Boca de Yuma, an undiscovered paradise
Ten kilometers from San Rafael del Yuma in the province of La Altagracia and eastern part of the country, there is a genuine paradise unknown by most tourists.
This is Boca de Yuma, a small town of authentic Dominican fishermen, where the tourist development has not reached the area yet.
According to some stories, the name Yuma comes from the Taíno language and refers to the fact that it is located at the mouth of the Yuma River. John Bernard was one of the first fishermen who arrived in 1880 and settled in the area giving rise to the first yumero village. The timber transport was his way of living. Such was the impression left by Bernard that currently one of the caves has his name, a place worth visiting. Something remarkable is the impressive stalactites and stalagmites found in the cave.
Next to this cave, there are others like the one in which the pirate Roberto Cofresí hid his ship after his forays into the Caribbean Sea. Some of them have been flooded due to the rain but can be reached by diving.
In addition to the caves, other trace of the era remains in the village as the fort used to defend themselves and cannons, authentic historical elements. Today, they are in Punta de la Virgen, also known as the park, the lighthouse or puntica, from where you can enjoy extraordinary views of the bay, Cape San Rafael and some beaches.
Legend has it that the cannon of the fort is the requested to the king of Spain by the Archbishop Fernando de Navarrete to protect the sanctuary of Our Lady of La Altagracia in Higuey, located about 21 miles from Boca de Yuma.
The abundant nature surrounding the village that is more resemblance to the rainforests than the Caribbean landscapes, contributes to the sensation of peace you feel in this place. The gentle sea breeze, the stunning colors of the water and sandy beaches make this village become a paradise. We cannot miss the amazing animals on the trip by the Yuma River such as iguanas, gulls, herons and pelicans that come with the fishermen during their daily routine.
A HUMBLE PEOPLE
The inhabitants of Boca de Yuma are mostly Haitian workers of a low social class. Some of them live across the river in houses they built by their own efforts in the middle of nature. They use their boats to fish (main activity in the area), but also for supplying.
Being an almost unspoiled area, tourists can live the same way as locals do and taste the exquisite cuisine. The fresh fish and seafood are the specialty, they are cooked as soon as they taken out of the water. The restaurants in the area are small, full of music which is very typical of Dominicans and the main attraction is friendly people.
The tourist, once visited the village, can go the dock and there, engage the services of a yolero (fisherman having a yawl or boat) to stroll by the Yuma River.
Besides, this is the only way to reach some of the beaches in Boca de Yuma like La Playita or Playa Blanca, two kilometers from town. During the week these beaches are deserted, which is an added attraction for tourists seeking tranquility and forgetting everything. On Sundays higüeyanos take the day off to get closer to these areas together with their family, that’s why the place turns noisier but without losing its charm.
Moreover sailing down the river, the House-Fortress of Spanish conqueror Juan Ponce de León can be reached, a museum where visitors can relive trip, experiences and conquests of this colonizer of the east zone. He lived there with his wife and three daughters dedicated to timber exports until he left to conquer Puerto Rico in1508.
The village, in addition to the Yuma River and its coasts bathed by the Caribbean Sea, offers the possibility to enjoy a peaceful swim in natural saltwater pools.
This is the case of Hoyo Zumbador connected to the Caribbean through an underwater cave. Another place for bathing is Hoyo Azul, a pool of fresh waters of intense blue color that justifies its name.
The small islets placed at the mouth of the river are the natural port of Boca de Yuma, wherein the touch of color is provided by various fishing boats. The cliffs are another major attraction of this fishing village.
Very close to this wonderful and hidden place is the Eastern National Park of the East, a large natural reserve where thousands of species of flora and fauna live, many of them endemic.
HOW TO GET THERE
Boca de Yuma is at the end of the road coming from the highway Corals and is indicated as San Rafael de Yuma / Higuey. If you go from Punta Cana you have to exit and turn left. Conversely, if you are coming from La Romana. The route has no loss, although some critical crossroads: railway, additions unmarked ... About 20 minutes from the highway.