Jarabacoa in the Dominican Republic is not a large town in the central zone of the country. The city has no access to the sea. And the height above sea level is from 500 to 1000m, which makes the weather 10 degrees lower than on the coast. And mass tourism has bypassed Jarabacoa. Those travelers who know more than others come here. And I’ll tell you what kind of town it is and why to go here.
Table of contents:
- Jarabacoa: general information
- Brief history of the city
- How to get there?
- Sights of Jarabacoa and attractions
- Travel Tips
Jarabacoa: general information
Whoever thinks that the Dominican Republic is beaches, palm trees and the sea is wrong. The central region of the country is completely different. It does not look like coastal tourist resorts. It feels like you are in another country.
- The population of Jarabacoa with all the suburbs is 68 thousand people
- The population of the city itself is about 35 thousand people.
It is important to know:In the Dominican Republic, when counting the population, they often publish data on residents of almost the entire province, and not a single city. And this is usually twice the difference.
- Jarabacoa is located in the central province of La Vega. It is the second largest city in the province.
- This region has a large number of plantations of high quality Dominican coffee. How it grows and why Dominican coffee is difficult to buy at home, read the article: Dominican coffee.
The locals love to choose this city for their vacation. And although there is no man-made attraction, people come here not for this. But more on that below.
A Brief History of Jarabacoa
There is little data about this place, but still you will get a general idea of history.
- Indian tribes lived here long before the discovery of America by Columbus.
- When the Spaniards had already discovered the Dominican Republic and began to build the first cities and fortresses on this land, they had not yet reached the central part of the country.
- Only after almost 70 years, the first conquistadors in search of gold reached the Jarabacoa region.
- Gold was not found here, but the story goes that the Spaniards destroyed all the local tribes in this region.
- And only in 1805, when the Haitians occupied the Dominican Republic, the locals fled from the invaders to the mountainous regions.
- Therefore, 1805 is considered the second birth of the city of Jarabacoa.
- And only in 1854 the first military fortification in Jarabacoa was built here, and this year is officially considered the date of foundation.
How to get there?
If you look at the map of the Dominican Republic, Jarabacoa has one pros and one cons:
- Pros: the city is well located between Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata. Only 150km from each of them. And also it is located only 30 km from the highway, which connects the major cities of the country with the capital.
- Cons: Jarabacoa is 30km away from this highway. And if a huge amount of transport goes along the highway, and the time on the road here flies quickly. Then the last 30 km is a serpentine, with heavy traffic and an almost complete absence of buses.
Total: from Santo Domingo to Jarabacoa it is only 150 km, but the first 120 km can be traveled by bus in 1 hour. And the last 30 km to GuaGua, which still needs to be found and waited for. And for these 30 km, it will still take you 2 hours or more.
Read about public transport, regular buses and GuaGua in the article: public transport in the Dominican Republic. The most realistic chance to get to Jarabacoa on the Caribe Tours bus. In the article on the link, there is a website of this company and a bus schedule.
Here are some features of the Jarabacoa rooms:
- The city is predominantly with one and two-story buildings
- There are no hotels of world chains
- Here you will not find hotels 5* “AllL Inclusive”
- Mostly all tourists stay in apartments from locals
Good to know:It is in Jarabacoa that there are many options for renting a ranch. Where individual houses are located on a large area. On the territory there can be a barbecue, a small pool and all the amenities for tourists.
By link below is a dynamic list of great accommodation options in Jarabacoa. This is full list, but each option has a high rating, great reviews, and affordable prices. Open, read, study. There are a lot of options out there.
Sights of Jarabacoa or what to see
Museums and architecture are not about Jarabacoa. There are no man made attractions. And tourists don’t come here for that. Jarabacoa is known for something very different: hiking, waterfalls, rafting, horseback riding, paragliding and other outdoor activities that will get your adrenaline pumping.
Below is a list of places and activities for which they go to Jarabacoa.
It is important to know:There are not so many activities within the city, but there are more than enough of them within 50 km. In Jarabacoa, it is both easier and more convenient to drive a rental car. The same car will greatly help you on trips around the region. There is a problem with public transport.
Duarte Peak (Pico Duarte)
The highest peak of all the Antilles and the entire Caribbean. Conquering this 3000m mount is a great achievement. The two-day hike to the summit begins in a small village 30 km from Jarabacoa.
You can read a detailed report on how we conquered Duarte Peak at the link. But here’s what’s important to know:
- Jarabacoa is the last city on the road to Pico Duarte and Armando Bermudez National Park
- There is a large supermarket and a huge selection of accommodation.
- An ideal option is to plan an overnight stay in this city before and after the hiking.
- This is especially important to do after the climb. You will return from the route closer to 5pm. You will not feel your legs and strength ended long ago. To reach the bed – it will be the only desire.
