Costambar is a large beachfront gated residential community just outside of Puerto Plata city, the largest city on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic.
Home to hundreds of Europeans, Americans, Canadians and of course Dominicans, it has a real mix residents.
It also boasts a thriving tourism industry, uniquely different from the all-inclusives or other towns on the North Coast. Popular with ‘Snowbirds’, as Canadians from the ‘far white North’ are called who view it as their second home – many spend 4-6 months in Costambar, when freezing temperatures back home, can be replaced with tropical sun, a beach and a warm sea.
Whilst Costambar doesn’t have the international acclaim of Cabarete, it makes up for it as a genuinely tranquil place to live or spend a few weeks. The beach is always quiet, except for Sundays and Bank Holidays, when Dominicans from nearby Santiago (the second largest city in the Dominican Republic) and other surrounding towns, descend on Costambar and other beaches for their well-deserved day off.
On Sundays, the beach can get pretty crowded, but the atmosphere is always friendly with a mixture of ages all determined to have a good time.
Unlike other tourist towns, such as Sosua and Cabarete, beach hawkers are very laid back. There are only a handful of them, most of whom have been operating in the same spot for years and carry ID’s licensed by the management of Costambar. Many of their customers are regulars and you won’t get hassled like at other beaches. A friendly smile goes a long way here, and many will be quite happy to chat with you without being pushy.
The beach is kept pretty clean by the beach chair vendors. Go out early in the morning and you will see them sweeping up the litter from the day before. The APP ( Ayuntamiento Puerto Plata ) manages the cleaning- and maintenance of Costambar and also cleans up any larger litter and the inevitable seaweed deposited on the sand.
If you want deep water, the main Costambar beach doesn’t really have it. What it does have is an abundance of coral, some of which comes right up to the beach. There are patches of the sea suitable for swimmers where you can go out of your depth, just be careful to keep an eye on the coral reefs, most of which are clearly visible. During the day, local Dominicans walk out on the reefs with their fishing equipment or harpoons and catch fish, langoustines, crabs and other seafood.
On a busy Sunday you won’t see many Dominicans swimming. Sure, they’ll be in the water, but traditionally, the water is a place to stand in, chest high, perhaps holding some drinks to share and talking with your friends and family. Later in the afternoon is when the teens and other more boisterous members will try to build human pyramids in the water – good fun to watch – especially the inevitable collapse!
Of course other sports are played on the beach. There is one volleyball net about half way along the beach, where regulars will usually meet up to play. Don’t be shy – they always welcome new players.
On busy days, young Dominicans will be practicing their baseball pitches, playing an informal game of football/soccer or depending on how energetic they are, wrestling and chasing each other down the beach.
There are two supermarkets in Costambar, or perhaps we should refer to them as mini-markets? “Jennys” is the larger one, situated on the central Costambar road just inside the entrance gates and has a surprising array of just about anything you might need. Indeed, many residents say they don’t need to go anywhere else. The other mini-market is located the other side of Costambar close to the beach and has a more basic range of drinks and foodstuffs.
Aside from these two there are not many shops in the town. There are a couple of small car rental places, an ice-cream store, beach bars, a big variety of restaurants, a taxi stand, a 9 holes golf course, and a couple of other shops. As Costambar is just a couple of miles out from Puerto Plata city, there really isn’t any need for more.
Cofresi, named after a famous pirate, is about 4.5 km west of Puerto Plata.
The town had its humble beginnings as a small fishing village. Today Cofresi is a resort community consisting of higher-end hotels and exclusive private villas and condominiums.
The coral sand at the beach is cool on the feet and soft to the touch. There is ample shade provided by swaying palms and lush sea grapes for those who have had enough sun but still want to enjoy the atmosphere. On one end of the mile long beach are rocks and coral that invite snorkelers. There are usually breakers for body surfing in some areas but then the rest is just right for wading. There are no rip tides, no dangerous under tows and no jellyfish at Cofresi. The only sharks that you will see are in the shark habitat at Ocean World. Ocean World is a theme park located in Cofresi with the biggest dolphin lagoon in the Dominican Republic and also has waterslides, tigers, sea lions, stingrays, birds, sharks etc. Ocean World also has a casino, nightclub and a marina.
Quaint Dominican souvenir kiosks and nice restaurants are set along the beach area but you will not be hassled by hawkers on the beach itself. Beach chairs and water toys are available at stands up and down the beach. Snorkelers and divers will find plenty in Cofresi beach to entertain them. When the wind is right, the snorkeling at Cofresi offers beautiful coral, rocks and tropical fish. There are also many other areas a short drive or short boat trip away. After the sun goes down, the nightlife picks up, with musical shows, discos and a casino all just a short walk away.
Cofresi is a wonderful place for those who want a relaxing Dominican experience, just walk along the beach, and you'll see and meet a wide range of people, all of whom are enjoying simply being at Cofresi. Tourists from the US and Europe mingle easily with Dominicans
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