Las Terrenas is a colorful beach town located on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic, in the Samana Peninsula. Over the past 20 years Las Terrenas has evolved from a small fishermen’s village with little infrastructure to a growing tourism and expats destination without losing a bit of its enchanting charm and breathtaking nature.
Its visitors fell in love with the picturesque landscapes, virgin white sand beaches, endless palm groves and the friendly locals. Las Terrenas has it all for the slow pace Caribbean lifestyle.
In the article below you will find a general overview of Las Terrenas. Discover the reasons why an increasing community has fallen in love with the local lifestyle and decided to settle in this unique Caribbean beach town.
A bit of history…
45 years ago, Las Terrenas was a small fishermen’s village with no roads, no phones, no cars, no electricity and only a handful of merchants selling basic products like salt or sugar from the closest cities. The locals travelled by horse. The local economy was almost entirely relying on fishing and agriculture.
Over the last 20 years things have evolved in the peaceful beach town. Travelers from Europe and later from North America started to set foot on the virgin landscapes of Las Terrenas. Today modern infrastructures, good roads and airports support the area to develop as a tourism paradise. The new El Catey International Airport is opening more flights from the USA, Canada and Europe. Many more have joined the movement.
Today Las Terrenas offers a unique diversity of Dominicans, communities of expats and tourists from all over the world and still remains an authentic and colorful beach village with endless opportunities.
The local culture
The Dominicans are well known for being festive and joyful all the time. They are proud of their beautiful island and happy to welcome foreigners to the Dominican Republic.
Locals love to dance and listen to their favorite music, bachata and reggaeton, sometimes loud. The national sport is baseball. Kids practice all the time with the hope of becoming the next baseball star player. Other sports and activities are also successful among Dominicans such as basketball and watersports. Did you know that the island champions of surf and kite surf live and train in Las Terrenas and will represent the country at the next Olympic games?
During the week-ends and legal holidays, Dominican families and friends leave the busy cities to escape to the pristine beaches of Las Terrenas. They will often reunite and settle on a piece of beach for the day, cooking barbecue and drinking Presidente beers or their favorite rum while trying out the latest hits on their gigantic sound systems.
Las Terrenas people mostly circulate in town and along the many beaches on a scooter or a motorbike. The Dominican way of driving can be surprising on the first visit although one quickly adapts to it.
Fishing is still today one of the main sources of income for many locals. Fresh fish from the morning is continuously delivered to the restaurants, hotels and individuals. Lobsters, shrimps, Mahi mahi, parrot fish, squid, calamar… all freshly caught and cooked to your taste.
What to do in Las Terrenas?
Given the natural beauty and diversity of the area most activities are outdoor sports and adventures.
Watersports like kite surfing and surf are one of the coolest things to do or learn at one of the recognized schools in Las Terrenas. Did you know that the inventor of kite surf lives and practices his passion in Las Terrenas by the way?
More fun water activities include kayaking and paddle along the rivers and mangroves, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing… The usually quiet and transparent waters inside the bay of Las Terrenas are perfect for ocean lovers.
Explore the hidden beaches and secret paths off the beaten track, by boat or hiking. Would you rather stay on the roads? Enjoy the freedom sensations on a four-wheel, exploring the country roads and hills, the coffee trail and the tropical jungle…
El Limon waterfalls is a beautiful 40 minute hike located only 15 minutes driving from Las Terrenas. The little village of El Limon is charming and passionate about horses. The excursion can be done with a guide and on the back of a Dominican horse as well.
The Dominican Republic has a subtropical climate. Temperatures in Las Terrenas, Samana are usually high and with some humidity in the air. Average temperatures fluctuate between 20°C / 68°F during the winter and 31°C / 88°F in the summer. The ocean and the hills always bring a refreshing breeze from the trade wins.
The region of the Samana Peninsula where Las Terrenas is located is considered as the lungs of the island due to its lush vegetation and the incredible variety of tropical plants, trees, fruits…
Although there is no bad moment to come to the Dominican Republic, December to April is considered to be the best time of the year to visit Las Terrenas. Temperatures are milder and the air is less humid. There is more breeze coming from the ocean and the waters are still and transparent.
There are 2 seasons in the Dominican Republic. The rainy season expands from September to November. During that time there are more waves and the ocean color is of a marine blue. Tropical rains in Las Terrenas are usually strong but last only a couple of minutes. Many will take shelter on the side of the road until the rain stops.
The rest of the year is less humid, with the casual quick and hot rain. The waters are turquoise and calm. Perfect for having a swim, simply relax in the hot waters or explore the corals and tropical fish doing snorkeling or scuba diving.
Hurricane season in the Atlantic runs from June 1st to November 30. However Las Terrenas is one of the safest places in the Caribbean regarding hurricanes.
The geographical position of the Dominican Republic between the islands of Puerto Rico and Cuba, the high mountains in the middle of the island and the deep and cold waters of the “Mona Passage” are all geological factors protecting the island from hurricanes. When storms or hurricanes reach the Mona Passage between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, the deep and cold waters reduce significantly their strength. Hurricanes are then systematically pushed North or South of the Dominican Republic, into the Atlantic ocean.
Where and what to eat?
Las Terrenas offers a wide variety of restaurants and bars with different vibes, food from all over the world and Dominican specialties.
For an authentic local experience we recommend to eat at one of the small Dominican shacks right on the beach, and enjoy fresh fish, your feet in the sand. For more advanced taste buds, you will find plenty of options to satisfy your delicate palates. From healthy Asian poke bowls, French gastronomy and Italian pizzerias to American burgers and more authentic Dominican dishes.
Playa Popy is a tourism area with many delicious restaurants and lively bars along the boardwalk.
Those of you who like to cook will be glad to know that 2 large supermarkets, Super Pola and Lindo, provide many quality local products and imported food from the Americas and from France. There is also an importer for typical Italian products.
To help small businesses owned by locals, we recommend to purchase your fish and fresh vegetables and fruits from the smaller local markets and give back to the community!