Samaná Peninsula and Bay - El Limón waterfalls

Click here to see a bigger imageEl Salto del Limón, as the waterfall is locally known, is found in the northeast of the Dominican Republic in the attractive peninsula of Samaná.

There are four access routes to the falls located about midway along the road joining Las Terrenas on the north coast with Samaná on the south coast. Four small communities-Rancho Espanol, Arroyo Surdido, El Café and El Limón-have organized entry points, or paradas, offering guided horseback treks to the falls. Food and beverages, local produce such as coffee, cocoa, grapefruit, coconuts and handicrafts can also be purchased at these paradas.

A brief overview

The native Ciguayos were driven out of the region with the arrival of Colombus and the Spanish. The main period of settlement occurred during the 1820's when hundreds of freed slaves from Philadelphia came here at the invitation of the President of the country.

These so called Ingleses brought with them their language, customs and beliefs and many of our older residents speak English to this day. During the latter half of the 19th century more immigrants from other islands were attracted to the area by the economic boom in neighboring Sanchez. The region of Samaná and its communities is, therefore, characterized by a rich ethnic mix and cultural diversity.

The landscape surrounding the falls is picturesque. Small houses are painted in vivid colors and made from locally available materials such as palm wood and thatch. The area is predominantly agricultural, with home gardens and vegetable plots bordering plantations of banana, cacao, coffee and coconut.

It is crucial that the watershed of Arroyo Chico, the river which plunges 40 meters down the falls is conserved to insure the long-term future of the falls and water supply for the communities, as well as the inherent biodiversity.

 Native and Exotic Plants

Although it is difficult to see the original vegetation from the road, fragments of humid subtropical forest is found along the riverbanks and trails to the waterfall. One may see native tree species such as Juan Primero (Simarouba glauca), Cigua Blanca (Ocotea coriacea), Uva de Sierra (Coccoloba diversifolia), Cabirma (Guarea guidonia) and the Palma Real or Royal Palm (Roystonea hispaniolana). The Royal Palm was becoming endangered due to uncontrolled cutting for house construction but is now officially protected in the Dominican Republic. The Cigua Palmera (Dulcus dominicus), a native heron, nests in this palm species.

Click here for a larger view of the mapCultivated native species commonly seen on treks to the falls include the Guanabana or soursop (Annona murciata), Bija (Bixa orellana) and Higuero (Crescentia cujete), a gourd once used by Amerindians and nowadays used to make decorated vessels and containers. Other trees and plants have become naturalized. It is hard to believe that the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), mango (Mangifera indica) and breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) are not native species. Traditional dishes in the area would not be the same without these fruits. Home gardens and cultivated crops such as coffee, cocoa, and groves of orange and grapefruit can also be seen along the trails.

Our Community Ecotourism Association

We have organized ourselves and formed an association of ecotourism providers called ACESAL with a twofold aim: to provide our visitors with an excellent product and to manage our natural resources in a wise and sustainable manner.

Our services include:

  • Guided treks to the waterfall on horses, mules or on foot in which guides provide interpretation of points of interest while in route, e.g., flora and fauna, agriculture, local customs, etc.
  • Guided treks to other places of interest such as caves
  • Traditional meals are served at the paradas and tourists also have the opportunity of lodging with local families to better appreciate village life and customs.

We are involved in ongoing training in areas such as ecology, animal care, and trail improvement. These activities are supported by CEBSE, a local environmental non-profit organization, the Ministry of Tourism (SECTUR), the National Parks Directorate (DNP) and the Environmental Programme, which is supported by Helvetas (Swiss Development Agency) and the DED (German Development Service).

To our visitors and tour operators we look for collaboration to help us achieve a model of responsible tourism which conserves this exceptional environment for current and future generations.


  • The waterfall can be visited any day of the week but only during daylight hours.
  • Use trained local guides for excursions on foot or horseback. Their experienced eyes and knowledge will help you see things in a new way and make the trip that much more memorable. Your guide can also answer your questions.
  • During the rainy season (May to December) brin, local children may do so but they know the locations of the deeper sections and submerged rocks!
  • To avoid disturbing wildlife or damaging the vegetation, always stick to the trails.
  • For your own safety and the peace of mind of your companions, keep away from the top ledge of the waterfall.
  • Leave no trace of your presence. Pack out what you pack in, garbage can be deposited at the paradas once you return from the falls.
  • For your own safety do not break or pull branches from trees, bushes or vines. You might disturb "dangerous" insects or get hurt by thorns.
  • Soft drinks are available at the paradas. The consumption of liquor and drugs is prohibited.
  • Buy local products whenever possible-except captive birds.
  • If the price for your trek to the falls only covers the horse, your horse guide will appreciate a donation or tip.

Use the guest book at each parada for your comments, praise, complaints or recommendations. We welcome your feedback!

Information sheet: Acrobat PDF file (ca. 30 kB). Click here for information on Acrobat.

For more information on sustainable tourism and activities as well as ordenance maps

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