One of the first things you do after booking a cruise (or even shopping for a cruise) is check out the shore excursions and what each island stop has to offer. In our case, the only port my mom (the cruiser extraordinaire) hasn’t already been to was Amber Cove, The Dominican Republic. This was a huge win as it opened up a whole new host of possible shore excursions and places to explore a new. The very first excursion that stood out was the waterfalls of Damajagua.
Described as “the adventure of a lifetime in the Dominican Republic’s best kept secret and natural wonder, the Waterfalls of Rio de Damajagua. Begin your journey with a 40-minute hike through beautiful landscapes to the first of several breathtaking waterfalls, where you can slide into a fresh, sparkling pool of mountain water waiting down below. Each waterfall and pool comes with its very own personality, and you’ll soon find yourself celebrating with every waterfall you conquer. This thrilling adventure has it all; from hiking trails with breathtaking scenery, canyoneering through narrow passages, sliding down natural waterslides, and swimming through caverns leaving you with memories never to be forgotten.”
Need I say more? We were onboard. Cruise booked, excursion booked, wardrobe planned (you need water capable closed toed shoes or risk trudging 40+ minutes in crappy water shoes) we were so excited for this tour.
When we arrived at the port of Amber Cove bright and early, we expected to have to ferry into port but instead it was a straight walk off the ship (no small boat needed) We got to walk past most of the fun little shops and cafes in the port, meeting our tour operator at a bus terminal and climbing onboard. It was a short 30 minute ride (another selling point for this tour) and we arrived ready to do some jumping and sliding and beautiful water.
Arrival at the tour base: It was chaotic to say the least, you HAVE to have a locker as the only thing you are allowed to bring with you is a water proof camera, and when you cruise.. you bring stuff with you. It’s a fact of the game. So expensive locker paid for, we battled next the idea of having to wear sneakers vs. water sandals. After changing into my sneakers I found out apparently there is a form you can sign saying you know the risks in wearing sandals but still prefer them. Great. I had already shoved everything into our locker so I decided to just go with it in my tennis shoes (praying they’d dry out in time for my gym sesh the next day) After 20 minutes of battling people for locker positions, gearing up with a life jacket/ helmet combo, and using the restroom, we set forth on a 40 minute “hike”
Family photo starting our hike
You first cross a swing bridge which is fun to walk across but kind of unnecessary as there wasn’t at the time any water flowing under it. Then about 10 minutes later, you cross a small river and start your upward climb. The trail is almost completely fenced on both sides whether to keep wildlife off the trail, or keep the tourists off the farms.. I’m not sure. It was somewhat disappointing not to have much of a view for this whole walk. They did have some of the plants named which was nice, and at one point we spotted a cow behind some of the vegetation fence, but for the most part… it was a walk up a fair few stairs with 20 strangers and the tour guide’s video camera pointed at you. Lol
Walking at the back of the pack
Finally you reach the top where you must finish your provided water so that you can toss it in the last available trash. You descend some steps and get your first view of the canyon and water which reminds you that the money and the walk were worth it.
Lining up for the first jump
Then you spy the jumping platform about 15 feet (?) above a narrow canyon that you get to jump into! (For the less brave, there’s a ladder you can climb down) The first jump is pretty high to get started making it a little more thrilling than I think it would normally be. You swim back up the canyon a bit where a guide helps you climb into a secret pool with a waterfall which was very scenic though dark and difficult to get photos with. (You’re also crowded into this small pool with the entire tour group of 15-20 people) So after a few group photos are taken in the small pool, you get to slide out of it and swim to the next set of falls.
In front of one of the smaller slides
There’s 5 in all with a few you can jump OR slide and a few that are just slides. We all slid as I felt that was a bit more unique (I can cliff jump a lot of places) The best parts were walking through the more slotty sections with narrow green covered walls.
The last slide or jump depending on your preference
All in all some may think that was enough. (my mom was about done and wouldn’t have wanted to do anything scarier than what we did.) I felt only 5 waterfalls and like 40 minutes in the water for $90 was a bit steep. But then I’m also incredibly spoiled with stunning canyons all over Utah that I can explore for free so I’m probably biased! Either way it was beautiful and worth seeing. We had a short 20 minute walk back and then some time to clean up and collect our stuff but not really enough time to get food before we were back on the bus riding to the port.
All in all I’d say the adventure was worth it, but check this link out for a tour (not organized by carnival) to do all 27 waterfalls/ pools. It has a 70 minute hike approach but much more time in the water and hopefully… smaller tour groups so you aren’t 15 people to tour guide.
More photos from in the canyons
Side views from one of the slides