Dominicalito is a beautiful beach with a huge bay. Its symbol is the “Tree Island”, this little island is mostly occupied by a formidable Higuerón tree. Early in the morning, you can see the fishermen arriving in their boats.
Divided by La Parcela, the beach extends to the south following a line of flagstone rock formations; this landscape completely disappears during high tide.
Dominicalito Beach is not as infinite as Baru Beach and not as hang-ten as Dominical. It doesn’t have roaring caves like Ventanas, and it certainly doesn’t have a sweeping Whale’s tail.
Upon my first visit, I ditched my flip-flops and traversed the sand, walking left until I reached the rocky end. I looked around. Any thoughts of beach inferiority melted away. Years later, Dominicalito is still my favorite beach in Costa Rica; it is the beach I always visit first.
When you reach the Marina on Dominicalito, a dramatic coast materializes. You can see jungle hills melting into the ocean and, beyond them, hazy blue mountains. Weathered fishing boats sit moored to the sand at low tide, but not for long. There is a flurry of fishing activity on Dominicalito, an ongoing mission to keep local bellies full of fish.
However, even with all this activity, vultures still outnumber people. The ominous creatures are always close, waiting and watching, with a sinister vibe and a stinky, foul smell. Fish guts are a beach vulture’s favorite typical plate. The ocean cleanses the gunk away. If you walk past the vultures and boats, you’ll reach a tiered rock shelf at the end of the beach.
You can navigate the rocks at low tide, and later, select a secluded tide pool for a mid-day dip. You might share it with tiny fish. There is a magnificent dead tree lying prone at the end of the beach, with weathered arms reaching toward the sea. Climb the trunk, and for a moment in time, you’ll be the figurehead of a ship, surveying your kingdom. Take a breath.
At this point, you might as well hop down and walk to the other end of the beach. Be sure to take photos along the way. You may find an old boat abandoned on the sand, filled with nets and anchors, set against the long-stretched coast, or a weird bone, leftover coconut, smooth stone, or seashell at your feet. At low tide, big rocks dot the sand like the surface of a chocolate chip cookie, and overhead, inaudible trails of pelicans skim the sky. If you time it right, you’ll witness an orange orb sinking into the sea. Sunsets are beautiful in Costa Ballena.
These are the images that I remember. I live in Minnesota, a land of lakes, farms, forests, seasons, and snow. The coldest thing on Dominicalito is the refreshing stream that meanders over countless pebbles until it reaches the ocean. I want to walk through life barefoot. That’s why I always return to Costa Rica.
But back to you. How many beaches have you explored? Have you walked Dominicalito yet? Take a break, park close, throw a blanket or chair in the shade, and watch the fishermen clean fish. Buy some pipas frias from a vendor behind the beach and drink. Stay long enough to watch the surfers at high tide. Leave only footprints.
A day on Dominicalito is Pura Vida!