Things haven’t really changed that much here over the last 13 years (since 1999), the time that I’ve been living in and around Dominical. The town is still pretty much made up of one main street that remains unpaved and varies in quality depending on when the last grading was done (and how much rain has fallen recently). The locals like it this way since it keeps traffic driving slow, and it has the side benefit of helping vacationers from more harried lifestyles to slow down in other more philosophical ways.
There is a notable gateway-to-the-south feel when you first approach Dominical. It used to be that you finally got to the end of the hellacious gravel road that spanned the last 25 miles south of Quepos. Not only would you arrive wondering about the health of your car (after all the ball-joint jarring, tooth loosening hits of the last hour and a half of driving), you’d wonder why anyone would have any interest in coming down to this part of the country. That old gravel road was good for the Dominical drinking establishments.
The experience is quite different now due to the 25 miles between Quepos & Dominical having been paved. The “we’ve finally arrived” feeling is now just a change of topography. You have driven through miles of palm oil farms and inland mountain scenery to arrive now at what has been described by some as “the real Costa Rica” - the lush and tropical southern pacific zone.