El Limón waterfall in Las Terrenas is a popular tourist destination featuring a ~50m (~160 foot) waterfall surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and plunge pools for you to swim in. It’s also fairly accessible from Last Terrenas as it’s only a 30 minute drive.
There’s some comments that it’s not well sign posted, but if you’ve downloaded Google Maps you shouldn’t have any problems finding the town of El Limón from which you set off to the waterfalls. You’d also do pretty well to miss it considering that as we were getting closer there were guys on motorbikes driving alongside our car with laminated tour adverts for El Limón!
Anyhow, here’s a summary of our half day trip and a major tip that everyone seems to miss…..
El Limón waterfall at 7:25. I can’t seem to embed the video with time stamps!
To walk or ride?
The route to the waterfalls is around 1.5-2km along a dirt track. It seems like most people pay for a horseback ride but we decided to just walk it.
Water in the backpacks, flip flops on, we just started walking.
I’ve read a few reviews that talk of it being a steep trail but I have to disagree. Sure, it might be taxing if you’re over 60 years old but realistically most people are capable of walking 1.5km even if it has a few small hills thrown in. The walk took us about 35 minutes, but even if you’re slower it won’t take longer than an hour.
At first it was hard packed dirt/rock road but as you get closer to the waterfall and into the areas with more tree cover, there is quite a bit of mud. All 5 of us did it in flip flops (with varying success) but a pair of trainers might have been a better choice especially since the muddy parts tend to invariably have a bit of horse shit mixed in!
Excrement aside we were glad that we walked it. It’s not hugely taxing and makes the dip in the waterfall that much nicer.
We saw countless groups on horseback. It’s a typical horseback tour kind of thing. The horses know where they’re going, they’re not particularly happy and you’ve got your guide just walking alongside leading the horse. Hardly a thrill seeking excursion. I don’t know, maybe that is for some people. Each to their own I guess. It just seemed a little mundane.
Even if you take a horse you have to walk down the steps from the top of the waterfall to get to the bottom. The walk up back up the steps is definitely harder than the rest of the 1.5-2km walk.
*There are a couple of different routes that you can take. I believe we took the ‘harder’ one. Also, other reviews have talked about how the horseback guides can show you local cacao and other vegetation so that’s a benefit that we didn’t have visibility of.
El Limón Waterfall
At the top of the waterfalls you pay a 100 Dominican pesos entry fee and start the walk down to the bottom via a winding pseudo staircase sort of thing.
The waterfall itself is pretty impressive. It’s not your Victoria Falls free fall of water, instead it’s more of a cascade down a green (moss covered?) cliff. There’s also a plunge pool that you can swim in and take that all important picture for the ‘gram – if that’s what you’re in to.
Beautiful waterfall and plunge pool aside. I hated it.
Did you see that coming?
It was possibly the most touristy place I’ve been in 3 months of travelling (Cayo Arena was a close second). It was way too busy, with everyone trying to take a picture for Instagram. There wasn’t any point going for a swim in the plunge pool because you’d be elbow to elbow with everyone else. To top it off there were a couple of guys with Toucans charging people to take a picture in front of the waterfall with them.
A quick look at the mini waterfall below and it was time to climb back up the stairs and get out of there. We genuinely only spent 10 minutes there!
Everyone missed a trick
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. On our way to the main waterfall we stopped off at a smaller one. In fact, at the time we thought it was the actual waterfall (or at least I did). I clearly remember saying, “it looks a lot larger in the pictures”. In time it would become apparent why that was the case…..it wasn’t the waterfall in the pictures!
Regardless, we stripped off and jumped in. You can swim under the ‘falls’ and find your own little secluded ledge behind the curtain of water. Yes, it’s not as spectacular or as large as the main waterfall, but the tours don’t stop at it so there’s nobody there. We had it all to ourselves and didn’t see anyone in it on the way back either.
It’s my personal opinion that unless you go early and make sure you’re the first ones at the main waterfall, which is a very viable option, the smaller one is a far nicer experience. I’m just not a fan of destinations with loads of tourists. It’s made worse when there’s obvious tourist trap things like people with parrots offering you pictures with it. I’m by no means a stylish or snobby guy, but it feels a little tacky.
Check it out for yourself. I’ll wager that if the main waterfall is as busy as it was when we were there, you’ll enjoy the smaller one far more.
I’m not talking about the smaller waterfall about 50 metres from the main one. The smaller one we found was en route and about 500m from the entrance to the main waterfall.
How much does it cost to visit El Limón Waterfall?
We had a car so it cost us next to nothing. A couple of hundred Dominican Pesos to park and 100 each to see the main waterfall. A grand total of $5 USD.
I appreciate that not everyone will have rented a car so the cost depends on whether you’re going to be picked up from Las Terrenas or make your way to El Limón via GuaGua or taxi.
By all accounts a door to door tour from Las Terrenas, with the aforementioned horseback ride will run you anywhere from $50 to $65 USD including lunch.
You can make your way to El Limón yourself via GuaGua which is typically 50 pesos ($1), but a taxi will likely cost you in excess of $35 so there’s quite a large price difference there. I believe that once you’re there you’ll pay anywhere between $12 and $20 for the horseback section.
Is it worth $65? That depends on the value you place on your money. For me, that’s pricey and the lunch is highly unlikely to be anything special. If you’re on a budget just grab a GuaGua and walk to the falls, that’ll run you less than $5 and again in my opinion will be a far more entertaining journey than joining a procession of horses and other tourists.
Whatever option you choose, I beg you to get up as early as will allow and be the first ones to the main waterfall. You won’t regret it and can stop off at the smaller one on the way back.