Gri-Gri Lagoon, a paradise in the Dominican Republic

Gri-Gri Lagoon: A Sanctuary for Birds and Wild Nature


Gri-Gri Lagoon: A Sanctuary for Birds and Wild Nature

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The Dominican Republic has countless places to visit that you can’t miss during your trip. Regardless of whether it’s the first time you’re coming or if you’re repeating the experience, this destination that we’re going to tell you about in this post is a must-see.

One of the most interesting options when choosing your activities if you plan on travelling to other areas of the Dominican Republic is to visit the Gri-Gri Lagoon

If you decide to stay in a hotel in Punta Cana, we recommend asking about the possibility of doing activities and outings to other areas of the island.

Gri-Gri Lagoon, where is it?

This lagoon is located in the fishing village of Río San Juan, in the province of María Trinidad Sánchez, in the northwest of the Dominican Republic. 

It is surrounded by mangroves and is fed by groundwater that flows into the sea, making it one of the largest bird sanctuaries in the world.

The name has probably caught your attention, which actually refers to a species of tree whose name is “gri gri”. This tree is the most numerous in the lagoon, being so important as to give the lagoon its name. It is a hardwood tree and is common in humid and semi-humid forest areas. 

The origin of the Gri-Gri Lagoon dates back to 1958, when an earthquake caused the groundwater, which fed a small spring, to rise to the surface, thus forming the lagoon.

It is, without a doubt, a wonderful place for those who love nature and tropical birds, since you’ll be able to experience and enjoy nature in its purest and wildest state by navigating its waters and seeing where they nest, sing and gather, making the lagoon their home.

How to get to the Gri-Gri Lagoon

To get to Río San Juan, you can take a bus from Santo Domingo or from other cities. You can also rent a car from wherever you are. For example, from Playa Bávaro it is approximately 345 km by road. 

Wild nature at the Gri-Gri Lagoon, Dominican Republic

Tour of the Gri-Gri Lagoon

There are guided tours every day that last anywhere between thirty and forty-five minutes, that go from the interior of the lagoon to its mouth by the sea. This Río San Juan area is a major ecotourism destination.

On the shores of the lagoon you’ll find dozens of boats that will take you around the area. It’s important that you ask about the price of the tour, since it will vary a lot from one “boatman” to another and there is also a difference in price for children and adults

The tour is guided by locals, experts who know the area very well and every inch of the lagoon. They’ll take you around and tell you all the interesting facts and history of how the lagoon came about and what species inhabit it

Ask for the boats that have a glass floor to be able to see the bottom of the lagoon and see all the life that inhabits it, thanks to how clear its water area. 

On the tour you’ll find a landscape with a tremendously rich biodiversity, see all the marine wildlife as well as the plants and animals that inhabit the lagoon

The rich variety of species that you’ll find here will tell you all about the life of the herons and various tropical birds that call it home. 

The Cave of the Swallows, in the Gri-Gri Lagoon, Dominican Republic

One of the main stops you’ll make on the tour is at the Cave of the Swallows. There, every year, around the month of March, these birds return to nest and lay their eggs, leaving again around the month of October or November. 

On this boat tour of the channel that flows into the sea, you’ll have the opportunity to go for a swim in truly incredible crystal clear waters, making a stop at the natural pool with turquoise waters or at Caletón beach. 

Gri-Gri Lagoon bird sanctuary – Dominican Republic

The best time for the tour is at sunset, the perfect time of day for watching the egrets and vultures flying over the mangroves as you navigate the narrow channels that flow into the sea.

Around the lagoon you’ll find restaurants whose menus are mainly based on fresh fish. There are also small shops selling souvenirs and other items, where you’ll surely find something special to take home with you. 

Recommendations for this tour

We recommend wearing comfortable clothes and bringing very few things, since the idea is to enjoy yourself to the fullest and not have to be worrying about the things you’re carrying. You should be able to fit everything you need in a small backpack

Here are our recommendations:

  • Comfortable, cool clothing that you don’t mind getting wet.
  • Comfortable shoes that can get wet.
  • Sunscreen, always.
  • Bug spray. 
  • Hat.
  • Swimsuit and towel.
  • Sunglasses. 

Of course, you’ll have to bring a camera to immortalise everything you are going to see, which is going to be incredible!

Another recommendation is to bring cash that you can use for tips, which people will surely appreciate, and which you can use to make purchases with, since in most places you cannot pay by card.

And the most important thing that can’t fit in your backpack: enjoy yourself! 

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