If you’re ballin’ and you don’t like walking, go for it. You’ll be at the beaches before you can say “s#@! I forgot my sunscreen”
However, if you’re the adventurous kind and like to hold on to your money, there’s a much better way.
As usual, it’s better if you have your own transportation, but if you don’t, grab a motoconcho. You’ll want to head for “Boca del Diablo” which I’ve marked on the map below:
You’ll probably have a hard time finding the turnoff as it’s completely unmarked, but ask locals and they’ll let you know.
Boca del Diablo is a blowhole that shoots up quite a ways above the cliff face when the swell is good, and the cliff is already pretty high. It makes an impressive WOOOOOSSHHH sound as it does and would be worth going just for its own sake.
We didn’t have much swell, so we had more of a woosh, and the spray wasn’t too high. But we got the idea.
The Hike to Fronton
From this point, you’ll start heading into the jungle. You’re walking a path between 60-some-foot cliffs on the left and the ocean on the right, so there’s really no way for you to get lost. Just keep going straight and follow the path and you’ll get there eventually.
DON’T FORGET TO BRING WATER. Really, it’s more important than anything else.
The jungle is a mix of wild local flora and banana plantations, speckled with coconut trees. It’s actually a very beautiful walk, and mostly shaded.
But you’ll be happy when you finally make it to the beach, which is pristine and crystal clear, but watch out for the sea urchins ;)
This is where most people stop. They’ve done the hike, they’ve seen the beach, they snorkel a bit, and they head home.
I’m stubborn though, and I was intent on finding a way to Playa Madame from here (see map above) mostly because I was told it wasn’t possible. Nothing is ever not possible.
Out of our group of 5, 2 stayed at the beach, and 3 of us started the climb up.
The Hike to the Top of the Cliff
About 3/4 of the way up we stumbled upon a cave, and of course had to check it out. We hadn’t thought to bring a flashlight though, so we had to rely on Gabriel’s camera flash to see where we were going, as well as sparing use of my low battery iPhone’s flashlight.
Trying to get a sense of the size of your surroundings with bats flying overhead is pretty fun.
Check it out: (oh and don’t forget to turn on the sound because the video is mostly black!)
Rush of adrenaline number one…
…and then one of the bats pooped on my forehead. :(
So we finally made it to the top of the cliff, where the landscape changes drastically from lush to completely dry, like this:
Along different points of the trail up there, you’ll find “lookout points” by which I mean the trail gets close enough to the edge of the cliff for you to see what’s happening below.
With no guardrails (or course) and knowing the cliff is actually inverted below you, this is adrenaline rush number two. I’m not too scared of heights, but standing at the edge and looking straight down at the beach below definitely made my stomach jump to my throat.
The view from up there is absolutely magnificent. You can see every detail of the coral formation below. It’s stunning and humbling.
We couldn’t get enough shots. But anyway, they don’t do it justice.
Somewhere along the way I found a black vulture feather and stuck it my hair.
Indeed, this is definitely their territory, and I’m jealous of the ease with which they just soar above the crystalline water.
At the end of the path we came across an old structure, which of course I had to climb to get a better view.
The vultures were kind enough to share their perch for a while, and allowed me a 360 degree view, with open ocean on 3 sides. Heaven.
Now the only thing that makes this hike sketchy is going home.
Apparently, it’s been rumored that some tourists have been accosted for their belongings while walking from Fronton back to Boca del Diablo, where the assailants spy from atop the hill and scout you out on your way up and get you on your way back.
If you’re afraid of this, it’s not a big deal to hitch a ride on one of the tourists boats back (if you came by moto, otherwise you’ll need to get back to your car)
However, from talking to locals, it sounds like this was an old problem that’s been taken care of.
Of course, the decision is at your own discretion and I recommend doing your own research, but also remember scare tactics are an easy way to seal the deal on a safe guided tour.
The 5 of us thought we’d do fine. Armed with a machete, a knife, two big bottles of beer, and strength in our numbers, we headed back, our pace a bit quicker than on the way in, unfortunately, as the late-afternoon sun coming through the foliage was just magical and we could really have spent a lot more time enjoying the view.
Needless to say nothing happened to us.
I still believe there is a way to go from Madame to Fronton, but we didn’t have enough time to scout it out that day. Maybe next time, or maybe if you find it first you can let us know. ;)
What’s the sketchiest hike you’ve ever done, and why?