Centennial College at Tubagua Ecolodge

Student travel leader rates Tubagua Eco Lodge safety, services

What makes Tubagua a great place for students? We asked the country director for International Student Volunteers in Dominican Republic 2011-2013 to tell us why Tubagua scored on top of the lodging list for ISV students and this is what he wrote:

A stay at Tubagua Ecolodge is “seeing the real Dominican Republic” says award-winning travel writer

The Riome family visits – again!

The ultimate compliment for a lodge owner is having people come back. Like the Riome family, who have made this their winter retreat returning each February since 2008 when we opened our doors

Caribbean real estate: how small an investment can you make?

The Tiny House Movement comes to Caribbean real estate.

Alexandra’s YouTube Video

This video, done by Alejandra Gil, will give you a glimpse of the lodge and of a trek to God’s Swimming Pool

Taino Indian visits Tubagua Eco Lodge

Everybody says that the Spaniards killed off the Taino Indians but living up here in the mountains it becomes harder to believe all the time.

BBC Travel: Lodges Robinson Crusoe would love…

Tubagua has a charm – and a roster of delicious, home-cooked local food – that made me want to stay for another year, if not a lifetime.

An unwanted guest blows in…

Hurricane Irma blustered through September 7, knocking over a coconut tree and the roof of our social area.  What a great crew we have; within 24 hours we were cleaned up and ready for a group of 15 already-paid guests to check-in. And so for a short while we’ll be enjoying an open-air deck. But not for long!



Popular women’s blog features Tubagua

Tubagua Ecolodge awarded GreenLeader Gold status by Trip Advisor

Tubagua Ecolodge today announced it has been accepted as a Gold-level GreenLeader  into the TripAdvisor GreenLeaders program, which helps travelers around the world plan greener trips by highlighting hotels and B&Bs engaging in environmentally-friendly practices.

Tubagua Ecolodge wins the Atabey national environmental award for sustainable tourism

Tubagua was one of seven award winners at the 2016 nationally televised presentation

Tubagua: a perfect mountain/ beach combo, says TravelDRnow

Tubagua is one of the Caribbean’s 10 best ecolodges

Tubagua by McKenzie Shane

Tubagua by McKenzie Shane

The outcome of a lazy afternoon on the lodge verandah, penned by McKenzie Shane, February 2014. Thanks, McKenzie!

Life on Route 25

Postcard from Tubagua: loo with a view

Old Pix from 2006

Tubagua on YouTube

Here’s my first attempt at editing with iMovie, came out not bad but the audio ended up over modulated after uploading to YouTube. Enjoy…!

Check out these panoramic 360º photos


Best seen Fullscreen. Click button on image at far right

Ocean View

Grounds & Gardens

Dominican Republic medical mission trips

Project Helping Hands director of operations Ken Weaver cradles a baby while on a medical mission trip in the Dominican Republic, where in July almost 1000 needy inhabitants were served in rural villages and bateyes

Medical mission trips to the Dominican Republic provide health care providers with a way to give back by reaching out into small rural communities where medical care is often non-existent.

More than a third of the country’s total population lives in poverty, and almost 20 per cent are living in extreme poverty. In rural areas poor people constitute half of the population. The poorest of the poor include Dominicans of Haitian origin living in the border areas. They are particularly vulnerable, and they suffer not only from low incomes and poor living conditions but also from social exclusion. In all groups, women who are heads of households and children are extremely vulnerable. Because they are without proper documentation such as birth certificates and identity papers, about 20 per cent of the poorest Dominican families do not benefit from most types of social assistance programs.

The country suffers from marked income inequality; the poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GDP, while the richest 10% enjoys nearly 40% of GDP. High unemployment and underemployment remains an important long-term challenge.

The persistence of rural poverty is the result of several factors, including government priority given to developing the tourism, industry and services sectors during the last decade. Agricultural productivity is low. The country’s poor farmers have little land and their production is too low to enable them to maintain their families. A large number of small-scale subsistence farmers and their families have to seek off-farm employment or another income-generating activity to supplement household incomes.

Join Project Helping Hands during medical mission trips to Dominican Republic each June and November. Write to us to find out more

Our Jungle Gym, featured on Dominican Travel Network

Have a look!


Lonely Planet says Tubagua is “worth a visit”

Lonely Planet Review from October 2011

Livin’ it up in Tubagua

by John Oughton

I’ve been staying at this wonderful place in the Dominican Republic for several days now.  My main purpose  was to get away from February in Toronto, experience some wonderful weather and scenery, and a new culture, and make progress on two writing projects: finishing my PhD thesis proposal, and completing my suspense novel.

