Monte Cristi may look at first glance like an unlikely tourist destination. But in some ways, therein lies its charm for the more adventurous tourist. The most popular tourist destinations are sometimes off-putting for visitors for the very reason that they are so popular. Filled with holidaymakers, the big money resorts can often feel quite impersonal and lack individuality, which is not so important if your sole reason for journeying is to kick back and relax. But if your holiday is designed to allow you to see a bit more of the world, the more individualistic pleasures of a less vaunted location can often be just the ticket, giving you the space to appreciate where you are all the more.
Monte Cristi is undoubtedly less designed for the package tourist than a number of other locations in the Dominican Republic. Unlike Punta Cana it does not have a huge amount of holiday resorts with package amenities and entertainment, and unlike Samaná it does not have the majestic clash of mountain scenery with glistening beaches, but it has more than enough character to hold its own. Not being a major center of population – it is a town with just 25,000 inhabitants, it does not have the same sense of human traffic as a lot of the more specifically tourist-targeted resort complexes. This is exactly what some people are looking for in a holiday base, and if you are tired of going to another country only to be surrounded by your compatriots, it is just possible that a visit to Monte Cristi is a sensible decision for you.
If all of the above makes Monte Cristi sound as though it is something of an ugly duckling among a lake filled with beautiful swans, then that is a misleading impression to give. In reality it is a genuinely interesting location, with an excellent national park consisting of dry forest, lagoons and a wonderful plateau (or Mesa) from which you can look out over the sea and witness the marine life that makes Monte Cristi special. Just off the coast there are seven islands known as los Siete Hermanos – the Seven Brothers – where sea turtles go to lay their eggs. It is a quite special sight. The park itself is home to 160 species of birds – at least – and more than ten species of reptile.
If you visit just before Easter, you will also be able to witness the special celebrations of the Carnival that are mounted in the run-up to Easter Sunday. Despite its small size and its lack of reputation – or possibly because of these factors – Monte Cristi is not short on entertainment. If you enjoy the feeling of really being somewhere different – a question which divides tourists into two very differing camps – then you will definitely enjoy Monte Cristi. It may lack the pulling power of some of its neighbours, but as the opening paragraph mentioned, that may be exactly what you are looking for.