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Jarabacoa S


et in a central mountain valley at 1,700 feet above sea level,

the town of Jarabacoa is sometimes called the adventure capital of the Dominican Republic. And for good reason — it lies within striking distance of the four highest peaks in the Caribbean, including the 10,000-foot Pico Duarte, the tallest of them all. Dominicans even refer to this rugged region as Los Alpes. From Santo Domingo, it’s an easy 1.5 hour drive up the country’s biggest and best-maintained highway, the DR-1. The road that climbs up to

Jarabacoa from Highway DR-1 passes through the home of Dominican arepas or corn cakes. It’s just outside La Vega and you’ll know you’ve arrived by the tourist board sign saying: ‘Zona Arepas’ and women selling the snacks at roadside stands. Various tour guides in Jarabacoa off er trekking, canyoning, horseback riding and white-water rafting on the Yaque del Norte, the only river in the Caribbean where this is possible.

Insider Tips: Jarabacoa’s best adventure tour guides are Rancho Baiguate — Rafting trips cost about £30 per person for three hours. Prices for horseback trips vary from £6.50 an hour to several hundred pounds for overnight treks, including tents and food.

Samaná I

t’s easy to imagine that the Dominican Republic has always

been a country of large, all-inclusive resorts. But to see it the way it used to be, with endless stretches of white-sand beaches lined with swaying palms, make the trip to the northeast corner where the Samaná Peninsula juts into the sea. In winter, pods of humpback whales convene in Samaná Bay to give birth, but the peninsula is just as alluring any other time of year. The peninsula’s primary town is

Las Terrenas, a French enclave of thatched beach bars and cabana hotels. Although the area is growing, change has yet to reach the tiny town of Las Galeras, farther out on

the peninsula, or Playa Cosón, an enormous horseshoe-shaped beach 15 minutes west of Las Terrenas. There you’ll fi nd little more than solitude-seeking sunbathers and the occasional beach restaurant or bar. The best of these is Restaurant Luis, named after its proprietor, a cheerful man who grills up whatever fi sh his guys have caught that morning. Just look for the word ‘Luis’ on a faded wooden sign along a road that has few other landmarks.

Insider Tips: If you want to see whales, come in January or February. You can arrange for a boat through one of the tour guides in Las Terrenas or online at, run by a Canadian biologist. Or you can simply show up at the harbour in the town of Samaná and book there. For a great meal, visit the tiny Fisherman’s Village — a collection of renovated fi shing shacks — along the beach road in Las Terrenas. Stop at La Terrasse where you can eat the catch of the day cooked in a typically Dominican way, with French, Spanish and Creole twists.

Cafe in Santa Domingo

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