Wanderlust in Uvita and Dominical -

Wanderlust in Uvita and Dominical



Mist rises off the ocean blanketing the beach with a steamy haze.




I find myself wandering where the surfers hang.




They walk with purpose, they’ve got tunnel vision for the waves.




Some convince tourists to take a lesson and be brave.




I walk for miles watching them ride




until I arrive where the crocodiles reside.




We return to our castle for a dip in the pool




and eat lunch underwater, a super important rule.




Through the countryside we snake, hearing the Tucan’s call




stopping at fruit stands, boom they got it all.


Nauyaca Falls


In the sweltering heat we ascend a muddy trail to the fall




water gushes and trickles down rocks standing tall.




Then one morning beneath the clouds of mist




the time comes for me to re-enter the backpacking abyss.


Marino Ballena National Park


I hitchhike and arrive at a national park


Marino Ballena National Park


the beach becomes my lover, my sanctuary to recharge.


Marino Ballena National Park


It spans forever, a glassy cushion beneath my toes


Marino Ballena National Park


creatures and curiosities peek through and say hello.


Marino Ballena National Park


Out emerges the sandbar


Marino Ballena National Park


a whale’s tail dividing the bay


Marino Ballena National Park


the tide rushes in fast, be careful not to overstay.


Marino Ballena National Park


When the sky lights on fire, and night closes in




I turn to the road, a wanderer once again.




Where to Sleep in Dominical & Uvita

Cool Vibes Beachfront Hostel 


$10 for dorm bed 

Right on the beach, and close to the waves, in Dominical, Cool Vibes is the spot in Dominical for meeting other backpackers. They have funky, cozy hang out areas, ocean views, and as promised cool vibes. They have a communal kitchen, hot water showers, mosquito nets around the beds, are super clean, and can arrange activities, board rentals, and tours.


Costa Paraiso 

Dominicalito (One beach over from Dominical) 

$110 – $150 for a villas with views and a kitchen

A great option for groups of friends, couples, or families, Costa Paraiso offers villas with everything you need include a private balcony, dining area, and an equipped kitchen. They have gorgeous views, a swimming pool, and easy beach access.


Costa Amor

Platanillo (10 min drive from Dominical)

$250-$350 per night for entire house

During my time in Dominical I had the good fortune of staying with a friend from my yoga teacher training who has an incredible vacation rental in the hills of Platanillo. With two pools connected by a WATERSLIDE, a huge kitchen, and amazing grounds with fruit trees and views of Dominical, staying here I felt like a queen. We had our own little yoga retreat here, teaching yoga classes to one another on the patio at sunrise, making green smoothies with goodies from the nearby fruit stands, and listening to the sounds of the jungle at night. You need a car to stay here, but if you have one it’s an amazing getaway within close proximity to Dominical.


Flutterby House

Uvita, Marino Ballena National Park

$14 dorm bed, $40 for private cabin

Flutterby is one of my fave hostels in Costa Rica. It has such awesome vibes, really cool friendly people, a big open kitchen that never feels crowded, TONS of great hang out areas, and the best part… IT HAS A YOGA STUDIO! Every morning I woke up, did my yoga practice in their studio (had I stayed longer I could have taught in it, they often let traveling yogis teach there), walked to a nearby house that sold young coconuts, and went to the gorgeous Marino Ballena Park. They also have amazing, healthy food at their restaurant and a very social atmosphere around the bar, which is open to everyone including outside guests, but it’s lights out at 10pm which means a great night’s sleep in the jungle.


Cascada Verde


$12 for dorm bed, $14 single, $20 double, $60 family room

This extremely well kept, clean, beautiful hostel is right near the Uvita Waterfall, surrounded by beautiful nature. It’s one of the nicest, and by far the most affordable, hostels in Costa Rica. Keep in mind it’s about an hour walk to the beach and there’s no onsite restaurant so you will need to bring groceries from downtown Uvita or plan to eat at the restaurant near the waterfall.


La Cusinga Eco Lodge


$180 – $300 for private rooms includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Ever wanted to stay at a gorgeous, remote ecolodge in the jungle? Ya, me too. La Cusinga Eco Lodge fulfills that fantasy to the max. The grounds have incredible ocean views, surrounded by 600 hectares of rainforest full of animals, and there are tons of trails you can explore. The beach is a bit of a hike down, but there is a natural pool onsite and the lodge arranges tons of nearby activities.



Where to Eat in Dominical & Uvita


Surf Shak 


$5-7 for lunch

For fresh and yummy breakfast and lunch right across from the waves, Surf Shak is your jam. They have plenty of vegetarian options like falafel and grilled veggie pizzas and the chipotle breakfast burrito is the perfect fuel post surf sesh.




$10-20 for lunch and dinner

All natural, mostly local, mostly organic, mostly vegetarian, and entirely delicious, it’s no surprise that this is my fave place to eat in Dominical. They have an incredible variety of dishes from asian fusion to raw vegan to mexican. Everything I tried here, and I tried a lot, was amazing. Faves include the patacones with guacamole, phad thai, vegan fajitas, and grilled fish with passionfruit sauce. They also throw some great parties with international DJs. Don’t miss Ladies’ Night on Wednesdays when the whole town shows up to shake their culos.


Dominical Sushi


$10-20 for lunch and dinner

Dominical sushi has by far the best sushi I’ve tasted in Costa Rica. It’s all super fresh, made with love, and they have delicious and creative additions like sweet plantain yummm! A must try is the tuna poke which has mango and avocado, my fave poke I’ve had anywhere, even Hawaii. The service is friendly and attentive and the atmosphere is lovely beside a tropical garden.




