As a child, I grew up in beautiful proximity to “the woods,” where my friends and I spent countless summer days trekking, building forts, and swinging from vines.  Though relatively close to the freeway, our imaginations ran wild as we envisioned escaping our worlds and becoming children of the wilderness.

There’s something beautiful about that innocence and desire to be one with nature.  To consider departure from civilization at the ripe old age of 10 for a life of simplicity…

I’ve always felt more at home in the middle of nowhere than in cities.  I find myself awed by the majesty of vistas and nature’s ability to establish itself once humans stop interfering.  Case in point?  Abandoned buildings.  I LOVE abandoned buildings.  I can’t help but be spell bound by the possibilities of what was and transfixed by nature’s ability to reclaim its original place and status.  There’s little that’s more uniquely interesting than beautiful abandoned buildings that are slowly being reclaimed by nature.

So, when I heard that there was an abandoned “bridge to nowhere” that led to an uninhabited island in the Samana Bay in the Dominican Republic, I had to learn more.

While stories about the reasoning for the abandonment of the Bridge to Nowhere conflict, the general consensus from locals was that in the 70s and 80s, a prosperous businessman wanted to open a restaurant on the island in the bay.  Construction began on the bridges and shell of the restaurant, but at some point, the money ran out and construction halted.

Recently, though, efforts have been made to rehabilitate the bridge’s structures – for the moment, that means walking past the “Do Not Pass; Construction Zone.” signs, doing some maneuvering around supplies and equipment and watching your step.  I was terrified of stepping into any of the spaces between concrete slabs!

I was hesitant at first, however after a group of teenagers and late milllenials began the walk without fear, I was in.

There are two ways to access the bridge – one from the tourist laden hotel Gran Bahia Principe Cayacoa and one walking path from town.  As we stayed at one of the locally owned hotels in town, Samana Spring, we took the walk along the bay, pausing to admire the shipwrecks along the way.  The bridge is high and as I mentioned, clearly in the process of being repaired.  Scaffolding supports workers rehabbing the structure, and, though I’m not an engineer, superficially, it looks fine.

 

Shipwreck

Shipwreck on the way to the Bridge to Nowhere

The walk is about 10-15 minutes from the mainland and contains incredible views of the bay, Samana Town, and the island.

Once we arrived on the island, we had to find a way from the bridge to the land itself – the path isn’t 100% finished and involves either a terrifying five-foot leap of faith or a circuitous route down and around.  I chose the latter and was met by smiles from locals who were fishing, picnicking or otherwise just generally enjoying the surf.

Restaurant

 

Mark and I plodded along, finding a path up the hillside to the restaurant structure.  It would have been (or will be?!) incredible.  Multiple floors, sweeping views, porches and balconies.  We followed the path to it’s end on the westernmost side of the island which had clearly been landscaped and outfitted as an overlook complete with planters and benches.  No sooner had I lamented that it’d be at least another hour and a half until sunset before I realized we had spent the entire time just enjoying the view, and, there it was upon us!

 

Bridge to Nowhere

View of the Bridge to Nowhere from the island

Sunset

View of the Bridge to Nowhere from the island at sunset!

In the dimming light, Mark and I found our way back to the trail and followed it out to the easternmost tip as well.  There, we found Delphi-like pillars in the middle of the untamed jungle.  It was like happening upon a ruin that hadn’t meant to be found.  A beautiful surprise!

 

Delphi Like Pillars

 

There seemed to be a worn path that forged down the hillside to the beach below, but with the sky darkening, we took the fraying remnants of sidewalk back the way we came and found our way to the bridge once again.

 

Reconstructed Sidewalk

 

While the sunset was truly incredible, if I had the chance to do it again, I would surely attempt to catch a sunrise from the island as well.  While both sunrise and sunset from mainland Samana Town are beautiful, there’s something intimate and centering about witnessing light’s first emergence from the peaceful isolation of a deserted island.

 

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