If you hear “Dominican Republic”, you will straight away think of sandy beaches, palm trees, hot weather, and Punta Cana. Let me tell you something: DR it’s much more than this article I will show you what the island offers in its North Western side. I am talking about the Peninsula of Samana’ and it’s hidden gem Las Terrenas.
How to get to Las Terrenas from Santo Domingo
Las Terrenas it’s only 140 KM / 86 miles away from Santo Domingo, making it a nice road trip by car. Not considering any photo stops, the drive will take around 2 hours. Just be mindful when you drive in a country that it’s not yours, as rules might be a bit different. The last leg of the route becomes more difficult due to a few dangerous turns. Be prepared to pay the road tolls on the way having cash at hand: about $25-$30 USD each way.
Another easy way to get to Las Terrenas is by local buses. The main terminal where to catch the bus is at Parque Enriquillo – Plaza Lama. Here you will also find coaches driving to other destinations, make sure you get on the bus to “Las Terrenas-El Limon”. One way ticket it’s DOP 400 – only cash. The ride takes around 2h and 15/30 minutes. You can also catch the bus on the “Autopista Las America”- bus stop “Samana”, very close to the airport.
Here a useful link for bus rides to Samana’ Las Terrenas Live.
Where to stay in Las Terrenas
Las Terrenas offers various kinds of accommodation, my favorite option is the aparthotel. I stayed at the “House Jardin Del Caribe” and hired a gorgeous studio flat with a terrace for only $30 per night.
There are a few cheaper options such, hotel and aparthotel close to the bus terminal, roughly 2 km away from the beachfront, for as little as $10 per night. You can also find more exclusive accommodations by the beach: luxurious aparthotel and resorts (price per night starting at $80).
Las Terrenas has only 2 main roads going opposite directions: Nuestra Senora del Carmen and Avenida Juan Pablo Duarte. I suggest staying half way from the terminal to the beach.
If you prefer more privacy and silence, consider staying in any resort close to Playa Bonita. A paradisiac long stretch of soft sand sourronded by palm trees (price per night starting at $80).
How to move around Las Terrenas
Only a few km. separate the Bus Terminal, which is the beginning of the village, to the beach front. You can easily walk everywhere, if you don’t mind the heat and like to take your time wandering around. I loved that.
For the ones less used to walk, there is plenty of moto-taxi around: you will find most of them at the bus terminal. Rides start from DOP 50 going up to DOP 200 within the village. To get from the terminal to your accommodation within the village, will cost you DOP 100.
The best beaches tough are outside Las Terrenas. You can get there by moto-taxi (prices from DOP 200) or you can hire a motorbike or a quad (prices from $20 per day).
What to do in Las Terrenas
Go to the beach! Km of sandy beaches surround the area and you have plenty of decision on where to go based on your likes.
Get to know local people just walking around or shopping in the little grocery and fruit & veg shops. Dominicanos are very friendly and even if you don’t speak Spanish they will make every effort to communicate and help you out.
Try the local cuisine: whether it is street food or a proper meal in a restaurant, don’t be afraid to try local delicacies starting from fried plantain, to BBQ, pastry, and the iconic dish “La Bandera”.
Take Bachata classes, supporting the local community, most of all the youngster. Bachata is a style of Latin dance very popular in the Republic, and Las Terrenas is very famous for its Bachata festival. You can get private classes for as little as $15 per hour and you will gain in so much fun!
After you have taken classes it’s time to show off your skills: go and kill the floor of one of the many disco bar! Generally, no entry fee and cocktails go from DOP 150. My favorite disco was “Babylon“.
Night-time’s not just about Bachata, as you can hit the local bar and restaurant area called “Pueblo de Pescadores“, to indulge in some authentic local cuisine and sip on a fantastic Rum & coke!
Also, on the island there are plenty of opportunities for scuba diving and snorkelling. You can purchase packages directly on the beach or in local travel agencies. Not to miss also the boat tours and excursions to nearby places like “El Limon waterfall” or “Lulu Waterfall”.
Best Beaches around Las Terrenas
Playa Punta Popy: narrow palm beach just a 2 km away from the village. Being famous for kite surfing you might find plenty of youngsters there, as well as umbrellas and loungers facilities
Playa las Ballenas: 2 km away from the village, on the left side of Pueblo de Pescadores”, this beach tends to be less populated yet with clear water and some palm trees where to find shadow if you prefer so. You can find here some kiosk selling fresh drinks and a few beach umbrellas and loungers. The water here is calmer and warmer.
Playa Bonita: perhaps my favorite, 10 km away from the village. A long string of sandy beach and high palm trees with clear water, away from the hustle of Las Terrenas. Perfect for spending your afternoon and wait till the sun comes down. No amenities here, so make sure to take with you some water or snacks.
Playa Coson: a bit further away then Playa Bonita, with gold sand and turquoise water. A lively beach where you can practice a wide range of activities or aquatic sports like snorkelling or diving.
Playa El Limon: 20 km away from Las Terrenas, this beach is perfect for people seeking for quiet and peace. It can get a bit windy making it difficult to have a swim, but the beach view it’s worth the wind! Also, you can visit the close-by waterfall.
Enjoying the view of El Limon beach
Playa Moron: less known, yet a real natural beauty. The sand is soft and has more of a pinkish tone. No vendors around, a true piece of paradise and another perfect spot for sunsets watching.
Conclusion about Las Terrenas
Las Terrenas it’s definitely a place to visit in DR if you are looking for a local touch and beautiful beaches. You won’t find the big hotels and resort like in Punta Cana, but you can still get some comfortable accommodation and great dining options mingling more with local people and the Dominican local tradition. For more information get in touch with me via social media 🙂
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