$5-10 for lunch

A huge variety of sandwiches and wraps stuffed with lots of veggies and they even have hummus. This is a great spot to get lunch to go and take it on the beach.


Flutterby House

Uvita, Marino Ballena National Park

$5-10 for breakfast and dinner

Much to my surprise this hostel has some of the best food in Uvita… if not in Costa Rica! Nearly everything is organic from their own farm, the eggs come from their chickens, and it’s all insanely delicious. They always have a vegetarian and a meat option. The falafel was out of this world with a huge salad, hummus, and homemade tzatziki sauce as was the vegetarian cobb salad with tons of different veggies, avocado, local eggs, and a homemade veggie patty. If you are staying at Flutterby, I recommend eating there every night. If you’re not staying there, I recommend you come in for dinner at least once. The breakfast is also awesome with big omelets and homefries.


El Sabor Espagnol

Uvita, Marino Ballena National Park

$10-20 for lunch and dinner

Right in front of the Marino Ballena National Park, El Sabor Espagnol is a lovely little Spanish restaurant right in the jungle. You’d never believe how authentic and delicious their food is. A pitcher of sangria is a must as are the seafood paella and patatas bravas.


Farmer’s Markets

Tinamastes and Uvita 

Tuesdays from 8am until afternoon Tinamastes has one of the best farmer’s markets in Costa Rica. Local farmers offer all kinds of fresh produce but also incredible healthy homemade food. You can stock up on all kinds of superfoods like mangosteen powder, chia seeds, and pink himalayan salt as well as treats like almond butter and dates. There’s usually homemade tamales, empanadas, heart of palm ceviche, raw vegan cinnamon rolls, and grilled paninis, so come hungry! On Saturdays Uvita has a farmer’s market in town with organic produce from local farmers, raw nuts, and other goodies.



What to do in Dominical & Uvita


Surf in Dominical

Surfing is the way of life in Dominical, so rent a board and join in. If you’re a novice check out Costa Rica Surf Camp or take a day lesson.



What better to complement surfing than  yoga? This is Costa Rica after all. Dominical has an adorable yoga studio, Bamboo Yoga Play, which offers a wide range of classes from dance inspired vinyasa to yin yoga. I took a wonderful yin class with Aislinn, who teaches with so much love and led us through a really yummy sequence. I didn’t make it to Bodhi Yoga in Uvita, but a friend recommended it, and told me Pilar’s classes are amazing.


Swim at Nauyaca Falls

These are my favorite waterfalls in Costa Rica, with a gorgeous glowing green pool beneath. Most people arrive from a horseback riding tour, but we just drove until the road got too narrow, got out and walked the rest of the way.


Climb Diamante Falls

We tried to climb Diamante Falls two times. The first time we found ourselves in the middle of the forest at a hippie commune caught in a rainstorm. The second time we were told we weren’t allowed in because there was a “high risk” group there, and it wouldn’t be safe for us to be in the jungle with them. So alas, I never made it to Diamante. But as one of the tallest and most impressive waterfalls in Costa Rica, it’s certainly worth a try.


Visit Manuel Antonio

The beaches and hiking trails at Manuel Antonio National Park are less than an hour from Dominical and Uvita. Read more about Manuel Antonio.


Walk the Whale’s Tail

The Marino Ballena National Park in Uvita is one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Take a walk out along the sandbar known as the Whale’s Tail at low tide.


Ride the Waterslide at Cascada Verde

A short taxi ride from the Marino National Park in Uvita, or a long walk away, is a the Uvita Waterfall, Cascada Verde, which has a fun waterslide to play on. It looks totally crazy but it’s totally possible.



Want to create your own magical trip to Costa Rica? Check out my eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica!


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  1. Thanks for sharing. Both my favorite towns in the world at this point probably (only been out of the country twice, and been to Dominical twice…). Let me give a huge thumbs up to Cool Vibes hostel and Flutterby House.

    Also I miss that waterfall. Walked there from Cool Vibes, took about an hour, then spent a whole afternoon there. doing nothing.

  2. Your photos are amazing. I’ve never been to either place but this is certainly tempting. Especially the sand dollars :)

  3. wonderful colours in these pics! love the pool/lunch pic. I love how green and misty it all looks…

  4. Charming posting and super-relevant information for a future visitor, hopefully me, thanks, SK

  5. Oh man, I just went to Costa Rica for the first time in April and stayed in Santa Teresa. But Dominical was high on the list and these pictures are totally re-igniting my wanderlust. Awesome, awesome. Thanks for posting.

    • Camille Willemain Says: September 19, 2014 at 10:04 pm

      Thank you Susanne! The San Isidro Valley overlooking Dominical is amaaaazzzing as is Marino Ballena National Park. Add to the list for next time 😉

  6. Lovely. Add to my list. Another stunning sunset. Love, Mom

  7. Is this the ideal time to visit this coast ? I thought dec-may is warmer and less people, with summer being very busy… I love your pics and e z style of writing, thx for all the great info 😉

    • Camille Willemain Says: September 20, 2014 at 9:13 am

      Hi Leilani, thanks so much! Now it is the rainy season on the Pacific so it’s best to head to the Caribbean side which has a different weather pattern. When I was there (August) it was sometimes rainy sometimes sunny and not very many people at all. Late November into April is the high season and the dry season on the Pacific.

  8. Love love love these images :)

  9. […] (Photo taken in Dominical, Costa Rica.) […]