Pavement is finally coming to Dominical, Costa Rica — but is it a change for the better?

Goodbye dirt road! Hello smooth driving. Pallets of paver stones were dropped off last week as workers prepare to revamp Beach Front Avenue in Dominical. The new road will stretch from the southern end by Restaurante El Coco to the river’s mouth in the north.

While some are sure to be nostalgic for Dominical’s old-timey feeling, local business owners claim the new road will ultimately be a good thing.

Dominical is Getting a Facelift

According to LonelyPlanet:

[quote_box_center]“Proud residents are quick to point out that Dominical recalls the mythical ‘old Costa Rica’ – the days before the roads were all paved, and when the coast was dotted with lazy little towns that drew a motley crew of surfers, backpackers and affable do-nothings alike.”[/quote_box_center]

Could the absence of paved roads actually be part of the town’s identity? Or was that just a happy spin tourism companies placed on a hard-to-reach beach? After all, Dominical is a four-hour drive from San Jose with either a car rental or hired driver and longer with bus.

As the new road sets in, it’s likely Dominical will pick-up some speed and may ever-so-slightly drift away from the hammocks and lazy days vibes of old. The artistic brick street will draw in new businesses and builders, and as Resident Ian Lynch of Green Leaf Realty explains:

[quote_center]“What we will be seeing is Dominical getting a ‘facelift.’” [/quote_center]

Already, Patrion’s has moved in as the newest bar-restaurant and concert venue in town, and within the year a 4,500 ft2 gym will open above it. According to Lynch, this gym is to be the nicest in the central and southern coast.

Local business owners and residents have been meeting to put paver stones throughout the rest of town. When done, the streets would also include proper drainage and engineering, sidewalks, new landscaping and proper lighting to walk safely at night.

Growing Popularity on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast

Instead of seeing the new street as the cause for Dominical’s changing, perhaps it’s better to view it as the effect of an already growing beach town along the popular Pacific Coast.

via Playas Costa Rica

Most of Costa Rica’s highest-rated beaches are along the Western coast — Dominical included. Tourists and locals, retirees and surfers all make their way to find sun, waves and tranquility. While some beaches like Jaco and Tamarindo have boomed as Americanized centers for tourism and nightlife, many more have remained more low-key.

A report from the Center for Responsible Travel in Washington, DC explains that “As early as 1991, The New York Times wrote that ‘a kinder, greener tourist is emerging.’ It went on to say that ‘the ecotourist prefers small, locally owned lodges to huge hotels or resorts owned by multinational corporations.'”

This trend continues today in places like Hermosa (just minutes from rowdy Jaco) and Montezuma — both of whom have plenty of paved roads. With this in mind, it seems safe to say Dominical’s easy-going, beachy atmosphere is here to stay. The only difference? No more gravel in your sandals!