getting in OR ensure the meter is turned on.
Driving in Costa Rica
Please DO NOT attempt to drive once the sun has set in Costa Rica.
We did it a few times and almost got into an accident (this is 100% true). Ensure that you are in a safe place with no driving after dark.
The roads are poorly lit, especially in this region. The sun sets around 5-6PM and it is then pitch black, there is not any lingering light.
If planning to drive in Costa Rica, check out rental cars for deals and discounts!
The Uvita & Dominical, Costa Rica Itinerary
Day 0: Drive San José → Uvita, Costa Rica
Make your way over to Uvita or Dominical. This itinerary will have Uvita first, however, you can choose which town/area you want to visit first.
Save transportation for its own day, as it will take up to 4 hours to get there, and allot for time to get settled into your accommodations.
If you prefer hotels, keep reading! I have you covered below!
Day 1: Uvita, Costa Rica
Marino Ballena National Park: The Whale Tail
Visit the gorgeous Marino Ballena National Park. This is where you can feast your eyes on the famous Whale’s Tail. I am going to break it to you though, you cannot see it for all that it’s worth unless you have a drone.
However, it is still super cool to walk along the tail and notice the waves coming up on either side of you. Make sure you time your visit to the Whale Tail with low tide, otherwise you will miss it!
Spend a relaxing morning and early afternoon lounging along the beaches of this park. Marino Ballena National Park was one of our favourite places, the palm tree lined beaches will have you feeling like you are in a secluded jungle paradise.
Marino Ballena National Park is a phenomenal place to see Humpback whales during their migration from December to March. Another season for whale watching is between late July to October.
Unfortunately, we were there in April both years and were told to avoid the tour as the chances of seeing whales were quite slim.
If you are there in the right season, this is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Check out this top rated whale watching tour on Viator!
You can easily spend all day lounging around on the beaches in Marino Ballena National Park. If you have the time and scheduling, I encourage you to spend as long as you can here!
If you are tight for time, head out for the afternoon and make your way over to Catarata Uvita.
Catarata Uvita (Uvita Waterfall)
Catarata Uvita, also known as Uvita Waterfall is home to a natural water slide. Yes, it is exactly as it sounds, the waterfall is being used as a slide. And yes, I was too scared to do it. My daredevil husband took one for the team and loved it! Albeit only did it once…
Uvita Waterfall is about 5 kilometers outside of town. Get in your rental car or hire a taxi and make sure to negotiate the fare beforehand!
Entrance fee to Uvita Waterfall is about $4 USD which gives you access to the hiking trail down to Uvita Waterfall and their butterfly conservatory.
The path to the waterfall is rocky, make sure you wear good footwear and watch your step! The path is marked with orange markings along the rocks.
Once you arrive at the falls, set up on one of the flatter rocks and enjoy cooling off in the refreshing waters. If you’re brave, climb up the ladder to the left of the falls to slide down. Do so at your own risk!! I was definitely too scared to do it.
Where to Stay in Uvita, Costa Rica
Luxury Hotels in Uvita
Golden Pineapple Villas Adults Only
Stay at Golden Pineapple Villas for a luxury experience like no other. With a 9.7 exceptional guest rating, you are in for a treat.
Each villa is equipped with a private pool; some overlooking the oceans, other villas placed for fabulous sunset views.
Visit the restaurant on site or head into town, located about 3 kilometres away. Book yourself a massage in the luxurious spa or sit back in the loungers at the infinity pool.
Great for: those renting a car, free parking on site!
For those looking for a tranquil jungle escape, this luxurious hotel is for you! An infinity pool, on-site spa and gorgeous suites with mountain & ocean views, this is Costa Rican luxury at it’s finest.
Breakfast is included in your stay, with the restaurant on-site open for all meals.
Some of the villas at Oxygen Jungle Villas & Spa have bathtubs overlooking the ocean for a serene soak (or bubble bath).
Important to note: 4×4 car rental is needed to access this property safely.
Even if you don’t want to stay somewhere this luxurious, please look through the hotel’s photos, the place looks like heaven on earth.
Mid-Range Uvita Hotels
Ibiza Tropical Beach Villas
Stay at Ibiza Tropical Beach Villas for a more authentic Costa Rican villa experience. These quaint and affordable casitas are only a quick walk to Uvita Beach.
Each villa has a bedroom, living room, full kitchen and bathrooms (x2). Many activities are offered through the hotel, with help in booking. Bicycle rentals are available to guests for an additional charge during your stay.
Many recent reviewers regard the restaurant and chef highly at Ibiza Tropical Beach Villas. You are in for a treat… literally!
Ballena Rey Hotel
Ballena Rey Hotel in Uvita is located a couple of kilometres away from Uvita Beach. The hotel offers free parking with apartment style accommodation.
Sit back by the hotel pool or rent a bicycle to get to explore the town.
