Caribbean Snapshots: Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

Funky beach town with European charm


The SamanĂ¡ peninsula, known as the wild side of the DR juts out into the Atlantic Ocean from the northeast coast. Here, nature plays an important role in drawing in visitors from around the globe. There are coastal scenes fitting for a movie set, endless coconut groves, and hillside farms along with remote tropical forests etched in trails leading to waterfalls with scenic views in every direction.

The town of Las Terrenas has plenty of merits of its own. Once a sleepy fishing village turned bohemian enclave filled with lively and eclectic shops, bars, and boutique inns, the town charms with European sophistication. It was the French and Italian who first discovered the quiet beach town in the 1970s. Today North Americans are wandering in, however, the European flair remains strong along with pockets of unique international finds. There are French bakeries serving warm croissants with Belgium chocolate, Cuban cigar shops rolling tobacco right on-site, and Italian restaurants taking local seafood to a new level.

Blessed with some of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic, the beaches of Las Terrenas begin northeast of town and wrap around to the west past Playa Bonita and Playa Coson which are both quiet stretches backed by palms and popular with surfers.