Boca de Yuma
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- The Best of the Dominican Republic
- A Nature Lover’s Dominican Trek
- The Sexiest Dominican Beaches
- Historical Dominican Road Trip
- A Dominican Culture Tour
- Carnaval and Its Masks
- Planning Your Dominican Wedding
- Dominican Adventures
- Golfing the Dominican Republic
- Dominican Music and Dance
- La Ruta del Mango
- Day-Tripping in Monte Plata
- The Best Small Resorts
Farther south along Highway 4, at the mouth of the Bahía de Yuma and near the entrance to Parque Nacional del Este, is the town of Boca de Yuma. Before Hurricane Georges blasted through in 1998, leaving hotels in ruins and seafood restaurants upturned in its wake, Boca de Yuma was a quaint fishing village that annually hosted an international deep-sea fishing tournament. Even though those days are gone, you can still get some great seafood here. Now, unfortunately, there is only one hotel in town, and a few places to eat, but don’t expect any services.
This is a tiny Dominican town. Travelers wanting to flee from the hordes of tourists in the more trodden areas of Punta Cana and even Bayahibe will find solace in a nice day trip at Boca de Yuma’s rocky shoreline to watch the colorful wooden fishing boats bob in the surf. The best way to get here is in your own vehicle.
Playa Borinquen is a pretty beach that is reachable by boat. You will need to hire a fishing boat captain to row you across the Río Yuma for RD$30 each way. The trip takes about 10 minutes. After you arrive, there are steps and a short hike to the actual beach.
The limestone cave Cueva de Berna (8 a.m.–2 p.m. daily), just southwest of Boca de Yuma, has an impressive deposit of Taíno rupestrian art. Unfortunately, there is some graffiti mixed in at the mouth of the cave, but the cave is now under protection to preserve the historic pictograms within. Set aside about a half hour to explore the drawings. Although you don’t have to have a guide to enter, one can be hired for about US$0.50 so that you can be sure to not miss any of the artwork—a tip is appreciated.
Just west of Boca de Yuma is the northeastern gateway of Parque Nacional del Este (admission US$3.50), marked by a small cabin, which leads to a long scenic trail where you can enjoy views of the ocean and Isla Saona, bird-watching, and various flora and fauna.
South of Higüey along Highway 4 is San Rafael de Yuma. This dusty and simple little town is the site of the home-turned-museum of Spanish conquistador Ponce de León. This museum is the only attraction, making the town a poor choice for overnight stays. The Casa Ponce de León (7 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., US$1.50) is an important historical landmark containing many artifacts that were previously owned by Ponce de León and his family, including some of their furniture, household wares, and even a suit of armor said to be his.
The home was built in 1505–1508 by Taíno slaves for de León when he was lieutenant governor of Higüey. The home has been brought back to nearly its original glory and is in good condition.
No signs lead you to the museum, but if you’re coming from the west, once in town turn left onto the dirt road right before the town cemetery. After a kilometer, you’ll see the entrance on the right-hand side with the rectangular, two-story, stone museum at the end. A bus will drop you off at the station near the cemetery. You can either walk the rest of the way (a little over one kilometer) or hire a motoconcho. All tours and signage in the museum are in Spanish only.
Accommodations and Food
The only hotel in town is El Viejo Pirata (Calle Duarte 1, tel. 809/780-3236, www.hotelviejopirata.com, US$33 without breakfast) and is like a buried treasure. Its six neatly decorated rooms are welcoming even if they are simple. The tiled and charming poolside is set on the dramatic cliffs overlooking the sea for a perfect place to wind down your day with a sunset cocktail. The seafood restaurant on-site serves great Italian and international dishes like mero (grouper) Mediterranean style.
There are many small restaurants and small freidurías (fish fryers) lining the main road and the water where you can enjoy the catch of the day. The freidurías are the most cost-effective way to enjoy the bounty of the ocean. You will spend about RD$50–100 on a piece of fish and some tostones. You can’t beat that price or the taste!
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition