Rio San Juan & Playa Grande

Why Playa Grande?
Choose Playa Grande if you are a serious golfer. Many consider the Playa Grande Golf Course to be the best in the Dominican Republic. Golfers for years have called it the Pebble Beach of the Caribbean.

Playa Grande also has one of the most spectacular beaches in the Dominican Republic. Playa Grande beach itself is 1,600 meters of soft, white sand. But the high surf is not child-friendly. Playa Grande is a beach for trained swimmers. It can be lots of fun for teenagers and adults, though. It is gorgeous for romantic walks on the beach, at any time of the day. It is a good choice for a rest and relaxation vacation, for a honeymoon, even for a spring break vacation. For outings with young children, there are many alternative beaches in the area, such as Diamante and Caleton with shallow, pool-like waters.

What else is nearby
The Playa Grande area consists of Rio San Juan, Playa Grande and the beach town of Cabrera - all within a half an hour distance. All are located in Maria Trinidad Sanchez province, which is east of Puerto Plata province. This is a relatively new tourism area. You are about an hour east of Puerto Plata City and its tourism satellites -- Cabarete, Sosua, Playa Dorada, Cofresí and Luperón. The nearest city is Nagua, a bustling community. 

Samana, a destination noted for its natural beauty and whale-watching excursions, is approximately two hours further east of Playa Grande. Day trip excursions can be planned such as to Gri Gri Lagoon in Rio San Juan.

Port of Entry/How to get there
The best airport is the brand new Samana International Airport, that is located quite equidistant between Playa Grande and Samana. The airport is starting with service from Germany, Canada and Italy, but check the Airline Forum at for recent flight additions. Another option is to fly into Puerto Plata's Gregorio Luperon International Airport or Santiago's Cibao International Airport. If you fly into Santo Domingo's Las Americas International Airport, you will be about a 3 hour bus ride to Nagua, from which you will have to take a minibus or cab to get to your hotel.

Getting around
Renting a car is probably the best way to get around this area. There are many small beaches to explore and you will want to visit the attractions of Puerto Plata province, next door.

Playa Grande's Robert Trent Jones 18-hole golf course. Playa Grande beach, Diamante beach, Laguna Gri Gri and Caleton beach. Du Du Spring Water Natural Hole and underwater caves near La Entrada and Cabrera. The Pueblito Principe collection of colorful shops at the entrance to the Bahia Principe resort in Rio San Juan is scheduled for a reopening in November 2012, after a renovation.  

Day tours to Puerto Plata and Samana are available. Nearby excursions to Laguna Gri Gri and Caletón beach, and jeep safaris can be booked at the hotels.

La Catalina lodge and the very large all-inclusive Bahía Principe (reopening November 2012) are the main hotels in the area that is also well known for its luxurious villas such as the Golf Villa at Playa Grande and Villa Castellamonte. For a listing of hotels in the area, see our Hotel Directory


The Robert Trent Jones-designed Playa Grande 18-hole golf couse is rated by many golf experts as the best in the Caribbean. For specs on the course, see our Golf Page

Several dive shops offer varied excursions. Divers of all levels can enjoy shallow reefs, shipwrecks, freshwater cave diving, deep water diving and possible encounters with humpback whales and other large creatures. Summer air temperatures can hit the mid 90s, while winter temperatures drop to the 70s. Water temperatures range from the high 70s to low 80s, and visibility ranges from 70 to 100 feet. Visitors to Playa Grande are also only two hours away from excellent diving in Samana.

Places to shop
Pueblito Principe (reopening November 2012), Cabrera town for grocery shopping and to exchange money, Nagua town.

Nightlife outside the hotel
Pueblito Principe (reopening November 2012) features night time entertainment. There are also discos that attract locals and adventurous tourists in Rio San Juan and the town of Cabrera.