News on Dominican Republic Life, Tourism and Real Estate

a blog on Dominican Republic news, attractions, villa rentals and real estate in the North coast towns of Sosua, Cabarete and Puerto Plata

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The first 100 blog posts were published between June and August 2011 but due to a technical issue we had to republish them with a new url - links in external sites had to be replaced.

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    Eco Friendly Tourism is growing fast in the Dominican Republic

    The Dominican Republic `s protected areas receive an average of 800,000 visitors each year that come to enjoy the beauty and natural scenery including beaches and mountains.  This is fueling a segment of the  Dominican  economy as never before, and prompting investments in the North and East coasts such as the  newest  ecologically friendly Monkey Park in Sosua, Puerto Plata and the two marine themed park in Cofresi ( Ocean World ) and Bavaro ( Manatí Park ).

    Built within El Choco national park, the Monkey Jungle offers zip lining adventures within a monkey sanctuary surrounded by mountains and lush green areas. The owner built this park attraction in order to finance a clinic for poor children in the area.  The first zip lining tour and the most successful in the area is Yasika Adventures, closer to Cabarete than Sosua.

    Monkey Jungle is the first of its kind in the island.

    One of the oldest eco tours in the Dominican Republic  takes some endurance to complete, and it is the highest mountain in the island, The famous Pico Duarte. Pico Duarte is the highest peak in all the Caribbean islands. It lies in the Cordillera Central range, the greatest of the  Dominican   Republic's  mountain chains. It stands at 3, 140 meters high and named after the biggest hero and forefather of the country, Juan Pablo Duarte. A trip to El Pico is an adventure most  Dominicans  love to take, partially on foot and on donkeys. There is a well-maintained system of trails leading up to the summit, with trailheads at several locations The easiest access is from the town of La Ciénega, near Jarabacoa. The trail is 23.1 km (14.4 miles) to the summit, with a total elevation change of 1,977 meters, and a shelter 5 km away from the summit.

    Other names in the ecofriendly business of the North coast are Rancho Montana and Outback Safari, which offer tours to mountainous areas of the  Dominican   Republic  crossing rivers and usually ending in a farm like compound with farm animals, horses and traditional cooking. Some of the tourists that rent Sosua villas book ecotrips in advance, showing the interest for being closer to nature when vacationing the Caribbean island of  Dominican   Republic . Real estate boomed in the North coast towns because of all the natural attractions of the area.

    Areas such as La Boca in Cabarete offer river jungle tours where visitors get to see  Dominican  birds in their natural habitat, ending the tour in a small “zoo” that holds local fauna such as the  Dominican  Hawk, local vultures, Crocodiles, iguanas, pythons and other more common local birds. Iguana Mama is one of the largest eco tours operators in Cabarete, with a very well organized structure and a wide range of options including biking, hiking, rafting, kite boarding, kayaking and a lot of other extreme tours.

    An already known and well documented eco tour takes place in Samana, at the North eastern part of the  Dominican   Republic , whale watching. This is perhaps the most rewarding experience, one that inspires respect for nature as the viewer is mesmerized by the sheer size of those wonderfully large, friendly mammals. Eco tourism seems to be growing in the  Dominican   Republic  because of the laws protecting the environment, something that most people hope will remain enforced for much longer into the future generations.  Many foreigners and locals have turned their fincas (farms) into eco sanctuaries such as Tubagua from Tim Hall, and Rancho Luisa in Veragua.

    Some of the activities at Rancho Luisa include horseback riding tours,  dominican  traditional cooking and a taste of jungle living.

    For horse riding lovers there`s a variety of choices including the classic Sea Horse Ranch, which is mainly for professional riders of very fine horses, and the more adventure type ones as Rancho Luisa and El Paraiso Del Caballo ( this one located in El Choco ).  Several other horseback riding tours are available through various agencies in Sosua, Cabarete and Puerto Plata, and can be done in the beach. One of the best ecofriendly tours that most of the time is associated with beach resorts is snorkeling and diving. Sosua holds the top place in the North coast due to its large number of diving spots, and recently there was a government plan in place that introduced man made reefs into some areas that are now full of colorful tropical fish. Having shifted its economy in the past 30 years from the previous model of sugar cane production and free zone into a tourism destination and telecommunication –based outsourcing, the  Dominican Republic now finds its true self using the best of its land.

    The humpback whales visit the island in March for over 6 months.