So, up to now, I’ve been conserving my writing energy for those tasks, other than short emails and comments on Facebook.  However, some of my pals have expressed interest in knowing more about where I’m staying. My good friend Rachel Larabee,  has taught, volunteered, and led college student international learning expeditions here, and is mostly responsible for my knowing about the Eco Village.  She asked if I would be blogging about it.  I owe her at least one.  So I’ll do my best to describe it, and evoke its atmosphere a little…  before I log my designated hours of thesis-proposal work.

The Eco Village is along a somewhat challenging twisty road about 20 km up the hills from Puerto Plata, and has been in operation about four years now.  It is the creation of Tim Hall,  Honorary Canadian consul for this part of the island.  This makes him a great person to stay with, because if you get thrown in jail, you just call your host for help. Tim, a generous and far-thinking Montreal native  permanently attached  to Dominican cigars, had a few goals in mind for this place.  One is that it fit the “sustainable tourism” model.  This means that the Lodge and its various rooms and cabin/suites are built, as much as possible, by people who live in the village of Tubagua, and constructed with local, replaceable materials — lumber from the native trees, palm-thatched roofs, etc. Energy use is minimal — it has wireless Internet, lights, but no heavy electricity demands  It also offers tourists who are bored with typical resorts and prefer some contact with the local people and countryside an alternative place to stay, or use as home base for excursions around here.

There’s no air-conditioning; in fact, there’s no glass in windows, but you’re on top of a sizable hill, almost a mountain, and at this time of the year, it’s never too hot in the shade.  The shower has a small on-demand hot water heater, and rather than needing a full enclosure and ventilation fan,  has one open side facing down the hills and out to the ocean — with an empty picture frame hung there to compose the scenery.  So you can shower while looking out on a wonderful view, knowing that it would take very powerful optics (at least a military satellite’s)  for anyone  to view your dangly bits. You wake up each morning hearing a chorus of birds, distant roosters and dogs, and a little 125 cc motorcycle or two straining its way up the hill, often with three people, no helmets, and some produce on the bike — not the sound of elevators or canned music.

There’s a Haitian guy down the hill who works as a labourer but is an excellent singer, and sometimes his voice drifts up here as the sun rises.

You can pay for a meal plan or not, depending on your needs, and the food is local and wonderful, put together by Jacquie, a village woman that Tim has helped train, using experience from running a restaurant. Another of Tim’s goals is creating decent jobs in suzhou for local people, so several villagers work here, including a serious boy from an orphanage who is the dishwasher and busboy. Here’s an example of how this is sustainable tourism: in a beach resort in Puerto Plata you’d be eating food that is at best trucked in from the countryside, and possibly imported from other countries.  In Tubagua, the bananas you eat (small and sweet)  grow on the trees right outside your room.

It’s not a place for those who think that travel to exotic locales requires luxury touches like big-screen cable TV and hot tubs, or who make their major occupation complaining about the quality of the food,  service, etc.   But if you want to plan your own trips around the DR, Tim and others will help with advice about where to say and eat, what to see, the roads to take or avoid, and so on. It has services you won’t get in a big hotel, like tropical flowers everywhere, and hummingbirds who fly into the dining room. For me, it’s a great writer’s retreat because most visitors head out during the daytime, and it’s just me, the dogs, cats (and a black rooster who appeared from somewhere).

You actually can stay here without a car, as I am doing, renting a bicycle from Jacquie to ride a couple of K’s to the village and stock up on beer and snack foods, and cadging rides or sharing taxis to Puerto Plata or the beach from other visitors or Tim when he goes to the city on consulate business.

Which brings us to the question — what kind of tourist stays in an eco-lodge? First of all, it’s a bargain compared with all-inclusive resorts, because you’re provided with a minimum of facilities for a comfortable stay, and you just need to have a sense of adventure and be a little adaptable to enjoy them.  If you’re  thinking it’s all sober-faced vegans who try to score points about living more sustainably than everyone else, think again.  Last night we had a 40th birthday for the charming Anna, who’s here to do some relaxing and whale-watching with her husband Rene, a Dutch naval officer stationed in Curacao on Coast Guard training duties.  Arthur, a head greens-keeper and very practical guy from a golf course in the Okanagan, and an old friend of Tim’s who’s been coming to the DR for 15 years, and his nephew Jason who’s a carpenter on oil sands projects, bought steak, lobsters and a birthday cake and treated everyone … they were also in the kitchen helping Jacquie put the meal together.  There was plentiful wine, beer, and laughter.  Most people come here with a rental car so they can make day-trips (or longer ones) and then come back for a few more nights.  If you think having little lizards and butterflies co-existing with you is a good thing, by all means come here.

