Playa Macao

Playa Macao

Panoramic view from Monte Redondo

Laguna Redonda from Monte Redondo

Playa Limon and Laguna Limon from Monte Redondo

Looking inland from Monte Redondo

Looking towards the coast

Panoramic view from Monte Redondo

Looking to the north

A shred of a rainbow in the sky

A picturesque spot for a swing

The little car that made it up the mountain

Small hut at the top of Monte Redondo

Colorful bushes line the road

The steep dirt road up the mountain

The steep and rocky dirt road

The steep and rocky dirt road

Playa Limon

Playa Limon

Playa Limon

A dirt track along the beach

Palm trees in the fading afternoon light

Horses walk through the palm trees towards the ocean

Playa Limon, Dominican Republic

A Deserted Stretch of Sand

March 7, 2015

And look for the stars as the sun goes down

Each breath that you take has a thunderous sound

Everything, everything's magic

- Angels and Airwaves

Not too far north of Bavaro the well-paved highway pares down to two lanes and there is substantially less development. The numerous resorts and tourist focused commercial plazas disappear and are replaced by open fields. The first beach on the road north is Playa Macao, reached via a short side road that passes through a small village before ending at a rather empty stretch of sand. The stretch of sand curves out into the water and fades into a rocky and point with a few houses visible on the hilltop. There is a small beach bar and restaurant at the end of the paved road while a sandy road continues further south to what appears to be a spot for tourists on afternoon excursions from the resorts in Bavaro.

Past Playa Macao traffic on the road drops off considerably and I would estimate that the men and kids on horseback riding along the side of the road probably outnumbered the passing cars during the drive. There are more scattered hills as the road winds its way north with the green hillsides speaking to the amount of rain and frequently changing weather patterns. Just past the village of El Cedro there is a turnoff to a rocky dirt track that leads up to the top of Monte Redondo. While normally meant for four wheel drive vehicles the fact that it had not rained recently made the track barely passable in the rental Kia Picanto with its underpowered 1.0 liter engine, in low gear with careful driving. The road was so narrow that had the car not been able to make it up the steep, rocky, and potholed track that there would have been no way to even turn around. The only alternative would have been to back all the way back down.

For all the trouble it was getting up there, the views at the top were certainly worth it. Perhaps because it is so difficult to get there we were the only people there and had a chance to enjoy the sweeping views in all directions. Far below were the two lagoons, Redonda and Limon, an open stretch of fields, and the palm tree lined beach at Playa Limon. The more mountainous interior of the country was also visible, along with gathering storm clouds that forecasted rain. At the top of the mountain there was a small hut with picnic tables, benches, hammocks, and swings for visitors to enjoy the marvelous views. We were even lucky enough to see a fraction of a rainbow appear in the sky.

After enjoying the views and glad that the trip back down the mountain would not be nearly as stressful, it was time to depart. The next stop was a few miles back down the road to reach Playa Limon, the same beautiful beach that we had seen from the top of the mountain. This beach was reached via another dirt road, however this road was mostly flat and save for a few puddles was relatively easy to traverse. It led to a rather strange hotel complex called Rancho de la Cueva. The multi-story hotel was very isolated, located near the end of this dirt road in a remote location and it seemed to cater mostly to local tourists by offering day trips to the surrounding area. Near Rancho de la Cueva was another hotel, this one larger, abandoned, and for sale, as well as a chocolate factory that was still under construction. Save for a few other houses there weren’t any other signs of civilization.

The beach was quiet and peaceful and except for the crashing of the surf there were no other sounds to be heard. The forests by the beach were inhabited by pigs and horses that ambled freely across the dirt road and through the trees. The beach, being wild and an unmanaged was sprinkled with red seaweed that served to highlight the long arc of sand bordered by palm trees on one side and the encroaching surf on the other. As the afternoon light faded, the shadows lengthened and the low angled rays streamed through the spaces in between the arrays of palm trees. In the evening, after a simple but nice meal, I was looking forward to seeing the stars under the darkness of the remote location but unfortunately the clouds did not cooperate, covering nearly the entire sky. For entertainment it was necessary to rely on something much more modern but also celestial, satellite TV.