Playa Grande. Big Beach. Not the most imaginative name, but its a name I won’t forget. That’s because this is the beach you dream about on a winter’s day as you are stowed away in a cubicle in some northern city. Sugary golden sand, ever-changing surf and palm trees that burst open like fireworks. It’s as though it were designed for a Corona commercial.
Problem is, we visited Playa Grande on probably the wettest day of our six-day trip to the Dominican Republic. We drove along the coastal highway for an hour in bright sun, only to pass through the town of Rio San Juan and encounter building cloud cover. We guessed right on the beach’s turn-off, and found ourselves driving over tree-root speed bumps to reach the parking lot. We slathered on sunscreen, bought a cheap turtle sculpture from a nice Dominican man who seemed more concerned about alerting us to the dangerous undertow than selling us stuff, and — that’s when the sky opened up. We had 15 minutes of spotty sun, and then an epic deluge which we waited out in the car.
After the rain, we couldn’t resist a nice walk along Playa Grande’s eastern end, where a wild stand of palm trees swayed over the pounding surf. The light was flat, and had the beach been minutes away from us, rather than a guaranteed 2 hours in the car, we would have returned for sunrise or sunset light photos. It’s a jewel of a beach.
Instead, Hailey and I planned to return on our last day of the trip, but not to the beach. To the golf course that hugs the cliffs above the beach’s western edge. After a few family portraits before the next band of showers, we stuffed ourselves back into our tiny rental car and headed back to Cabarete. We were hungry.