Submitted by Bill Rood from Santo Domingo
I spent New Year’s at Bahia Estela, an exquisite property located on Coson Beach, just west of Las Terrenas. This jewel was originally built by an Italian developer but has been taken over by Papo Blanco and his son, Rafi. Papo is currently the president of CONEP, the most powerful business organization in the country. He and his partner, Hettore Concari, developed and own Viva Wyndham Hotels in the Dominican Republic, as well as Sublime, a resort located next to Bahia Estela.
Coson is an old coconut plantation, with a mountain range located right behind it, providing a fantastic backdrop. The area is extremely lush and tropical with green vegetation contrasting with the turquoise blue of the Atlantic.
Cacao was also grown in Coson and there are still some trees growing, although they are now few and far between.
Although some parts of Coson Beach seem to be eroding away, others appear to be gaining more sand. It’s difficult to say how and if the region is being affected by global warming or whether it’s just eroding due to too much development.
The beach is sandy and you can walk out at least 50 meters into the sea and still remain standing in the water. The surf can get pretty rough and it’s great for bodysurfing, kitesurfing, or regular surfing. Lots of the young kids were out surfing and bellyboarding the days we spent there, but there wasn’t much surf and the water was quite calm.
We walked east of Bahia Estela for a few kilometers and although the erosion is so bad at some points, we had to wade into the water to get around some critical areas, you can walk past Los Nomadas, an exclusive French/Swiss enclave and all the way to Playa Bonita in Las Terrenas. The exclusive beach homes at Los Nomadas look to be straight out of Polynesia, with thatched roofs, french louvered doors and huge porches overlooking the Atlantic. All these homes are valued above US$1.5 million and are the most spectacular on the entire north coast.
Bahia Estela is a 45 unit project, mostly 2 bedroom apartments, with full kitchens, most with a view of the ocean. The pool is very nice but the main attraction is, of course, the magnificent beach. We paid $300.00 per night for the apartment, a bit steep, but we split it between two couples so it wasn’t too bad. We did our own cooking but our daughter, Stephanie had a hamburger at the restaurant located next to the pool, where the chef had a barbeque going. They aslo had bbq fish and lobster and it looked quite good.
The beach is full of all types of seashells so if you enjoy collecting, you’ll be sure to bring back a pocketful. We walked west of Bahia Estela for several miles, past Sublime and some nice homes, crossed a small creek that runs into the ocean and towards Casa Coson, a charming, boutique hotel originally built by a French couple who recently retired. It’s now being run by another younger French woman and her husband/boyfriend, who is upgrading and giving it a more youthful appearance.
In my opinion, Casa Coson is one of the best small hotels in the D.R. It’s very small, perhaps 10 rooms in total, but the architecture is tropical-Victorian, wood construction with tin roofing- and the garden is spectacular, with some gigantic coconunt trees, allamanda, hibuscus and other flora. Again, the beach is out of this world- sandy, good waves, shallow- but beware when the surf is very high.
The restaurant is fantastic– small, about 6 tables, under a thatched “bohio”, next to the bar. They offer fresh seafood- mahi-mahi, lobster, red snapper, tuna tartar is one of their specialities. My niece got engaged there and we drove from Santo Domingo just to eat lunch and go swimming there for the day, but it’s a 2 hour drive and not really recommended. It’s much better to spend a few nights enjoying the setting and getting away from the hussle and bussle of Santo Domingo.
Restaurant Luis is another popular restaurant, mainly offering seafood that is also highly recommended.
To be continued….