Jarabacoa in the Dominican Republic is a small town located in the central part of the country. The town doesn’t have access to the sea. However, its elevation ranges from 500 to 1000 meters above sea level, resulting in temperatures around 10 degrees cooler than those on the coast. Mass tourism has largely bypassed Jarabacoa. Travelers who come here are those who know a bit more about the country than the average tourist. Let me tell you about this town and why one should visit it.

Table of contents:

downtown Jarabacoa Dominican Republic
This is what the central streets of Jarabacoa look like

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.

  • Jarabacoa has a population of around 35,000 people, while including all its suburbs, the population is approximately 68,000 people.
  • Located in the central province of La Vega, Jarabacoa is the second-largest city in the province.
  • This region boasts a large number of plantations producing top-quality Dominican coffee. To learn more about how it’s grown and why it’s difficult to buy Dominican coffee elsewhere, read the article: Dominican coffee.

Local residents often choose this city for their vacations. Despite the lack of any architectural landmarks, people come here not for that. 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.

  • Indigenous tribes inhabited this area long before Columbus discovered America.
  • When the Spaniards had already discovered the Dominican Republic and began building the first cities and fortresses on this land, they had not yet reached the central part of the country.
  • It was only after nearly 70 years that the first conquistadors searching for gold reached the area of Jarabacoa.
  • No gold was found here, but history tells us that the Spaniards annihilated all the local tribes in this region.
  • It was only in 1805, when the Haitians occupied the Dominican Republic, that local residents fled from the invaders to the mountainous regions.
  • Therefore, 1805 is considered the second birth of the city of Jarabacoa.
  • It was only in 1854 that the first military fortification was built here, and this year is officially recognized as the founding date.
central dominican republic mountains
Today, the city area near the river looks like this

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.


Ranches in Jarabacoa
Renting ranch houses from locals is popular in this city. This is where we stayed.

Here are some features of the Jarabacoa accommodation:

  • The city is predominantly with one and two-story buildings
  • There are no hotels of world chains
  • Here you will not find hotels 5* “All 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.

hot tub ranch Dominicana
This is the jacuzzi we had at our ranch in Jarabacoa

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.

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 mountain pico duarte
My wife and I are at the top of the Dominican Republic – Peak Duarte!


In Jarabacoa, there’s the country’s only rafting opportunity on the Yaque del Norte River. It’s really thrilling!

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.
Rafting in Jarabacoa in the mountains
Photo of rafting from the city of Jarabacoa

By the way, rafting tours resumed only at the end of 2023; they hadn’t been conducted for almost 4 years due to the pandemic. But you can read about COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic in this article. 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.
Jimenoa Falls in the Dominican Republic
Jimenoa Falls in the Jarabacoa.

Good to know:

The nature of Jarabacoa resembles the Amazon jungle. There are dense tropical forests.
  • 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.
Aguas Blancas waterfall in Dominican Republic
Aguas Blancos waterfall


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.

ATV 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.

Dominican city street
The quad bike tour usually takes place in those mountains ahead. And in the photo is an ordinary street in the center of Jarabacoa.

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: DiscoverCars – a largest international resource
  • Hotels and apartments:
    • Hotellook – compares hotel prices among dozens of booking platforms and offer you the best price.
    • Booking – large online booking platform.
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Dominican Republic.
  • Vacation packages:
    • Expedia – best deals from Europe.
    • CheapOair – cheap packages from all US cities.
  • Tours, excursions and extreme activities:
    • GetYourGuide – more than 800+ tours and water activities.
    • Viator – 3500+ tours and excursions in Dominican.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
  • Internet and Calls:
    • Airalo – eSIM with internet package.
    • Drimsim – universal SIM card (or eSIM) in any country in the world.
  • Taxi and airport transfers: Intui.Travel