Perched at an altitude of 529 meters (1,736 feet), this scenic mountain resort town is a favorite escape of Santiago and Santo Domingo city dwellers. They flock here in search of cool temperatures, fresh rivers, and sweeping green landscapes flanked by dense pine forests and coffee-producing mountains. An eco-tourism hub easily accessed via modern highways, Jarabacoa–meaning “place of waters” in Taino–boasts a variety of charming accommodations, from riverside ranches and eco-lodges to luxury vacation villas perched in the mountains.
Most adventurous travelers who reach this unique side of the country arrive on a quest to conquer the tallest peak in the Caribbean: Pico Duarte, standing 3,087 meters (10,125 feet) inside the Armando Bermúdez and José del Carmen Ramírez national parks, reigning over the Cordillera Central mountain range. From this mighty summit flows the Río Yaque del Norte, the longest river in the DR, running through the heart of this Cibao region like its lifeline. Along with at least six additional rivers sourced here, including their tributaries, this is a world of waterfalls and outdoor water adventures: go river rafting, tubing, canyoning and rappelling down Salto Baiguate, hiking to the Salto de Jimenoa falls, or swimming at La Cortina and La Confluencia, two recreational parks fed by fresh pools.
On land, horseback riding is part and parcel of Jarabacoan culture. You haven’t quite felt the magic of this valley-filled town until you’ve been galloping on horseback or riding freely on a scooter along verdant fields, fragrant with cilantro and tayota, past cows grazing along riverbanks and under mango trees, and wooden cabins tucked near mountain tops. Feeling the pulse of Jarabacoa also means exploring its surrounding villages in La Ciénaga and Manabao–preferably by mountain bike–offering even more breathtaking mountain views along narrow, winding roads, and coffee farms that this region is known for. You could also choose to get a spectacular bird’s-eye view of the area by paragliding in tandem over Jarabacoa’s peaks, valleys, and falls.
Downtown Jarabacoa, easily explored on foot, bustles with shoppers, diners, vendors, and a hint of nightlife after sundown. Because it’s as much a vacation escape for Dominicans as it is for visitors, Jarabacoa is blessed with affordably priced daily amenities, from well-stocked supermarkets to a bevvy of dining options. Snack on a delicious steak roadside at one of the area’s famous parilladas or grills or dine under the stars with panoramic views. On the outskirts of town, Café de Monte Alto factory produces the city’s prized blend–stop in for a coffee-making tour and plenty of tastings that are sure to keep you warm in this “city of eternal spring.”
To boot, Jarabacoa is the only town in the country with an annual flower festival, held in June, celebrating the mountain life culture with horseback parades, flower contests, and folkloric dancing. What’s not to love?