The best of beaches, waterfalls, views and roadtrips

jahjahwarrior

New member
Mar 14, 2017
137
5
0
Rincon is one of the easiest to get to remote beaches in DR.
It's about 30 minutes from Las Galeras, an hour from Samana and 2
hours from Las Terrenas. If you want, you can hit Limon and Rincon in
the same day but as I think I have mentioned before, Limon is not
that great of a waterfall. If you can, go to Salto Alto in Bayaguana
instead.

I keep stopping at the same colmado about 15 minutes outside of Samana
to get ice. I think it's called Colmado Wendy. I don't see that many
ice machines close to Rincon so I play it safe and stop before.

The turn to Rincon is just after the Texaco station on the road to Las
Galeras. Get gasoline here if you are short, it's the last place.

The road to Rincon is fine for even a car, it is dirt at the end but
in good shape. When you arrive, you have a lot of options about where
to go. Just be very careful: the road is generally ok for cars, but
just off the road, it's "flojo." you'll get stuck. Even my "AWD"
jeepeta got stuck... If you stop and the sand doesn't seem hard, look
for a grassy bit to park on. This time, I saw CESTUR driving around,
but it was the first time I've seen them. If you get stuck, you can
google for the cell phone number of Cestur in Rincon and call them,
they are nice and will pull you out, but they don't speak any english.

This beach is HUGE. If you go to the left, you will arrive at a small
stand of restaurants, Cana Frio. Lots of people will try to get you
food, give you a beach chair to sit in, etc. If you are hungry, go for
it, but this place is over crowded, full of trash, and not worth it.
The river is cold but not that cold, good for rinsing off before you
go home. There are some old pillars for a foot bridge, standing on
those for a selfie is basically the famous Rincon photo. But as I
said...eat something, take your picture, then scram for the beautiful
sections.

Between that restaurant and the road you arrived on, are some palm
trees the perfect distance apart for a hammock, and very few people.
For most of the bay area, there are a few distinct levels of sand, and
almost no rocks at all. For maybe 5-10 feet, there is very shallow
sand, where the waves roll out. You can sit here and just enjoy being
splashed. Then it suddenly is 1-3 feet deep, with waves that make it
4-6 feet deep. Then it's 6' deep. The water in the shallow section is
murky, but then it clears up normally. The waves here can be strong.

Keep going to the right of your entrance road, and just keep going and
going. It takes a minute or two to reach the other corner, at which
point you can't even see people in the crowded mess that is Cana Frio.
There is another set of restaurants at this end of the beach, and a
protected bay for swimming. On either side of this bay, there are some
rocks, but in the middle again it's just sand. That makes this area
great for wading and enjoying, unlike some beaches with lots of rocks.
You can also climb the hill to see out, with Las Galeras in the
distance. If you climb down to the section of beach, someone will be
along shortly to tell you that it's not safe and you should leave.
Besides, that area the swimming is not good, better in the bay.

In between those two end points, you can easily go somewhere without
people in close sight. Cana Frio side will have 3-8 bus loads of
people, the point will have 20 car loads, in between, nobody.

This beach is somewhat popular for camping in groups, and we camped
here solo without any issues. I would have felt much more comfortable
with 1-2 other tents with us.

The middle of the beach does have some trash. It's not pristine, but
it's also far from the worst I've seen.

Rincon is still one of my favorite beaches, the only reason I don't go
more often is the drive, more than 4 hours from Santiago. But if you
are in Las Terrenas, Saman or Las Galeras, I think this is the best
beach in the area and a must see.


Protected bay on east side



gringo...not a post turtle

 
Sep 4, 2012
5,931
57
48
Best thread in DR1.

Your knowledge and experiences of these places is amazing and conveying it to the rest of us with your explicit writing is a plus -- add the pictures to it and you are a winner!

Thanks!
 

jahjahwarrior

New member
Mar 14, 2017
137
5
0
In the full heat of summer, the cold rivers finally begin to feel
almost comfortable! Time to go rafting!

We went to Rancho Jarabacoa, but Rancho Bayaguate is also very
popular. All of the places don't seem to be directly on the river
where you ride, meaning you get a helmet and life vest and paddle,
then jump in a truck to go to the river with your inflatable boats.

4 people to a boat, plus the guide, who gave us some simple
instructions to follow like right, left, down, up, go, backwards, and
stop. The guides have this down to a science! With a big group, they
send someone ahead to monitor the boats going down the first drops, to
keep them spaced out. Some of the biggest drops were near the
beginning!

