What’s a journey without a detour?
Let’s first take a step back in order to step forward. My forever friend of over 16 years, Klairkia invited me to join her in Costa Rica at the 5-Star Retreat Center, Imiloa Yoga Institute for her 35th birthday. I was immediately intrigued by the potential combination of a remote jungle, geo dome, neighboring waterfall, and opportunity to reside with a sister I have not had a chance to travel internationally with since she saved my life in Morocco. Yes, that’s a completely different story. Nevertheless, what initially started as planning for a one-week trip evolved into setting intentions for a one month residency.
Travel jərnē Tip: Long term residencies are one of the most cost effective ways to immerse in a specific destination! Most accommodations offer a 15% - 30% nightly rate discount range in the form of a flat rate for weekly and monthly stays. Imiloa has a flat monthly rate for guests seeking to stay over 30 days.
As you know, traveling with a group makes the most sense when you have the same travel sensibilities. Klairkia, her ace Sharday, and I collectively respond to complex influences by using our unique, yet complimentary gifts. Klairkia is a former Corporate Sales Trainer, active Recording Artist, plus Founder of a Women’s Wellness Retreat who used her gift for creating experiences to spearhead the residency planning process. Sharday is a Health Coach and Aspiring Actress who used her vibrant personality to help set the tone amid countless group chats. While I am a Client Partner who used my gift of being a Digital Nomad to confirm COVID-19 testing parameters, Wi-fi connectivity data speeds, and ground transportation information. This groundwork laid a foundation for us to pack light and travel far together.
Travel jərnē Tip: In today’s global climate, it is imperative to reach out to international accommodation prospects to find out what changes they have made to comply with COVID-19 safety measures and the latest travel requirements. Imiloa confirmed that all proactive measures are followed on the premises, plus the Institute can arrange for a local physician to administer an on-site COVID-19 test to meet the U.S.’s latest return requirement.
We received a weekend WhatsApp update prior to our Monday departure from the CEO of Imiloa, Jake to let us know that their team is setting up alternate accommodations for our first two days in town due to a maintenance project. With all of us channeling the energy of “pura vida” in advance, we agreed to go with the flow and accept this offer.
Travel jərnē Tip: Every trip I have ever taken has started with a detour. As the Southern Black Church Elders often say, “delay is not denial” so go with the flow and welcome the world to take you on a new road to your journey. Flow with the earth shifting beneath your feet and know that your steps don’t have to be planned in order to be ordered.
48 Hours in Dominical
The detour ended up being to a small beautiful beach town three hours away from SJO Airport called Dominical! Dominical is a quaint town that is home to fertile valleys, big waves, surfers, yogis, writers, dancers, artisans, chefs, a central supermarket, a local brewery, an abundance of outdoor dining, and the world renowned Playa Dominical.
We spent 48 hours in Dominical simply being. Here are my Top 8 recommendations based on our brief time travel jərnē in town:
Tribe Boutique Hotel
Address: Main St in Dominical, Dominical, Puntarenas Province
Phone: 8761 7330
Tribe is a centrally located Adult-only boutique hotel that is conveniently located within walking distance of everywhere you would want to go in Dominical. Upon check-in, you are immediately provided with a yoga blanket and walk-through of their grounds. Reception features an all-natural bath and body products, crystal jewelry, and bohemian style yoga clothing for sale, plus the special touch of affirmations in frames throughout the space. Their outdoor sitting areas adjacent to the pool include hammocks, hanging bamboo chairs, local textiles layered over wooden and cushioned benches, yoga mats, a fresh water station, and outdoor bar. Each of the seven to eight rooms have their own dedicated entrance, local evergreen plants, space to comfortably meditate and do yoga adjacent to a queen size bed, and a large shower stocked with their natural products. Having all of the essentials within reach made it easy to quickly get situated and venture out to enjoy most of the local businesses.
Hotel Arena Y Sol
Address : Dominical, Puntarenas Province, Punta Arenas
Phone : 2787 0357
One of the first things I do when I settle into a new town is ask the nearest local resident “which restaurant would you recommend for the most authentic local food?” The front desk receptionist for Tribe immediately responded, across the street at Hotel Arena Y Sol has a kitchen managed by a father and son that serves fresh proteins for dinner and great pinto options for breakfast! At this point, all we ate on our United flight had became a distant memory so Klairkia, Sharday, and I got everything settled into our rooms then quickly went across the street to get dinner. The menu was straightforward, yet provided a variety of options. We all netted out at different versions of seafood rice and fresh fruit smoothies. The well seasoned assortment of calamari, shrimp, and clams were filling, plus the blackberry smoothie was delicious. Their sole dining table nestled in the garden area was precisely the area to solidify our welcoming to Dominical. Fresh air, hand-made food, local hospitality, and flowing conversations.
