Las Terrenas: A Beauty by the Sea
Las Terrenas is a beach town located on the Northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic, in the Samana Peninsula. Once an old fishermans village, now a charming beach town often called the “colorful town” by the locals. It is known for its scenic landscapes, clear waters, and white sandy beaches with endless rows of palm trees. Tourism here is constantly growing due to investments in hotels, restaurants, bars and shopping centers. Las Terrenas has a large expat community with many European inspired shops and restaraunts, so if you crave Italian pizza one day, and fresh fish or local Dominican cuisine another, you can get it!
Below we will tell you everything you need to know about Las Terrenas! The weather, how to get around, things to do here, where to eat, you name it! Once you step foot on one of the tranquil beaches this town has to offer, or in the village’s colorful beach bars, it is no doubt you will fall in love with Las Terrenas. I know I have!
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Things have changed...
Imagine a place that in 1975, didn’t have a drivable road to reach it. No grocery stores, just street marchants, no gasoline stations and cars, just horses, no electricity, just candles, no telephones, just people yelling... At that time, Las Terrenas was like many other villages bordering the North coast of the Dominican Republic. Small and significant only to its inhabitants. There were no indications at all that the town was a part of the modern world, and it wasn't the case.
Over the years, people came to discover this unaccessible village. Locals trading with Dominicans from bigger cities such as San Francisco de Macoris and Santiago de Los Caballeros. Foreigners, adventurers of the Caribbean, usually passionates travelling on their boat also discovered this hidden gem. Stopping for a day, staying for a month, living a year... That is the unshakable magic of this place.
Today, Las Terrenas is connected to a new highway allowing people arriving in Santo Domingo and Santa Bárbara de Samaná to drive faster and safer to reach this once small and ordinary fisherman village.
Things are getting more busy over here, Samaná El Catey International Airport welcomes flights from Europe, Canada and Russia. Companies flying there are SmartWings, Air Century, Air Transat, Westjet, Eurowings, Air Canada Rouge and Nordwind Airlines. You can check arrivals and departures from El Catey here. If you come from Santo Domingo, 2 hours by car will be enough to reach our shore. In March 2012, the town received a brand new fiber optic Internet/TV/telephone system making our jobs and lives easier. Most of us here cannot denny it, even though we enjoy being disconnected from the business of the big cities we used to live in, having news from family and the rest of the world is practical.
A new aqueduct delivers fresh water to the town. Which please don't forget, you cannot drink it. Only for cleaning...
Las Terrenas has a population of about 39,000 people. But this number really means nothing because the last population count available was made in 2012. The locals are often farmers or fishermen, and more recently converted to work in the hospitality industry. As the economy has migrated from the agrarian culture to a tourism culture, many of the old fisherman’s shacks have been converted to restaurants and cafes.
The beauty of Las Terrenas
Located on a peninsula off of the Dominican Republic, Las Terrenas is everything that a Caribbean town can be expected to be, except expensive. With miles of the pristine sandy beaches, this is a place where cultures mix to create a wonderful home.
Brightly colored homes are the residences of young Bohemians, growing families, established business people, and retirees. The cost of living, the inexpensive housing, and the amazing natural environment make it an ideal place to buy a house.
In Las Terrenas, the modern world is only in as far as you need it to be to really enjoy it, but not so much that you will be forced to deal with the stresses.
One of the best parts of Las Terrenas, which sets it apart from many other towns and towns in the Caribbean, is that there is not a huge resort industry here. It’s still a small town that is taking its time growing. This is no Punta Cana my friend... We have only 3 main all inclusive resorts in the area.
Located in the province of Samaná, the area is well known as a wonderful, safe, and nearly pristine natural environment to live in. White sand beaches, mountain trails, and crystal clear waters make this a perfect place to enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean without the bustle of large resort towns.
More About Las Terrenas
The average temperatures in Las Terrenas are usually high. Over the course of the year, the temperature generally varies from 71°F to 87°F / 21°C to 30°C. There is always a fresh breeze because of the ocean and the trade winds.
The rainy season is from September to December, with November being the wettest month. During this season, there are more waves and the ocean is higher. However, usually when it rains here in Las Terrenas it doesn’t last for long and many take shelter under covered terraces until the rain stops.
December is a beautiful time here in Las Terrenas, the days are sunny, and the water begins to clear up from the rainy months. There is always a good time to come visit Las Terrenas, but if you are looking for the best time of year to come, many say from December to March and even April.
