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Gri Gri Lagoon and Playa Caleton | Things to Do in the Dominican Republic

Who doesn’t like a Sunday drive?

I love getting in the car and taking off for a day of adventure, just to see where we end up!.   There are so many cool places to go in the Dominican Republic, and a whole bunch of them are just a short drive away from our house.  Yesterday, we went east – past Cabarete about an hour down the road.  Our drive included a tropical, seaside highway; lunch by a small lagoon and marina; and then a sunny boat ride to a picture postcard beach.  Come along with us as we visit the Gri Gri Lagoon and Playa Caleton:

A Natural Phenomenon – The Gri Gri Lagoon


This picturesque lagoon used to be just a natural spring that met the ocean through a small stream.  1958, a small earthquake caused the underground water to rise to the surface and thus created what is now known as the Gri Gri Lagoon.  The interesting name comes from the gri gri trees (also called black olives) which are abundant in the area.  The wood from this tree is highly sought after since, although it is very tough to work with, it is also very resistant to fungi and termites.

Lunch along Gri Gri Lagoon

At lunch, our  restaurant overlooked the lagoon and the small marina of fishing and tour boats.  As many local DR restaurants do, this one specializes in local fare:  fried fish and chicken; tostones (plantains); rice and beans; and Presidente Beer.  The lagoon is part of the pretty town of of Rio San Juan.  This is a bustling little place on a Sunday:  neighours out visiting each other, restaurants busy with after church family groups, ice cream shops busily scooping cones and cups out for kids, and average every day real life playing out in a small Dominican Republic town on the north coast.  This has traditionally been a fishing, ranching and farming  village of 15,000 people, but tourism is starting make it’s way along the streets of Rio San Juan as well.

We opted for an afternoon boat tour which included a quick jaunt around the small lagoon and then went through a channel to the ocean. This pretty waterway is surrounded by a dense mangrove forest, and is a sanctuary for many kinds of birds including herons, vultures, kites, and doves which can be seen nesting high above your head on tall, tall trees.  I was encouraged to take pictures, but also warned to not open my mouth :).

A short boat ride along the shoreline bring you to the Swallows Cave.  This just a pokey little indent into the rock of the seawall, but it you time it right, you can see hundreds of swallows as they rest along the rocky ridges inside the cave.  The water in the cave is the prettiest of blues.

Playa Caleton



Taino HeadsThe tour ends at Playa Caleton, a lovely sheltered beach with tropical blue waters and tawny sand, very popular with Dominican families.  It’s been said that Caleton Beach looks more like a lake than an ocean, the calm waters are protected by the shape of the rocks that created it.  It’s a lovely little spot, and even the odd cement heads protruding from the rock to the right of the beach can’t take away from its charm.  These unique busts were created to pay homage to the original inhabitants of the island:  the Taino Indians.

If you do go, be sure and try a “Coco LoCo” – a hollowed out coconut filled with a rum concoction.  It’s a touristy thing, but hey!- when in Rome!

Interested in other things to do, or information about  the Dominican Republic, check out these links: