by Jose Kevo
May 20, 2005
But with local tourism's uncharted boom, innocently questioning where the nearest beach is could likely mislead you here. In fact, when asking, I was told this is the better beach of the region because it's used by locals and has yet to be turned into a tourist trap like Bayahibe beach. Regardless, if you're in town for the day and looking for paradise, take a taxi or público to Bayahibe. You won't be disappointed.
In all fairness, Playa Caleta was still in hideous shambles as of January 2005 thanks to a ravishing hurricane season. Massive regional flooding channeling through nearby Río Chavón had driven downed palm trees and debris into the small lagoon the beach is situated along. Clean-up efforts were a long way from completion, but even under normal conditions, this is not a place you'll ever find on a Dominican postcard. Sands were a hard-packed, dirty gray, and the strips were rather narrow. Because of positioning, there was no tide to freshen waters, also potentially polluted because of close proximity to the city.
Lining the beach are 20 or so open-air bars and cafés serving up inexpensive local food and drink. I'd missed out on a couple of weekend invitations to join friends, when the area runs full tilt. Lazily passing the day here with a group of people over conversation while swillin' favorite beverages could make for memorable encounters, but the area was abandoned on a weekday.
The beach is a good 12km off Avenida Libertad. After arguing with several motoconcho drivers, it became obvious that they've organized to charge RD100/US$3.35 for the one-way ride of getting there. With hardly any weekday traffic, there was also quite the wait for any taxi or motoconcho for heading back into the city.
The ride through the country was actually the best part, but you could not tell why anyone should plan on coming here, unless you're a locomotive enthusiast. Abandoned boxcars, which once fueled the city's sugar-processing factory with deliveries of cane, are now haphazardly scattered across fields. Train engine cars have been placed in some of the new plaza median parks along the western entry to the city and are in various stages of rust and restoration.
Perhaps within a few years, Playa Caleta will be worth a visit. The entire countryside, between the city and the sea, is under major development with hotels, resorts, and gated communities. Development of the beach is sure to follow, but until that time comes, don't bother!
From journal The Tourists ARE Coming!