They have named some of the drops after American pop culture, like
Mike Tyson and Monica Lewinsky. We got stuck in Monica and had to wait
for the next boat to bump us out...

No one fell out, but the water did feel great when we stopped to float
for a while. The 2-3 hours in the sun overcame my SPF30 sunscreen only
on my shoulders.

Side note: I like Blue Lizard SPF30 because it's not greasy, and the
bottle turns blue in UV light. Helps you see even on cloudy days, the
UV light gets through. On my tattoos I like to use a zinc sunscreen.
Recently I've been using an Equate brand (Walmart in US) SPF50 that is
Zinc but also has oxy and avobenzones... There is a brand made here in
DR that is ok, but it doesn't soak in well, leaves you looking pasty
unless you really rub. They have one that is anti mosquito and it
leaves you smelling anti mosquito. I don't mind it, works well for the
beach on your legs, but I wouldn't use it on my face.

Anyways, there was no way to carry anything in the boat with us. The
gopro stayed tied off to me, and I was glad, because there were lots
of opportunities to lose it. The boat did have a big ring in the
front, if you have a pelican case style box, you could bring that and
clip it to the front, but of course anything you put in there is going
to be absolutely soaked, plus be heated up in the sun. Still, if I
could, I would have brought another tube of sunscreen to add. Or,
better yet, wear a long sleeve shirt. Also, your shorts will ride up,
the smart people had on long lyrca pants. Don't forget sunscreen on
your knees, and if you use a swimsuit, go all the way up to.....well,
go up pretty high. Pasty legs burn fast.

We got splashed by tons of kids swimming in the river, and almost hit
by one guy jumping in from a bridge. The guide told us at one
point--"Do you know the movie jurassic park?" "yes" we replied, "Good,
good, now do you see that mountain in front of us?" "oh yes!" we
replied, and he says "well it has nothing to do with the movie, but
it's very beautiful isn't it" Of course, now that I think about it, I
am 99% certain he said it in spanish, but in my memory, I remember the
moment in english. Funny how language works that way.

When we returned to Rancho Jarabacoa we had a lunch that was very much
"plato del dia" style food, meaning nothing to write home about, but
it was absolutely perfect after a long day of enjoying the river. We
scarfed down an entire plate and went back for seconds! The rancho had
pool table, dominoes table, hammocks, and some playground equipment
for kids, and bathrooms and showers. Pretty nice little setup, and I
have to admit, it was one of the most fun days. We made friends with
the other couple in our boat and after going over our lists of places
to see and enjoy we found a few that none of us has been to yet, and
are already making plans to go together soon.

Another day in paradise! If you haven't even rafted down a river here,
you have to go!









 
  • Like
Reactions: campesinadeatl

thompstr

Member
Mar 21, 2018
70
4
18
56
awesome posts
going to dr in oct2 -16
we've been before , not into resorts
staying in condo's this time in Sousa
love day trips
would like to get more info from you as where to go
 

jahjahwarrior

New member
Mar 14, 2017
137
5
0
I put together a tour of the north coast a while ago here

Planning a tour
https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?sh...m/forums/showthread.php?t=172190&share_type=t

If I'm around I'm glad to meet up somewhere.

If you are here for a while, go to bahia de las águilas. If I had a week free that is where you will find me. Stay in pedernales, there is a nice Italian couple with a hotel, you will feel super welcome. Hotel Italia. Bring a lot of sunscreen.
 

Uzin

Bronze
Oct 26, 2005
1,348
6
38
Just to add you can go on a horse ride from Las Galeras to playa Rincon, it is a nice little ride, slow and not too dangerous on the hills. Can't remember but maybe about an hour each way, the guide wait for you to eat and swim for a bit and brings you back. You also get to see a couple of other beaches on the way. Ask in town for tours and prices....
 

jahjahwarrior

New member
Mar 14, 2017
137
5
0
I can't believe I haven't written about Caleton yet, but I looked and don't see it...
This beach has gotten way easier to find since they put a sign up, just outside of Rio San Juan. Even a car can get in, but the road is a little rocky between the road and parking.

There is a parking lot you have to pay to use near the front. If you get there late, you will probably have to use it, and it's cheap, like $100 pesos. But you can drive past the guy waving you in, and see if there is parking for free closer to the beach.

On your right (east) there are some shack restaurants, and there are some tables under the shade. Expect to pay $100 pesos for a beach chair, and ask the guy for a menu if you want. The fried fish here is pretty good!