The local people are friendly, and cheerfully put up with my very developmental Spanish.  Staying here can also shift one’s assumptions about people from the countryside in the Caribbean.  There’s an elderly carpenter here … in excellent phsyical shape (Tim’s wife  told me, I think — it was in Spanish — that the carpenter still has a really nice butt for a guy of about 70!)  although a little short of teeth — who’s building an attached shower for the “honeymoon suite.”  Yes, he does it largely with a machete, but as he walked past, a melody went off, and he pulled out his cell phone to talk to a friend.

If all this sounds like your kind of vacation — and, for most of my friends, I think it would — check it out on Google or on Facebook.  Just enter Tubagua Plantation Eco Village — and talk to Tim about coming down here.  I don’t think you’ll regret visiting here … it’s got the best view and freshest air of anywhere I’ve stayed in the Caribbean, and you can feel good about your food and lodging money going to local people and a good cause rather than some faceless corporation or wealthy local puller of strings.

The Tourist Highway Project

The Tourist Highway Project is driving sustainable development and ecotourism along a 30-kilometer panoramic highway that links the popular beaches of the north coast with the scenic mountains and fertile valleys of the Dominican Republic’s interior.

This multi-faceted effort coincides with a regional competitiveness campaign supported by USAID, to re-start Puerto Plata’s economy —virtually exclusively based on tourism— after an alarming ten-year decline, and to re-brand the destination Puerto Plata in keeping with growing traveler demands for cultural and natural tourism attractions other than just sun and sand.

Along this country highway—at once a beautiful scenic mountain drive and an important link between the cities of Santiago and Puerto Plata—travelers can visit amber mines, an organic coffee-growing region and sugarcane plantations; purchase handicrafts and naturally grown produce, pasture-fed meats and dairy products from local farmers at their roadside stands, participate in community festivals; enjoy mountain hiking, cycling trails, river and waterfall trekking, cave exploring, horseback riding and zipline adventures.

The strategic location of this activity-rich scenic highway, at one end beginning just a few miles from Puerto Plata’s beach resorts— the other leading into the country’s second-largest city, Santiago, makes this a highly viable addition to the Dominican Republic’s tourism and travel menu.

Historically the only route linking Santiago and Puerto Plata cities, a new, faster highway was built in the 1970’s. This hilly, secondary road was forgotten until the mid-1990’s when it was rebuilt and branded “La Carretera Turística” by presidential decree and given protected status by the Ministry of Environment. With the opening of Santiago International Airport in the early 2000’s, it was again neglected and fell into disrepair.

In 2009, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) convened with the DR government to conduct a four-year industrial development project to develop rural tourism through private-public participation in Puerto Plata province (TURISOPP). During analysis, La Carretera Turistica was fingered as one of the key regional attractions in the nbsp;province. In 2011, a community-based organization was formed under TURISOPP’s guidance to function as a legally mandated interface between private and public stakeholders.

NGO participants, which are variably involved in initiatives addressing the issues of education, environment, health, governability and social enterprise, are united by the goal to stimulate local economy through helping highway communities develop and promote the many ecotourism features that lie along this route.

Projects –

  • Highway repair and preservation
  • The Eco Tourist Highway – self-guided route, signage and publication
  • Handicraft training and co-op stores
  • Highway photo stops
  • Regional zipline co-op
  • Caribbean Center for Ecotourism – training eco-guides and teachers
  • Sonador and other community aqueducts
  • Organic produce co-ops
  • School makeovers – improving the physical condition of rural schools
  • Coffee Reforestation in Pedro Garcia
  • Moringa Reforestation and education
  • Village beautification – preparing for tourism in rural villages / orientation and example-setting for community members
  • Educational support through day camps and after school programs
  • Eco-trail building
  • Fortification of community based organizations and private<>public sector participation

Participants & Stakeholders


  • Yasica City Council
  • Pedro Garcia City Council
  • Montellano City Council
  • Puerto Plata

Local GO’s & NGO’s

  • The Puerto Plata Tourism Cluster
  • Tubagua Residents Association
  • UMPC-MYP (Cultural Heritage Committee for Montellano, Yasica & Pedro Garcia)
  • INFOTEP (Professional Formation, Adult Education)
  • Ministry of Environment
  • Ministry of Tourism
  • Forestry Ministry
  • Ministry of Education

International GO’s & NGO’s

  • Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
  • United States Peace Corps

Local Enterprise

  • Tubagua Plantation Eco Village
  • Yasika Zipline Adventures
  • Jasmine Spa
  • Aramis Yogurt

Voluntourism & Student Group Planners

  • Power Trips Inc.
  • International Student Volunteers
  • Por Amor

Universities & Education

  • Miami U (Ohio)
  • Centennial College (Toronto)
  • University of Maine









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