Exploring the Dominican Republic’s parks
Question: I am heading down to the Dominican Republic for business and I will be staying at the Decameron Beach and Resort Club. I have not been able to find any information on-line regarding this resort. I would also like to know if there are some good outdoor spots I need to hit while down there. I seem to remember hearing something about a
national park or two. Thanks for your help. Best regards.
New York, NY
Adventure Adviser: First, some nuts-and-bolts info about the Decameron: It’s a sizeable, 280-room beachfront hotel on Playa Juan Dolio, an up-and-coming
tourist destination with a funky undercurrent on the island’s south shore. I’ll spare you the room rate information since you won’t be picking up the tab, but I will give you their phone number, 809-529-8531, so can you call them for more details.
An easy 20-minute drive from the international airport, Juan Dolio is also conveniently located not too far from the National Park of the East, a dry forest with limestone rock and gently rolling hills in the southeast corner of the country. Park access is through either the west entrance, near Bayahibe, or the east, just outside of Boca del Yuma. Both have ranger stations
that can provide guided treks to, or information on, bat- and owl-infested caves, thin stretches of sandy beach, and coastal hiking trails.
Saona Island, a few miles offshore, is also part of the park and has two tiny villages and several cross-island hiking trails. If you go, keep your eyes open for the endemic lizard-cuckoo, wood storks, and black-cowled orioles; be aware that there are no visitor’s facilities on the island, nor any food or shelter for wayward nature-seekers. And the mosquitoes can be
As for water sports, a good bet for snorkeling and scuba diving in the area is La Caleta Marine Park, west of your hotel in the immediate vicinity of the airport. A big draw for divers is the wreck of the Hickory, a ship that was sunk deliberately to create an artificial reef to help restock the fish-depleted waters.
Dive trips should be arranged through your hotel, as park facilities and equipment are limited. You also may want to check with your hotel for deep-sea fishing trips from the marina at Boca del Yuma. A good bet for sailing is the Sailing Club of Santo Domingo, about 45 minutes east of the city in Boca Chica. For additional details, I suggest speaking to island experts at
your hotel and calling the National Parks Department at 809-685-1316.