Beaches; forest; waterfalls; small, secluded lodges; private wildlife refuges; Ballena marine park; and people who seem pleased to be where they are, doing what they're doing are all attractions in this southern Pacific zone.

Dominical is where roads from Quepos and San Isidro de El General meet; from here travelers can continue on the Costanera Sur road to Ciudad Cortes to join up with the Inter-American at Palmar Norte.

Dominical is 28 slow miles (45 km) south of Quepos, via unpaved road with lots of one-lane bridges: allow about 90 minutes and take time to enjoy the birds along the road. San Isidro and the Inter-American are 22 miles (35 km) to the northeast via paved road, a pretty climb into the mountains; onthis route, San Jose is about three hours away.

The town itself has the air of a frontier town, a casual place where everybody knows everybody else. A growing number of lodging options, from rustic to resort, and restaurants with an international flavor are sprinkled from Dominical along approximately 30 miles (50 km) of sandy beaches with names like Matapalo, Baru, Playa Hermosa, and Uvita Ballena National Marine Park and Cafto Island Biological Reserve are easily reached from here. A number of the hotels are on forested property and cater to natural history travelers. Dry season for the area is November through April; average temperature, 83'F (28'C).

This long beach has surf and rips for most of its several miles. At low tide only, the reefs north and south of Punta Dominical are good for tidepooling, and the north side offers good swimming. Watch the tide here as the reefed areas are dangerous when the tide is up. The beach is never crowded.

There is a filling station and even a small shopping center now, Plaza Pacifica. Restaurants offer Italian, Mexican, typical Costa Rican food, deli menus, and more. Try San Clemente Bar and Grill in town, the Roca Verde Bar & Restaurant less than a mile (1.5 km) south of the Baru River bridge, or drive 10 minutes south of town to Punta Dominical and enjoy a superb seaside setting and good food at the Cabinas Punta Dominical restaurant. Phones have not reached all the way down the costal road (costanera), so radio communication-the order of the day for most not so long ago-is still a lifeline for some.

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