On the northeast coast, Río San Juan is a friendly town with a lagoon called Gri-Grí (guagua from Sosúa, 1¼ hours, may have to change in Gaspar Hernández). Boats take visitors through the mangrove forests and to see caves and rocks, and to the natural swimming pool called the Cueva de las Golondrinas (US$16 without swim, US$24 with swim, bargaining possible, US$1.60 per person if more than 10 people).
Also worth visiting from the town is Puerto Escondido beach. You can walk beyond Hotel Bahía Blanca between mangroves and the sea to the mouth of Gri-Grí, many birds in the mangroves.
Further to the east is Playa Grande, 60 km from Puerto Plata, another beautiful new resort which is being developed, in conjunction with Playa Dorada, at a cost of many millions of dollars (lots of hawkers on the beach). The many tour companies in Sosúa offer tours to Gri-Grí and Playa Grande. Five kilometres east of Playa Grande is Club Paradise, T813-9499327, F813-9491008, a ‘clothing optional’ resort, with beautiful, secluded beaches, self-sufficient complex, watersports and entertainment.
Between Río San Juan and Samaná, the coast road runs through Cabrera to Nagua, a dirty fishing village on the shores of the Bahía Escocesa. Several small and medium-sized hotels: Hotel San Carlos; Hotel Corazón de Jesús; D Hotel Carib Caban, 8 km south of Nagua, studio (less in smaller room), pleasant, directly on beach, restaurant with Austrian food (hire a motorcycle to get there, US$2, T5843145). Caribe Tours T5842370, and Metro, T5842177, both pass through Nagua on their Santo Domingo-Samaná and Samaná-Puerto Plata routes.
The scenery along the north coast from Sosúa to Samaná is exceptionally beautiful. The road is paved all the way from Sosúa to Samaná. Sánchez is a pleasant, unspoilt little place with some basic accommodation. Much of the architecture is 19th-century, pretty, colonial. It was at one time a prosperous sea port and had a railway which ran to San Francisco de Macorís and La Vega. Bus Santo Domingo-Sánchez, Caribe Tours four a day, US$5. Caribe Tours daily at 1630 from Sánchez to Cabarete/Sosúa, 2½ hours, US$2.75 and on to Puerto Plata US$4.75. Guagua from Samaná US$2, return from Calle Duarte.