I recently had someone ask me what they could do in Dominical with kids for a week and a half. Having young children, I know this question is somewhat loaded, in that the real goal is what can be fun for both parents and kids. It’s the reason so many children’s movies these days are filled with inside jokes only adults will get. So it goes with travel activities.
The list below is what I offered, so I figured I may as well turn it into a post to be referenced the next time we have friends ask about activities here.
- Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary: We went with some friends and I was really impressed (wasn’t sure what to expect, but I would go back for sure). They take in rescue animals, so many beautiful birds, monkeys, armadillos, sloths. Each animal has a story and the people who run it are super passionate about saving them. As many animals as possible are released back into the wild, but some have to stay indefinitely because they wouldn’t survive in the wild. The tour is long enough to be worth the visit, but short enough so kids don’t get too antsy (we had ages 3 months – 6 years between four kids).
- Friday Feria (Farmer’s Market): It’s on the north side of Domincal off of the main entrance road, near Mono Congo and Mama Toucan’s Natural Food Store). There is another feria on Tuesday mornings in Tina Mastes (you have to go early, be there by 9am at the latest because much of the good stuff is gone by then). The one on Friday in Domi lasts longer, you don’t need to get there early and I’ve seen vendors there as late as 2pm.
- Surf Lessons: Surfing in Dominical is top notch. The water is very warm, you can surf year round and no sharks. The #1 rated Costa Rica surf camp is Sunset Surf Dominical. The coaches are super positive, they make it safe and easy and have a kid/family friendly approach to learning how to surf. Fun for the whole family.
- Cafe Mono Congo: It’s a great little cafe that is a hub for a lot of people, tourists and locals alike. The staff are super friendly and there are plenty of places to sit down, either in the main area, on swings at a “bar” or at a table overlooking the Baru River. You can sit down, relax and the kids can run around a bit, write with chalk on the walls, etc. We go on Fridays or Saturdays because we’re not in a hurry and they can run around while we wait for breakfast.
- PorQueNo?: This is a popular restaurant a little south of town, near the water. It’s beautiful, waves smash against the rocks. They have awesome pancakes for breakfast and are kid friendly. Sidenote about Costa Rica: Ticos (Costa Ricans) are very kid friendly, it’s really a noticeable difference from other countries, so when going into many restaurants, you’ll notice that feeling exists even in places of business. PorQueNo? has a little “kids corner” in the lobby, so while you’re sitting at your table, they can play with toys or grab some and bring them back to the table, no worries.
- Dominical Beach Frontage Road: I don’t know what this is technically called, but it’s the road that Tortilla Flats is on, behind the lifeguard stand at Playa Dominical. They have a lot of vendors there selling gifts and souvenirs. That won’t take you too long to do, but if you’re by the beach or in town, it would be cool to check out. A vendor named Alex is usually there (out in front of Tortilla Flats), he makes cute toys out of found objects in nature.
- Family Beach Day: Playa Hermosa. Playa Dominical is great, but many families we know of (and ours) go to Playa Hermosa for family beach days. You can sit under trees, the ocean is close and depending on when you go, there will be lots of kids there. They have a few vendors selling ceviche, pipas (coconuts), etc. We take snacks and beer in a cooler and then buy pipas and ceviche for the novelty. I’ve lived here about a year and a half and sharing a cold pipa with my kids on the beach never gets old.
- Ponzo Azul (Waterfall) in Dominicalito: It has been raining, so i’m sure the waterfall is going strong, but there’s a little pond area there where you can swim in fresh water. You go through the Dominicalito pueblo, cross the bridge on the left and you’ll see it up about 500 meters on the right (car park on the left). There are bigger waterfalls in the area, but that one is easy to get to without a hike. 1 minute of walking from your car and you’re there. Tip the older guy sitting there, he watches cars for tips (and beers, which is what i usually give him when I pass by).
- Costa Kids Yoga: I think this is Mondays, but check out their page. It’s in a beautiful place (Manoas Luxury Camping and Villas) and the kids have fun, my daughter loves it and where she learned one of my favorite pre-bedtime phrases to calm down and go to sleep: “Peace starts with me.”
- Community Carbon Trees (aka Tree Jenny): I don’t know how often she does these, but kids LOVE her, my daughter is a huge fan. She runs an organization that plants trees. Her energy is great (she was dressed up like a bee when I went) and teaches kids about the environment, planting trees and you can sponsor/plant trees to make your trip “carbon neutral.”
- Uvita/Ballena National Park (the Whale’s Tail): A little further south than Dominical, but also a great place to go to the beach. Uvita is slightly bigger than Dominical and has two big supermarkets (called BMs), so you’ll likely go there anyway for groceries. There’s a toy store across the street from the BM in Uvita (just FYI).
- Catarata Uvita (Waterfall): I haven’t been yet, but this one is bigger and apparently beautiful. It’s $1 per adult. Take a left at the BCR bank in Uvita (you’ll see the big square sign) and follow the road, you’ll see it or people driving/walking to it.
- Manuel Antonio: This is a great little day trip, it’s fun to go there to “get away” from Dominical. There’s an awesome breakfast place called Emilio’s (we pretty much go every time we head to MA).
- Villas Rio Mar (in Dominical, along the river past Mono Congo): It’s almost like a little country club, but they have villas there. We go because if you eat lunch there you can swim in the pool while you’re eating and the pool is big. A fun place to relax for a couple of hours (they have a little playground as well).
- Ice Cream (Delicias on the main road in Domi): Ice cream. It makes kids and parents very happy. 🙂 In Uvita, there is a new place called Lick It (yep). It’s on the main highway in a little shopping area next to the Uvita gas station and next to Wing It (same owners).
- Tours, Rentals and Activities: There’s a great organization here called Costa Concierge. They run some of the popular community Facebook groups and local events calendar. All around, they pretty much know everyone and everything going on in the Dominical and Uvita area. If you’re looking for tours, rafting trips, surf lessons, yoga or spa services, they’ve got you covered.
I hope this is a helpful list of things to do and if you have any more ideas or suggestions, please add them in the comments.