Private Car Rental
Traveling to Playa Dominical from the international airport in San Jose (SJO) is a journey of three hours. If you choose to rent your own vehicle, the most logical route is to travel west when leaving San Jose toward the Pacific Coast. Follow the signs that lead to Jacó. From Jacó the journey is roughly 2 hours south along the coastal highway.
For traveling throughout Costa Rica, a 4×4 Vehicle is not necessary, but still recommended. The country is hilly and mountainous, whether traveling North, South, East or West. Away from the main Highways (autopistas) and outside of the town/city metropolitan centers, the roads tend to become an amalgamation of plowed dirt with gravel and rock thrown on top. In San Jose there are many companies from which an automobile can be rented. Note that car rental prices in Costa Rica are considerably higher than in many other countries, but having your own wheels will provide for a freedom of movement and the ability to choose and set your own schedule that other forms of transportation cannot provide.
Private and Shared Shuttles
Private shuttles and shared shuttles are more expensive way of getting from SJO to Dominical, but these services are faster and more direct than buses. Once you get over the shock upon realizing that the cost increase for a private or shared shuttle is considerable, there is relief in knowing that you can travel to your destination with peace of mind by not having to drive on a highway network in an unfamiliar country or to navigate (or get lost) and you can just chill out while someone else does all the work. Several companies that are highly recommended are Costa Rica Drivers, Costa Rica Shuttle and Monkey Ride. There are of course many options to obtain the services of private and shared shuttles and a few minutes scrolling through a google search will provide numerous possibilities.
Travel by Bus
Bus travel is the most economical way to travel throughout Costa Rica, yet this option is the slowest and therefore the most undesirable manner to get around. Buses in Costa Rica tend to lumber around from place to place, always lagging far behind regular traffic patterns and struggling to climb mediocre hills and inclines. There are also many frequent stops as the local population uses this source of transportation as a primary source to move between towns for routine daily things such as shopping, work, recreation, etc… Simply stated, if you need to get anywhere fast – don’t take the bus.
Generally speaking local bus travel is cheap and primarily useful for traveling “short” distances between towns/pueblos along the coast, or maybe exploring within the confines of a bigger town/city for a day trip. The wait times, the incessant number of stops, and the unpredictable and inexplicable delays and the certainty that you will be standing a lot are all factors that make local buses unrealistic for most travelers, particularly those travelers that need to be someplace at a fixed time. Additionally, for those travelers with a large amount of luggage, local bus travel is not recommended.