All waterfalls reachable from Punta Cana in under 3 hours

The Dominican Republic has an abundance of waterfalls of all kinds. Crystal-clear water, turquoise rivers, giant drops, dozens of cascades in a row and falls submerging in caves are just a few of the characteristics you can find in the country when talking about waterfalls. But are there waterfalls in Punta Cana as well?

 Most waterfalls are indeed in the central mountain area (Cordillera Central) and the northern mountain range (Cordillera Septentrional), which is too far away from Punta Cana, at least for a day trip. But there are a couple of waterfalls in the area which are reachable from Punta Cana in 3 hours or less. And as I have visited over 45 waterfalls in the Dominican Republic I can say that those 10 waterfalls listed here are ALL waterfalls in the area of Punta Cana, considering the 3 hours timeframe (even I know that there are always new stunning beauties popping out of the endless Dominican jungle – so let’s see when I have to add one to the list).

Last updated: September 2020

Map with all waterfalls in Punta Cana reachable in under 3 hours
(c) Punta Cana Travel Blog. Map sourced from openstreetmap.org

1) Salto de la Jalda (between Miches and Sabana de la Mar)

 Let’s start right with the highest waterfall of the Caribbean as well as one of the closest waterfalls to Punta Cana. It is Salto de la Jalda which impresses with a jaw-dropping height of nearly 400 feet. The interesting thing about Salto de la Jalda is that it is widely unknown. It was only discovered a few years ago and took over the title of the highest waterfall in the Caribbean from Salto Aguas Blancas in Constanza (spoiler: there might be a new highest waterfall soon). Even it is now around 6-7 years since its (public) discovery, Salto de la Jalda is still absolutely unspoiled as there are hardly any tourists visiting this waterfall (neither from Punta Cana nor from other areas in the Dominican Republic). On most days you will have it all on your own. The reason: the hike is very long (at least 10 miles round-trip) so few people venture out to this untouched natural wonder of the Dominican Republic. Luckily, there is a helicopter excursion as well which can bring you there, even though I am highly recommending the hike. Why? Continue reading on my adventure report about Salto de la Jalda here.

Time to reach Salto de la Jalda from Punta Cana (one-way): 
Option A (helicopter excursion): 0:20h by car/private transfer + 0:30h flying (total time per way: 0:50h)
Option B (hiking trip): 1:50h by car/private transfer + 3h hike (total time per way: 4:50h)
How to get to Salto de la Jalda:
For the helicopter excursion, simply book it here*. It is cheaper than I thought when I first heard from this kind of tour, so definitely check it out.
For the hiking trip, take your rental car (check prices for rental cars from/to Punta Cana here*) or a taxi from Punta Cana northwest-ward on the well-maintained road to Miches. Continue in the direction of Sabana de la Mar until the town of Magua, where you turn left into the Magua River Valley. Continue until the trailhead or until the road gets too bad to start the hike. For the trailhead and GPS trail of the hike, check out my full article of Salto de la Jalda. Don’t head off with the proper experience of long hikes and open terrain!
Further information: full article about Salto de la Jalda on Punta Cana Travel Blog

Hike to Salto de la Jalda, the highest waterfall in the Caribbean

2) Cascada Blanca (between Miches and El Seibo)

 Salto de la Jalda is too difficult for you? Maybe better try Cascada Blanca which is located in the same mountain range, the Cordillera Oriental. Driving time from Punta Cana is 1 hour and 45 minutes before a short but sweaty hike is waiting for you. The good thing: you can refresh yourself in two natural swimming pools as there is a second waterfall on the way. But don’t stay too long in the first one, because you don’t want to miss the huge and roaring main drop of Cascada Blanca waterfall, which is impressive as you can stand just a few meters in front of this massive wall. 

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 Cascada Blanca is one of the most accessible adventure options from Punta Cana. However, the trail might be difficult to find and the last time we went, it was quite overgrown at the end, so it is mandatory to go with a guide. The trail is not challenging but you should come in decent shape, so better visit Cascada Blanca at the beginning of your all-inclusive holiday, before gaining too many kilos from those sumptuous buffets and delicious cocktails. 😉

Time to reach Cascada Blanca from Punta Cana (one-way): 1:45h by car/private transfer + 0:45h hike (total time per way: 2:30h)
How to get to Cascada Blanca: Take your rental car (check prices for rental cars from/to Punta Cana here*) or a taxi from Punta Cana northwest-ward on the well-maintained road to Miches. Continue left in the direction of El Seibo until you reach Pedro Sanchez. Here you should meet your pre-arranged guide.

