Rio San Juan is the tourism jewel of the Dominican Republic’s North Coast

The town of “Rio San Juan,” on the country’s north coast, is surrounded by lush tropical forests and a beautiful coastline that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.

The town’s main attraction is the “Laguna Gri-Gri,” an incredibly beautiful lagoon surrounded by a spectacular mangrove forest. It is impossible to visit or pass through the town of “Rio San Juan” without stopping to take in the beauty of the lagoon.

The lagoon is situated a few yards from the impressive Atlantic Ocean.

It is the perfect spot for a fun-filled day, accompanied by family members or that special travel buddy.

Local kids use the branches of the mangrove trees as swings or catapults to dive into the crystal clear waters of the lagoon.

Visitors can hop on the boats found in the lagoon in order to take a peaceful and extremely beautiful ride down to the Cave of the Swallows, a beautiful grotto formed under nearby cliffs.

The boats will also stop in the shallow and crystal clear waters of Caleton Beach, one of the region’s most beautiful beaches.

Incredibly Beautiful Beaches

A few meters from the lagoon visitors will find the first of three pristine beaches. The first is the “Los Minos” beach, in honor of the family that has lived in the area for centuries.

The second is “Los Guardias” (The Guards) and the third beach is the “Los Muertos” (Beach of the Dead). This last beach takes its name from a nearby age-old cemetery.

These gold-sand beaches and turquoise blue waters are truly impressive and, by far, are one of the region’s best kept treasures.

Their beauty and peaceful surroundings make them the ideal destination for those who enjoy a quiet outing into nature.

By far, Caleton Beach is the region’s most popular destination.

The beach is surrounded by lush-green tropical vegetation and three nearby keys.

It is truly a picture-perfect Caribbean beach.

A short distance away is “Playa Grande,” an inlet of admirable beauty that has become a popular destination for national and international surfers. Its soft sand and clear blue waters make it the perfect place for an afternoon or early morning walk on the beach.

The beauty of this beach has attracted the attention of important investment companies such as the North Shore Land Holding and Playa Grande Holding.

Both are currently developing the Playa Grande luxury hotel, which also includes the nearby “Playa Preciosa” beach.

The project also includes the remodeling of the beautiful Playa Grande golf course, considered one of the best in the Caribbean. Another hotel is currently under construction by the Aman brand, a chain of luxury hotels.

The project also includes the building of beach structures to house the local beach vendors, who sell freshly caught fish and seafood.


The annual Rio San Juan carnival, known as the “Carnavarengue” is held in February and is one of the town’s most important cultural events. It is the country’s only marine-inspired carnival and honors the region’s fishing tradition. Musical events are held in the popular “Laguna Gri-Gri.”

Where to Eat?

“La Orquidea” Restaurant

This cozy restaurant will make you feel right at home. It is situated just steps from the “Laguna Gri-Gri” and nearby beaches. Options include traditional Dominican cuisine, including a wide variety of seafood dishes.

“Estrella Restaurant”

This is the perfect restaurant if you are looking to eat in the town’s downtown area. Its menu specializes in international and Dominican dishes, such as pasta, meats and seafood. Its famous river prawn dishes are famous throughout the area and highly recommended.

“El Carreton”

This is a good choice for visitors who prefer to grab a quick, but truly delicious, meal. The restaurant opens beginning at 4:00 p.m. and on Sundays at 3:00 p.m. Its sandwiches, hot dogs, quesadillas, tacos and other Mexican treats are delicious. It also offers guests wi-fi facilities.

Where to Stay?

Hotel Gran Bahia Principe

This is the region’s most important all-inclusive resort, offering guests exquisite hospitality services, comfortable rooms, four swimming pools, four restaurants, a spa and a large sports area which includes tennis, basketball and volleyball courts as well as a nine-hole mini golf area.

The hotel also features an exciting entertainment area, and coordinates local tours to the “Laguna Gri-Gri,” kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, snorkeling and diving lessons.

Bahía Blanca

This 21-room hotel, offers visitors spectacular views of nearby “Los Minos” and “Los Guardias” beaches. Its restaurant serves breakfast and dinner, and its beachfront bar is the perfect spot for enjoying the beautiful sunsets of the region. It is a great choice for those guests looking for a more intimate and friendly atmosphere.

Villas and Apartments

Some locals rent comfortable rooms in their own homes that can be rented at extremely low rates. More information on these rentals are easily available at the “La Orquidea” Restaurant, overlooking the “Laguna Gri-Gri.

Text: Anya Duran
Photographs: Maximo Zorrilla

This post is also available in: Spanish, Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese

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