The left side of the beach has some flat rocks that you can sit on, but they are slippery. Best to enter on the right where there is sand. The beach is a little steep. On the right, there are always boats bringing people in and out, and they offer tours to Cueva las Golindrinas. Gringos pay more, and I forget the going rate, but I want to say mil to 1,500 pesos per person. Be careful swimming on the right, I would recommend you swim on the left, where the boats go less frequently.

This beach is interesting for several reasons.

First, on the right hand wall, are lots of white concrete heads. I would love to know the history of these heads! You can walk through the forest on that side to get to a point, if you want. There are some large boulders on this point, and on a calm day it's nice to swim around, but again be very, very careful with the boat traffic! If you swim on the right hand size, you can snorkel under the cliffs around the corner on the right. But remember the boats! I cannot stress that enough. If you are out there snorkeling you will be the only one, and they won't be looking for crazy gringos snorkeling. The water gets 20 feet deep easily in spots.

This coastline is beautiful and has a lot of good clear water for snorkeling. If you take the boat tour, they might stop at Piscina Natural, which is basically what they call any spot in the ocean that you can stand up in, here in DR. But it's a nice little bay with clear water, super cool for swimming. You can reach it by land too, walking through an empty lot, but there are no stairs so it's hard to enter the water. Like dangerously hard. Also the house nextdoor has a very loud doberman.

On the left side there is sea grass and the water is 8-10 feet deep. Far out in the bay, is a large rock with a big white concrete guy climbing it. You can swim out there, again being mindful of the boats, but it is further than it looks. Be careful. Boats do sometimes go around that left side too, I imagine they are returning to laguna grigri.

On the far left side, you can walk through the forest to get to a smaller beach on the left side. Or, if you are swimming out to the boulder rock climbing guy, there is a third beach, that maybe you can access through the forest, but I have only ever swum out to it.

If you do make it to that far beach, you can walk through the forest to get to another cove. The water is a little shallower, atleast by the shore, and it's very secluded. Never seen boats go in here. I enjoy swimming and snorkeling, so I liked going over to this cove and snorkeling for a bit, but it was a little weird being so far away from any people at all.

I have seen fish, small stingrays, and eels here. The eels are the coolest, because when they are hunting, they don't seem to give a care about humans, but fish and rays normally run away from you.

DR would be the most amazing place in the world if they had turtles like Hawaii. In Hawaii, you couldn't count the turtles on your hands, but the water was cold. Here, the water can be so warm, but I have never seen a turtle snorkeling here. Sad.

Caleton can get very crowded, and if you arrive and there are more than 1 tour bus...I would skip it, and go to laguna grigri to take a boat to Cuevas las Golindrinas, Breton/Cabo Frances Viejo, Laguna DuDu, or another cool little beach:

I don't have photos but if you continue for a few more minutes, google "Orchid Bay Estates." When you get there, immediately before the entrance to the estates on the west side, is a small, unmarked road. Turn down it, and park at the end where it ends. Then walk through the hole in the wall and follow the path. There will be security guards on your right, but they have never said anything to me. I think they are required to provide public access to this beach, but still don't push your luck and talk to them, just walk confidently by, on the footpath. Inside Orchid Bay Estates are million dollar mansions that cost more than $1,000 US per night to rent. There are stairs going down to a beach that is normally full of very few people. No food shacks, no cerveza service. But I have collected more seaglass at this beach than any other beach combined! Anybody you do see on the beach is probably a local kid, or someone staying in a 1,500 per night mansion...so wear your nicest flipflops.







 
Last edited:

Uzin

Bronze
Oct 26, 2005
1,348
6
38
Thanks for the report, I also recommend good fried fish at Playa Caleton, but seriously avoid this place on Sundays, it gets packed with locals, you struggle to find a place to park and on the beach.

I have seen a fairly large turtle, really colorful and beautiful (maybe a meter or so long) while snorkeling in Sosua bay, only once though, I think maybe it was the year when we had turtle eggs put on the beach (when they cordoned off that section) - I wondered if mummy came back to check on her little ones... ! lol
 

drstock

Silver
Oct 29, 2010
2,897
533
113
Cabarete
Last time I was at Playa Caleton, it was midweek, nice and peaceful as befits the beautiful scene until some guy opened his car doors and started blasting music at deafening volume. Now I know this is "their" country and deafening music seems to be part of "their" way of life, so my friend and I bit our tongues and decided just to leave when we had finished our meal. Just as we were going, a CESTUR guy arrived and told them to shut down the music, so we returned. For once, CESTUR did something useful!
 

SKY

Gold
Apr 11, 2004
10,210
578
113
Tony has been servicing this beach for 20 years. Ask for him and get the best food, nice chairs, table, etc.
 

jahjahwarrior

New member
Mar 14, 2017
137
5
0
On my first trip to DR in 2011, someone told me I had to come visit 27
Charcos...well, 7 years later I finally went!

It's pretty easy to find, located just off the highway between
Navarette and Puerto Plata. I do have to mention that in the last 2
years, I don't feel like much progress has been made on this route. I
have avoided it for 8 months...it's not in terrible shape, but it's
narrow, full of slow trucks that are overloaded, the edges are in bad
shape and it has no shortage of potholes. And it's been under
construction for years...

The buildings where you park are surprisingly close to the road. When
you walk in, there's a shop with souvenirs and water shoes and stuff,
and a small window with a guy doing math and notes on a piece of
notebook paper. He asks you how many waterfalls you want to see, and I
think the options were 1, 7 or 27. Kids under 8 can only go to the
first fall.

I think the price is over $700 pesos for foreigners but $550 for
dominicans or gringos who arrive with dominicans and know enough
spanish to get by. Then, a guide will ask how many are in your party
and tell you where to go to join a group. The guides probably speak
some english, and they are all trained in first aid and CPR.

They have lockers for something like $2 or $5, but I brought a
waterproof box in a pocket. A lot of people lost small things like
earrings...so beware. You get a lifejacket and a helmet, and then
start walking! Don't forget sunscreen. Also, even though it's a river,
that river runs to the ocean eventually, so zinc or tio2 sunscreens
are preferred over oxybenzone, avobenzone, etc.

This is not a trip for retired fat gringos who walk less than a few km
per week. I run 5km in the gym 3 or 4 days a week, and it was still a
decent amount of work. First you walk across a dry river bed, then up
stairs, then down a path, then up stairs, then on a path, then up
stairs...you walk for about an hour before you get to the first
charco! Note: At the first charco they have a guy with a trash bag, so
you can bring a water bottle and dispose of it there. I highly
recommend it, because it's a lot of walking.

The water seems cold at first, but after you are used to it, it just
feels refreshing! There is a decent amount of walking between some of
the charcos, but not all of them. The bugs weren't bad. Wear some
shoes that can get wet, because you will be walking on small rocks and
slippery rocks. Flip Flops are out of the question, so is barefoot.

About half of the charcos are jumps, and half are slides. Half of the
jumps are around 6-8 feet, the other half are more like 12-20. I think
all of the jumps are bypassable if you want, but not all of the slides
are. The guides will tell you exactly where to aim when jumping, when
to do a cannonball to avoid hitting your feet, etc. The guides are a
bunch of fun, joking around, and very knowledgable and helpful.

Towards the end, there are a few really, really cool spots, that are
like canyons, that range from so narrow you can touch both sides, to
enough room to float side by side with your friend. There are spots
that are too deep to walk, but the vests help...still who goes on a
water excursion if they don't know how to swim?

In total we spent about 5 hours from arriving to leaving, and we were
completely wiped at the end of the day. It was absolutely worth the
$11!









 

jahjahwarrior

New member
Mar 14, 2017
137
5
0
Here's one that is very well known: Cayo Arena!

The first time I visited, I decided to move to DR. Took a while to make it back but finally, found a good weekend to go.

This island is probably best reached by Playa La Ensenada, by Estero Hondo. I don't really love La Ensenada, but it's not that bad. It's chock full of little shacks serving food, and it's shallow for a long way out, so if eating and relaxing in knee deep water is your thing, this beach is great for you.

You do have to watch out for the boats flying by though. The Cayo Arena boat drivers like to show off by whipping their boats by swimmers, only a few feet away, and one day someone's going to get killed...

They have a big parking lot where you pay $100 and get a parking pass. Several of the shacks on the beach have showers for you to use for $.25 for around 2 minutes worth of showering.

After the best friend grouper I've had in a while (careful, it's like $400 a pound, not a cheap fish), we started looking for a boat going to the island. You can get a trip for around $3,000 per boat, but you are really looking for a guy with a boat almost full that will take you for $500-$600 per person.

The ride out to the island can have some good sized waves. You are going to get wet. Bring a waterproof bag for cell phone or anything else you want to keep dry. They will stop at "piscina natural" which is just another coral mountain that usually has 3-6 feet deep water, compared to 20-40 feet deep around it. They'll let you hop out and swim for 2 minutes before taking you to Cayo Arena.

