Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:00 AM
The drive out of Santo Domingo isn't very far, some where between 40 to 60 miles. The problem is getting out of the city, and then when you're near the mountain ridge, the last bit of road is a bit rough. I went there on the Biennial, so the tour buses were left near Puerto Viejo, and we rode in 4 wheel drive trucks until we were within a short hiking distance of the trees. The road was rough and steep in only a few places, but I would advise using a high-clearance vehicle if you wish to attempt this trail. Do not attempt this road with a rental car, as the large rocks will probably break or puncture your oil pan, transmission, or gas tank. Four wheel drive may not be necessary in dry conditions if you are an experienced off-road driver, but is recommended. Wet weather is a very different situation, so four wheel drive and extra caution will be needed in that case, or better yet, wait for dry weather.
After taking Highway 2 out of Santo Domingo, we turned down Highway 519,and parked the buses at a wide area in the road where it turns north at the turn-off to Puerto Viejo. From there, we primarily used dirt roads to reach a small clearing, where we disembarked, and continued on foot to a tent at the beach. From there, the trail along the cliff becomes rough, steep, and somewhat treacherous. The brush had been cleared for us and ropes to aid ascent and descent were in place to help get up the places where the steep trail was covered in loose gravel. We were able to see smaller specimens before reaching the tent, but the outlines of hundreds of lofty palms on the distant ridge line was a tremendous magnet.
Here are GPS coordinates you can enter into Google Maps to show you where these places are located. Set it for satellite view, and just type in the numbers as shown, and an arrow will be shown at the indicated spot.
Refer to page 2 of Ryan's Biennial posts to see detailed pics of the area and trails in and out of this spot.
Tour bus parking spot: 18.350223 -70.835971
Clearing to begin hike to beach: 18.294164 -70.884494
Tent site: 18.292157 -70.884183
Area where the pics were taken: 18.290844 -70.885109
Weather permitting, I think this could be an easy day trip with proper vehicles, proper hiking dress,adequate food and water, and good knowledge of the roads in and out of Santo Domingo and the Barrera area. There are no facilities of any kind beyond the village of Barrera, so be well prepared for any incident that might arise.