One of the joys of holidaying in the Dominican Republic is the fact that outside the tourist resorts lie a lot of hidden jewels, places which do not get half as much coverage as the areas with big advertising budgets and hotel complexes. The bigger resorts are filled with frenetic activity which, while something that a number of people will thrive upon, is something that can be a bit too much to take in such large doses. These places are often very small and unassuming, and not somewhere that will even be served by travel companies, but which will be all the more relaxing for that. Shorn of the noise and the crowds, you will get to experience the real Dominican Republic, able to get more local flavor than you are sometimes permitted in mass-appeal tourist resorts.
One such hidden gem is Luperón – a town in the Puerto Plata province, 50 km away from the port which carries the province’s name. Although it may not be your choice for a place to make your base for the holiday, Luperón is certainly somewhere that you would be well advised to visit as part of a longer stay in Puerto Plata. Before it changed its name, Luperón was, like the province itself, named for a color. Called Pueblo Blanco (White Town), the area likely took this name as a result of the large influx of Spanish traders who came to the town in order to trade timber. Luperón gained fame in the early days because of its uniquely-shaped bay, which provided shelter for boats when hurricane season came.
One navigator who availed of this opportunity to shelter was perhaps better known than any other. The great Christopher Columbus – although he never set foot on the then uninhabited land of Luperón – was so relieved to have survived the terrifying storms that he bestowed upon the bay the name of Bahia de Gracias – or Thanksgiving Bay – a name which it has retained to this day in an official sense. Even today, in the hurricane prone climate that is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Dominican Republic, Luperón’s bay is still believed to be the only safe harbor in the whole country.
In keeping, then, with its history of not being one of the more vaunted areas of the country, Luperón remains an unassuming place. Its population is just 20,000, and it is mainly a fishing town with very little tourism. But if you are holidaying in Puerto Plata or Playa Dorada and would like to experience some local charm, then Luperón has it in plentiful supply. With a local marina and the usual seaside attractions of a small coastal town, Luperón is the ideal destination for a day trip. It is the very definition of a hidden jewel. Should you pay it a visit, you might just be grateful you did. Whether you will go to the same lengths as Christopher Columbus to show your gratitude is another question.