The Dominican Republic is a renowned leisure tourism destination thanks to its turquoise blue beaches, Caribbean climate, music, dance, and delicious food. From sea to mountains, you’ll find exciting outdoor activities that will undoubtedly keep you entertained throughout your stay.
If you’re a sports enthusiast, you probably relate the Dominican Republic to sports such as baseball, Basketball, Volleyball, and Tennis. Most people don’t know the island of Hispaniola's enormous potential for outdoor recreation and, more specifically, rock climbing.
The so-called "Pared de Marmol", AKA "The Marble wall". This is just a glimpse of what the Dominican Republic can offer in terms of rock-climbing opportunities © Rudolf Scheidig Rosa
Outdoor activities are a great way to enjoy the beautiful tropical climate, stunning beaches, and lush landscapes of the Greater Antilles archipelago, where the Dominican Republic is located.
The peculiar landscape and climate make this country ideal for every outdoorsy person and every kind of active holiday, from sea sports - swimming, sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, surfing, and deep-sea fishing - to mountain sports - such as mountain biking, hiking. A new sport is being developed, though. Rock climbing!
Why go rock climbing in the Dominican Republic?
Rock Climbing may be considered the hidden gem of this country. If you trust the Locals, Climbers of the Dominican Republic, you will experience various climbing styles, rock types, and environments from marble, granite, and limestone cliffs. Like near Jamaica, the sure thing is that you will often climb surrounded by white beaches in the background, springs, boulders, mountains, and rivers. Samana, La Romana, Santiago de los Caballeros, Cabrera, and San Cristobal are some of the most popular tourist areas the Dominican Republic offers. Ironically, some areas offer the country’s best aesthetically pleasing rock cliffs. No worries, you won’t find crags packed with climbers waiting in a queue at the bottom of the cliff.
In the Dominican Republic, you'll often see 30 meters rock walls popping out from the ground. The jungle around makes everything more special © Rudolf Scheidig Rosa
There is no exact date when rock climbing started in the Dominican Republic. What’s certain is that climbing here is rapidly growing, and we’re now witnesses of a first-stage development. More than 20 years ago, some foreign climbers discovered the incredible potential of the Dominican Republic and started bolting the most beautiful cliffs, taking care of the overall development in different areas of the Dominican Republic.
Whether you are considering trying rock climbing during a recreational trip to the Dominican Republic or you’re traveling there specifically for climbing, make sure to bring your own equipment: you won’t find climbing gear shops or climbing gyms, but you can definitely get in touch with Climbers of the Dominican Republic, the local climbing community.
The climbing community in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic relies on a solid tourism flow of more than 8.5 million tourists who visited the country in 2022 (UNWTO World Tourism Barometer). Aren’t you impressed by this number? Well, you should: Dominican Republic is the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean and ranks in the top 5 destinations in the Americas. If you’re wondering why, it may be because of its tropical climate, paradisiacal beaches, and… excellent rock for climbing!
As Mariana and Rudolf, Founders of Climbers of the Dominican Republic, state, “The visibility the Dominican Republic climbing community gained over the years partially contributed to increasing those numbers”.
Every day, the local climbing community strengthens and attracts new local enthusiasts, building an environment focused on positive energy and teamwork. Motivation, aggregation, and an outstanding dose of talent showcased by some contribute to the growth. Most of the country’s climbers reside in Santo Domingo, the Capital city of the Dominican Republic, and they often visit different climbing areas located on the outskirts of Santo Domingo, easily accessible within 1 to 4 hours drive.
The critical factor for this community’s growth is a lack of economic support from government agencies. This means that local climbing developers rely on donations, contributions, and crowdfunding campaigns to bolster and make this sport more accessible to the local population. Consequently, the development of this sport in the Dominican Republic is carried on only through community members’ efforts towards local promotion and practical development of the infinite potential of their rock cliffs.
