Playa Esmeralda: Now or Never

Playa Esmeralda truly is the darling beach of the Dominican Republic’s eastern region. Tucked away on the southern shores of Samana Bay, the approx. 5km long Costa Esmeralda (Esmeralda Coast) is a virgin cove among the most photogenic shorelines in the entire Caribbean. The lazy turquoise-azure waters and amber-colored sands are outlined by hundreds of coconut palms. To the south rise the Oriental mountain range and to the distant north rises the Samana peninsula. These are the sights that welcome you upon arriving at Playa Esmeralda. 

A New Highway to Paradise

The new Punta Cana – Miches Highway has made Esmeralda more accessible than ever. What was once an arduous 3 hour+ journey, from Punta Cana, is now an hour’s ride on a dual lane, modern and scenic highway. Even the journey’s final stretch, which at one time featured a rocky dirt road with deep water-filled potholes, has been paved. This final stretch can be found about 4 km after passing the town of Los Hicacos, a sign on the right hand side of the road will signal the turn off for Costa Esmeralda.

All this road fixing has much to do with the development of resorts along the Esmeralda coast. Club Med Miches Playa Esmeralda was completed in 2020 and more resorts are slated to be built, namely, a Four Seasons which has been in the works for some time but now seems to be moving forward. So, if you haven’t been to Playa Esmeralda, the complete rustic, solitary beach is no more but the coastline is long enough that you can still hide far away from any development; one day this may not be the case.

After turning off from the main highway, stay left at the first fork and the new Esmeralda road will take you right to a parking lot with bathrooms and a foot path leading to the beach. This facility was completed by the Ministry of Tourism in 2022 and provides easier beach access. But the nicest section of Esmeralda is located further down the coast. To arrive, follow the signs for Club Med. You’ll pass the front of the hotel and come to a small dirt road; this was the original road. It gets bumpy here but take this small dirt path all the way till the end when you are eventually stopped by a security guard. This is a good place to leave the vehicle as the nicest parts of the beach, with the best views, are at its most eastern point.  

There are no services at Playa Esmeralda. Bring everything you need to enjoy a day at an isolated Caribbean Beach. But it’s Esmeralda’s remote location and undeveloped shores that give the beach its mystique. And now is the time to go. Club Med sits in the far western point of the Esmeralda coast; the Four Seasons and a Secrets resort are on their way. It’s become apparent that one day, Playa Esmeralda will be lined with all-inclusive resorts much like Punta Cana. But fortunately that day is not upon us just yet. Because today, Playa Esmeralda can still be enjoyed as the idealistic, remote Caribbean beach of your dreams. 

Things to remember:

-A good bug repellant is highly recommended. Because of Esmeralda’s lack of development you’re basically in the jungle! Sand fleas, biting gnats and mosquitoes are common. 

-If you’re visiting Esmeralda from January to March bring binoculars! This is whale season in Samana bay where thousands of humpbacks come to mate and calf. Whale sightings from the beach are not uncommon!

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