We just returned from an unbelievable 10-day stay at Bella Vista Lodge and loved every minute of it! This was the perfect place to get away from it all and just chill. You will need to rent a small 4x4 to ford a small river and negotiate the unpaved road up to the property as well as explore this southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica - most side roads are unpaved. Vamos car rental (vamos4x4.com) has the best prices and took great care of us.
The lodge itself is a rustic 80-year old farmhouse sitting in what is really just a clearing in the jungle that has been lovingly restored by operator Bert Woodson to provide a fabulous back-to-basics vacation experience. If you are a metrosexual from South Beach, this is not the spot for you. But if you want to experience the serenity of nature while enjoying incredible panoramic views over the Pacific and sunsets over Manuel Antonio Park like you've never seen before, this is the spot.
Rooms in the lodge and in the cabin below are basic and comfortable, each with its own bath and on-demand hot shower. We were perfectly comfortable and happy without air conditioning or TV - that's not what Bella Vista Lodge is about. There is free WiFi though, so we didn't have to be completely disconnected unless we chose to be.
But the real secret ingredient in making our stay so enjoyable was Bert Woodson, an experienced restaurant chef and hospitality professional who moved to Dominical 2 1/2 years ago and lovingly restored the lodge.
Bert (the unofficial mayor of Dominical) knows everybody in town and can connect you with all kinds of day-trip activities - we went horseback riding on the beach with a lunch break at a restaurant on the beach (La Parcela) with great ocean views. Another day we took another horseback ride to Nuayaca Falls that included breakfast and lunch Tico-style with the friendly family that conducted the ride.
Bert can also hook you up with fishing trips, zip line tours, surf lessons, etc. There is also limited shopping in Dominical and other towns nearby. Great Friday night fun and entertainment at a club called Roca Verde, too.
Dominical is a surfing hotspot - three of our fellow guests at the Lodge (Mark, Dave and Brian) had come down to spend a week just for the surfing. The two friendly, helpful guys working with Bert (Shayne and Jed) are also surfers and all five of them had a great time during a week of exceptionally big surf.
Jed and Shayne made breakfast for us before we started our day - we loved Jed's spicy Yuca cakes! Bert asked the group what we wanted for dinner each day and then went out (sometimes on horseback) to secure fresh fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, etc. that we all ate family-style on the porch watching the sun go down over the Pacific and the stars then fill the sky.
With the low ambient light high on the mountainside, we could see the stars like never before and used an iPad app to figure out the constellations - different this close to the equator.
If you want a place where you can kick back, do anything you want or nothing at all and make lifetime friends in the process, you can't beat Bella Vista Lodge and Bert Woodson.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.