The north coast of the Dominican Republic boasts some of the most interesting and attractive towns on the island, Including Luperon, Puerto Plata, Sosua, Cabarete, Rio San Juan and Cabrera. Further east is the lovely Samana peninsula with the ever popular Las Terrenas, Samana and Las Galeras, Where thousands flock at whale watching season.
The Dominican Republic’s northern coast, with mountains on one side, is also called the Amber Coast or the Amber Riviera because of the large quantities of golden amber found in the area. The sands on its 75 mi (121 km) of beach are also golden. As the area moves up on the luxury scale, the “Riviera” moniker seems more appropriate all the time.
Areas located at the north coast of the Dominican Republic:
The north coast, fronting the Atlantic Ocean, has a varied coast line with every possible type of topography from high cliffs, small coves, enclosed bays with shallow water, and wide expansive beaches with rolling waves for surfing, kiting and other water sports. Behind the coast runs a mountain range, The Cordillera Septentrional. Its highest peaks rise to an elevation of over 1,000 meters; however given the height of other mountains within the Dominican Republic, in excess of 3,000 meters high, the north coast of the island is well protected from severe weather such as hurricanes.
Travelling from west to east you will pass through a number of towns well documented in the various tourist guides for the Dominican Republic. Monte Cristi, despite having the Monte Cristi National Park which covers an area of 550 km² and contains coastal lagoons, beaches and mangrove swamps, is not really a tourist town whereas its nearest neighbor, Puerto Plata is famous for resorts such as Playa Dorada and Costa Dorada, located to the east of the town. There are some 100,000 hotel beds here as well as a port and airport. The only aerial tramway in the Caribbean is located in Puerto Plata. With it, one can ride up to Pico Isabel de Torres, a 793 meter high mountain within the city. The top of the mountain features a botanical garden and a replica of Christ the Redeemer, the famous statue in Rio de Janeiro.
Continuing eastwards you then reach Sosua, another popular tourist resort relying less on the “all inclusive” style of holiday and more on traditional hotel accommodation. The beach in Sosua is another of the wonderful stretches of sand and sea to be found on the north coast.
After Sosua, and only a short distance away, you enter Cabarete. Known as a sports town, and world renowned for its winds, it is a windsurfing and kite boarding mecca for devotees of these sports. Over recent years the town has seen a lot of growth with new condos being constructed along the beach area as well as inland villa developments of very high quality.
The next town on an eastward journey is Gasper Hernandez. Generally overlooked, from a tourist point of view and more of a commercial center it does, however have two very nice and virtually untouched beaches, Las Canas to the west and Playa Magante to the east.
Rio San Juan, the next town has enjoyed some tourism although the closest major hotel, the Bahia Principe, has recently closed. There are some small independent hotels in the town though and the Gri-Gri lagoon with its mangrove swamps, unusual rock formations and crystal clear waters are well worth a visit. Cabrera is next and Cabrera is a touristical beauty by its own.
After Cabrera you reach Nagua which again is a commercial rather than a tourist town. The center is bustling with shops and there is a University located here. Just past Nagua is the Samana International Airport and although no U.S. airlines use this facility it does have charter flights from Canada and Europe.
Here too is the beginning of the fairly recent Toll Road to Santo Domingo which has considerably shortened the travel time from this area to the Capital.
Moving on to the Samana Peninsular the first town is Las Terrenas. Here there has been a lot of tourist development in the past years with a particular French influence leading to the town having some fine restaurants. Some now say this has become over commercialized but with the excellent beaches and the mountain backdrop one can understand the attraction this town has.
Samana, the next town is a port town and famous for the annual migration of the Humpback whales which come into Samana Bay to mate and raise their young each year from mid January and into early April. Apart from the bay and beach you can also visit the famous waterfalls of El Limon (El Salto de Limon), here the water falls over 40 meters into a gorgeous fresh water pool where you can also swim.
Lastly there is Las Galeras, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean on the very tip of the Samana Peninsular, and once just a small fishing village it has become the second home for many wealthy Dominicans looking for a more private location away from the bustling and crowded tourist centers. As a result it has become a popular tourist center with new hotels, condominiums and restaurants. The beaches here are also very beautiful and even now relatively unspoilt.