The region of Jarabacoa is both a town and a municipal district, located in the Dominican Republic province of La Vega. The La Vega province makes up roughly four per cent of the total island population, and is some 2,300 square kilometers in size. It is also the most geographically centered province, with no coast or shorelines, the landscape is predominantly mountainous. Jarabacoa is often considered the jewel in its crown.
The charm of Jarabacoa itself is how it has retained much of its original design and concept. The Dominican Republic has, by and large, given itself over to the tourism sector – in 2006, the majority of the country’s economic wealth and stability came from tourism. While this has allowed the country to undergo a rapid turnaround in fortunes, it has nevertheless meant that traditional Dominican villages and trades – such as the ever relied upon agriculture – have experienced something of an identity transplant. In this, Jarabacoa has remained largely unaffected, and still retains the original charms and joys of the Dominican Republic before the tourism boom.
As the largest municipality in the province of La Vega, Jarabacoa could almost be expected to be one of the most likely places to succumb to the seduction of the tourist trade. Yet it has remained relentlessly true to its roots, a manner that is refreshing and provides a welcome change of pace from the rest of the tourism driven Dominican Republic. Much of Jarabacoa is still dedicated to the agricultural trades, and it specializes growing and marketing Western obsessions such as strawberries, coffee, pimento and certain types of pepper. Most of the population of the town are Dominican Republic nationals; it would seem the fervent housing market for foreign investors is more suited to the coastal regions rather than this more genteel, industrial area of the country.
Jarabacoa sits around 525 meters above sea level, giving crops plenty of exposure which is added to with the use of greenhouses where necessary. Locals call Jarabacoa “The City of Everlasting Spring”, due to an enduringly long warm season which is effected least by the seasonal rainfall. Due to the high land level, however, winter temperatures can occasionally fall to seven degrees centigrade – extremely low for a Caribbean islands. Mostly, the temperatures are stable throughout the year at between 16 and 22 degrees Celsius.
The mountains that makes Jarabocoa such a useful farming land also appeal to tourists, and there is some tourist trade centered around hikes and walks through the peaks of the Dominican Republic. This, however, is more taking advantage of nature’s gifts rather than following the pattern of the rest of the country and creating tourist traps such as animal parks and water sports centers Jarabocoa offers a different feel of life in the Dominican Republic, and the annual carnival each February also brings in a passing tourist trade. It is nevertheless an enjoyable place to visit, particularly during a holiday that is otherwise dedicated to more man made beauty and pursuits. For a little natural beauty that doesn’t include beaches, Jarabocoa should be your first stop.