‘How did we get here?’ – we would often say as neither of us had ever thought of visiting Dominican Republic. But every time again we said it with a feeling of pleasure and adoration for the beautiful nature this Caribbean country holds.
After being stranded in Cape Verde, our cheapest route into Central America was to fly to Domincan Republic. From there on we would find a way to Costa Rica. But first we decided to spend one month in the Dominican. Sieger had the luck to spend a week with friends and family in Belgium. His flight had a connection in Brussels, which was the perfect opportunity to pass home. Patricia couldn’t legally enter Europe again for another 3 weeks and went straight to Dominican, spending her time in Macao camping at a small hostel in the countryside near to Macao Beach. Connecting with many travelers and going on adventures to the beach or caves with swimming holes put her in the Caribbean vibe.
Sieger’s arrival was so exciting that our shared phone disappeared after having hitched a ride with a French woman. Luckily most photos were backed up but still we lost many contacts, writings, a great camera, and so on! Patricia is fully convinced that black holes are swallowing our possessions as now a few items have oddly disappeared. Thinking we left the phone in the car we hitch hiked with, we started a search for the woman who gave us a ride. Not having found her, we miraculously get in contact a few days later – hitch hiking again, we were picked up by her husband; who Patricia had even met in her first week! A major ‘coincidence’ and we got excited that they would have found our phone – but they never saw it and couldn’t find it anywhere in her car. Rolando, the husband, has a surf school and does paddle boarding with horseback riding excursions. Forever unclear if we could trust him and his wife, he offered us an excursion with food included, practically for free. That’s how we ended up having a cool experience paddle boarding into mangroves and having a sore butt afterwards. We’ll never forget horseback riding on the beach and hopping on the paddle boards where the river streams into the sea.
Together we spent a few days in Macao then headed in the direction of Samana. We heard of a very secluded and empty beach along the route called Playa Limón. A 3-mile hike in the sun wasn’t the most relaxed part but having a massive beach to ourselves made up for the sweat. On both ends of this beach we found rivers flowing into the ocean – absolutely picturesque. Sieger was in awe, looking over a white-sand-palm-leaf-beach for the first time. Exactly how a Caribbean postcard looks like! We decided to get up before sunrise and saw the stars turn into another colorful day.
Another place we heard about, Paraíso Caño Hondo, is a gorgeously constructed resort, deep in nature near to the national park Los Haitises. They recreated a natural river and swimming pools. Even though the resort is high-class, they are open for receiving low budget travelers and have space available to set up a tent for only $8 a night. It’s too bad you are required to have a guide to enter the national park, and prices get pretty high, so we never got to explore much of the nature. We met one of the local, young, tour guides and had lovely talks with him, also exchanging local slang with American slang words. Out of all the locals we met he was definitely the most open and friendly!
Throughout our time in the Dominican, we never had conflicts with people, but the country is simply not the most friendly or safe place to be. There is a major lack of trust in their culture – even between friends or family. Add to this a wide spread (slight) racism against gringos and one can understand why most of the tourists on the Dominican stay in a resort and don’t go out. This way most tourists miss the fun of riding in the local transportation, further known as guagua’s, or never jump on the back of a motoconcho. Convinced that the biggest part of a trip is decided by one’s own state of mind, we never had negative experiences and met several open-minded Dominicans.
We booked one night at Samana Ecolodge & Hostel in El Limón, an area of the beautiful Samana peninsula. The owner, Ben, is from England, well traveled and with a lot of experience working and living abroad. His dream to start an Eccolodge made him buy land in Samana and within 8 months he built and opened Samana Ecolodge & Hostel. A cozy and friendly atmosphere surrounded by nature, with horses roaming in sight and a river flowing behind. All the huts are built from bamboo and he uses pallets to make furniture. Oh and he has massive, colorful, glamping tents around the property for those who want more luxury in nature. In the future he hopes to build clay hobbit houses and wants to work a lot with permaculture to live completely sustainable. A project which is unique for the Dominican Republic.
Asking if it would be possible to set up our own tent and save some money he responded ‘of course’. Eventually a few nights became two weeks and we could stay in the dorm. Having found a nice vibe and safe place to relax, plus being out of the rain we didn’t feel the need to move much more around the island. Eventually we ended up as volunteers, helping Ben out with general cleaning and Sieger worked his photography skills to give Ben some nice photos of the property.
El Limón is known for it’s towering waterfall El Salto del Limón. As drawn to waterfalls as we are we headed for a hike. All the tourists get convinced to take a horse, but we enjoyed walking through the forest barefoot and on our own pace. Passing through the river and up a mountain we arrived to a viewpoint looking over the valley where the waterfall flows. We were stunned to see the size! Down the mountain we arrived to the overcrowded party in the swimming hole. Ben told us that above the waterfall more pools were to be found, so we were on a mission to find them. Hiking up following along the river we found even more lovely waterfalls completely empty from people. Natural swimming pools without a crowd in a jungle forest was the best we could imagine to happen!
Nature wise the country is definitely awesome. We have seen the tropical forests with waterfalls to exotic white beaches with falling coconuts. Truthfully, we never felt really excited about the people or culture of the country. But being together has been perfect – traveling the Dominican alone is something we both don’t feel attracted to. We don’t have intentions to go back to the Dominican Republic but we know that if it would happen someday, Samana will be a place to revisit!
Stay tuned for our post about the wonderful Costa Rica, which already found a place in our heart!
And as always,
from our hearts to yours,