Love waterfalls? Crave adventure? Why not head to the Dominican Republic and experience both! We spent a day hiking and climbing in the hills outside Puerta Plata, which led us to the ultimate adventure – The 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua!
The 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua
What exactly are the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua? There was a misinterpretation of the translation some time ago. Instead of 27 waterfalls, this area actually has 27 pools located along the Rio Damajagua. Waterfalls splash into many of these pools. If you are physically active, love to be outside, and not afraid of a little adventure, this could be the perfect Caribbean activity for you!
There are many cruises that venture throughout the Caribbean. We did this activity during a stop at Amber Cove cruise port on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. This particular cruise was a Southwest Caribbean cruise on Carnival.
If you want the best experience, book directly through Iguana Mama! This excursion isn’t offered by many cruise lines and it is important to remember the reasons to book directly through local providers anyway. We had the best time with Iguana Mama – they are incredibly fun, professional, and safe, plus they will take you all the way to the top!
What To Wear
You may think this is pretty straight forward, but there are a few important considerations for this activity. Leave your jewelry behind (especially diamond rings). You will also want to have some sort of junky swim suit cover up. I brought a pair of old shorts, but my swimsuit still got torn underneath the shorts by the rocks we were constantly scooting over.
We also recommend bringing water shoes. I wore an old pair of Keen sandals, and the soles on mine were pretty worn. This made some of the wet rocks slick. Consider having good soles on your shoes! If you don’t own water shoes, you can rent them from Iguana Mama.
Regardless of what items you pick, don’t wear your best items during this activity! I also ended up with a few cuts and bruises, so use caution.
Once you arrive at the location, you will start with picking up your helmet and lifejacket. There are lockers to store your items, bathrooms and changing areas if needed. The time here is limited before they split you in to your group, so it is best not to dawdle.
After you’re suited up, you’ll head out on a 45 minute hike through the sweaty tropical forest. This includes some hilly areas and stairs. While there are breaks and water provided, it is still very humid, and wearing your life jacket doesn’t help. Be sure you’re up for the challenge. There were people in our group who were not able to complete the hike.
Time To Get Wet
Once you reach the top, it is time to get wet! And, after that hike, the cold water feels so refreshing! The first pool is inviting.
You will start at waterfall (pool) #27 and work your way back down to #1. To get back to the bottom, prepare to scramble over rocks, walk, canyoneer through narrow passages, swim, and, you guessed it, jump!
While some of the waterfalls are a mere slide or splash, others do involve a little more than that. The guides will tell you where to stand, how to position yourself and where to jump. In some cases, they will actually hold you up by the back of your life jacket ensuring that you are in just the right spot and ready to go.
Again, not all pools require you to jump into them. Some of the slides are no more than a few feet. There are a few big jumps though. These can range from about five feet to the biggest jump measuring 25 feet!
The Biggest Jump
I openly admit that I’m afraid of falling from heights and the 25 foot jump stopped me in my tracks. The biggest mistake here is stopping. Taking time to peer over the edge is not a good idea. While I wouldn’t suggest haphazardly catapulting yourself over, it is advisable to just keep moving! With loads of encouragement, I was able to conquer my fear and jump off a 25 foot waterfall!
I will also admit that prior to this adventure, I had read a few too many stories about brain eating amoebas found in some fresh water sources and was a little paranoid about water going up our noses. Later, I discovered that this is not the type of water or geographic location where these instances have occurred. Silly (yet brave) me!
Due to time considerations, visitors are able to jump off each waterfall once with the exception of the last two. The final two waterfalls are your opportunity for multiple attempts. Once you’ve had your fill of adventure, spend a little time splashing around the last pool (which is pool #1) before making your way back to drop off your gear and eat lunch.
You can also purchase photos and souvenirs if you’d like. The crew will shuttle you back to the port in plenty of time to hang out in the area before getting back on board.
While all views in this post are my own, we offer many thanks to Iguana Mama for providing us with the great photos in exchange for this post. We couldn’t have possibly captured these shots on our own!
We had a blast chasing these waterfalls in the Dominican Republic and highly recommend it to other adventure seekers. This has been one of my favorite travel experiences to date.