Playa Bonita Family-Style, Dominican Republic

Playa Bonita

My apartment in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic is so crazy close to Playa Bonita (Beautiful Beach) but, unfortunately, the new complex that I’m staying in has cut off access. Now, in order to get over there, you have to take a taxi in the opposite direction into and then through town, up to the highway, and back down on the other side of the ridge that my apartment is next to. It’s a 20-minute ride or an hour and a half walk. But it’s so close! I really wanted to find this trail and scope it out before some family members came for a visit.

Sneaky sneaky

Well, I found this trail, and it’s a great story! Click here to check it out! Now that I’ve done it once, I’m an expert… right? You see, they warned me I shouldn’t go if I spot anyone hanging out by the start of the trail. Now here is the rub. This trail recently got a lot of traction on social media when a local hiking club mentioned using it and people found out it exists. I’ve watched a lot of activity in the area. But… my family traveled all the way from the middle of the United States for just a brief trip. I’m determined to show them all the things this area has to offer. Must be stealth!

Mrs. ItchyFeet ready for an adventure
I’m prepared for the hike to Playa Bonita!

We meet up at my place relatively early to beat the heat and other humans and head for the trail. Some folks are working near the trail-head, so we quietly sneak behind them all secret-secret-like. Go us! We make it up the trail to the first intersection and head to the left. Almost in the clear when a gentleman on his cell phone spots us and stops our progress. After explaining where we are heading, there is a bunch of back and forth with us speaking English and him speaking Spanish.

Do we have to go back? Can we keep going just this once? Tip? Pesos? Oh… you would like money for us to cross your land? That’s fair, but how much? He won’t say. We produce 50 DR pesos (about USD $1) and he frowns at us but decides it is sufficient. After that bit of drama is over with, we keep heading into the woods. The trail is pretty well marked at this point, but there are a few downed trees to scramble over. It’s really lovely though.

Mrs. ItchyFeet and family on Playa Escondida
This is Playa Escondida on the way to Playa Bonita. Shoes off!

Shoes on… shoes off… shoes back on… shoes off again…

The trail is not well suited for flip-flops (‘thongs’ for my friends from Oz). However, once you get to the beach, there are some spots along the beach where you are forced to get your feet wet in the sandy surf. Two options: wear boat shoes/sturdy sandals that can get wet or take off your tennis-shoes for each of the three beaches and put them back on for the scraggly rock hiking parts. Challenge! It’s hard putting on socks and shoes when your feet are all sandy and wet.

One section of beach we tried to avoid by walking in the mangroves situated around it. This is when we came across a cluster of hermit-crabs in a wide variety of shells. Different sizes and colors and shapes. They cluster for protection and to exchange shells as they outgrow their current ones. So much fun to see, but now I’m freaking out about stepping on one of these little guys. They are very tiny and look a bit like pebbles. Don’t steal shells from the beach as these critters need them!

There’s one final rock scramble before we hit Playa Bonita. Shoes back on! However, there is a small river crossing to get to all the restaurants and fancy resorts. Off with the shoes! The wind is up so surf is also up. Playa Bonita truly is beautiful, but it also has a lot larger waves than Playa Ballenas, which makes it popular with surfers. It’s pretty cool to see it crashing onto the beach and people getting happily pummeled. It’s too rough for me, but my aunt is definitely contemplating playing in it after lunch.

Surfs up!

After walking in the sand for a bit, I head up to the flat cobblestone malecón that makes its way along the crescent bay. Shoes back on! We walk along, checking out the architecture of the resorts and the landscaping around the restaurants, all the while watching surfers enjoying the waves. That classic Caribbean-blue water is just amazing.

Mrs. ItchyFeet on Playa Escondida
Playa Escondida is gorgeous and very secluded.

We turn back after the dramatic point that separates Playa Bonita from the next beach over. It’s time for lunch and I know just the place. This time I checked to make sure they were open, so I have that going for me. I hope the food is good as the owner of my apartment rental recommended this beach bar. A bit expensive, but the views are amazing. Turns out the food is delicious as well.

After lunch, we stopped by a bar to grab some drinks to-go and headed for some beach loungers. Off with the shoes! My aunt finally got to play in the surf while we enjoyed our cocktails. That surf was rough, and she got taken out a few times. I had a blast lounging and people watching. They have a surf school there and I think some kids were getting lessons. Now that is fun to watch!

View from lunch spot on Playa Bonita
It doesn’t get much better than this!

Is that dog leading us to safety?

When it’s finally time to head back, we make our way along the beach and through the shallow river toward the wooded trail home. Shoes back on! Once we got to Playa Escondida, an older dog barking with excitement greeted us. Did Timmy fall down a well!?! Do we need to save your owner!?! Are you leading us to safety!?! Why are you barking!?! If only you could talk!

The dog is super cute and friendly and cuddly and gives us all the licks. She’s a bit shy and does not like sudden movements. A submissive belly-rub shows that they have tattooed her after being spayed. She must be owned by someone? She has a hurt hip or has torn her ACL or maybe arthritis? Limping along, she clearly wants us to follow her. We continue following her along the trail, heading home, and she keeps barking and wagging her tail at each turn.

Mrs. ItchyFeet under palm trees
Don’t look up. Coconuts are dangerous!

She led us the entire way back. I figured she would bail once we reached our complex. My aunt and uncle headed on to their condo and I thought maybe she would follow them. She stuck right with me. Curious. I really thought she would ditch me the second she saw the ridiculous amount of stairs to my apartment, especially with that bum hip. Nope. She grumbled a bit but made the climb.

Must render aid!

I’m from the States. You spot a hurt, abandoned dog; you render aid and try everything you can to find their owner. So, of course, I gave her some water and a bit of food. She ate the fried eggs but refused to touch the cereal I had sprinkled on top. She must not be that hungry… or my corn flakes are gross? The neighbors’ cats stopped by to investigate the new guest and my offerings to her. They partook in a bit of egg but refused the cereal as well. Whatever.

Dog under my outdoor table
This doggo led me all the way home from Playa Escondida! She was tired.

The neighbors suggested I check social media to see if anyone was missing a cute doggo. No mentions, so I posted that we found her. I received a lot of snarky comments congratulating me on my new dog, all the while suggesting she is likely a street dog, as there is no collar. Well… probably shouldn’t have fed her at my place. Live and learn. Pretty quickly, she figured out that a lot of the neighbors leave food out for the street cats (cat food is expensive, so some buy dog food instead).

My apartment does not allow pets, so I was both relieved and sad when she eventually took off for what I can only assume were discarded pizza crusts on the beach. There are a lot of dogs down there (and a lot of pizza joints!) and they all seem very nice. I hope that hip heals fast. Stay safe pup!

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