Playa Dominicalito: Surf, Splash, or Fish

Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast has dozens of almost empty beaches. One hidden gem is Playa Dominicalito near the town of Dominical. This beach has calmer water at lower tides and nice surfing waves at mid-to-high tide. There is also a cultural element, as this beach is the launching point for many of the area’s artisanal fishing boats. In this post, we’ll share more about Playa Dominicalito and help you plan your visit.

Playa Dominicalito Aerial

Location and Access

Playa Dominicalito is located just a few minutes south of Dominical on Costa Rica’s Costanera Highway (Route 34). There are two entrances to the beach.

The first entrance is almost directly across from the Dominicalito soccer field (Plaza Deportes Dominicalito), a large grassy area on the inland side of the highway. This is the primary entrance where there is more shade and a nicer part of the beach. The road slopes down off the highway so is a little hard to see.

Beach Road Dominicalito
Entering the beach from the first entrance

The second entrance is another one km (0.6 miles) south. Look for signs for La Parcela Restaurant. This entrance is where many of the local fishing boats launch from.

The southern end of the beach isn’t as pristine, with some driftwood and more rocks, but gives you better access to the peninsula and small island off the point.

Playa Dominicalito – About the Beach

Playa Dominicalito translates to Little Dominical Beach because it is smaller compared to its neighbor, Playa Dominical.

The views at Playa Dominicalito are spectacular. Each end of the cove has craggy rocks and a lush backdrop of green jungle. On the southern end of the cove, there is a small island that can be reached at low tide.  

Rocks Dominicalito Beach
Looking towards the southern end of the beach

The sand at Playa Dominicalito is brownish gray and somewhat rocky in places. Larger rocks and tidepools become exposed at low tide.

There is not much development along the beach aside from a cluster of makeshift homes at the primary entrance. In this small neighborhood, you’ll find locals selling a few souvenirs, snacks, and fresh coconuts. 

Otherwise, the beach is backed by tall palm trees with one area of swampy shrubland near a shallow lagoon and stream outlet. A sandy, dirt road runs parallel to the shore and allows you to pull up your car right under the trees. Just be sure not to park (or sit) under coconuts!   

Palm trees Playa Dominicalito
Palm trees along the beach

Local fishermen keep their boats moored at the southern part of the cove and some pull them up right onto the sand. During the morning or early evening, you may see these fishermen launching their boats to go out, either for the day or for overnight fishing.

Activities at Playa Dominicalito

Surfing

At mid-to-high tide, Playa Dominicalito is a popular beach for surfing. The waves are usually less intense than at Playa Dominical because the beach is more sheltered. Surfers line up for waves from the middle to the northern part of the beach (first entrance).

Many of the surf schools in Dominical also bring students to Playa Dominicalito since conditions can be ideal for learning.

Surfing Playa Dominicalito
Surfers catching a wave

Even though it is popular, the surf lineup here is usually nowhere near crowded. There is plenty of room to spread out and have your own space. 

If you are looking to rent a board, there are usually one or two vendors offering them right from the beach. The going rate was $10 for a one-hour rental or $15 for a two-hour rental when we last visited.

Surfboard rentals Dominicalito
Surfboards for rent at the beach

Beach Time

Playa Dominicalito is a fun beach to visit if you want to relax under the shade of some coconut trees, play in the sand, or splash around a bit. Sunsets are also beautiful here.

Sundays and holidays are popular times for locals to visit and you may see them setting up for the entire day with the whole family.

Low tide at Playa Dominicalito is nice because you can walk along the cove and explore between the rocks and tidepools. There are usually nice shells and rocks to find or some small fish and snails to watch.

Dominicalito Beach low tide
Playa Dominicalito at low tide

If you have kids, it is one of the best area beaches in the Costa Ballena since it is a bit more sheltered and has smaller waves. Still be careful though, because there can always be riptides and forceful waves.

With little kids, the shallow tidepools and wet spots in the sand are perfect for playing.

During our last visit, the person renting surfboards also had some chairs and umbrellas for rent.

Dominicalito calm water
Our kids splashing in the shallow water

Fishing

Since Dominicalito is historically a fishing village, it is a great place to throw in a line. When the rocks are exposed at low tide, you may see fishermen climbing out over them to get to the deeper water. The locals usually use handlines or simple spinning rods to catch fish like snapper, snook, and other inshore species.

Fishing tours and whale-watching tours by small boat are also available in the area.

Dominicalito has an Association of Fishermen (Asociación de Pescadores) as well. This group is trying to promote artisanal fishing as a tourist activity, while keeping the trade alive. The association also does beach cleanups and training like CPR and ocean-emergency tactics for the town’s boat captains.  

Fishing Boats
Local fishing boats

Safety

There was no lifeguard at the beach during our last visit (January 2023). Even though the cove at Playa Dominicalito is sheltered a bit, strong waves and riptides are common.

Also important is that car break-ins and petty theft have been a problem on this beach in recent years.

Our advice is to bring very little to the beach and always keep someone with your belongings. Never leave things in your car or unattended on the sand while you are swimming/surfing.

It’s also good to park near the surfboard rentals or next to other visitors so that you are not off on your own.

Overall, the beach is safe to visit but like anywhere in the world, you have to use precautions to avoid any problems.  

Dominicalito Beach Trees

Conclusion

Playa Dominicalito is a beautiful, uncrowded beach on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. From the local fishermen tending their boats to the surfing waves or tidepools, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Have a question about visiting Playa Dominicalito? Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment below.

Looking for more amazing area beaches? Check out these articles.

Surf Lessons in Uvita: Consistent Waves for Learning – Read our experience taking beginner surf lessons near Uvita’s Whale Tail.

Playa Ventanas, Puntarenas: A Beach with Caves – This beach has large caves that you can walk through at low tide.

Playa Arco: A Secret Beach Near Uvita – This beach is harder to access but beautiful and secluded.

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