The waterfall Cascada Blanca close to Pedro Sanchez in the Cordillera Oriental

3) La Culebra (between Miches and Sabana de la Mar)

 Besides Salto de la Jalda and Cascada Blanca, which I have both visited twice, there are two other waterfalls in the Cordillera Oriental I have not explored so far. One of them is La Culebra, located just east of Salta de la Jalda in the neighboring river valley. It is supposed to be a combination of various waterfalls but so far it is hardly explored. In case you are interested, just head to La Gina and see if you can find a local guide. Once I am going, I will update this part accordingly. This is a very low-key attraction in this area, so if you are just a visitor of Punta Cana, it’s probably more interesting to head off to one of the other waterfalls.

Time to reach La Culebra from Punta Cana (one-way): 1:30h by car/private transfer + 1:15h hike (total time per way: 2:45h)
How to get to La Culebra: Take your rental car (check prices for rental cars from/to Punta Cana here*) or a taxi from Punta Cana northwest-ward on the well-maintained road to Miches. Continue in the direction of Sabana de la Mar until the town of La Gina, where you turn left around a mile after leaving the main village. Continue until the trailhead or until the road gets too bad to start the hike. The best is to meet your guide in La Gina. 

4) Salto de Yanigua (+Salto de Martha) (between Sabana de la Mar and Hato Mayor)

 There is a triple combination of waterfalls, all located along Rio Yanigua: Salto de Yanigua, Salto de Martha and Salto El Zumbador. You can find them in the southern foothills of the impressive Los Haitises National Park

 The first waterfall (and the one easiest to reach) is Salto de Yanigua. While the waterfall is not extremely high nor impressive, it features a welcoming and refreshing natural swimming pool including a platform to jump off. Thanks to a ladder on the side of the falls, you can also climb up the waterfall and relax in the streams of the river. The whole area is pretty scenic and the garden is very well maintained, so you’ll see an interesting scenery and some tropical flowers as well.

No walking is involved when visiting Salto de Yanigua making it one of the waterfalls around Punta Cana easiest to reach. However, access to the river, the waterfall and the swimming pool is a bit tricky as it might be very slippery.
Salto de Martha is located along the river if you walk towards El Zumbador, but is more difficult to reach.

Time to reach Salto de Yanigua from Punta Cana (one-way): 2:30h by car/private transfer (total time per way: 2:30h)
How to get to Salto de Yanigua: Take your rental car (check prices for rental cars from/to Punta Cana here*) or a taxi from Punta Cana northwest-ward on the well-maintained road to Miches. Continue in the direction of Sabana de la Mar, where you turn left towards Hato Mayor. Once reaching the little town of El Valle after 5 miles from Sabana de la Mar, turn right and follow the road for approximately another 4 miles and turn left. At the end of the road, take the second/last entrance to the left.

Waterfall Salto de Yanigua close to Los Haitises National Park

5) Salto El Zumbador (between Sabana de la Mar and Hato Mayor)

If you go to Salto de Yanigua and are a waterfall lover, you should also visit Salto El Zumbador, which is located along the same dirt road, but way deeper in the dense jungle of Los Haitises National Park.

Compared to Salto El Yanigua, which is popular among locals as well (however, during the week you hardly have to share it with others), El Zumbador is a natural hidden gem absolutely off-the-beaten-track. It is especially feasible for photographers, as it features two streams with one of them being broken up in the middle by a rock which makes it a unique photo opportunity. To reach Salto El Zumbador, it is just an easy 20-25-minute hike, but you need a guide to get here as you are passing a private property. The entrance fee is 400 DOP per person + the guide fee. Let me know if you are interested to go and I can pass you the contact.

Those three waterfalls (Salto de Yanigua, Salto de Martha and Salto El Zumbador) make up for a good day trip from Punta Cana. However, please come prepared with a good pre-loaded map or GPS as there are hardly any signs.
Salto El Zumbador is a bit over 3 hours from Punta Cana but as it’s a recommendable option in combination with Salto de Yanigua, I don’t want to leave it out. Due to the long and bad road to El Zumbador, a high clearance vehicle is recommendable (but not necessary, it just takes you a bit longer with a smaller car).

Time to reach Salto El Zumbador from Punta Cana (one-way): 2:50h by car/private transfer + 20 minutes hike (total time per way: 3:10h)
How to get to Salto El Zumbador: Take your rental car (check prices for rental cars from/to Punta Cana here*) or a taxi from Punta Cana northwest-ward on the well-maintained road to Miches. Continue in the direction of Sabana de la Mar, where you turn left towards Hato Mayor. Once reaching the little town of El Valle after 5 miles from Sabana de la Mar, turn right and follow the road until the village of Yanigua, where you should meet your guide. It’s another 3 miles from here heading south.

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Waterfall Salto El Zumbador close to El Valle at Los Haitises National Park

6) Salto Socoa (between Monte Plata and Bayaguana)

 Even this waterfall is a whopping 150 miles from Punta Cana away, it is reachable in under 3 hours, as it is located right next to the highway. However, once arriving at this natural beauty after a short downhill walk, nothing reminds you of a highway being close and you can draw 100% of your attention to this beautiful and – if you visit during the week – pristine waterfall more or less halfway between Santo Domingo and Samaná. Together with Salto Alto de la Bayaguana, it is one of the easiest waterfalls available in the Dominican Republic as you just have to walk down some more or less maintained steps for around 5-10 minutes. Once there, a natural swimming pool is waiting for you, set amidst the lush nature of this area. Salto Socoa can be combined best with a road-trip and multi-day itinerary to the beautiful peninsula of Samaná. Contact me here if you need advice on how to plan such an itinerary.

Time to reach Salto Socoa from Punta Cana (one-way): 2:45h by car/private transfer + 0:15 hike (total time per way: 3:00h)
How to get to Salto Socoa: Take your rental car (check prices for rental cars from/to Punta Cana here*) or a taxi from Punta Cana towards Santo Domingo. Once passing the international airport of Santo Domingo and the toll booth on the Las Américas highway, turn right on a small signposted intersection until you reach the highway to Samaná. After around 30 miles you will see a sign and an unpaved road towards Salto Socoa. 

The waterfall Salto Socoa on the way from Santo Domingo to Samaná

7) Salto Alto de Bayaguana (between Bayaguana and Los Haitises National Park)

 Salto Alto de Bayaguana is one of the easiest reachable waterfalls near Punta Cana and doesn’t involve any walking at all. Furthermore, it is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Dominican Republic as the stream gets tripartite before it plunges down around 60 feet and therefore offers stunning scenery. Same as Salto Socoa, Salto Alto de Bayaguana is best combined with a trip to Santo Domingo or the Samaná peninsula. If you want to visit this waterfall, my recommendation is to go during the week as its full of locals during the weekend – except if you want to admire the ruction of hundreds of Dominicans getting drunk in the river while listening to blasting music.

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Time to reach Salto Alto de Bayaguana from Punta Cana (one-way): 3:00h by car/private transfer (total time per way: 3:00h)
How to get to Salto Alto de Bayaguana: Take your rental car (check prices for rental cars from/to Punta Cana here*) or a taxi from Punta Cana towards Santo Domingo. Once passing the international airport of Santo Domingo and the toll booth on the Las Américas highway, turn right on a small signposted intersection until you reach the highway to Samaná. After around 25 miles take a right turn at the junction to Bayaguana and follow the road until the village. Pass the village continuing straight in direction to Hato Mayor. After around a mile, turn left and continue for another 6-7 miles until you see the entrance signposting Salto Alto de Bayaguana.

The waterfall Salto Alto de Bayaguana south of Los Haitises National Park

8) Waterfalls of Paraíso Caño Hondo (at Los Haitises National Park)

 All the waterfalls described above are set within stunning natural settings. This isn’t different for Paraíso Caño Hondo* but the unique thing about this waterfall is that we are talking about a hotel.

 Yes, Paraíso Caño Hondo is an eco-lodge at Los Haitises National Park surrounded by plenty of cascades and waterfalls. Even their setting is not entirely natural because the drops are constructed, they are fed by natural streams and therefore offer a super refreshing opportunity when using the several natural swimming pools. Furthermore, you can stay a night here and fall asleep with the omnipresent whooshing of the waterfalls. Once here, don’t forget to explore the unique Los Haitises national park to see the abundant flora and fauna.

Time to reach Paraíso Caño Hondo from Punta Cana (one-way): 2:20h by car/private transfer (total time per way: 2:20h)
How to get to Paraíso Caño Hondo: Take your rental car (check prices for rental cars from/to Punta Cana here*) or a taxi from Punta Cana northwest-ward on the well-maintained road to Miches. Continue in the direction of Sabana de la Mar, where you continue straight on a dirt road until you reach the eco-lodge. From Sabana de la Mar its approximately 20 minutes until you reach Paraíso Caño Hondo*.

