DuDu Lake and Blue Lagoon
Without a doubt one of the local attractions not to be missed and an opportunity to swim in crystal clear and cold fresh water as against going to the beach to swim in the warm sea. Located about 10 minutes by car from Cabrera, on the road to Nagua, and shortly after you pass the turning for Playa Diamante you will see a large sign on your right advertising the entrance to DuDu and the Blue Lagoon. If you miss it and reach the turn off to La Entrada, turn round and go back. There are in fact three lakes or lagoons here although it seems only two are for swimming and cave diving.
DuDu is a cenote, or sinkhole and there is some doubt over its actual depth. Some say 107 feet whilst others suggest the bottom has yet to be determined. There is also a question mark over the name DuDu. One suggestion is that a Taino Indian of that name lived in a cave close to the lake which can also be explored while you are visiting the lakes.
There are no changing facilities here, although there is now a restaurant and snack bar on the site, so it is best to arrive in your swimming gear. It is about 10 meters down to the water which has very easy access with cement stairs going down to the water’s edge and is a very popular tourist attraction and local hangout so you will find people are jumping in from all over the place and swimming. One favorite is to grab onto the rope swing from the wide stone ledge and you can swing out and drop into the clear cool waters.
It is also recognized as the only place where you can do cave diving from one natural lake to another natural lake, so it is very popular with divers who practice this sport. Here the visibility is an astonishing 50 meters (160+ ft). The two lakes are connected by two massive underwater tunnels about 200 meters long and a third cave takes you into a spectacular underground dome naturally decorated by limestone stalagmites and stalactites still gradually building up over the years. The Caverns offer a number of different eco systems, natural beauty just waiting to be discovered. If you are swimming don’t be surprised to find a team of divers surfacing around you while you swim.
For diving once geared up it is easier to swim on the surface to the far left side and the beginning of a very large tunnel which goes in about 100 meters and has a large air dome at 50 meters. To the right against the wall you will notice an area of broken down slabs and a warning sign, tie in to the cavern line and go through the restriction; you will then get to the cave’s mainline which is right in the halocline.
The first part of the cave features a very large and tall main tunnel that has many dark tannic stained decorations; one column is over 10 meters high; the maximum depth here is 20 meters. At the end of this tunnel there is a steep slope that goes up to about 6 meters and the line here makes a sharp left turn and there is an air pocket with breathable air to the right.
Continuing on the mainline the cave gets lower and you will pass through with a series of weird dark stalactites before the tunnel opens up again. The rest of the dive has no decorations and is generally shallower with an average depth of only 6-7 meters.
After swimming for about 45 minutes you eventually get to the end of the line which goes up to another entrance called Cueva de Lilly.
Coming back out you can swim around the cenote to the left and dive the cavern zone which consists of two more tunnels that lead to the third entrance, Pozo de los Caballos, before turning back toward the stairs. The cavern zone is quite grandiose and well worth it with huge shellfish encrusted stalactites and very unusual water colors.
Entrance to DuDu and the Blue Lagoon is not expensive. If you are Dominican it is only RS$50 (about $1.50) but visitors pay double at RS$100 (a bit less than $3)
You can see more photos of DuDu and the Blue Lagoon in our Photo Gallery
The waterfall is quite high, although the pool is fairly small, and is very popular with the local children and frequently visited by the local tour guides who bring visitors to see this local attraction.
Youngsters enjoy climbing up the waterfall to various levels and jumping into the pool below which is not very deep so in some respects is quite dangerous. Some will seek a few pesos or a couple of dollars from visitors to watch them leap into the pool from the top of the waterfall which is quite a feat. Access to the pool requires descending a steep and slippery pathway so sensible foot ware is recommended.
Gri Gri Lagoon is a fresh water lagoon located in the town of Rio San Juan, just 20 minute from Cabrera and another of the local attractions well worth a visit. Just turn right at the traffic lights as you reach the town and continue straight on and you will reach it. From here you can take a boat trip through the mangrove forests which form a canopy over your head for most of journey through its various channels. Here you will see a wide variety of tropical birds in the trees and tree frogs in the roots and the water is full of fish clearly visible in the water. There are beautiful reefs and caves that are unique to this area, such as the “Cave of the Swallows”.
This winding waterway leads to one of the nicest beaches in the area, El Caleton; coming onto this beach you enter through a stone arch on the reef. This cove has a crystal clear ocean pool “La Piscina” where you can enjoy a swim in the warm sea.
Rio Damajagua and the 27 Waterfalls
The Twenty Seven water falls on the Rio Damajagua have probably existed since the beginning of time but it was not until the mid 1990’s that the first tourists begun to visit them. Although quite a distance from Cabrera, on the road from Puerto Plata to Navarette, this amazing natural treasure is well worth the trip and makes the Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica seem tame and small by comparison.
Well over 50,000 visitors a year visit the falls to enjoy sliding down the slopes and plunging into the pools. Most visitors arrive as part of an organized excursion and climb up to the 7th waterfall with a tour guide before coming back down. Although this is a good way to visit the falls if you are not familiar with the area the drawback is that you only go up a quarter of the way and miss the remaining higher 20 falls.
Visiting just the seven falls will take about 2 to 3 hours whereas exploring and enjoying all 27 needs something around 4 to 5 hours for a group of 5 to 7 people. To visit all the waterfalls you need to come on your own, either by hire car or taxi, and, as with the organized excursions, you must be accompanied by an authorized guide. One point to note is that children under eight years of age can only climb to the first waterfall.
Just some of the incredible sights you will be able to enjoy are:-
This waterfall falls through a domed roof and gives a fantastic massage. This is the 7th level where the majority of the tourists arriving in excursions have to turn back. For the more adventurous, there are 20 more still to come
Legend has it that Flor Trejo was an old farmer who used to have a small plantation on the mountainsides near Rio Damajagua. One day he went to visit his favorite waterfall carrying a bundle of bananas. As he was walking over a fallen tree he slipped, and instead of dropping the bananas to save himself, he fell with them to the bottom of the waterfall. Only problem was he didn’t know how to swim and nearly drowned.
The Last One (or really the First One)
It really is the last one. Enjoy the view of the source of Rio Damajagua and the Tarzan like vine swing above. If you’re feeling brave, you can jump (over 30 feet) from the root of the tree overhanging the cliff.
Today the 27 Waterfalls is a protected area, a “Natural Monument”, and those who manage it are dedicated to preserving the beautiful park and helping the local community. A percentage of every entrance fee goes into a community fund to be directly invested in the surrounding communities.
More information and photos of the 27 Waterfalls can be found on 27 Charcos website