Cabarete & Sosua, Nature Nearby
Exploring Nature on the North Coast
The sailor & dreamer, Christopher Columbus, discovered the island more than five hundred years ago, and called it a “wonder of nature”. One thing we know for certain, Christopher Columbus had great vision.
The Dominican Republic is an island paradise, but the North Coast is definitely another level of special. In our corner of paradise, you will see greenery everywhere, and if not greenery, then a brilliant palette of color splashed into all kinds of flowers: flowering shrubs, flowering vines, and flowering trees. We’re not sure, but it just might be a natural law that wherever you stay or live on the North Coast, at least one palm tree will be growing in your backyard.
On a road trip, with a good mountain view, you’ll be surprised at the variety of landscapes you might see, from roller coaster peaks and valleys, to farmland, to turquoise ocean edged by champagne-colored ribbons of sand.
We’ll focus on exploring nature near Cabarete and Sosua, and around the north coast, with suggestions for exploring elsewhere around the country.
Green, Amber, and Silver Coasts
The north coast of the Dominican Republic is known by three names, the Green, Amber & Silver Coasts: Green for the lush flora & fauna along the entire coast, Amber for the rich amber deposits that flush out with the rivers, and Silver for the name Christopher Columbus gave to Puerto Plata, or Silver Port. He named it so thanks to a plant growing along the shore (Peperomia Caperata Variegate). The silver reflections from its leaves made him think there was treasure to find. In the end, he did find it. Not a treasure chest, but a land of full of green gold, and where he landed was richest of all.
Beaches of the North Coast
In the Dominican Republic we have over 200 miles of beaches, but the rare thing is that each one is unique; you won’t be able to say that Playa Dorada looks like Sosua Bay. You won’t see the same beach twice in a different setting. Along the north coast beaches, while interesting shells can be found, the most exciting find is amber. After storms and sudden rainfall, the amber gets washed out to sea in the rivers, and returns with the tides.
Most popular nearby beaches: Dorada, Sosua Bay, Santa/Alicia, Encuentro, Cabarete Bay, Punta Rucia, Fronton, Grande, Magante, Caleton, Diamante, Rincon, Bonita, Preciosa, El Morro, El Valle.
In 2003, a nature turn-around happened in Sosua. A small inlet close to Sosua Bay was covered with water from the ocean and began to accumulate white sand. This has given tourists & locals a thrill, watching a new beach grow before their eyes right in town. It’s now a new beauty called Playa Alicia. Some Dominicans call it Playa Santa (Saint) because it appeared so suddenly, like a miracle. Normally, people think of erosion as taking away beaches, but nature also makes new ones.
Bahia de las Aguilas, Bahoruco, Macao, Punta Salinas, Bavaro, Boca Chica, Eagle Bay Beach, Palmar de Ocoa, Canto, San Raphael and many more..
-Cuevas de Cabarete y Goleta
-Cueva de las Golondrinas: Laguna Grigri
-Walk in & Dive Caves in Laguna Dudu
-Los Haitises, “San Gabriel”, “Linea cave”, “La Arena”
-El Coco Negro-Samana
-El Arbol & Pantano & Cueva de Games-Cabrera
-“San Franciso” one of the largest, in San Francisco de Macoris
Other Caves: Los Tres Ojos in Santo Domingo and the most popular, an 800m walk-in cave, Cueva de las Maravillas in La Romana. It has existed for over 100,000 years and still stands perfectly today. The cave’s name matches it’s ambiance, because maravillas means wonders.
Cays (Keys) & Islands
-Cayo Arena: Punta Rucia
-Cayo Paraiso: Puerto Plata
-Cayo Levantado: Samana
Islands Elsewhere: Isla Saona, Beata & Catalina on the ocean, and Cabritos Island in the center of Lake Enriquillo
Lakes & Lagoons Near Sosua & Cabarete
-Lagunas (Lagoons): Dudu, Grigri, Cabarete, Azul, Redonda, Limon
For a cool look at Laguna Dudu and the dive cave also at the lagoon, take a peak at our zippy blog post HERE.
Exploring Elsewhere: Lago Enriquillo, in the SW, is the Dominican Republic’s famous landlocked hypersaline lake, below sea level as well. Compared to other islands surrounded by ocean, its shoreline is the lowest dry land found on earth. Here you’ll find the American Crocodile, and it represents one of the largest wild crocodile populations in the world.
Other lagoons to see are Laguna Salada & Azul & Oviedo.
Mountains Near the North Coast
Our mountains, also, set us apart. We are a big Caribbean country, and driving to one mountainous area or another, many reachable on day trips, is always a joy.
-El Morro: Monte Cristi
-Isabella De la Torres: Puerto Plata
-Guaconejo Hills: Nagua
-Loma de Cabrera
– Sierra de Samaná
-Sereno de la Montana: Moca
– Maria Trinidad Sanchez-Cabrera
-Cordillera Septentrional, North Coast Mountain rangeMore Mountains: the Cordillera Central Range, includes La Pelona(3094meters), La Rucilla(3049m), Pico Yaque(2760m), and the tallest mountain in the entire Caribbean: Pico Duarte(3098m). Exploring this mountain range makes for a special roadtrip, and a great way to cool off. One mountain after another, one bigger than the next, and then Pico Duarte, king of them all. The town of Jarabacoa, tucked into the Cordillera Central, is like the Black Forest of the Dominican Republic, with its cool temperatures, pine trees, & scenery. It’s also a meeting point for the biggest river systems in the country.
Museums Focused on Nature
-Amber Museum Puerto Plata
-Sea Salt Ponds: Monte Cristi, where salt is made
-Brugal Rum Factory, sugar cane grown all over the Puerto Plata region. The process of turning sugar cane into rum, while natural only in the beginning state, is worth watching.
Other Museums: Choco & Larimar & Archaelogical Museums. In the Choco Museum you will be able to find out how chocolate is made from the cacao plant. Larimar is our precious ocean-colored gem stone, and in its museum you will discover where it can be found, what it looks like, and how it is used. In the Archaelogical Museum, you’ll see how the indigenous Tainos lived, what tools they made and used from nature, like canoes built from large palm trees.
Natural Parks & Rainforests
The best of our rainforests have become natural parks.
The most famous of all the parks on the map below are Los Haitises & Isabella de las Torres. If you don’t have time to explore Los Haitises for the whole day, you can still see it if you drive to Santo Domingo via Nagua, where you will drive through an incredible view of the park. On Isabella de las Torres, there is much to see, from the Christ statue, to the botanical garden, to mountain, city, beach, and ocean views, the whole package all in one. Considering it’s Puerto Plata’s tallest mountain, it is an excellent place to cool off as well, especially if the clouds roll in while you’re there. Then, you might actually feel chilly!
Others Nearby:-Acuario Natural Kaio: Las Galeras Samana
-Emerald Coast: Rio San Juan, Laguna Dudu & Grigi, Cabo Frances, Caleton Beach
-Sanctuary for Indigenous & Migratory Birds, now considered a natural park
-Guaconejo Rainforest & Cacao Plantation Tour: San Francisco de Macoris
-Islabon Jungle River: mini zoo, boat ride on the river, just behind Cabarete
-Quita Espuela : San Franciso de Macoris
Parks & Rainforests Elsewhere: Ebano Verde Cloudforest in Constanza; Rio Blanco Rainforest, Bonao; Birdwatching Rainforest, Sierra de Bahoruco
Oceans, Reefs, & Diving
On the north coast we have the Atlantic Ocean, and in the south we have the Caribbean Sea. Diving in Sosua and Puerto Plata generally is an underwater photographer’s dream, with much beautiful sea life to explore. Some divers even expose the dream to others, like Bill Passmore, owner of Sosua Diving, whose photography exhibitions showcase his underwater adventures.
Most coral reefs of the Dominican Republic are fringing reefs, as you find when snorkeling just offshore. These always connect to mainland, but can extend out quite far. The country also has two barrier reefs, numerous patch reefs, and four large offshore banks.
-Dive with humpback whales & dolphins
-Dive to coral heads/reefs/canyons/caves/natural & artificial shipwrecks (some dating back to the 16 century)
-Yaque del Norte (largest river of DR), connected with the Mao River
-The Silver Bank Sanctuary: Protection of the Humpback whales in Samana
-Cayo Arena Marine Sancturary: Punta Rucia
-Monte Cristi Manatee Sanctuary
– Emerald Coast: Rio San Juan, protection of indigenous & migratory birds
-Monkey Jungle Sanctuary: Capuchin & Squirrel Monkeys, El Choco Sosua
Elsewhere: Oviedo Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary
-El limon & Lulu: Samana
-El Saltadero: Cabrera
-Ciguapa Falls: Puerto Plata
-Arroyo Blanco, Partido, Grande: Jamao
-Cascada Ojo de Agua: Gaspar Hernandez
Most Popular, The fabulous 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua: Puerto Plata. No one needs a waterpark if you have this, it’s like 27 jumping boards & water slides, each different from the other. Plus, no need for a towel: sun-dried is the way to go.
Salto de Jimenoa & Baiguate Salto Jarabacoa, you’ll see these in the Cordillera Central, near Jarabacoa. Farther south is Jima, in Bonao.
Eco Adventures: Do it yourself
The North Coast offers many options of where to go, what to do, and how to do it. The adventure lies in your hands. Hiking, Rafting, Mountain Biking, Catamaran, Snorkeling, Diving, Surfing, Safari, and so much more!
4 Fun Facts about Nature
1. In 1993, Jurasssic Park was filmed by the Chavon River, close to La Romana. As well, an opening scene was filmed at Salto de Jimenoa, one of Jarabacoa’s waterfalls. It’s not every day you get a chance to walk in the footsteps of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
2. The Dominican Republic is the only place in which you can find Larimar, a light blue gem stone
3. There are magnetic points near Barahona and Jamao! Put your car on neutral, and it will automatically go backwards, slow & gently, but still, incredible!
4. A plant called Mazanillo grows here. It is said that its extraction can be a form of cancer treatment (Eoteinascidina-743)