Playa Coson unravels like a tawny ribbon, sprawling toward verdant green mountains. Located in the Dominican Republic, it is part of a necklace of glittering white beaches in Las Terrenas.
While everyone knows of Punta Cana, its celebrity cousin in DR, Las Terrenas is an ex-pat enclave. Originally discovered by French tourists in the 1970s, the Italians soon followed. Now it is a popular European escape. To rephrase Dominican Republic’s tourism slogan, Playa Coson has it all. I come to watch the sea.
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Las Terrenas is a resort town on the Samaná Peninsula, in the northeastern part of DR. But my niece Karen & I stayed in a hamlet. Our AirBnb was an incredible value at USD$1,500 a week, especially since it was listed in a Travel & Leisure article of Best Caribbean AirBnbs.
The three-bedroom villa features an infinity pool overlooking the ocean and mountains. The landscaping is Idyllic Island fantasy—bougainvillea flowers blooming in February, and palm trees branches dancing the merengue.
We even picked up a coconut off our lawn. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a machete to sample its sweet fruit.
No Hiking Vacation
While Karen and my 2020 pre-pandemic vacation involved trekking the mountains of Madeira, this trip is a lazy girls’ retreat. We will trek to our recliners to sunbathe or run into the ocean to swim.
We want to escape winter’s obligations—boots, gloves, scarves, and ski coats. While I love playing with my Golden Retriever puppy in a snowstorm, it gets mighty cold after a two-hour walk around the U.S. Capitol grounds.
“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”Carl Reiner
All we need in DR is a bathing suit, robe, and flip-flops. I pack a suitcase full of sundresses, shorts, and t-shirts but I live in a swimsuit all day.
Climb that Mountain
There is the main highway from Santo Domingo International Airport to Las Terrenas. But our Airbnb is perched like an eagle in the mountains. The cement road climbs at a steep angle.
Even a car needs a heavy foot on the acceleration to climb this hill. Karen and I look at each other in shock. What goes up must come down. It looks like we will be on a hiking vacation in DR—but wearing flip flops instead of boots.
On Sunday morning we decide to investigate the beach. There is nothing here in our little village but a dusty road leading to Playa Coson. We have to trek down a cement driveway that looks like we should ski down it. The driveway passes three villas, a caretaker’s house, and a dense jungle. A dirt road climbs higher but I don’t plan to investigate. This daunting trek means we only go to the beach once a day.
Crossing the highway, we follow a dirt road past houses. Roosters cluck and then disperse behind bushes. A black and grey goat wanders in a fenced yard.
Dogs swarm around us, attempting to herd us. They begin furiously barking as we follow two women and a toddler.
It rained last night so there are puddles of water. I skate over a slick pad of mud. The roof of a nondescript metal house sags. There are shacks and villas on this road. Up ahead we see a sign on a fence advertising Hotel Casa Coson. The sliver of the sapphire blue sea that I spy looks like the door to enter paradise. We walk past street art painted on the hotel’s fence. It is a hodgepodge of images—swimmer, whale, and horse. My favorite mural is woman in red.
When we finally reach Playa Coson, we find an old-fashion swing hanging from a palm tree. There are several children standing in line for their turn to fly towards the sky. It reminds me so much of being a kid. There was no greater fun in the world than to ride a rope swing across a lake and then let go.
Instead of waiting our turn, Karen and I decide to turn right and walk down the beach. As we distance ourselves from the hotel cafe, the stray dogs begin to disperse.
Along the way, we see coconuts fallen from trees. There is an abandoned building project missing roofs, windows, and doors. Parts of the shore are difficult to maneuver due to falling tree branches and big boulders.
On the way back to find our beach cafe, I decide to take a ride on the beach swing. It is pure joy to act like a kid and fly over the water.
I would never be brave enough to fly over the ocean with a motor kite. But we actually saw a man fly for over 15 minutes on Playa Coson. It looked so simple. He just heaved on a motor to propel his flight. Then he began to run down the runway (beach) until he took flight. This is definitely the place to come fly away to quote Frank Sinatra.
“Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away . . .”Frank Sinatra
Although I wouldn’t mind a sunrise hike, I don’t want to descend the mountainous driveway more than once a day. So I greet the sunrise at 7:22 a.m. by meditating at our infinity pool. I have a choice of outdoor beds—a sofa strewn with bright pillows, an upholstered recliner on the porch, or a recliner on the deck.
But I want to see the sun rising through a dense wall of palm trees and fronds on our property so I must walk out on the edge of the pool. Standing on my tiptoes, I see a golden circle surrounded by a quilt of grey clouds.
To center my mind, I breathe deeply the tropical flowers growing on bushes. Lavender bougainvillea waves in the breeze.
Caffeine & Cat
I chose to spend my morning sipping my cafe latte by the pool and stroking my island cat. Since she is a calico, Karen names her Cali.
We think the petite cat belongs to the caretaker’s family. But since they only speak Spanish, we initially cannot confirm. There are at least four dogs and two cats who roam the estate. First, we adopt Cali who comes to visit us on Sunday morning.
She settles herself on our outdoor dining room chair and just watches us. When we go inside, she follows suit. Soon she will be spending each day sleeping on our sofa and meowing for food in our kitchen.
We don’t allow her to spend the night at our Airbnb. But she is waiting outside on the patio each morning to be let inside. I perk my coffee and hold Cali in my arms.
There is a little dog that also steals our hearts. She is a sturdy petite black dog with exotic face markings that spends her day on our recliners. When Karen and I lay at the pool, she comes to lay between us on the ground. We name her Mattie. I think every AirBnb rental should include a cat or dog that spends the week—Pura Vida.
No Working During Drinking Hours
Our chief occupation during our beach vacation is not to work. This means blocking eyes scanning work emails, ears listening for Teams calls, or mind pondering next week’s tasks.
I have to laugh when I see this reminder on Pinterest on how to successfully spend your beach vacation — “No working during drinking hours.”
While we could get a drink at Hotel Coson, we prefer to head where the locals hang out. The waiters at Restaurant Luis all move rapidly around the outdoor cafe. It is a cafe where the sky is the roof. A space between two palm trees is the doorway. A hut features a low-slung bar lined with a blender, bottles of booze. I think they go through a lot of rum.
There is no menu in sight nor even a blackboard listing cocktails. We point to a carved-out pineapple wearing its leafy green “hat” top.
“Dos pina coladas por favor.” (2 pina coladas please).
“Con ron?” (With rum?)
No tropical beach vacation is complete without ordering a pina colada — especially if you are visiting an island that grows its own coconuts.
Over the course of six days, we will eat the most amazing garlic shrimp, grilled fish, french fries, and beans in rice at Playa Coson. Of course, nothing will match the pina coladas served in a carved out pineapple. Life seems so simple. Muy bonita.
We all need to escape our lives sometimes … simply rest for a week (or two) away from all the distractions and deadlines of our work life. I found that my seven days in Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic Republic was a great way to reset the pandemic clock and be happy. Come stroll on the beach.