The eco-lodge Paraiso Cano Hondo in the Los Haitises national park

9) Saltos Azules at Scape Park Cap Cana (south of Punta Cana)

 Talking about artificial waterfalls, there is another option even closer to Punta Cana – at Scape Park Cap Cana. Depending on your hotel you are staying at, it is just a 15-45-minute drive. Scape Park Cap Cana is a huge and modern amusement park with a tropical theme, meaning that you can find zip lines, water attractions and cenotes instead of roller coasters and bumper cars. While the zipline with its splash-factor and the “Hoyo Azul” with its ultra-blue water are the highlights of Scape Park, it also features “Saltos Azules”, an artificial waterfall in a beautiful setting, where you can swim, jump or explore the cave behind the waterfall. However, compared to the natural setting of Paraíso Caño Hondo the waterfall at Scape Park Cap Cana is nearly 100% artificial – obviously if you compare a national park with a theme park. However, Saltos Azules at Scape Park Cap Cana are the closest waterfalls to Punta Cana and you can have a lot of fun here, thanks to the swinging hammocks, the Macuya swing and the Monkey bar.

Time to reach Scape Park Cap Cana from Punta Cana (one-way): 0:15h-0:45h by car/private transfer (total time per way: less than 1 hour)
How to get to Scape Park Cap Cana: You have to buy a full-day ticket to get access to Scape Park Cap Cana. You can check the prices and book tickets here*.

The artificial waterfalls Saltos Azules at Scape Park Cap Cana

10) Salto El Limón (on the Samaná peninsula)

 For me, Salto El Limón is one of the most photogenic waterfalls in the entire Dominican Republic which mainly results from the abundant tropical vegetation around it and the impressive drop including its natural swimming pool at the bottom. However, its beauty can decrease dramatically if you come to the wrong time as Salto El Limón is also a popular spot for tourist groups. Therefore it is important to come either quite early in the morning or later in the afternoon.

 When visiting Salto El Limón from Punta Cana, you have three options to organize your trip:
A) book a regular tour including bus ride, boat trip across the bay of Samaná, visit of Salto El Limón and visit of Cayo Levantado (you can check itinerary and prices here*)
B) book a VIP tour including flight (!) to Samaná, visit of Salto El Limón and further attractions on the Samaná peninsula (you can check itinerary and prices here*)
C) organize a multi-day itinerary with overnight stays in Samaná and an early morning excursion to waterfall El Limón (contact me for help organizing your road trip through the Dominican Republic)

 As the trip overland is quite long I can highly recommend the excursion by plane as it is more private, more exclusive, with spectacular views and less crowded.

 Alternatively, take your car and explore the Dominican Republic on a multi-day trip. The country and the area are so multifarious, you won’t regret it.

I have written a comprehensive guide about Salto El Limón here if you’d like to know more details about this beautiful waterfall.

Time to reach Salto El Limón from Punta Cana (one-way): 
Option A (land excursion): 1:45h by bus + 1:00h by boat + 0:30h by safari truck + 0:45h walking or horseback riding (total time per way: 4:00h)
Option B (plane excursion): 0:30h by private transfer (to the airport) + 0:30h by plane + 0:30h by private transfer/safari truck + 0:45h walking or horseback riding (total time per way: 2:15h)
Option C (road-trip): 4:15h by car/private transfers
How to get to Salto El Limón:
For the land excursion, you will get picked up in your hotel in Punta Cana if you pre-book your excursion here*.
For the plane excursion, you will get picked up in your hotel in Punta Cana if you pre-book your excursion here*.
For the road-trip, take your rental car (check prices for rental cars from/to Punta Cana here*) or a taxi from Punta Cana and head towards Santo Domingo. Before reaching Santo Domingo, take the Samaná highway, followed by the Boulevard de Atlanticó. Once passing Las Terrenas, continue the road until the village of El Limón, follow the main road to the right until you see the different “paradas” on the left.

The waterfall of Salto El Limon, one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Dominican Republic

 Those are all waterfalls in Punta Cana and the surrounding areas you can reach from your resort in under three hours. Which one is your favorite?

If you are interested in further day-trips from Punta Cana besides waterfalls, check out this article with 13 exciting tours.

 And in case you are a local, do you have more waterfalls in the area I have to consider (and visit)? Tell me about it (and if you have been there), I love to have new adventures while being here in Punta Cana.

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The face behind Punta Cana Travel Blog: Chris

CHRIS

Author, Travel Coach & Punta Cana based digital nomad

Hey, I am Chris, a born and raised German, travel-addictive and Caribbean Soul. Since 2011 I have been living in the Caribbean, among them 5 years in the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana is my home-base here in the country and I’d love to tell you more about how to experience Punta Cana off-the-beaten-track and give you all the advice you want to know for your vacation in Punta Cana.

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