There’s a 90% chance that Jarabacoa isn’t the first place you think when you think of Dominican Republic. And that’s fine, most people’s idea of the country are DR’s many sandy beaches and all-inclusive resorts, in well-loved areas as Playa Dorada or the beautiful beaches of Punta Cana. In fact, the last few times we’ve gone to Dominican Republic, we’re barely ventured off the resorts, but now that we explore the center of this wonderful island, we’ll also be craving to explore further.
Situated right in the central region of Dominican Republic sits Jarabacoa- full of majestic mountains, magical sunsets, epic waterfalls, and more lush greenery than you would expect in a country that is known for its beaches and sand. As you can imagine, this is an adventure lovers’ dream.
WHERE TO STAY IN JARABACOA
image via @readysetjetset edits by us.
It’s hard to describe how awesome this hotel is. Anchored by a river and covered by lush greenery, Gran Hotel Jimenoa is a treat. The beds are comfortable, the food is great, and the main hangout area has egg swing chairs- what else can you really want.
THINGS TO DO IN JARABACOA
FEEL YOUR HEART STOP – Whitewater Rafting
We’ll be the first to tell you that whitewater rafting isn’t normally something we thought of on our last few trips to Dominican Republic or down south. However, it certainly is something that can’t recommend enough, too.
We recommend making a day of the experience by heading to Rancho Baiguate. You can grab breakfast and lunch at the Ranch, too which saves you time. Oh, and don’t worry if you’re like us and forgot to bring water shoes- you can pick some up at the gift shop there.
TAKE A HIKE- Ebano Verde
Here’s the thing- this 8KM hike isn’t for beginners, and we really don’t recommend if you don’t have time to get back to your hotel and take a shower, but if you’re moderately experienced- this hike among of the most beautiful forests, along with the natural pool waiting for you at the end is worth the 3 hours. Honestly hiking in Dominican Republic is something that everyone should experience. You get to see a different side of the country.
PRO-TIP: Bring hiking shoes or at least shoes with grip and wear long sleeves, and don’t be surprised if you get out of there with more than a few scratches.
GET THE BIRD’S EYE VIEW- Paragliding
There’s nothing more magical than getting to see a new region from the clouds. And there is no better way to getting to see the lush dense greens, the peaks of the mountains and the flows of the waterfalls than buy paragliding.
We can’t recommend Flying Tony enough. His team not only makes you feel extremely comfortable, but make the entire experience fun, and really engaging. Also, while taking your phone or camera up there is safe-ish, all of the members of Tony’s team have their own GoPro (firmly attached) to capture any footage that you want without risking your devices.
One of the team members brought his iPod and speakers up there so we jammed to a lot of Katy Perry while flying thru the sky!
CHASE THOSE WATERFALLS- Salto de Baiguate
In an area full of waterfalls, we recommend making sure that Salto de Baiguate is definitely on your list. It’s an extremely easy walk over to the waterfall so you can feel a bit safer bring your camera gear if you wanted to.
Salto de Baiguate is one of the three waterfalls that we recommend- the other two being Jimenoa I and Jimenoa II. However, be sure to check to see if they are easily accessible during your visit- a certain was under construction during our visit.
PRO-TIP Don’t be turned off by the color of the water if you visit during the rainy season. Obviously, visit during peak season to capture those perfect blues, but be ready to share the waterfall with a lot more people. We loved having it to ourselves!
FEEL THE VIBES- Explore downtown
While not technically an adventure activity- we’re firm believers that exploring the core of a city gives you a true idea of the essence of a place. As such, we highly recommend spending an afternoon exploring downtown- popping into a coffee shop, picking up a dress or two, wandering thru the snack aisle- all great ways to see how people live when not interacting with tourists.
You might be wondering what this section is doing on an adventure trip post, but hear us out! While you can get the basic kitsch stuff in almost every country, we do recommend popping into downtown and picking up a piece of jewelry or two. We fell hard for Larimar, Dominican Republic’s semi-precious turquoise stone, that is exceedingly expensive to buy outside of the country.
PRO-TIP: Pop into the cute jewelry/gift shop that’s beside the supermarket in the middle of the Jarabacoa. The prices are great, and they have a great selection.
TOUCH THE SKY- La Jamaca De Dios
image via @readysetjetset edits by us.
Located within the hills of Jarabacoa, this eco-tourist mountain resort also home to a restaurant, Aroma de la Montaña Restaurant, sits high in the mountain and provides some of the best views you can find in Jarabacoa Dominican Republic. Obviously, head here for sunset, but we warned- the road up there is not for the faint of heart.
WHERE TO EAT IN JARABACOA
Finding food isn’t going to be an issue- regardless of whether you’re a carnivore or vegan. The entire island is full of delicious fruits and is a BBQ lover’s dream.
Restaurant Aroma de la Montaña: Fair warning- the building spins to give you 360 views- if you’re like us and find that interesting, then this is the place for you. If, however, you think that might make you light-headed, then it’s best if you dine downstairs.
Regardless, the food is delicious, and the atmosphere is fancy enough to make this the place to go if you want to celebrate a special occasion.
Parador Corazon de Jesus: If meat is your jam then you’re going to love this place. Since they are famous for their slow-roasted, wood-fired ribs, and delicious chicken and pork, vegetarian options are limited.
WHAT TO PACK
As this region of the country is so different than beach resorts that most people are used to, we thought we would pull together a list of things to bring with you to make the most of this jungle paradise.
- Mosquito spray– Bring extra. Seriously, bring as many cans as you can because these suckers aren’t playing around. Also, bring afterbite in case you get to spray down before going outside.
- Water shoes– While you can buy them before going rafting, it’s best if you bring your own. Alternatively, you can wear sandals or shoes that strap around your ankle- but the risk or injury is higher. Also, no one wants to wear wet shoes all day. We recommend these really cute ones that you can wear all day.
- Rain jacket– It will rain in the rainy season (seriously), and is very likely to also rain in the shoulder season. Bring one. You’ll thank us later.
- Camera Gear– We bring our mirror SONY A7RIII everywhere. Attach a 16-35 lens and you’re all set. Being mirrorless, it’s light enough to carry on hikes and such. We would not recommend taking rafting (obviously)- bring your GoPro for that.
- Rosetta Stone– There’s nothing better than learning how to speak a new language on the ground. We used our app while on the ground (on the long bus rides, and in the hotel at night to learn new lessons, and hit the streets during the day to practice).
- Hiking shoes– for those who enjoy hiking and not falling down.
- Sunscreen– Those UV rays will get you regardless of whether it’s cloudy or not. And the sun doesn’t mess around there.
- Snacks- all the snacks. Seriously, it’s hard to find places to eat while out in nature. Bring things that will stop you from getting hangry.
- Travel Insurance- This shouldn’t be optional. Especially if you’re doing adventure activities.
This trip was in partnership with the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism and contains affiliate links. All thoughts and opinions were our own.