Los Haitises National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the Dominican Republic and thanks so its sheer size also one of the most diversified. With its dozens of islands, rolling hills, ancient caves and endless bays it offers a habitat for countless species, making it the most important area for flora and fauna in the Dominican Republic. On a trip to Los Haitises National Park – doesn’t matter if on a guided excursion or an independent road-trip – you can enjoy this unparalleled natural backdrop.
What to expect at Los Haitises National Park?
Especially if you are coming from Punta Cana the change of scenery will be awe-inspiring. Busy all-inclusive resorts along the shoreline on the one side, a quiet untouched national park on the other side. Crowds of tourists strolling up and down the beach in Punta Cana, curious marveling and intense nature and wildlife watching in Los Haitises. But also if you are arriving from other parts of the Dominican Republic, the contrasts can’t be bigger which is why Los Haitises National Park is such a worthwhile trip for a day or two.
What you definitely should expect when visiting Los Haitises National Park is a superb day out in nature, with sightings of endless mangroves, secluded islands, mystic cloud forests, spectacular views and lush bays. If you watch close enough, you might also spot fantastic wildlife such as frigate birds, manatees and pelicans. If you are a passionate birdwatcher, Los Haitises will be your heaven as it is home to two endemic species, the Ridgeway Hawk and the Ashy-faced Owl.
What to do at Los Haitises National Park?
The Los Haitises National Park can be explored by various means: by foot, by boat, by kayak or even (partly) from the air by ziplining. In general, you have a choice between the following activities:
- Sightseeing tours by boat
- Guided hiking tours
- Kayak tours through the mangroves
- Birdwatching tours
Getting to know the park by boat is the most common way of sightseeing and that’s also the way we have done it twice. You board the boat at the little ramshackle jetty of the national park and head off to an impressive journey through the mangroves. When arriving at the vast bay of San Lorenzo, you will get a first impression of how big this unique eco-system is. When boating through the secluded bays and islands, you might be accompanied by several frigate birds and pelicans.
Another big attraction in Los Haitises is the big number of historic caves, where the old native inhabitants, the Taínos, used to live and protect themselves many centuries ago. Nowadays, you still can see cave paintings from these ancient times.
If you would like to explore the national park on foot, I would recommend hiring a guide as the trails are not marked and you might get lost. Vegetation is abundant and you can hike to a cloud forest, the spring of a river or the secluded bays inside the park. Take snacks and plenty of water with you when you head off.
Kayaking and ziplining are further interesting activities, especially if you would like to explore Los Haitises in an alternative way. While the zipline in the park is more a low-key attraction and not comparable to the 12-cable adventure parks you find in Punta Cana and elsewhere in the country, the kayaking is an adventurous option for those loving the water. Read on to the following sections if you would like to know how to organize this.
How to organize your trip to Los Haitises National Park?
Are you wondering now how you can visit Los Haitises National Park?
Well, there are two options.
First, you can book a guided excursion to the park incl. transfers from and to your hotel. This is the most viable option especially if you stay in a resort in Punta Cana. You get picked up directly in your lobby, have an English-speaking guide plus lunch and drinks included. Usually, those tours include the boat tour mentioned above, a little bit of free time in the park and sometimes a stop on a beach on the way. Check out the following offers to see if one suits your needs.
The second option is to do the trip on your own – road-trip style. You can rent a car (check prices for rental cars from/to Punta Cana here*) and head northwest towards the Los Haitises national park. It is the more adventurous way to do it and gives you more options to customize your tour, but a few words of Spanish might help a lot in this case.
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Where to stay at Los Haitises National Park?
In case you decide on the self-drive option, you might consider staying one night at the park. Not only because it gives you more time to explore the magnificent area, but also because you can stay at one of the most unique eco-lodges the Dominican Republic has to offer. It is called Paraíso Caño Hondo* (or you can also check out their sister property Altos de Caño Hondo*) and is surrounded by natural swimming pools which are recharged by waterfalls right on the property. Saying this, you can imagine a nearly unreal picturesque scenery with a couple of natural waterfalls right next to your accommodation. Of course, you can also swim in all these pools and refresh yourself in the streams.
Interested? Check out prices and availabilities here:
A pleasant side effect of staying at Paraíso Caño Hondo is that you can take advantage of all their activities they offer (yet they are not included), among them the aforementioned kayaking, ziplining, birdwatching and hiking, as they have their own guides for everything.
Summary – why to go to Los Haitises National Park?
If you are still doubting if Los Haitises National Park is the right for you, have a look why it is so unique and why you shouldn’t miss this opportunity, especially if staying in Punta Cana:
- Los Haitises is the closest national park from Punta Cana offering wildlife, animal watching and a tropical lush environment (there is one national park which is closer but it is not as accessible and is usually just visited for Isla Saona)
- Los Haitises offers you an unspoiled, natural and authentic insight into this unique Dominican ecological system
- Los Haitises has plenty of wildlife and nearly guarantees you sightings such as pelicans or frigate birds
- Even Los Haitises receives regular tourist groups it is by far not crowded and you really can enjoy the beautiful nature and its surroundings
- If you go there with your rental car, you can spend the night in one of the most exciting eco-lodges in the Dominican Republic*
Convinced? You will not regret it!
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.
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CHRISAuthor, 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.