Las Terrenas

On La Samaná’s north coast, this former fishing village has grown greatly since its discovery by expats, often from Switzerland and France, in the late ’70s. Las Terrenas stands as one of the newest and emerging resorts of the Caribbean. In an attempt to end urban slums in Santo Domingo, the dictator Trujillo began exporting people here in the 1940s, instructing them to make their living fishing and farming the land.

Of course, it was its beaches that put Las Terrenas on the tourist map, and these strips of golden or white sand remain its major attraction. Otherwise, there is very little to see and do here except hang out on the beach, eat seafood dinners at night, and frequent the beachfront merengue dives until the early hours. Las Terrenas is one of the least formal and least structured resorts in the Dominican Republic.

The aptly named Playa Bonita, or “beautiful beach,” at Punta Bonita lies only a 10-minute ride by motoconcho west from the heart of Las Terrenas. Once here, you’ll find a kilometer of golden sand set against the backdrop of coconut palms and a surf of clean waters. In the distance you can see several palm-studded islets. Humpback whales can be spotted off the coast in season. Punta Bonita lies 6km west of Las Terrenas and only a 10-minute drive east of the village of Cosón. Punta Bonita offers 13km of uninterrupted powdery-white sand. With its tranquil waters, this is our preferred spot for snorkeling on the north coast of the peninsula, and the usually clear waters contain rainbow-hued fish and beautiful coral formations.

Back in Las Terrenas, you can enjoy some good beaches as well, including Playa Cacao, although these sands are more crowded, especially in winter. The beachfront at Las Terrenas stretches about 2km both east and west from the center. The waters are generally tranquil here, suitable for swimming. Projecting out is a coral reef at 100m that is ideal for some excellent snorkeling.

The entire waterfront of Las Terrenas becomes festive at night, especially at El Mercado de la Noche, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This is a real happening experience where locals descend on the waterfront to sell Dominican food and liquor (most often rum) from stalls. Hastily assembled island bands play music, and the party goes on until early morning. The hottest dance club at the resort is Discoteca Nuevo Mundo. Both locals and visitors of all ages frequent this dance club, with its recorded music, mainly merengue, salsa, house, and Latin rock. Three or four times a month they bring in a local or international band to amuse the masses, and on these nights, the joint is packed.

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