In the last 2 years, Climbers of the Dominican Republic scouted, developed, and put in safety new climbing sectors in the provinces of Santiago, Cabrera, and San Cristobal, adding new routes in crags such as El Conde de Mana, Muchas Aguas, El Conde de Mana, and in a new sector of Cabrera The City. All of this was possible thanks to an effort from local climbers, foreign residents in the country, and of course, Climbers of the Dominican Republic, who have massively contributed to the development of climbing and its community in the Dominican Republic.
“For our community, it is important to continue rebolting and developing new climbing sectors. We have managed, as a community, to put back in safety sectors located very close to the sea, whose protections have been eaten away from the sea during the course of the last 20 years. El Paraiso crag in Playa Frontón is a great example: we are purchasing titanium bolts with contributions from private organizations, donations and climbers' own money, with which we’re equipping and rebolting this crag: thanks to titanium’s high durability, these sectors are now safer and will last over time” says Rudolf Scheidig, Co-Founder of Climbers of the Dominican Republic.
The best rock climbing areas in the Dominican Republic
Forget the most popular crags of Spain: if you have a thing for tufas, there are just a few destinations worldwide that match the Dominican Republic's potential. Contra Wall © Rudolf Scheidig Rosa
Moving north, you’ll rapidly feel something has changed: you are approaching Dominican Republic’s mountain ranges, and the temperatures will likely drop by many degrees. Climbing in the Caribbeans means you can climb all year round with a temperate climate in the Southern part of the Island. Here’s a selection of the country’s best rock climbing areas.
1. Samaná Peninsula
Samana offers a wide variety of crags and rock types, but the El Paraíso Sector is one of the most spectacular cliffs you'll find alongside El Arco de las Flechas © Rudolf Scheidig Rosa
Samaná is the most beautiful peninsula in the Dominican Republic. The area is quite far from any urban area, it offers a significant number of routes for all levels, and you’ll get a stunning view of the sea - remember to turn once you reach the anchor Samana’s crag counts four well-equipped sectors: Contra Wall, El Paraíso, La Gran pared de mármol and El Arco de las Flechas. 95% of the routes have been bolted with titanium bolts, making Samana one of the safest crags on the island.
We can’t tell you which sector is best, since all of them are iconic and they won’t disappoint you. El Paraíso and La Gran pared de mármol are located in Playa Frontón, a 100 meters high cliff overlooking the sea with several kilometers of extension and almost infinite potential for new sport and multi-pitch routes. The cliff is made of several rock types, including limestone, marble, and volcanic rock. The cherry on top?
Can you spot the climber? © Rudolf Scheidig Rosa
El Arco de las Flechas is another stunning sector in Cabro Cabrón, a stretch of land of the Samaná peninsula that offers impressive, exposed routes that follow the edge of the main rock cliff.
Bayahibe is as wild and technical as it looks: its vertical to slightly overhanging walls and sharp rock will make you suffer all the way to the top... at least you'll be surrounded by wilderness © Rudolf Scheidig Rosa
Bayahibe is one of the most visited areas on the whole island. The wide range of marine ecosystems challenges Costa Rica, and you’ll feel way closer to wilderness compared to Punta Cana. This touristy fishing village became famous due to its proximity to Punta Cana and being the hot spot for diving, oceanic activities, underwater exploration… and climbing? Bayahibe is located East of the island, just outside one of the biggest parks in the Dominican Republic, Cotubanamá National Park. Here, pristine beaches and a high-quality limestone cliff with countless sport climbing routes for all levels will definitely catch your eye.
An aerial image of Cabrera crag © Rudolf Scheidig Rosa
Cabrera offers an impressive climbing sector overlooking the sea, equipped with titanium bolts and a wide range of routes. Its proximity to Playa Grande also makes Cabrera a perfect sport for trying surfing and kitesurfing.
