Costambar is a large beachfront gated residential community just outside of Puerto Plata city, the largest city on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic.
Home to hundreds of Europeans, Americans, Canadians and of course Dominicans, it has a real mix residents.
The main beach at Costambar
Whilst Costambar doesn’t have the international acclaim of Cabarete, it makes up for it as a genuinely tranquil place to live or spend a few weeks. The beach is always quiet, except for Sundays and Bank Holidays, when Dominicans from nearby Santiago (the second largest city in the Dominican Republic) and other surrounding towns, descend on Costambar and other beaches for their well-deserved day off.
On Sundays, the beach can get pretty crowded, but the atmosphere is always friendly with a mixture of ages all determined to have a good time.
Unlike other tourist towns, such as Sosua and Cabarete, beach hawkers are very laid back. There are only a handful, most of whom have been operating in the same spot for years and carry ID’s licensed by the management of Costambar. Many of their customers are regulars and you won’t get hassled like at other beaches. A friendly smile goes a long way here, and many will be quite happy to chat with you without being pushy.
The beach is kept pretty clean by the beach chair vendors. Go out early in the morning and you will see them sweeping up the litter from the day before. The APC manages the cleaning and employ a man with a donkey and cart to sweep up any larger litter and the inevitable seaweed deposited on the sand.
The main entrance to Costambar - on a busy day
On a busy Sunday you won’t see many Dominicans swimming. Sure, they’ll be in the water, but traditionally, the water is a place to stand in, chest high, perhaps holding some drinks to share and talking with your friends and family. Later in the afternoon is when the teens and other more boisterous members will try to build human pyramids in the water – good fun to watch – especially the inevitable collapse!
Of course other sports are played on the beach. There is one volleyball net about half way along the beach, where regulars will usually meet up to play. Don’t be shy – they always welcome new players.
On busy days, young Dominicans will be practicing their baseball pitches, playing an informal game of football/soccer or depending on how energetic they are, wrestling and chasing each other down the beach.
There are two supermarkets in Costambar, or perhaps we should refer to them as mini-markets? “Jennys” is the larger one, situated on the central Costambar road just inside the entrance gates and has a surprising array of just about anything you might need. Indeed, many residents say they don’t need to go anywhere else. The other mini-market is located the other side of Costambar close to the beach and has a more basic range of drinks and foodstuffs.
Aside from these two there are not many shops in the town. There are a couple of small car rental places, a bakery that does great fresh bread every day, an ice-cream parlour, a video rental store and a couple of other shops. As Costambar is just a couple of miles out from Puerto Plata city, there really isn’t any need for more.
According to the APC, there are 221 houses in Costambar, owned mainly by Americans, Canadians and Europeans. There are 68 apartment complexes, with a total of 589 apartments, and still remaining nearly 400 empty lots. There are also a number of abandoned buildings, some of which started construction some years ago and never got finished.