Earthly. That’s what Las Terrenas would be translated to in English. And it totally fits because Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic, is a place where you notice the world around you in a very organic way. We first came to LT for the first time five years ago. Our daughter was 8 months old and traveling with an infant – heck, planning to travel with an infant – is not easy. She screamed through car rides so the drive would have to be short. The beach would need shade so that she wasn’t in the sun for too long. The ocean would need to be calm so we could go in with her. The town should be close so we could walk to it and not have to drive our huge minivan every time we needed something. Etc. Etc. Etc. This place fit every request. We knew we had found a great family destination in Las Terrenas.
(Quick point: Las Terrenas is a large town in Samana. When I speak about LT, I’m talking about the section in town. This is my Terrenas; heavenly, calm beach, walking distance to Pueblo de los Pescadores and a charming, little Dominican town to explore by foot… or ATV.)
Las Terrenas checks off every one of those family destination check boxes and has easily slid into my top family vacation destination in the Dominican Republic* so I wanted to share this pearl-in-the-oyster type of place with you too. Below I’ve broken it down: when to go, where to stay, where to eat, how to get around, and extra needs-to-knows. The what to do is up to you.
I came to LT this visit with the intention of writing about a great place to visit and am leaving here thinking about what a great place it is to live. #kiddingnotkidding
*includes sponsored review
WHEN TO GO
When we arrived on Friday, we could hear the ocean waves. Normally, visitors want to be so close to the beach that they hear the ocean waves, but here in Terrenas the water is equivalent to a luxurious, calm bath so hearing the waves meant the ocean was more active. I asked a few locals who told me that in parts of October and November the ocean is less tranquilo. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come in those months, I just prefer (with kids) the tranquil bath-type ocean so I could enjoy my morning coffee and Oprah Magazine as the kids splash in the non-threatening, came waves of LT.
WHERE TO STAY
For extensive reviews on more Dominican Republic accommodations, check out Check In – a where to stay guide in DR.
Aligio ApartHotel* (Swoon-worthy digs without the price tag)
Response time » within a day, usually
Phone: +1-809-240-6977 / Email: email@example.com
Make sure to mention you’re a reader. Drinking the Whole Bottle Readers get a 10% discount + a welcome drink when booking at Aligio!*
As the newest luxury rentals on Avenida 27 de Febrero (so new, in fact, that the second phase is under construction now, as I sit here writing about this fab place… poolside), Aligio Apart-Hotel is the type of place that is, as Husband put it, “one of those places you’d never imagine staying because you would think you couldn’t afford it” but it is affordable, so you can stay here. My kids enjoyed the golf carts that drive you and your bags from your car to your room and the complimentary golf car service takes guests into town everyday at 10am and 4pm; we enjoyed the short walk into town.
Our one-bedroom apartment was spacious enough to sleep our small family in one room – two adults, two toddlers, and two small pups – with space left over. If you are looking to spread out more, the hotel also offers larger rooms (see room types and prices below). The living room was a comfortable place to lounge and glided onto the outside patio which spread to the manicured lawn. I left the sliding door open when we were home for an outside-island-living feel. The kitchen was stocked with most of the flatware we needed for our stay (minus coffee cups) and comfortable to make meals in. The patio included a seating area and dining table, which although pretty standard in DR accomodation rentals, is appreciated nonetheless. Husband and I enjoyed a bottle of wine and a game of Battleship one evening on the patio while the kids were sleeping. (Note: Kids over 5 are considered adults and there is a $20 charge per extra person/night so make sure to check occupancy.)
Our apartment was on the ground floor. In practical terms – with two small kids and a blind dog – I loved the ground floor since our patio unfolded to a beautifully landscaped green space in front of our apartment for the kids and the dogs to play (Yes! They accept small dogs – under 20 pounds – for a one-time $25 fee). However, ground floor also meant that there was no view of the beach, something that didn’t bother me much but that I’m sure they would take into consideration if it was a request.
270.00/night, 2-bedroom penthouse
330.00/night, 3-bedroom penthouse
Playa Caribe (Savvy Travel for the Minimalist)
Response time » fine if you are just booking a reservation through a 3rd party site but I sent an email inquiry earlier last week that has yet to be answered.
Phone: +1-809-240-6661 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the same price, you could stay in a 2-bedroom at Playa Caribe. Of course there is a catch. On the same east side of town and further down the road, away from town, Playa Caribe has a less modern look and no pool (a detail I’m fine with since my kids prefer the pool and so are naturally forced to be at the beach – because wait till you see the beach). Both bedrooms were spacious and we were still able to fit our family of two adults, two kids, and two dogs in one room (my parents were in the other). The living room and kitchen were comfortable though the furniture was more outdated and the outdoor patio was too narrow to seat a family… so I took my coffee to go… to the beach. Not a bad option.