Many worry about the hurricane season, and question Las Terrenas as a vacation spot. However, Las Terrenas is actually one of the safest spots for hurricanes in the Caribbean. Due to the way the Dominican Republic is positioned with its neighbouring islands, Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east. The Mona Passage, a deep and narrow channel that connects the Atlantic and Caribbean, protects this island against storms and hurricanes. The cold water from the Mona Passage decreases the strength of the hurricanes.
The Demography and Location
The population of Las Terrenas is 39,221 according to a census done in 2012. The town is located on the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic, approximately a 45 min drive to the town of Samana. It is 225 km /139 miles away from the capital of Santo Domingo and 287 km / 178 miles from the popular tourist spot of Punta Cana. In Las Terrenas, you have a mixture of Dominicans with a substantial expat community, including French, Italians, Germans, Canadians and British. The expat community is strong here, and many of the people who come to open businesses and begin a new life in the Dominican Republic end up in Las Terrenas.
Las Terrenas is a small beach town, but has all the basic necessities you would need in your day to day life. There are many smaller supermarkets, as well as two main grocery stores, Super Pola and Lindo. They have a wide selection of food, drinks, and everyday necessities. However, as soon as you get familiar with the place you’ll find that buying your veggies and fruits from the small informal shops in the streets is a better option for you health, tastebuds and wallet. You are also doing a good thing by supporting the local community. If you are thinking about living the Dominican Republic lifestyle, check out our article on where to live in the DR.
In Las Terrenas you can find many banks and atms around which give funds in pesos. The main national banks are Popular, Progresso and BHD De Leon, but you’ll also find Scotia Bank. You can exchange dollars or euros in these banks, as well as at the supermarket Super Pola... Although their rate is not the best, it is handy if you forgot to do it before going shopping.
The high season in Las Terrenas usually begins from the middle of December up until Holy Week, which is usually at the end of March or beginning of April. Whereas the low season is normally the rest the of the year. However, as the years pass, local businesses and property owners told us that people are starting to come before December and leave after April. Many Europeans also come in June and July, when their kids have their vacations. This makes Las Terrenas a very attractive place for those looking at a passive income from owning real estate. You can discover some of the properties for sale with nice returns in Las Terrenas.
The beautiful thing about Las Terrenas is that there is not a massive amount of high rise hotels hovering the beaches, leaving it to feel “untouched” and natural. There are many options for every budget here. From some of the most luxurious hotels or villas to smaller apartments and houses, on top of a hill or right on the beach, you’ll find what you are looking for. The 3 most popular resorts here are Sublime Samana and Viva Wyndham on playa Coson and Bahia Principe el Portillo on the other side of the village of Las Terrenas.
If you are looking for a more private option, many condominiums and villas are available for rent. Thanks to the many rental agencies and Airbnb or HomeAway, you’ll find whatever your heart desires! To see some of best properties for rent in Las Terrenas click here!
For the backpackers, they are a few nice options like small eco-lodge up in the mountains or hostels. Our favourite one is the Afreeka Beach Hostel right on Punta Poppy. You’ll get a bed in a shared dorm for less than 20 USD, breakfast included. They also have private bungalows for families, and its right on the beach!
The closest airport to Las Terrenas is El Catey Samana Airport (AZS). It is only 25 mins to the town by driving along the Atlantic coast through the beautiful scenic highway. El Catey airport brings in flights from Canada, Europe and most recently from Russia. Airport Las Americas Santo Domingo is about a 2 hour drive to Las Terrenas, and Cibao International airport in Santiago, is a 2 hour 50 min drive. Both these airports offer international flights from Canada, and the United States as well.
There are multiple bus shuttles and services that provide transportation to your destination. They range from $20-40 one way. Many tour companies also provide shuttle services within your booking package. There are also buses from Santo Domingo and Punta Cana that can get you to the town of Las Terrenas.
Another option is renting a car. Las Terrenas offers many car rental services, if you prefer to have your own transportation to get around town at your leisure. Renting a car in Las Terrenas can cost from around $50 a day. If youd prefer a little more adventure, and want to rent a moto or ATV, depending on the place, a moto can range from $20-30 a day and an ATV from around $50 a day. The locals are always very helpful and would be able to guide you to finding out the best deals for renting a car or motor for your time here.
