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Hidden Gem at Guayacanes Beach

by Yasser Ogando

Jan 15, 2024

Hello, fellow travelers!

I hope you’re reading this as you ease into the slower season after the holidays. After a much-needed vacation, I’m finally sharing one of my new favorite places in the Dominican Republic. I’m picking up where I left off in this blog; I’ve been back for a week and am clearly having the Caribbean blues. Let’s get into it … .

Despite being a busy and bustling city, Santo Domingo offers its citizens and tourists the flexibility of escaping to the beach on any given day. For us, this was a random Monday in October.

There are plenty of options to choose from when going to the beach in Juan Dolio; and though most of the beaches are located within walking distance of the settlements or main tourist attractions, they all offer a different experience. The beautiful views of palm trees and turquoise waters remain the common denominator for all.

Playa Juan Dolio and Boca Chica were the beach towns I visited the most growing up — Boca Chica had calm and shallow waters that allowed our parents to relax while we swam. Alas, it was always overcrowded with visitors and vendors alike — loud and overwhelming. Juan Dolio, on the other hand, was a longer drive from the east side of the city but a beautiful escape to what felt like a resort. The beaches are cleaner, better for swimmers and surrounded by beautiful properties.

Having been to Hemingway Beach a couple of times during recent trips, we asked for recommendations of quiet beaches we could drive to that time of the day, and my uncle recommended Playa Esmeralda. We took his advice and ventured out to Guayacanes, a small fishing village located between Boca Chica and Juan Dolio.Dominican Republic

Playa Esmeralda Beach Resort offers its visitors a private beach experience by allowing them to access the beach through the former hotel at no cost. You see, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the business found itself in a tight spot when all travel and tourism stopped and strict curfews were enforced in the country. With lockdown and curfew mandates lifted but travel still not resumed, the business opened again, but this time providing parking and access to the beach and restroom facilities for no fee other than requiring guests to purchase food and beverage offered by the resort’s restaurant. This move allowed them to reposition themselves and keep the business afloat.

We arrived after 4 p.m. We parked and walked through the lobby, admiring the palm trees and classic colonial infrastructure. The hotel itself was mysterious, grand and beautiful — like something from a Wes Anderson film. As for the beach, my uncle wasn’t kidding, it truly felt like a private beach. This isn’t the typical beach to lie on the sand and tan or play sports on. There is a little space to do so, but there are also lots of tables and cabanas, so it does have a more quiet, adult vibe.

Nathan and I were more than happy to “have” to eat and drink, and he eagerly ordered a Presidente while I opted for a refreshing strawberry smoothie. We started off with some fresh seafood appetizers and planned what we were going to get for the main course but decided to wait to order it. And good thing we did — between the conch fritters and the mini fried plantain bowls with a mixture of fish, scallops, shrimp and other seafood, we were full in no time. Although we didn’t get to stay long at Playa Esmerelda, it was such a nice, peaceful respite during a busy trip. And what a sunset!Dominican Republic

I returned during my most recent visit in December; this time with my mom, brother and other family members; and, boy, did we have fun!Dominican Republic

If you decide to wander off and make a quick detour to a beach, just learn from us and bring a towel! It was a very damp car ride back into the city. Well worth it, though.

— Yasser Ogando, executive director, media


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