by Fiona Tapp
Just twenty minutes from the packed beaches of the Puerta Plata resorts and the all-inclusive specialty hangover, Tubagua Ecolodge sits perched on rubble mountain roads, prone to the old mudslide or two.
Tim, the owner, a former journalist, employs local people to round out his dream of a self-sufficient and ecologically conscious guesthouse. Like the local women who prepared us a delicious dinner of pork, peppers, and potatoes, with an amazing crunchy slaw, all enjoyed with mountain views of St Isabel. We took a trip on the cable car to the very top of the mountain to visit Isabel de Torres National Park and walked around the tropical botanical gardens, viewing the replica of the Christ the Redeemer statue and stopping for a snack at the restaurant and gift shop.
Back at Tubagua ecolodge, our room is a palm wood thatched roof cassita made with care using simple hand tools by local artisans. Yet we also have an indoor toilet and Tim even provides WiFi! This is glamping on steroids.
The next day, Tim’s son brings us a thermos of coffee and some breakfast to be enjoyed right on our private balcony overlooking the countryside. We are then led by a guide on a hike through the countryside and forest. On route, our guide shows us an ingenious little plant known as Mimosa Pudica or the Sensitive Plant, which cowers from our touch and curls into itself. We passed donkeys and cattle before finally reaching a secluded lagoon and waterfall known as “God’s swimming pool.” The water was so cold it took my breath away as I jumped into the turquoise pool but it was a welcome reprieve from the heat of the midday sun. Tim’s dog accompanies us along the whole route making sure we return safe and sound after our adventure.
The lounge area and bar of Tubagua look out over palm trees and valleys below and provide a relaxed space to enjoy a glass of wine after a long day of hiking.
Shortly after I returned home, Hurricane Irma smashed much of the Caribbean and affected nine US states. I was relieved to hear it had not caused lasting damage to this unique property, even though it did blow the roof of the main building and take out a coconut tree. Within just 24 hours the staff had everything cleaned up and were ready for newly arriving guests.
At Tabagua you can experience the other side of the Dominican Republic, a chance to see the dramatic natural beauty of the country and meet local people, just a short taxi ride from the big beach resorts.
Km. 19 Luperon Highway, Tubagua, Puerto Plata Rt 25 Carretera Turística Gregorio Luperón, Tubagua, Puerto Plata 57000, Dominican Republic
Phone: +1 800-906-6646
Rates start at $30 per person.
Fiona Tapp is a freelance travel and parenting writer. Her work has been featured by National Geographic, The Washington Post, The New York Post, HuffPost, Brides, and Fodor’s among many others. Fiona has traveled to over 20 countries on five continents and loves writing about her adventures. Follow along at @fionatapptravels on IG or @fionatappdotcom on Twitter.