Worth getting out of bed for
Hike 10 minutes down the trail to the local waterfall, which is also a natural swimming hole. Dominical is a renowned surfing spot; pick up boards from South Wave Surf Shop (+506 2787 0260; www.southwave-surfshop.com); they’re available for multiday rental, then surf the robust swells. Newer surfers can enroll in classes through Domincal Surf Adventures (+506 2787 0431; www.dominicalsurfadventures.com). The nearby Rancho la Merced Wildlife Refuge (www.rancholamerced.com) offers horseback riding, birdwatching tours and ‘cowboy for a day’ excursions, where visitors learn ranching skills, including roping cattle.
Neighbouring town Ojochal, a 20-minute drive, is known for its excellent dining. Citrus (+506 2786 5175) is an upscale restaurant with great seafood and cocktails. Under a thatched roof, Exotica (+506 2786 5050) takes advantage of the local produce to serve French-Canadian fare, brightened with tropical fruits.
On the road to Dominical, Sushi Dominical (+506 8826 7946), across from South Wave Surf Shop, serves exceptionally fresh fish, often with tropical accoutrements. It is open for lunch and dinner. An isthmus location with Pacific views on two sides make La Parcella (+506 2787 0016) – on the main road from the hotel to Dominical – the best place in the region for sunset cocktails. Order an ice-cold beer and a pescado entero, a whole fried fish.
Just north of Uvita, the ceviche stands along Hermoso Beach serve lime-marinated fish (pescado), shrimp (camarones) or a mix of the two. The inexpensive, refreshing snack comes with soda crackers. Order a whole coconut (or pipa fria) if you want to wash down your fish with fresh coconut water.
Mid July On the Saturday nearest to July 16, the people of Puntarenas celebrate the Fiesta of the Virgin of the Sea, launching a regatta of boats decorated with lights and banners. On land, locals celebrate with concerts, dances, feasts and fireworks.