Fiction: I look super cute in a bulky helmet and puffy life jacket.
Fact: I scored a massive purple bruise the size of a cantaloupe on the back of my left thigh after jumping off a waterfall.
But don’t let either scare you. ;))
No water slide at any water park will ever be the same again. Not after cascading down 12 waterfalls in the Dominican Republic. The hiking adventure known as the Damajagua Cascades (27 waterfalls) is probably one of the coolest things we’ve ever done.
The falls have been at the tippy top of our ‘must-see’ list since dropping anchor here in the DR. TripAdvisor bills it as one of the top 10 attractions in all of the Dominican, and it came equally as highly recommended by many of our cruiser friends.
So we set out the other day to experience it for ourselves. And boy, did it live up to its reputation!
Since I don’t own a fancy underwater housing for my Canon 7D, it was a GoPro-only kind of day. Keep in mind, this is a ‘get-completely-soaked’ sight seeing adventure, so there was no chance in hell of bringing along the ‘big’ camera or anything else for that matter that couldn’t afford to get wet.
We got to the park first thing in the morning (to beat the rush) and paid our 340 pesos each to hike 12 waterfalls with a private guide. At less than $8 per person, that’s a steal in my opinion! Hiking all 27 falls was out of the question since it’s not the rainy season and there really isn’t enough water at the higher falls to slide or jump down the rocks.
After about 40 minutes of a very sweaty and blister-inducing hike, we reached the top of the falls where the real fun began! The hike down is way more fun than the climb up.
We immediately began climbing through cool-water riverbeds and jumping off ledges into pools of water. And then there were the totally naturally forming rock slides that we got the chance to slide down. It was quite different than what I expected a waterfall adventure to be. It was really a non-stop hiking/swimming/sliding/jumping adventure as we meandered our way down the series of falls. And it was AWESOME.
At two of the 12 falls, we had the option of jumping from a high rock ledge, well over 25 feet above the water. Regardless of the height, both jumps were terrifying to me. I would say I definitely fall on the lower end of the ‘athletic’ spectrum (don’t let my sailing cover fool you). But I managed to dig deep and find my extreme side…and even jumped off one of the falls instead of taking the easier sliding route down. Not surprisingly, that resulted in a massive bruise on the back of my thigh the next day. I guess from the way I unathletically hit the water. Who knows.
Jer jumped off both the big falls, of course. Such the adventurer!
If I ever thought of myself as graceful and elegant, well this little video we made proves that theory totally wrong. Jer and I literally burst out laughing at each one of my very less-than-graceful slides/jumps. I will be the first to admit that they are far from pretty. ;))
I can’t say I looked too cute sporting a bright red helmet and puffy lifejacket either, but boy was I sure glad to have the protection! Only a few years back, there were no requirements for safety gear, nor were there any official tour guides. That is, until someone died. Nowadays, they have really amped up safety at the park. A guide is now required. As are helmets and life jackets.
At the end of the day, Jereme and I are both so thrilled we had the opportunity to experience the waterfalls. If we’re ever back in the Dominican, I’m sure we’ll go for round 2…and maybe next time, all 27 falls will have enough water so we can experience them all.
Our friends over at >>Where the Coconuts Grow<< have some super helpful tips on how to prepare for the waterfall adventure…a great resource if you’re getting ready to hike the falls.
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