Jarabacoa has the only real mountain rafting point in the country. Very cool. Rather was. Due to Covid-19 it closed as tourism came to a complete halt in the country. As of 2023, rafting has not yet been restored, and tourism has already been launched. But I’m sure rafting will open soon.
Advice:To find out if rafting is open or not, follow the link. It contains all the activities that are offered in Jarabacoa. If the raft camps open, then these offers will appear in the list at the link.
Pros of rafting in Jarabacoa:
- Gorgeous mountain river with rapids and drops
- Amazing views all around
- The start of rafting is within the city, it is convenient to get there. And from the finish line they take you back to the car.
- Relatively low price for such activity.
But you can read about COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic in this article. I definitely recommend if, reading these lines in the world, the pandemic has not yet ended. There will be information on whether the Dominican Republic is open now and how to enter there.
Waterfalls of Jarabacoa
Jarabacoa is located on the fast and mountainous river Yaque del Notre. Not surprisingly, the Dominican Republic is completely different here. Not like the tourists on the beach are used to. Within the city, along the river, there are a large number of hiking trails, suspension bridges, and there are several cool waterfalls.
Yes, the El Limon waterfall on the Samana Peninsula is amazing. But the waterfalls of Jarabacoa are no worse, just less popular due to their remoteness from the tourist routes.
- Waterfall Jimenoa Uno, is located on the southern outskirts of the city. Take drinks and snacks, put a dot in the navigator and walk along hiking trails.
Good to know:The nature of Jarabacoa resembles the Amazon jungle. There are dense tropical forests. And the amount of green just rolls over.
- The Aguas Blancas waterfall is the second highest in the Dominican Republic. 85 meters. Located 23 km from Jarabacoa.
- From the pros: cooler than El Limon, you can swim, insanely beautiful
- Of the cons: the last 3-4 km is a terrible road, you have to walk, cold water
- But if you get to Jarabacoa, then you simply must visit this waterfall – this is an insanely beautiful place.
This is the edge of the mountains, which means that there are favorable conditions for paragliding. What it is: a parachute-wing that can carry two: a pilot and a passenger. There is no engine, the paraglider flies entirely due to the air masses. And along the mountains of Jarabacoa, as the locals say, there is a very good wind rose, which is conducive to this type of entertainment.
The starting points are always located on the side of the mountain, so that you can scatter. There are two of them in the suburbs of Jarabacoa. Finding the organizers is not difficult, information and billboards are all over the city. This is a very cool activity, but there are a few points:
- On the one hand, you need to book such a flight in advance
- On the other hand, the flight will take place or not depends entirely on the weather and wind. And only on the day of the flight, in the morning you will know for sure whether the weather is flying or not.
- Since you are flying with an instructor who controls the wing, there is no need for prior training and instruction.
Quad bike tours
One day or half day ATV tours are very popular in this part of the country. There are more than 10 companies organizing such races in Jarabacoa. All races are held in groups of 2 to 6 ATVs.
Near the city in the mountains there are several cool routes along which you will be taken.
Interesting to know:ATV tours are popular throughout the country. But if at the resorts they pass more along the ocean and along the plain. That here is a completely different landscape. I can’t say which is worse. Near the ocean, riding ATVs is amazing, but in the mountains, in the rainforests, it’s also a bomb.
Read about the most famous and popular excursions and tours of the Dominican Republic, including ATVs, in the article at the link.
Jarabacoa travel tips
- If you come to Jarabacoa and the conquest of Peak Duarte is not included in your plans, I recommend staying here for two full days. In one day you will visit the waterfalls, take a walk along the river. And on the second day you can plan rafting and quad tour.
- Also in this part of the country I recommend to have a jacket with you :). Although this is the Dominican Republic and summer is all year round. But on average, the air temperature in the mountains is 7-10 degrees below the coast. And in the evenings, and even near the water, it can be cold.
- All the necessary infrastructure is here: gas stations, shops, restaurants and more.
In conclusion: the city of Jarabacoa in the central part of the Dominican Republic is severely deprived of tourists. Due to the fact that the city is not located on the coast, it is quiet, calm and peaceful here. But local entertainment and nature will definitely surprise any traveler. Therefore, if your trip to the Dominican Republic has an extra 2-3 days and a rental car, feel free to plan a trip to Jarabacoa. You definitely won’t regret it.
Come to Jarabacoa – these are mountains and a real rainforest with waterfalls!
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Dominican Republic
- Flights at the best prices with discounts
- Car rental in Dominican (cheaper – only by bus):
- Discovery Cars – a largest international resource
- Hotels and apartments all over the country: Booking
- Vacation packages:
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- GYG – more than 150 tours (whales tours)
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card with internet in Dominican
- Taxi and transfers from Dominican airports: Intui.Travel