Dominican Amber on Cabarete Beaches

Cabarete beaches are well known for their active watersports scene and kickass mojitos. But did you know that little lumps of amber wash up on our shores? If you go hunting on the beach among the seaweed, preferably after it has rained, you could stumble across pieces of prehistoric treasure.

Now is the time of year to get your amber hunt on. Hurricane season is upon us, which means big swells bringing in big waves to surf. The powerful swells also break up the amber in the seabed and wash it up to shore. Get going to find yourself a memorable Cabarete souvenir!

Let’s learn a bit more about amber to prep for our treasure hunt.

What is Amber and how does it form?

Once upon a time, amber used to be tree resin. The gloopy resin from the Hymenaea protera tree trickled down into streams and rivers, making its way into the ocean, some 25 million years ago. And there it stayed, down in the deep, deep blue, in among the layers of silt, sand and clay.

Sedimentary rock is made by particles of sand, clay, other rocks which are compacted together under a lot of pressure. Like, on the ocean floor, or buried beneath layers of mud.

Most amber is found inside sedimentary rock, as it was buried and compressed along with other organic material. The resin crystallises over a long time, and forms a hard, compact fossil.

Fossils in Amber

Sometimes, insects and plants from millions of years ago are trapped in the resin and preserved in the lumps of amber. Using these fossils, experts have been able learn about prehistoric ecology.

They have built up a picture of the plants and animals that used to live in a massive, long-lost tropical forest in the DR.

If you’re interested, you can check out the Museo del Ambar Dominicano in Puerto Plata, or the Amber World Museum in Santo Domingo. They have some amazing collections of creatures and plants preserved in amber.

Fossilised amber chunks are pretty valuable, so they make for particularly exciting finds on the beach!

Dominican Amber

The North Shore of the Dominican Republic is nicknamed the Amber Coast. There is a lot of mining that goes on all over the coast, some of which can be very damaging to ecosystems.

The Baltic Region has the largest known amber deposit in the world, followed by the DR. Dominican Amber tends to be more transparent and glassy than Baltic Amber, and you’re more likely to find creatures fossilised in the amber in the DR.

Dominican Amber comes in many colours. As well as the classic yellow and honey varieties, keep an eye out for red and green shades of gem. The rarest amber is blue and fluorescent, and has a stunning otherworldly quality, as above.

Definitely pick that up, if you come across it.

Go on an Amber Treasure Hunt!

OK, so you know what amber looks like and how it came about. Now, it’s your turn to go discover it for yourself!

It does take a bit of patience, but going on a little amber rekkie on the beach is a great way to spend a morning in Cabarete. If you’re not into watersports, you can work up an appetite while you walk, and maybe even find some treasure!

Though the HP tree has been extinct for a very long time, it’s pretty cool that we can still enjoy its life force today in the form of the beautiful amber gemstone.