    The data is contained in the book "Protected areas of the  Dominican   Republic , pure nature", by José Manuel Mateo Feliz and Adolfo López Belando, work done with support from the Vicini Group and the Institute of Geography and History of the Organization American States (OAS). The authors note that eco-tourism is mainly developed in protected areas, providing a space to promote full contact with nature.  Land conservation offers opportunities for recreation and observation of landscapes, birds, recreation and environmental education. Within the six categories of protected area management are the natural and cultural monuments, of which the country has 28 with an area of ​​634.94 square kilometers, according to the study of Matthew and Lee. A natural and cultural monument is an area that contains one or more natural features and / or cultural groups of outstanding or unique value for its inherent rarity, representative or aesthetic qualities or cultural significance.

    Diving in places like Sosua can be an exhilarating experience with diving sites in wrecks, reefs and caves.

    In his research, Matthew and Lee detailed 19 natural monuments. This is the Cabo Francés Viejo, Salto El Limón, Dunes in Bani, Mahogany, Catalina Island, Cabarete and Goleta, Loma Isabel de Torres, Pico Diego de Ocampo, Cumayasa River and  Wonderland  Caves, and water hole hopping Damajagua. Also he detailed the characteristics of the monuments Loma La Altagracia, Cape Samana, San Juan River Rain Forest, Caves of Anthropological Reserve Bourbon or El Pomier, Cerro de San Francisco, Los caching, Miguel Domingo Fuerte, Los Tres Ojos.

    The cordillera Central is a mountain chain that crosses the island diagonally, and it is where Pico Duarte ( El Pico ) is located. Green areas and sevral national parks nearby make it a unique eco tour.

    The monument of Cabo Frances, located in the province of Maria Trinidad Sanchez (Cabrera), is a small promontory jutting into the northern coast of the island with a linear line of 5 miles between coasts, reefs and beaches. From the top of the cliff it has a broad vision of great scenic beauty of the coastal marine area.  From the coastline, humpback whale watching is possible in the months of January to March. At the Salto El Limon in Samana the most remarkable element is a cascade or waterfall of 40 meters. It houses a large population of the endemic flora that also provides refuge for unique bird species native of the island. Water production is a vital element in this protected area, including Arroyo Chico, which is the one that feeds the waterfall, which is the emblem of the monument.

    The sand Dunes located in the province Peravia (Bani ) includes spectacular dunes, only seen in the island of  Dominican   Republic  in the Caribbean.  It also contains a number of wetlands on the coast of the bay of Las Calderas. The tour of the dunes is impressive and is facing a large-scale beach lapped by the Caribbean Sea. A lot of Flamingos are part of the local fauna. The visit to the protected area can yield interesting vies of the  dry forest that grows behind the beach and dunes, with all their associated fauna. The coastal lagoons are large areas of mangroves also of great importance for the conservation of biodiversity, for researchers and visitors who come to the protected area.

    A beautiful small piece of land, The Catalina is a small island six miles long with 500 meters sea strip. It is located in the province of La Romana. It has large sand dunes and is a nesting of several species of sea turtles.  The coastal zone includes coral reefs that form a cliff 60 meters deep. Also you can dive into the wreck of the pirate ship that is attributed to the legendary English Captain Kidd. The monument of the Cave of Wonders, in the province of San Pedro de Macoris, includes a cave with rock art, considered one of the most important in the Caribbean. This cave has important archaeological value that draws interest because of the presence of about 300 pre-Columbian paintings.

    The caves of Las Maravillas in La Romana, Dominican Republic have an impressive set of high ceilings and light reflections that might be almost unique in the world.

    In the beach towns of Sosua and Cabarete there`s El Choco National Park with its caves and the Cabarete Lagoon.

    Sosua beach in the Northern Province of Puerto Plata offers some of the best spots for tourists and locals to relax.


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    Leatherback turtles nest on the beach in Cabarete, Puerto Plata

    Two leatherback turtles  (Dermochelys coriacea), one of the four species that nest in the island of Dominican Republic, laid eggs in two nests on the  beach in Cabarete, Puerto Plata, said the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARENA). It is expected that most of these animals come ashore to spawn. Technicians from the Coastal and Marine Resources Office inspected the  Cabarete beach and found two nests separated by a distance of 800 meters apart and 10 meters high from the tide, which had been protected with a fence of wood and rope, placed by members of the community, the Navy, Politur and Ministry of Tourism.