Again, a ground floor apartment, in my opinion, is ideal, so no view of the beach and besides the penthouse apartment, I’m not sure you could get a view of the beach, but the walk took about 30 seconds. Playa Caribe also has an on-site restaurant and a beach bar/restaurant with what might be some of the best shrimp in all of Las Terrenas and the friendliest waitress for sure. Ask for Patria.
This is a running list so as I find more places you should know about, I will update it. Most of the places I review are apartment style. This type of accommodation is ideal when traveling with a family. It’s nice to have a kitchen which helps save money on food and also additional space to hang out in when the kids go to bed.
WHERE TO EAT
I believe that shrimp in LT is like shrimp nowhere else. I bet the best shrimp from around the globe, swim/walk from all corners of the world for the honor of being eaten in Las Terrenas. It. Is. That. Good. You could order shrimp just about anywhere in town and have one of the best meals of your life.
Read this post for the best shrimp in LT.
Av. Del Carmen, Plaza Colonial
A recent addition to Las Terrenas. This place is gooooooooood. Good food. Good space. Good people. Like I said gooooooood. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t normally order a second plate of toast but when it is served with homemade chinola (passion fruit) jelly, a second plate is called for.
Pueblo de los Pescadores
Francisco Caamano Deno
This is not a restaurant. It is a row of restaurants to choose from that you can’t miss – both literally and figuratively. It’s west from the town circle and definitely something to see, if only for a drink somewhere.
The Juice Place
Av. del Carmen, Centro Del Pueblo
Ok. The juice place has a real name – Frutas y Vegetales Johnléé – but I like my name better. Down the street from Good Food and after the ATV rental / ice cream shop on the right (you like my Dominican directions?) is a tiny juice hut that is as local looking as it comes. There’s no doors to swing open or tables to sit at. It looks makeshift to the tourist eye, don’t let that deter you. You walk up to an open-air bench at the bar and order your juice. You could probably pick the exact fruit you want to make your juice from – it’s that natural. The guys were delightfully friendly and the juice was exactly what you would hope fresh, island fruit juice would taste like. Warning: you will never want to buy juice boxes again.
Sip this for more on eating in Las Terrenas.
HOW TO GET AROUND
ATVs are by faaaaaaaaar, my favorite option. My favorite, favorite, favorite option and my favorite thing to do on this island. I could happily live a life in Las Terrenas rolling around on an ATV all day. There are rentals everywhere and most places offer negotiable rates, especially if renting for more than a day.
Sip on this: Check back soon for places I’ve rented from.
If you’re staying in town, walking is definitely an option. For the first two days of our last visit, we walked to and from the main circle several times a day from Aligio. The walk with kids – cause we all know moving with kids works at a much sloooooower pace – was still only about 10 minutes. The walk from Playa Caribe, the furthest hotel – at the moment – on the east side of the main town, took less than 20 minutes. Pueblo de los Pescadores is an additional 2 minutes from there, as is Good Food. And keep in mind that your walk has the most amazing views.
This is another option. Husband took a motoconcho to the bank and stopped off for wine. He paid him 50 pesos (about $1) and knew he was overpaying him but it’s so cheap he didn’t care. I wouldn’t normally recommend one since some tend to drive loco but they seem not so crazy in the small town of LT. Also, don’t be afraid to tell them to drive “grandma slow” with you.
If you are staying at Aligio ApartHotel, don’t forget about their complimentary golf cart service at 10am and 4pm – though the staff was so nice I bet they’d take you if you asked.
🍷Lindo Supermarket is an excellent place to food shop; small and clean with a great selection of stuff – their wine section especially.
🍷Located in the Lindo Supermarket plaza is a ScotiaBank (and ATM). They are a sister bank of Bank of America. One time, at a different Scotia bank in Santo Domingo, we had an issue with the ATM eating our card. Since the bank was closed for the evening the teller wanted me to come back the next day. I called Bank of America and the problem was resolved within minutes.
🍷There is a large expat community in Las Terrenas so don’t be surprise if you hear Spanish, English, French, German, and more spoken. I’m sure that’s why the wine selection at Lindo’s is le amaze!
ALL IN ALL
Las Terrenas is just about “it” for me. I love the friendly vibe of this small town and how easy it is to strike up conversations with locals (both Dominican and expat alike). Maybe in my further investigations of DR towns I’ll find a place I like more than this to come with my family. Probably not.
~ UNTIL THE NEXT BOTTLE ~
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- * It is certainly my favorite in the Dominican Republic – Though we’ve traveled a bit in DR, we have not been everywhere. Up until this point, Las Terrenas is my favorite.