The Things to do
Las Terrenas has a wide array of things to do and activities for absolutely everyone! Wether you simply want to relax and enjoy the beautiful beaches siping a local favorite drink “Coco Loco”(rum in a freshly opened coco and some ice cubes) or you prefer outdoor activities and adventure, Las Terrenas has it all! Fly through the jungle and experience zip-lining in Samana, or horseback ride to the famous El Limon Waterfall. Take up kitesurfing, or paddle boarding on one of our beautiful beaches. For our list of activities you can do, check all the things to do in Las Terrenas and be sure to find something you like!
The nightlife in Las Terrenas is unique and exciting! Pueblo de los Pescadores, in the village where the old fisherman shacks have been turned into restaurants and bars, is a hot spot favorited by both locals and tourists. When walking down the street, you will hear Bachata playing from one bar, Reggaeton from another and cross the street, some house music. It is truly a unique experience and there are so many different bars and restaurants to enjoy at night.
Wether you enjoy going out at night dancing and partying, or relaxing sipping a cocktail at a local bar by the beach, Las Terrenas has something for everybody!
The Dominican Republic is known to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The beaches here in Las Terrenas, no doubt offer some of the best! The first time I stepped foot on Playa Coson, I thought to myself, how magical is this place? This cant be real, am I dreaming?
I soon realized it absolutely wasn’t a dream, the beaches here are that picturesque and tranquil. Many who come here say the beaches have an “untouched” feel because all you see are the rows and rows of coconut trees along the beaches. You have to come see it to believe it!
View our list of the top beaches of Las Terrenas and see for your self why we love the beaches here so much!
Where to eat
One of the reasons that makes Las Terrenas so unique is the fusion of local Dominican and European culture. You have the Dominican local spots where you can get traditional arroz and habichuelas (rice and beans) and just down the street, an Italian pizzeria or French boulangerie. There are options for everyone!
“La Tre Caravelle” is a favorite here. Rated number 1 top restaurant in Las Terrenas on Trip Advisor, where you can dine right across from the beach and enjoy fabulous Italian cuisine. If you love enjoying fresh fish with an incredible view of the beach, “Donde Valerio” on Playa Coson is a MUST! I am not a fish lover myself, but tried the fish and found many other things to eat and consider it one of my favorite spots in Las Terrenas!
The colorful old fisherman shacks in Las Terrenas have been turned into little restaurants and bars by the beach where many go to enjoy food and drinks with a view. At least once a week I go to one of the "chiringuitos" to eat always fresh and definitively typical food. I like to show this unique place to my clients, or go there alone or with my girlfriend. There you find many dishes prepared by locals, I called them "mamas" which means mothers. I do have a favorite one, her name is Dulce and on top of serving the tastiest food, she has the most soothing smile of them all. If you happen to come here, I recommend the "Ceviche" fresh raw fish cured in lemon, "Pescado al Coco" fish with coco sauce with a portion of "Tostones" (fried plantains) and a cold local beer "Presidente" of course!
Don't forget to take off your shoes and feel the sand at your feet!
Where can you buy groceries?
In Las Terrenas you'll find 2 main supermarkets:
Super Pola (one of the biggest supermarket companies in the DR; here you’ll find anything you need from frozen goods, imported American foods to cleaning products etc).
Lindo (French supermarket with mainly European imported products where you’ll find a fine selection of good cheeses, wines and other delicacies hard to find even in Santo Domingo).
The local fresh goodies as fruits and fish are available in nearly every street in the town; called “Colmado”. Here you’ll also find alcohol beverages, tabaco and snacks.
Retiring, Living & Investing in Las Terrenas
Many come to Las Terrenas in hopes to escape the hustle of everyday life, looking for a place to relax and enjoy the sun. Many also leave falling in love with this place wanting to call it home.
Life in Las Terrenas is different from any other city in the Dominican Republic because of its unique charm with mixture of Dominican and European flavor, large expat community living a laid back life style. Many Europeans, Canadians, and Americans come to live the retired life in the Dominican Republic. Here, the locals are friendly, housing is more affordable compared to other places in the Caribbean, and the cost of living is lower. Living the Caribbean laid back lifestyle, surrounded by beautiful scenery, have been many peoples choice of retirement and we will tell you why here.
If you are looking to invest in a property in the Caribbean, Las Terrenas may be the perfect option for you! With the construction of many new communities in Las Terrenas making it an ideal environment for those looking to invest in real estate in the Dominican Republic.
If you couldn’t already tell, we LOVE Las Terrenas and we know you will too! You will see why this beautiful little beach town in the Dominican Republic is a favorite for many, and a true hidden gem of the Caribbean.