The North Coast of the Dominican Republic is often referred to as the Amber Coast because of its large amounts of amber deposits. Millions of years ago the conditions for creating amber were perfect thanks to an abundant amount of Hymenaea Protera, an extinct prehistoric leguminous tree, that existed here. As the Amber Lady so simply describes, “Amber is formed when sap from trees on land are later were washed down streams and buried in oceanic alluvial deposits for millions of years (minimum 25 million). It is there that the process of polymerization and amberization took place.” In present times, the conditions for finding amber on the seashores of The Amber Coast are perfect thanks to the harmony between the weather, tides, and waves.
Although the Dominican Republic is considered the #2 spot in the world for discovering amber (the Baltic Region is #1), Dominican Amber is particularly exciting because it is nearly always transparent and it has a higher number of fossil inclusions making it highly sought after by collectors and scientists alike. These attractive qualities can be attributed to the year round warm climate.
Amber is considered a semi-precious gemstone, even though it is not mineralized as are most other gemstones. This, in essence, makes it worth some dough if you find a nice piece. In a past article we listed hunting for Amber as one of 9 fun and free things to do while you are in Cabarete and we wanted to take the time to expand on the topic. We needed an expert to give us some tips, so we got a hold of self-proclaimed Amber Hunting expert and longtime Cabarete Resident, Julia.
At just 9 years old, Julia has discovered 147 pieces of Cabarete amber in her 1.5 years of hunting. Her collection ranges in color from yellow to red, but she has high hopes that she will one day find green and blue.
Reds are pretty rare (caused by surface oxidation) and blues and greens are the most rare (due to a natural fluorescence in the amber).
It’s worth noting that the older the amber the darker it is, and if it has any sort of fossil included it becomes even more valuable. Julia has one with a moth inside!
Below we have included Julia’s Top 5 Tips for Finding Amber on the Beach in Cabarete:
1. It’s better to go hunting after it has rained because that is when the ocean gets rough, which breaks up the amber from the seabed. Then, when it is finished raining, it gets calm and the amber is left behind amongst the seaweed on the seashore.
2. Hunt on the days that have bigger waves because when the waves come to shore, they bring the amber with them. Once you have searched one spot, move on, but then return and make another sweep because the waves may have brought more amber.
3. Sunday is a good day to go because this is the day when the beach is busier. Presumably, all of the action happening in the water from the visitors stirs things up a bit and kicks up some amber onto the shore.
4. There is a certain type of seaweed that the amber tends to be attracted to. Make sure you thoroughly search the seaweed because sometimes there are small hiding inside.
5. Last but not least, go slow and have lots of patience!
Bonus: Julia is adamant that one of the best spots to look for seaweed is in front of Eze Bar Cabarete, which is located on the east side of the beach in front of Carib Wind. As it turns out, her mom and dad own Eze Bar. Could it be that Julia has mastered the art of sneaking in a plug for her parent’s business already? We aren’t sure, but we are going to go with it because, again, Julia has already found 147 pieces of amber and we saw the proof!
And that’s it! We hope you find Julia’s 5 Tips to Finding Amber in Cabarete useful. If you go out hunting and find any treasures yourself in the seaweed, share your photos with us on Facebook. We would love to see your prehistoric discoveries!