4. San Cristobal
If you're planning to travel to the Dominican Republic and want to squeeze a climbing session in it, El Conde de Mana is worth more than a visit © Rudolf Scheidig Rosa
Just outside the town of Yaguate, 45 minutes away from Santo Domingo, you’ll find the El Conte de Mana crag. Your eyes will lay on an impressive canyon filled with fantastic climbing. The main sectors are Big Wall Mana, Jurassic Park, La Cueva, Corazon Valiente, and Sector Ferretero. If you fancy some bouldering, embrace a 90 minutes drive from the capital and hop off in the town of Los Cacaos. Here, locals are developing a bouldering area from a dried-up riverbed named Muchas Aguas.
5. Parque Mirador Sur
It's nor the wildest or most adventurous climbing area around, but if you happen to be in Santo Domingo, Parque Mirador Sur turns out to be pretty handy © Rudolf Scheidig Rosa
Not in the mood for an adventure? Well, you can climb within Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic’s capital. The Parque Mirador Sur is a city park that offers some enjoyable cliffs, boulders, sport, and top-rope routes for beginner climbers. It may not be the wildest climbing area you’ll ever see, but it offers climbing on natural rock at a stone’s throw from the city center.
What to know before planning a trip to the Dominican Republic
If you want to visit the Dominican Republic for climbing, you should keep a few things in mind.
Public transportation is not the best option to move around our island. We recommend renting a car or coordinating the cost of services with local guides, in order to navigate more safely. The climbing sectors in the country’s inland are far from the main avenues, and generally, the telephone signal could be better than expected.
If you're staying in the Eastern part of the island of Santo Domingo (Punta Cana and surroundings), the most convenient climbing area is Bayahibe, just one hour away from the resorts. When traveling in private vehicles, remember to have local currency in cash to pay private transportation taxes, tolls, and entrance to Cotubanamá Park.
That's the quality of the rock you should expect when picturing the sector of Muchas Aguas © Rudolf Scheidig Rosa
If you stay in Santo Domingo, you can climb in the Mirador Sur Park sector in the city’s center. Moreover, the chances to meet Dominican Republic climbing community members are relatively high. If you're keen on visiting a different area, you can hire a local guide in Santo Domingo and climb to San Cristobal, which offers a wide array of climbing styles and crags. Sectors such as “El Conde de Mana” (45 minutes away) and Muchas Aguas (1 hour and 30 minutes away by private transport) will definitely make your day. We recommend contacting locals since you won't find good phone coverage around these sectors.
The crag of Mirador Sur Park, in the city center of Santo Domingo, is for sure the best place where to meet the local climbing community, and why not, finding new climbing partners © Rudolf Scheidig Rosa
If you happen to be in the Northern part of the island, head over Playa Cabarete: here, you'll find a few promising sectors: Cabrera “The City” is only an hour away, while it will take you 2 hours and 30 minutes to climb in Playa Las Galeras. sectors of the scale of Playa Fronton, Boca del Diablo, etc.
The current development of climbing in the Dominican Republic is increasing with the creation of new routes for beginners and more challenging ones. Also, the repairs made in the coastal part in titanium material have contributed to the security and tranquility of every climber who visits us.
The regulations in our country are currently governed by the Climbing and Mountaineering Association (ADEM) since it is the only organization that watches over the sport. Please feel free to contact ADEM via their official Instagram page if you’d like to get more information about bans, accessibility, and directions.
Thanks for reading! This article is part of Mapo Tapo's column "Trust the Locals," designed in collaboration with local climbers and climbing developers worldwide. We aim to inspire people to discover new climbing destinations through responsible tourism.
If you want more information on climbing in the Dominican Republic, you can contact Mariana Regnault and Rudolf Scheidig, founders of Climbers od the Dominican Republic.
Thanks, Mariana and Rudolf, for finding the time to collaborate with us on the production of this article, which we hope will bring more visibility and knowledge to the Dominican Republic and its climbing potential.
Cover photo © Rudolf Scheidig Rosa of a climber enjoying the view you can experience once you top out from the "Paret de Marmol", Dominican Republic.