Water, adventure and local culture in the Dominican Republic

Water, adventure and local culture in the Dominican Republic

  • The Water Route takes you to springs, natural pools, rivers and underground caves as well as magnificent freshwater lagoons hidden in the tropical jungle.

  • Safaris allow you to get acquainted with life in the Dominican countryside and enjoy the most popular gastronomy as well as the beauty of its interior.

on every trip Dominican Republic There will be no lack of opportunity or desire to feel the freshness of the water and take a good dive. Beyond the beautiful beaches, the country has numerous cenotes, natural spring-fed pools, lagoons, rivers and waterfalls. Turquoise and emerald waters invite you to enjoy some relaxation among exuberant tropical forests. It is the way of water.

You don’t need to travel far from the capital to visit the first of these places. Just eight kilometers from Santo Domingo we find Los Tres Ojos National Park, where we can take a tour and perform rituals in the underground caves where the Tainos once lived as shelter. A ladder guides us through pathways and caves that connect lagoons of sweet, bluish and iridescent water, called eyes by ancient settlers for their oval shape.

The best-known springs in the Dominican Republic are the 27 Charcos de Damajagua in Puerto Plata; here, a network of trails allows us to organize a full day walking through dense forests and exploring numerous plant species before reaching the top of a rocky hill. where the adventure begins: a descent where you jump and slide down a series of waterfalls. Freshwater lagoons without leaving Puerto Plata are just one of the attractions of the Lagunas Cabarete y Goleta (Choco) Natural Monument. The trails between tropical forests, cocoa and coffee plantations, with an extension of 78 square kilometers, are very well prepared for hiking or mountain biking.

natural pools

In Río San Juan we can visit the Cueva de las Golondrinas, surrounded by a natural pool, where we can observe interesting formations left in the rocks by centuries of erosion. Other interesting caves in the Dominican Republic are the Cave of the Virgin in Barahona, below the Sierra de Bahoruco and surrounded by a lush rainforest, and Chicho in Bayahíbe, an underground cave with remarkable petroglyphs. Rivers also give us refreshing options for bathing. Some of the most notable are the San Rafael River in Barahona, whose waters descend from the mountains to the beach of the same name; Boca de los Ríos in Constanza, with the calm waters and picnic areas of the Yaque del Norte River; and El Arroyazo in Constanza, which receives the pristine and icy waters of the Camú River, one of the locals’ favorite bathing spots.

There are several natural spring-fed cenotes in Punta Cana Scape Park. Two of the most beautiful are Hoyo Azul, at the foot of a stunning limestone cliff, and Las Ondas, located in an ancient underground cave: the lack of sunlight is more than compensated by the coolness and provocative impression of its waters. Pictographs bequeathed to us by the Tainos. Located just fifteen minutes from Jarabacoa, La Cortina waterfall gets its name from the grace with which it lowers the water cover. A well has been created at the bottom of which you can swim. One of the most beautiful natural attractions on the north coast are the turquoise freshwater lagoons of Laguna Dudú, among a wooded landscape and caves. They are located in Cabrera, about two hours east of Puerto Plata and an hour from Playa Grande. They have a park where we can do various outdoor activities such as renting a canoe, walking into the caves or gliding at high speed from a zipline that drops you ten meters into the deepest lagoon. Experienced divers can explore impressive underwater caves.

Another highlight on a waterway is the Salto de Aguas Blancas in Constanta. It descends approximately 83 meters into a large cold jade pool embraced by fields covered with tall pine and ebony green trees. The approximately 10-kilometer journey to the waterfall is an adventurous and fun climb. Pedestrian bridges and wooden platform allow you to observe closely, and you can descend to the lower pools. Baiguate and Jimenoa Falls in Jarabacoa also stand out.

Land Safaris

If we try to explore the local culture besides diving, we can sign up for a safari to learn about life in the Dominican countryside and enjoy the beauty of the country’s interior. The main tour operators in Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, La Romana and Samaná offer these trips to nearby towns.

Puerto Plata’s seascape is dotted with picturesque towns, beaches, hills and forests. We have the widest offer of safari excursions in Puerto Plata, we can choose between going out in an SUV with a driver – the roads are full of potholes and a suitable vehicle is required – or driving your own quad. Along the route, the locals stop at their home for a nice coffee or to enjoy a fresh coconut; there are also breathtaking viewpoints along the Atlantic coast, with stops to learn about the history of the farmland, the cultivation processes and the taste of cocoa, and there’s even time for a horseback ride before returning to the hotel.

The picturesque Dominican countryside is less than an hour from Punta Cana. On safaris that depart from there, you pass through sugarcane fields and cocoa farms, visit communities and schools, taste delicious tropical fruits, and arrive in small towns like Otra Banda, where butchers hang their produce. Tours usually end at one of the beautiful beaches, such as Macao beach in Punta Cana.

The sandy beaches and coconut palm-covered hills of Samana are even more spectacular on a safari trip. While driving to Playa Rincón or Playa El Valle, you pass rural communities along the way, stopping for food and drink, lunch on the beach or even a swim in a waterfall.

Through the sugar cane fields

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Another great tour can be made through La Romana, entering a rural area filled with sugarcane fields where La Romana is grown, harvested and turned into products for export, including the world-famous Dominican rum. The route continues with a visit to a local school and then continues with a short horseback ride through the mountains to a small town where you can sample some locally grown produce such as tropical fruits, coffee and cocoa. Upon arrival at the top of Mount Anamuya, enjoy a traditional Dominican buffet lunch with panoramic views. On top of that, you can even learn how Dominican cigars are made before visiting the beautiful Nuestra Señora de Altagracia Cathedral.

Without a doubt, safaris are a great way to experience the tropical exhilaration of this Caribbean island.

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