The Cayo itself is a nice sandbar with a few shacks on it, where you can set a cooler or something, and then you can go swimming. The water around the cayo is pretty shallow, and they normally bring some snorkeling gear if you want to snorkel. If you to the north east point there is a little channel that lets you get outside of the coral, into deep water, and you can swim around back to the west side where the boats enter.

In between those points, the water is shallow enough that you can't swim directly back to shore, there are corals, so you can't swim or walk. So if you are going out there snorkeling, you are committing to the swim.

In the shallow water, you can find some anemones, a few types actually, and lots of fish. Beaugregory jacks, tangs, cowfish, a ton more that the names escape me, even flamingo tongues. In the deeper water, you see yellowtail, big tangs, trumpetfish, not to mention big corals and sponges. The water is the most beautiful dark blue!

The boats normally like to stay for an hour before they round you up to return. The return trip is through the manglares/mangroves, and again the drivers like to show off by hitting tree branches and whipping the boats in circles. Careful with glasses, if you look behind you, you will lose them. Hats too.

As usual, remember to only use sunscreens that are either zinc or titanium dioxide based. There is a Dominican brand that is zinc based that works ok but it leaves you looking a little pasty. Blue Lizard from Australia is good, as is Pacifica, Stream2Sea, and SolrX from the US. The sun is crazy strong and there is almost no shade on the island, you will be baking.

I think it's best to go early in the morning before the wind is strong, but it's 3 hours from Santiago, so it's a little tough.

Cayo Arena is one of the coolest little places to go in this country, even if it can be crowded, it's a stunningly beautiful location.











 

bob saunders

Platinum
Jan 1, 2002
28,585
2,161
113
dr1.com
Here's one that is very well known: Cayo Arena!

The first time I visited, I decided to move to DR. Took a while to make it back but finally, found a good weekend to go.

This island is probably best reached by Playa La Ensenada, by Estero Hondo. I don't really love La Ensenada, but it's not that bad. It's chock full of little shacks serving food, and it's shallow for a long way out, so if eating and relaxing in knee deep water is your thing, this beach is great for you.

You do have to watch out for the boats flying by though. The Cayo Arena boat drivers like to show off by whipping their boats by swimmers, only a few feet away, and one day someone's going to get killed...

They have a big parking lot where you pay $100 and get a parking pass. Several of the shacks on the beach have showers for you to use for $.25 for around 2 minutes worth of showering.

After the best friend grouper I've had in a while (careful, it's like $400 a pound, not a cheap fish), we started looking for a boat going to the island. You can get a trip for around $3,000 per boat, but you are really looking for a guy with a boat almost full that will take you for $500-$600 per person.

The ride out to the island can have some good sized waves. You are going to get wet. Bring a waterproof bag for cell phone or anything else you want to keep dry. They will stop at "piscina natural" which is just another coral mountain that usually has 3-6 feet deep water, compared to 20-40 feet deep around it. They'll let you hop out and swim for 2 minutes before taking you to Cayo Arena.

The Cayo itself is a nice sandbar with a few shacks on it, where you can set a cooler or something, and then you can go swimming. The water around the cayo is pretty shallow, and they normally bring some snorkeling gear if you want to snorkel. If you to the north east point there is a little channel that lets you get outside of the coral, into deep water, and you can swim around back to the west side where the boats enter.

In between those points, the water is shallow enough that you can't swim directly back to shore, there are corals, so you can't swim or walk. So if you are going out there snorkeling, you are committing to the swim.

In the shallow water, you can find some anemones, a few types actually, and lots of fish. Beaugregory jacks, tangs, cowfish, a ton more that the names escape me, even flamingo tongues. In the deeper water, you see yellowtail, big tangs, trumpetfish, not to mention big corals and sponges. The water is the most beautiful dark blue!

The boats normally like to stay for an hour before they round you up to return. The return trip is through the manglares/mangroves, and again the drivers like to show off by hitting tree branches and whipping the boats in circles. Careful with glasses, if you look behind you, you will lose them. Hats too.

As usual, remember to only use sunscreens that are either zinc or titanium dioxide based. There is a Dominican brand that is zinc based that works ok but it leaves you looking a little pasty. Blue Lizard from Australia is good, as is Pacifica, Stream2Sea, and SolrX from the US. The sun is crazy strong and there is almost no shade on the island, you will be baking.

I think it's best to go early in the morning before the wind is strong, but it's 3 hours from Santiago, so it's a little tough.

Cayo Arena is one of the coolest little places to go in this country, even if it can be crowded, it's a stunningly beautiful location.












very nice place and photos