Debating which area in Costa Rica to visit? Dominical vs. Guanacaste

While Costa Rica is a relatively small country, comparing in size to West Virginia or Denmark, it is home to a variety of different landscapes and terrain. What you experience in the southern part of the country is vastly different than the northern terrain.

Dominical Area

The southern Pacific side of Costa Rica is home to Dominical, a relaxed beach area popular for surfing. You won’t find masses of tourists here – which also means you won’t find fast food or mega stores, making it the perfect spot if you’re looking for a true get-away.

The region receives large amounts of rain during their rainy season, making it home to a lush rain forest and a variety of wildlife. You’ll wake up to howler monkeys chattering in the trees and if you look closely, you’ll be able to spot sloths relaxing in the tree tops. Colorful, tropical plants make up the landscape and toucans and other vibrant birds soar overhead.

The Ticos are extremely friendly and welcoming to travelers. All of the tour companies we worked with provided guides that spoke English – some fluently, others enough to comprehend. In restaurants and area businesses it is more difficult to find workers that speak English so having a basic understanding of Spanish is very helpful.


Playas Area Outside of Liberia

The playas region outside of Liberia is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Playa Panama, Hermosa, Coco, Ocotal, and more are all within a few minutes drive of each other, giving you a variety of different beach options. Located in the northern part of the country on the Pacific side, you’ll find a vastly different landscape than in the southern part of the country.

The Guanacaste region is much hotter and drier than other regions of the country. During the dry season, temperatures will hover in the 90’s every day. The heat, coupled with lower rainfall totals, leaves the region dry and arid, home to a variety of different cacti.

Similar to the Dominical area, you’ll be able to watch monkeys swinging from trees and tropical birds soaring through the sky. Because of the hot temperatures, animals like sloths aren’t native to the area.

Thanks in part to the close proximity of the Liberia airport, the area is a popular tourist destination, which means more tour operators, fast food restaurants, and big box stores. You won’t have too much difficulty finding people who speak English and nearly all stores accept major credit cards and U.S dollars. Keep in mind if you pay in U.S. that you will receive your change in colones.

Additionally, the roads in the area are pristine – most look brand new. You won’t need four wheel drive in this area.


Both regions are exceptional places to travel in Costa Rica and offer different features that appeal to all types of travelers.


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