Caribbean Tourism

Entertainment

Discovery of a Long-lost City

In 1997 archaeologists working in the Parque Nacional del Este revealed they had found the remains of a substantial Taino settlement with three large ceremonial plazas, which could have supported thousands of people in pre-Columbian times. The missionary Bartolomé de las Casas described the destruction of a city in 1503 and it is believed it could be the...

The Mystery of Columbus’ Bones

After his death in 1506, Columbus was buried in Valladolid, Spain. In 1509 his body was apparently removed to Sevilla, thence together with that of his son Diego to Santo Domingo sometime in the 1540s. When France took control of Hispaniola in 1795, Cuba (still part of Spain) requested Columbus’ remains. An urn bearing the name ‘Colón’ was disinterred from...

Culture

Music & Dance The most popular dance is the merengue, which dominates the musical life of the Dominican Republic; a great many orchestras have recorded merengue rhythms and are now world-famous. The traditional merengue is played by a three-man group called a perico ripiao, or pri-prí, which consists of a tambora (small drum), an accordion and a güira (...

Excursions

Santiago de los Cabelleros Moca An interesting day trip is to Moca, east of Santiago, which is a coffee and cacao centre and one of the richer regions of the country. The Iglesia Sagrada Corazón de Jesús belonging to the Silesian brothers dominates the town. There are some very impressive stained glass windows and mosaics, many donated by local families in...

Hispaniola

One might expect that a relatively small island such as Hispaniola (from Spanish 'Isla Espanola' the Spanish island) lying in the heart of the Caribbean would be occupied by one nation, or at least that its people should demonstrate ethnic and cultural similarities. This is not so. Hispaniola, with an area of just over 75,800 sq km, not much more than half...

The Samaná Peninsula

On the peninsula of Samaná is the city of the same name. Columbus arrived here on 12 January 1493, but was so fiercely repelled by the Ciguayo Indians that he called the bay the Golfo de las Flechas (the Gulf of Arrows). Samaná Bay, as it is now called, is very picturesque, fringed with coconut palms and studded with islets. The present town of Santa...

Río San Juan

On the northeast coast, Río San Juan is a friendly town with a lagoon called Gri-Grí (guagua from Sosúa, 1¼ hours, may have to change in Gaspar Hernández). Boats take visitors through the mangrove forests and to see caves and rocks, and to the natural swimming pool called the Cueva de las Golondrinas (US$16 without swim, US$24 with swim, bargaining possible...

Puerto Plata

Puerto Plata, the chief town on the Atlantic coast (which is also known as the Amber Coast) was founded by Ovando in 1502. It is 235 km from the capital. There are two roads from Santiago to Puerto Plata, the older scenic road is now in poor condition. The centre of town has many old, wooden houses, many in need of repair, some new buildings and plenty of...

Cabarete

Cabarete, famous for world class windsurfing, is 14 km east of Sosúa. Although it has grown considerably since French Canadian windsurfers first staked their claim on this small fishing village it still maintains its small town character. Besides windsurfing Cabarete offers a variety of adventure sports: mountain biking, horse riding, whitewater rafting and...

Sosua

28 kilometres east of Puerto Plata is Sosúa, a little town that has a beautiful and lively one kilometre beach, perfect for diving and watersports. There is a smaller public beach on the east side of town, referred to as the ‘playita’, where you will be less bothered by vendors. It is located by Hotel Sosúa-by-the-Sea. Sosúa is popular with Europeans,...

Santiago de Los Caballeros

Santiago de Los Caballeros (pop: 690,000 in 1994) is the second largest city in the Republic and chief town of the Cibao valley in the north-central part of the country. The streets of the centre are busy, noisy, with lots of advertising signs; east of the centre it becomes greener, cleaner and quieter. The Río Yaque del Norte skirts the city with Avenida...

Pico Duarte

In the Cordillera Central near Jarabacoa and Constanza is Pico Duarte, at 3,087 metres the highest peak in the Caribbean. The National Park entrance is four kilometres from La Ciénaga, which is reached by a road passing through some magnificent scenery from Jarabacoa. Before climbing it you must purchase a permit from the Dirección Nacional de Parques at La...

Jarabacoa

Continuing along the highway, on the left, is the turn for Jarabacoa. The road winds through some beautiful pine forests to the town itself, which is a popular summer hill resort in a valley in the mountains. The climate is fresh, with warm days and cool nights. On the road between La Vega and Jarabacoa are several Centros Vacacionales. It is an important...

Constanza

Beyond Jarabacoa, higher up in the mountains, is Constanza, where the scenery is even better than in Jarabacoa, with rivers, forests and waterfalls. In winter, temperatures can fall to zero and there may be frosts. The valley is famous for food production, potatoes, garlic, strawberries, mushrooms and other vegetables, and for growing ornamental flowers....

San Cristóbal

San Cristóbal in the interior, 25 kilometres from the capital, was the birthplace of the dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Trujillo’s home, the Casa de Caoba (now rapidly disintegrating, but open 0900-1700) may be reached by público from behind the market, or by motorcycle taxi (US$0.35), though you may have to walk the last kilometre, uphill. You can also...