Bellena Rey Hotel is an affordable accommodation for great value.
Budget Hotels & Hostels in Uvita
A short distance from Uvita Beach is the budget accommodation of Flutteryby House. Equipped with free parking, a bar, shared kitchen and lounge and more.
Breakfast is included in the affordable accommodation prices. Pick between a room with a shared bathroom or private ensuite family room. For the most budget friendly option, 6-bed mixed dorms are available.
Cascada Verde Hostel is a five minute walk from Catarata Uvita. Choose between private rooms to shared dormitories. Cascada Verde Hostel offers shared dining areas, shared kitchen space and free tea and coffee.
Enjoy the nature at this budget friendly hostel.
Day 2: Dominical, Costa Rica
You can easily split up the information I am about to share into two days in Dominical. For the sake of this itinerary, I will keep it all on the same day.
If you have more than 2 days in Uvita & Dominical, I recommend you break it up.
Make your way to Nauyaca Waterfalls. Just a short drive outside of Dominical is the magnificent two tiered waterfall adventure. This was my absolute favourite waterfall in Costa Rica and a MUST visit. I even liked it better than La Fortuna Waterfall (yes, truly).
There are two main parks that offer entrance into the waterfall. We opted for Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park.
Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park is open from 7:30 AM – 4:30 PM daily.
Once you arrive at the parking shelter and purchase your tickets, you have the option to visit Nauyaca Waterfall by hiking or trolley.
For $28.00 USD you can walk the 2.7km path down to the waterfall and trolley back up (trust me, it’s steep you will want that trolley).
For $38.00 USD you can trolley both ways (we opted for this, it was way too hot for us to walk that day). I also recommend this option for time saving and more time to enjoy swimming below. You will still have to hike about 600 metres to the falls from where the trolley drops you off.
Visit the upper falls first to admire the views then head to the lower falls for some refreshing swimming.
The other park entrance for Nauyaca Waterfalls is labeled as “Nauyaca Waterfalls, Costa Rica.“
They offer a 4×4 tour, horseback riding to the falls or the hiking entrance fee.
If driving to these parks is not an option for you, there are multiple tour companies that run from nearby cities. Check out this Nauyaca Waterfalls tour from Quepos here!
Dominical & Playa Dominical (Beach)
Head back over to Dominical to enjoy the town. Dominical is a hippie surfer town getting more popular by the minute. The town has delicious restaurants and amazing surfing to enjoy. Take a lesson at Dominical Surf School or rent a board and hit the waves.
Dominical downtown hosts an organic farmer’s market on Friday’s and a beach side market is held daily, full of artisanal vendors selling jewelry, beach necessities, Costa Rican goodies and so much more.
Walking through the town can be an activity in itself. There are street food vendors and everyone is so friendly. We loved it here.
Relax at Dominical Beach after a delicious lunch at Fuego Brew Co. or visit Playa Dominicalito a few kilometres away.
Playa Dominicalito was our favourite spot. The waves are less intense at this beach, making this slightly safer to swim in, please do so only if it is safe to swim, the waves can be dangerous.
The views of the palm trees and flowers lining this beach were stunning. I took hundreds of photos here.
The best part about this area was dining at La Parcela restaurant. Book a reservation!!!
We had so many locals and other travellers recommend this place to us and we were so happy we listened. People who did not have a reservation were waiting for hours to get in! It is THAT good.
Try to book a reservation for sunset as the restaurant overlooks the ocean and it is a breathtaking experience.
The seafood is delicious and there is a monkey family that visits the restaurant daily around 4:00-5:00 PM. Not to worry, the restaurant has a specific eating area for the monkeys so they will not steal your food.
Final Dominical Comments
As you can see this is a hefty itinerary for just one day in Dominical.
I strongly encourage splitting the above information into two days and going at a slower pace!
Where to Stay in Dominical
Luxury Hotels in Dominical
Located steps away from the gorgeous Playa Dominicalito is Punta Gabriela. A luxurious hotel with a swimming pool, free parking, a restaurant on site, and hotel rooms with stunning views.
The hotel rooms come with balconies and terraces, ensuite bathrooms and free access to all of the amenities. The hotel suite with the sea view has a private infinity pool for utmost luxury.
For a luxury boutique hotel, visit Lapazul. This hotel is located about 7 kilometres outside of Dominical and is a great place to stay. The outdoor swimming pool, free parking and complimentary breakfast make for the perfect stay.
This hotel is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city, giving you a tranquil and peaceful stay.
Mid-Range Dominical Hotels
Pacific Edge Eco Lodge is a gorgeous escape for affordable prices.
Spend time lounging by the pool on the sun terrace, relaxing in the gardens and being a short drive from Dominical’s most popular attractions.
Pacific Edge Eco Lodge offers yoga classes, has a restaurant on site, rooms with sea views, and bungalow accommodations for those travelling in larger groups.