    Environmental technicians formed a protection committee, with all the materials needed to reinforce the perimeter of the nests as it is expected that more turtles  arrive to this beach . The committee is composed of Jose Sanchez, coast inspector of the Dominican Navy and Miguel Gómez from Military Intelligence, Lorenzo Zancazanis, Joseph A. Arias, Nelson Nivar, John Vine, Vine Celina, Christian Azar, Marino Peralta, the  Cabarete   beach  vendors Association, among others, who will be in contact with the Directorate for Protection, Monitoring and Control of Marine and Coastal Resources to monitor these  nests.

    The photo above shows the large leatherback  turtle  surrounded by a crowd  in   Cabarete , back in May 2008 and a male in open water.

    Back in May 2008 the leatherback  turtles  surprised the community of  Cabarete  by  nesting  in  the   beach , drawing media attention and soon becoming distinguished guests of the community. The leatherback  turtle  (tinglar in the Dominican Republic) is the Dermochelyidae family. In English is called Leatherback  Turtle , in French Tortue Luth. It is the largest sea  turtle  and also more specialized. The front legs, transformed into broad flippers, have a wingspan of more than 3 m to a carapace length of 2 m and a weight exceeds 500 kg. The hind legs, short and broad, reminiscent of the seals, and are attached to the short tail with a leathery expansion.

    But the most striking character of the leatherback  turtle  is its shell, which consists of small independent bone flakes, covered with a thick skin. The shell has a rubber texture, about 4 cm thick and is made up of strong connective tissue saturated with oil. The young are covered with small scales, which resemble those of many lizards, but are shed with age. They are mostly black on the back but the fins have white margins, and have lines of white scales along the back. On average, measuring about 61.3mm long and weighing 45.8 g. Leatherbacks travel much greater distances in the ocean than the other marine  turtles . It is assumed that in one year, they migrate from South America to the northeastern United States and then return to their starting point.

    The turtles  hatched in 2008 and were a sensation in Cabarete beach, the photos here show the small creatures popping out of the sand.

    The leatherback forages in cold waters, able to withstand temperatures of 6 º C - 15 ° C. It has also been recorded that this  turtle  can reach up to 1200 m below sea level and at that depth, water temperature is rarely above 5 º C, even in tropical regions. Unlike almost all living reptiles, leatherback is endothermic, maintaining a body temperature of around 25 º C. They feed mainly on pelagic invertebrates such as jellyfish and tunicates, pelagic crustaceans and juvenile fish. A kind of rear-facing spines that are in the throat, help them to swallow jellyfish. The main  nesting   beaches  are on the Pacific coast of Mexico, the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, French Guiana, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. They also spawn in smaller amounts in Veracruz, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Colombia, Windward and Leeward Islands and Guyana.

    VIDEO: The hatchlings going into the ocean

    The main threats facing the leatherback vary from one region to another but can be summarized in:

         -  Habitat loss, due to the marketing of tropical  beaches  (especially tourism) and industrialization.

         -  By catch by fishing nets, causing it to suffocate.

         -  Pollution caused by industry in tropical waters and heavy industry in cold waters used for migration.

         -  Human predation: In many countries, the leatherback population is threatened by uncontrolled harvesting of their eggs. This is due to various cultural beliefs in relation to eggs.
            In several countries, the leatherback  turtle  is hunted for food. For example, in the Kei Islands (southwest of New Guinea, Maluku Province of Indonesia), leatherback  turtles  are regularly hunted as a food source.

     Cabarete  beach is world famous for its windy bay that attracts Wind and Kite surfing enthusiasts all year long from all over the world. Golden Treasures Real Estate and Rentals is dedicated to promoting eco tourism and the protection of all marine species in the North coast in order to preserve this legacy for present and future generations. With the constant growth in the villa rental and real estate market of the area, it`s imperative that strict guidelines are enforced in order to protect all natural habitats for the marine species such as the Dermochelys coriacea, also called Tinglar and Laud  turtle .

    Trips from Sosua and Puerto Plata should be arranged to the  nesting  site in order to show children and adults some awereness and respect for nature. Also, people at  Cabarete   beach  must know to make silence when the hatchlings come out, so they can hear the ocean sounds and guide their first trip to the water more efficiently. It is believed that  turtles  rely on ocean sound and vibration ( some say they also use magnetic poles orientation too ) to find the way to the ocean after cracking the eggs. Also, no need to touch and cause stress to these beautiful animals.

    The Dermochelys coriacea species is the longest living and the deepest diving one of all  turtles . Click to view larger.

    SOURCES: turtles /leatherback.htm turtle


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