The Dominican Republic brings to mind images of beach life: tropical drinks, sun and sand. However, there is surprisingly much more to offer on this large island nation – a varied landscape creates a multitude of other outdoor activities. The sheer size of the island makes for a diverse topography: from arid deserts to pristine beaches, tall mountains with thundering waterfalls to lush valleys. Getting out and exploring this interesting island is one of the fun things about living, or visiting! Read below out about a popular mountain area.
Welcome to Jarabacoa
As I write, I’m sitting in a sunbeam on the terrace of my room in a lovely mountain chalet type hotel called “Gran Jimenoa“. A rolling river is scrambling by the hotel, clear water tumbling over rocks, creating white caps and even my own little waterfall! That beautiful sound of rushing water reminds me of vacations in Alberta and British Columbia’s mountain parks in Canada – but I’m only a few hours away from my home in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. From photos, no one would believe this is part of a Caribbean island – maybe somewhere in Switzerland or Canada, but not the tropics!
Situated in the the Cordillera Central Mountain Range in the center of the country, Jarabacoa is nationally known as “the city of eternal spring.” The mountains are surprisingly high with cloud covered tops, forested slopes (so strange to see a mixture of palm trees and pine trees!), and nighttime temperatures that can require a light jacket. Three rivers — Jimenoa, Baiguate and the longest in the country, Yaque del Norte — wind through the town. This is a resort area full of rustic ranches, hotels and vacation homes. It sits at an an altitude of 1,736 feet (529 meters). Santo Domingo residents love to escape the city life and enjoy the cooler temperatures and relaxation provided by the panoramic mountain views. As a result, the town supermarkets are well stocked, and restaurants and prices are great.
The area is known as Mecca for eco-adventurers. Jarabacoa boasts the best river rafting in the Caribbean, as well as mountain biking, canyoning, paragliding, rappelling and mountain trail horse riding. You can also climb to the highest peak in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte (elevation of 10,164′). The local economy is based upon agriculture. It is known for its strawberries, coffee, pimento and aj pepper, the last two being grown in green houses. Jarabacoa it is also known for its wide variety of flowers. On weekends, locals head 4km north of town to the Balneario la Confluencia, where the Río Yaque and Río Jimenoa meet, to swim and picnic.
Not Us However…
Alas, we are not here to repel, go paragliding or zip lining. Nope, this vacation is about golf. A birthday gift for my husband Mel, five friends will enjoy a two fun filled days whacking a ball around a mountain course (can you tell I’m not a golfer?), and no doubt spend countless evening hours recanting the fun that was had by all. Or bemoaning lost shots, almost good shots, the shots that were stolen from them, and the one that was soooo amazing! The Jarabacoa Golf Club, is the only mountain golf course located in the Antilles and our destination for golfing fun. This is a great place to come play a few rounds – a totally different environment with incredibly beautiful scenery and cool breezes.
Aside from golf, we did trek up to the Salto Jimenoa (waterfall). This was an easy hike up to the impressive waterfall over several suspension bridges. There is even a small hydro electric dam on the river
Check out the video below to see more about this incredible, diverse mountain area, right in the middle of the tropical Caribbean!
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