Las Terrenas is located around 245 kilometers to the east of Puerto Plata, and can only be accessed by two mountain roads across country or by ship. It is a post town in the Samana province of the Dominican Republic, located on the north eastern side of the island and looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean.
This placement, historically, has meant that Las Terrenas has a strong connection with the slave trade of the 17th and 18th centuries. As a natural stopping point for the vessels crossing the Atlantic at the time, it soon became a hub for slavers, which in turn were used to work the sugar plantations that dominate the interior of the Dominican Republic. The slavers tended to be transporting slaves from Africa, and would stop off en route to the Americas, and sell slaves there. The port of Las Terrenas was essential in this, and its role in the slave trade is reflected in the biodiversity of its current population. As well as native Dominican Republicans – known as Tainos – there is a large African community and ancestry, as well as a generational mix of those descended from both the Tainos and the African slaves.
It is therefore easy to assume that, with the abolishment of the slave trade, Las Terrenas lost its made infrastructure and way of making money. While there was a natural lag in the popularity of the port, but it has once again resurfaced. It is primarily branded as a modern gem of the Dominican Republic, and the difficult accessibility across land has meant that it has remained relatively free of the tourist trappings the rest of the island has become popular for. In an island that is largely dependent on tourism for the safety of its economy, Las Terrenas has managed to maintain a sense of its original culture better than most.
The main draw for modern visitors to Las Terrenas is the waters that once made it such a used port, however, their usage is now somewhat more savory, where slave ships once dominated, now there are private and commercial small boats enjoying the Atlantic Ocean waves. There is also a powerful market for water sports, with wind surfing and just surfing proper proving to be extremely popular. The opening of new international airport El Catey means that there are now viable options for traveling quickly and safely to Las Terrenas, primarily from Europe and Canada.
Another popular activity for visitors to Las Terrenas is four wheel driving exploration, primarily across the mountain roads. The road to – or from – Santos tends to provide the most stunning scenery, as it loops through the mountain range known as Cordillera Samana. There are also exquisite views of Parque Los Haities to the south, as well as the Samana Bay. One can enjoy the sprawling Atlantic coast line, with amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean. This is an exciting trip to make, though it does require a touch of courage from any driver daring enough to take it on. If done though, as with visiting all of Las Terrenas, it can be a thoroughly enjoyable experience.