Many wildlife sightings have been reported by visitors of this hotel. You are hopefully in for a treat!
Casa del Toucan is located a few kilometres outside of Dominical. Enjoy the jungle escape with an outdoor swimming pool and free breakfast included in your stay!
Great for you if: You want to escape the crowds in the nearby cities but still be close by!
Hona Beach Hotel
Best for: Location (directly on the beach)
Hona Beach Hotel, as the name implies, is an affordable mid-range beach front hotel option when visiting Dominical. The location is superb, located directly on the beach. If you’re not feeling the beach, the hotel also offers a swimming pool and terrace areas for lounging.
Rooms are equipped with ensuite bathrooms, free breakfast included and access to tour booking services.
Budget Hotels & Hostels in Dominical
Bamboo River House and Hotel
Bamboo River House and Hotel is located up the river in Dominical. The hotel is located about 2 kilometres away from Dominical Beach and includes a swimming pool with sun loungers to relax by after a long day of beach hopping.
The accommodations include rooms, bungalows and apartments, making this a great place for families.
Hotel Tropical Sands Dominical
Hotel Tropical Sands is located right in downtown Dominical. This affordable accommodation includes rooms with private ensuite bathrooms, some with their own kitchenette.
The hotel is able to connect you with tour booking services and shuttles. There is no pool on site, but that won’t be a problem with the proximity to the ocean.
Cool Vibes Beach Hostel
Cool Vibes Beach Hostel offers private rooms with bathrooms and beds in dorm rooms. This is the place for you if you want to visit Dominical on a tighter budget.
The location is right next to Dominical Beach, perfect for those looking to surf and lounge around in the sand.
Cool Vibes Beach Hostel has a swimming pool and shared lounge space to relax in after a long day sightseeing.
More Things to do in Uvita, Dominical, Costa Rica (Extra Time)
If you are planning to spend even more time in this area, I am jealous! This was one of the most underrated areas we visited and I wish we had more time here as well.
Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary in Costa Rica specializes in rescuing and rehabilitating sick and injured animals. They are a non profit organization and aim to release the animals once rehabilitated back to health.
Tours run from Tuesday – Sundays at 9:00AM, 11:00AM and 1:00PM. Book your reservations here in advance.
You must drive to the property and they recommend having a 4×4 to access the site during the rainy season.
If you haven’t seen enough reptiles in the wild, Parque Reptilandia is for you! The park houses 70+ terrarium tanks with iguanas, snakes and frogs. Even the venomous ones (eeeek!!)
Visit on a Friday for a chance to watch a snake feeding.
Dominical Surf School was rated one of the 10 best surf schools in Costa Rica. Visit them for some structured surfing education! They offer a range of classes from beginner to advanced surf coaching.
Dominical Surf School also hosts a Women’s Surf Camp, this includes transportation from the airport, a 7 night stay, 5 surf lessons (including the board), some meals, a massage and some excursions!
Great surfing is also a found in Jaco and in Tamarindo, Guanacaste Province!
This is probably the activity that gives me the most FOMO (fear of missing out)! We visited Uvita in April and missed out on the humpback whale migration season.
For the best chance at whale watching, ensure you visit between the months of December – March and late July – October.
Tour the Terraba Sierpe Mangrove, one of the largest wetlands in Central America. Discover wildlife while travelling through the river and sit back and take in one of the coolest experiences in Costa Rica.
Prices for Kokopelli Mangrove Tour are from $73.00 per adult and the tour is offered in English, French, Spanish and German.
If you have visited Nauyaca Waterfall and Uvita Waterfall and still have not had enough, take a short drive outside of Dominical for Pozo Azul.
This waterfall is definitely smaller than the other two mentioned but is still charming.
Entrance is free, so it is great for those travelling on a budget! Sit back and relax by the waterfall, go for a swim and use the tarzan swing!
Busy? Pin the Uvita Dominical Costa Rica Itinerary for later!
Where to go after Uvita & Dominical, Costa Rica
Spending more time in gorgeous Costa Rica? Good for you! I encourage spending more time. Check out these wonderful Costa Rican paradises below.
Final Thoughts on The Uvita Dominical Costa Rica Itinerary
As you can see from the large number of things to do in Uvita & Dominical, you can easily spend up to a week visiting these areas.
We loved adding Uvita and Dominical to our three weeks in Costa Rica. We started off in these areas and then continued on to Manuel Antonio. It was the perfect trip and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
You’ll get to experience a less-visited area, but with equal, if not MORE, amounts of Costa Rican charm.
Joanna Neander is the author and creator of Plan Before Land. She is dedicated to creating detailed travel itineraries from around the world. Joanna’s most visited continents include, North America, Central America & Europe. Asia coming soon! Join along on Joanna’s travels!