The southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, known as the Southern Zone, is a place of raw, natural beauty. Tall, tree-covered mountains and hills come right up to the shore. The beaches are uncrowded to the extreme—often you could be the only person around. Of course, you might have some other species as your companions. The region’s rainforests are some of the most bio-diverse on the planet, full of creatures like blue morpho butterflies, three-toed sloths, capuchin monkeys, toucans, and more.
A series of small beach communities run up and down the coast. If you’re coming south on the coastal highway the first one you hit officially in the Southern Zone is Dominical. It’s ideal for those seeking a relaxed life, with modern conveniences like high-speed internet and reliable electric service, as well as comforts like food markets (well-stocked with imported and organic products) and international restaurants.
This village by the sea has just a few streets lined with restaurants, shops, and simple hotels. The place to be is the beach road. On one side you have beach bars and restaurants—open air and serving filling, cheap meals (and cold beer). On the other side you have rows of handicraft vendors in the shade of palm trees. And beyond that you have the beach and blue Pacific. It’s laidback; no shoes, no problem…the perfect escape.
This area was somewhat isolated from the rest of the country for many, many years. The road was rough, the bridges scary. From the capital, San José, the journey took six, seven, eight hours, sometimes more depending on road conditions. Fortunately, the coastal highway (La Costanera) was completed in 2010 and now you have smooth well-maintained pavement the whole way.
This improved access has brought change to the region. There are more tourists and more expats…and more conveniences and services. But what makes this region special—the jungle, wildlife, and the untamed beaches—has not been spoiled. Development is limited. No big hotels or resorts on the beach and no cookie cutter housing projects. It remains a unique and beautiful region in Costa Rica.
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