Danyasa Yoga Retreat & Eco Lodge
Address: Dominical 34 Provincia de Puntarenas Dominical, 60504
Phone: 2787 0229
After we enjoyed dinner, we walked around the corner to Playa Dominical where a local police officer and resident quickly informed us that the beach closes at 6:00PM daily now due to COVID-19 restrictions. We acknowledged them and started to walk back to Tribe when the local resident rode alongside us on a bike to welcome us to town and share some tips. He has the kind of genuine smile, sun kissed hair, cannabis on the mind, and carefree surfer vibes that immediately tells you before he speaks that he is at home. Therefore, when he shared there was a local open air yoga studio further up the road that everyone in town enjoys… we took heed.
Danyasa Yoga Retreat & Eco-Lodge is a gorgeous local gem that hosts classes in an open air Bamboo Yoga Play Studio. Based on COVID-19 capacity parameters, they informed us to contact them via WhatsApp on the morning of the class we are interested in to see the status of the waiting list as they can accommodate up to 10 people at a time to ensure social distancing. Their staff confirmed availability with Klairkia both mornings we were in town so we had the opportunity to take two classes there. We took a positively challenging Dynamic Flow Yoga class Amelia Horton the first day and a relaxing Hatha Flow Yoga class with Lacey Budge the following. Each day, we arrived early to register and sign-in, pulled an oracle card with a recommendation of release for the day, then ascended up the stairs to take class in the heart of nature amid a group of phenomenal women. This safe space set the tone for each day and the beginning of our journey in Costa Rica as a whole.
Fuego Brewing Company
Address: Dominical, Puntarenas Province, Savegre, Provincia de Puntarenas, dominical
Phone: 8373 0635
Fuego Brewing Company is a local brewery that was recommended by Tribe, plus highly rated on Google for their craft beer, fresh cuisine, cocktails, and scenic valley views. We decided to go here for lunch after our first day of Yoga at Danyasa. The restaurant is nestled in the cut on elevated stilts, providing a breathtaking vantage point of the valley of trees below. Klairkia, Sharday, and I ascended the stairs to the highest sitting area so that we could freely converse with each other. I placed a drink order for a Pineapple margarita and they accidentally made a Pina Colada so they thankfully offered me both! Conversations flowed as I enjoyed two pineapple infused cocktails and they enjoyed a round of fresh fruit smoothies. With us being merely one day away from 30 days of Vegan cuisine, we all gravitated to the same exact seafood menu item of a grilled lobster roll club sandwich with hand-cut yuca fries. The serving was so abundant that we had enough to take with us to enjoy between meals later. Cheers to phenomenal adventures with phenomenal women!
While dining, a resident who does palm tree art approached us to see if we were interested in supporting his art. Klairkia and Shar got hearts made that they are continuing to cherish well after our duration in Dominical. Here is a favorite clip of his creative process in action…
Second time is a charm! We arrived to Playa Dominical the second time around being greeted by clear blue skies, large installations of local tapestries, local vendors, clear blue skies, and and a sea of surfers navigating their way through nature. Exhaling deeper with each step we knew that this would be home until the sunset summoned the same enforcement as the night before. This is the destination to decompress between the crashing waves and smile in tandem with surfers every time they ride a wave.
Towards the tail end of our time at Playa Dominical, we simply yet greatly sat on a large tree log to converse with each other as a local guitarist, Jamisun played acoustic renditions of classic hits. Music is such a quintessential part of every journey to me because there is always a track that lends voice to moments that sheer words only begin to do justice. The key classics that caused us to stop in our tracks to contribute to the soundtrack of our day were:
Address: Main Street Dominical Off main highway entrance, Provincia de Puntarenas, Dominical, 60504
Phone: 6268 9919
As the sun set on Dominical, we went to enjoy happy hour at the local haunt, Phat Noodle. Klairkia, Sharday, and I got there right before happy hour ended so we quickly ordered their 2 for 1 special on watermelon cocktails. The cocktails featured freshly pressed juice and Thai inspired dishes were absolutely delicious. Based on our order, I can confidently recommend the coconut curry ceviche, Teriyaki Stirfry, and Hoisin dishes. Just when we were about to wrap up for the night, a couple came up to us and offered for the 2nd cocktail in their 2 for 1 special to go to us. Keeping the cocktails and conversations going until we capped off the evening with poolside comedy influenced by low-key being under the influence.
Cafe Mono Congo
Address: Pueblo del Rio, Main Street Dominical, Off main highway entrance, Provincia de Puntarenas, Dominical, 60504
Phone: 2787 0090
We were scheduled to get picked up from Tribe to go to Imiloa by noon of our third day in town so we went to Cafe Mono Congo near Main Street after yoga to eat breakfast. We all ordered their hearty Northern Breakfast, which consists of two eggs, herb roasted potatoes, grilled tomato, sautéed mushrooms & wholewheat toast or gluten free corn tortillas. We also ordered green smoothies and a baked good. Klairkia and Sharday went the sweet guilty pleasure route with the gluten free banana bread while I went the savory guilty pleasure route with an empanada. Enjoying locally sourced food with a view of Rio Baru was a great way to cap off 48 hours in Dominical. It was our first, yet will be far from our last time in town.
El Rio Barú
El Rio Barú is the majestic stream of water that fuels the ebbs and flows of Playa Dominical, plus provides the backdrop that the lush landscape of the area is formed around. Barú is the foundation of why we fell in love with these eight destinations in under 48 hours.