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Dominical or Mal Pais for "off the beaten track" adventure?

Boston
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Dominical or Mal Pais for "off the beaten track" adventure?

My GF and I went to Costa Rica 3 years ago and had a spectacular time around the Mal Pais/Santa Teresa area. We ventured to Playa San Miguel, Cabo Blanco, and Montezuma.

Now we are headed back down with her family (a total of 8 of us with two SUVs). My question: What is the Dominical area like? How does it compare to Mal Pais/Santa Teresa in terms of its vibe and touristy-ness?

Our group is trying to steer clear of the 'resort' kind of vacation. We prefer to hike, explore, bird-watch, and surf. Would Dominical fit the bill, or should be stick to the tried and true Southern Nicoya?

Thanks!

Bermuda
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1. Re: Dominical or Mal Pais for "off the beaten track" adventure?

i think you'd enjoy dominical if you like southern nicoya pen. dominical is a little surf town, very laid back and compact. you can choose a hotel near the beach or up in the hills overlooking the beach area. there are plenty of birds in the area, we actually spotted two different types of toucan while driving along the road! at the northern end of dominical is a river begging to be explored that should present lots of wildlife spotting opportunities. although the beach area is lined with vendors, the town itself really didn't feel very touristy. how much time do you have? you could catch the car ferry from nic.pen. to puntarenas and drive the scenic costanera highway down to dominical.

Uvita, Costa Rica
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2. Re: Dominical or Mal Pais for "off the beaten track" adventure?

Dominical / Uvita area is definitivly off the beaten track loads to do but no large resorts at all. Marino Ballena Marine Park, Day trips to Cano Island and Corcovado National Park, waterfalls, rainforest, wildlife, deserted beaches.

Dominical is very small surf town and most probably you will end up staying outside. Loads of different beaches in the area.

Some activities:

http://www.bahiaaventuras.com

http://www.bodhisurfschool.com

http://www.cataratasnauyaca.com

http://www.haciendabaru.com

Santa Teresa, Costa...
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3. Re: Dominical or Mal Pais for "off the beaten track" adventure?

I suggest you 'shake it up a bit' and try Dominical and south. I don't consider Santa Teresa as 'off the beaten track' any longer.... much more adventure/wilderness and small pockets of population south.

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4. Re: Dominical or Mal Pais for "off the beaten track" adventure?

Dominical is accessible the roads are easier than south nicoya it's fun and not too out of control for a nice family vacation

Playa Guiones...
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5. Re: Dominical or Mal Pais for "off the beaten track" adventure?

I would stay closer to Uvita and just go into Dominical for lunch or a little shopping. It's fun if you like the 'surfer' vibe and the river would be a lot of fun to explore, but the beach is not that nice and the waves can be HUGE so not so good for swimming. Uvita on the other hand has beautiful safe beaches, many less people and short drive from Dominical.

Boston
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6. Re: Dominical or Mal Pais for "off the beaten track" adventure?

Thanks all! We are going for ten days, and thinking we might split it up; 5 days on the southern Nicoya, then 3 days around Dominical - per Sonny's advice.

Would a half day stop at Manuel Antonio be worth a visit? Or should we just shoot past Quepos/MT and head to the Dominical area? Does Manuel Antonio live up to all the hype?

Dominical sounds like a definite stop for us; we like the sound of the nature reserves and deserted beaches. We'll be looking for cabins and bungalows to stay in - any recommendations? Perhaps staying up in Escaleras?

Playa Guiones...
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7. Re: Dominical or Mal Pais for "off the beaten track" adventure?

I think a half day stop at MA is worth it, as it's one (if not the) most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. There is a reason it is so popular!

If staying in Dominical, please be careful. Not just for the possible rough seas I mentioned, but for petty theft. Last time I was there, (about 4 months ago) we stopped in for lunch. Our car was about 50 meters from the restaurant. Our waitress suggested we move the car directly in front, even if it meant waiting 10-15 minutes for parking, as petty theft is bad on the beach.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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8. Re: Dominical or Mal Pais for "off the beaten track" adventure?

Dear jdnewe...

Dominical area is smaller than Santa Tereza and Mal Pais...

I really like Dominical for the incredible ocean views and the many hikes you can do to near by waterfalls...UVITA is great , also Dominicalito...a visit to Caño Island...

Check Tikivillas in UVITA incredible nice place...

Some strong rip tides around...ask locals about it!

roadadvisor

Chicago, Illinois
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9. Re: Dominical or Mal Pais for "off the beaten track" adventure?

We've been going every year to the Dominical/Uvita area. You should rent an SUV if you are planning to stay in Escaleros. It is NOT accessible by car. Escaleros is lovely and you won't need AC up on the mountain. Uvita is basically just a few km south of Dominical. Further south, Ojochal is a nice area to stay in too. Like Escaleros, it's an expat community too. However, Ojochal is filled with French either from France or from French Canada. Some nice restaurants. Last year we stayed in Tres Rios de Coronado. Quite honestly it was a little too far south for us. It is more convenient for any Osa Pennisula treks but it's just a tad far. Ojochal is borderline but since we end up there almost every night for the restaurants, we are going to try staying there this year.

Dominicalito or the other area beaches are much better for less experienced surfers and swimmers. We take lessons every year with Tito at the Uvita Surf School. He brings us to one of the Maria Ballena beaches (small park fee keeps the beach deserted), that is almost empty and a lot less dangerous. There are still big waves to be caught and less problems with riptides.

Michigan
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10. Re: Dominical or Mal Pais for "off the beaten track" adventure?

Lots of good advice from people above.

I agree that Santa Teresa is not “off the beaten path” any more. My impression was that the path was pretty beaten. There was a constant stream of traffic and ATV traffic (and lots of dust). I was rather disappointed in that aspect of it (although there are good accommodations, great restaurants, and great surfing and beaches).

Domical is much smaller and more laid back. Its more of what I have in mind for a beach vacation (but I like getting away from the crowds).

Its not worth it to do both in the limited time you have. Go to Uvita/Domical, enjoy the area, try some day trips to places like Manual Antonio and enjoy your vacation.

This place is in Uvita, and was one of my favorites:

http://www.terrazasdeballena.com/pictures.php