Las Terrenas is the main hub on the Samaná peninsula, famous for its pristine beaches and endless coconut palm tree groves. The charming beach town is one of the best places for people who want to get away from the all-inclusive tourism with its countless resorts in Punta Cana or Puerto Plata. And even though Las Terrenas and Samaná are famous for their beaches, many more activities and adventures are waiting for you, particularly waterfall hikes, hidden fishing villages, and crystal-clear rivers. Check out all the things you shouldn’t miss in this article about the best things to do in Las Terrenas.

Why Las Terrenas? 

Las Terrenas is a fantastic beach town on the Samaná peninsula with dozens of virgin beaches, affordable beach bars, and a unique vibe that is hard to find anywhere else in the Dominican Republic. It resembles the perfect combination of touristic infrastructure and Dominican authenticity. Las Terrenas is the complete opposite of over-commercialized Punta Cana with its endless all-inclusive resorts, as affordable apartments, small holiday villas, local restaurants, and an easy-going beach vibe are predominant in Las Terrenas. It is the perfect destination if you’d like to explore the Dominican Republic on your own without foregoing a relaxed beach town with all the amenities you need for a stress-free beach holiday. 

How to get to Las Terrenas?

Before we start with the best things to do in Las Terrenas, let’s have a quick look at how you can get to this fantastic beach town in the Dominican Republic. While there is an international airport close to Las Terrenas (El Catey International Airport), hardly any flights are landing there. Therefore, your best bets are flying into Santo Domingo’s Las Americas International Airport (2-hour driving distance from Las Terrenas) or to Punta Cana’s International Airport (4-hour driving distance) with non-stop flights from more than 35 American cities.  

To get from any of the airports to Las Terrenas, you can either book a rental car (make sure to not drive at night on your first day) or organize a private transfer. A rental car might be beneficial for your later adventures, experiences, and activities in Las Terrenas.


 

The best things to do in Las Terrenas

So let’s start with some of the unique things to do in Las Terrenas and you will quickly see why those people who travel regularly to the Samaná peninsula love it there.

The best things to do right in Las Terrenas

If you don’t want to deal a lot with buying excursions or checking for suitable itineraries with your rental car, there are already a couple of attractions and things to do in Las Terrenas without even leaving the town.

The beaches in Las Terrenaslas terrenas playa punta popy

The number one attraction of Las Terrenas and probably the reason why you’re coming here are the beaches – and there are already super beautiful ones right in town. Playa Bonita, Playa Las Ballenas and Playa Punta Popy are the main beaches in Las Terrenas. They are perfect for any beach day you could wish for as you find everything you need: fine sand, shallow water, affordable beach bars, local restaurants and easy accessibility are the main features of Las Terrenas’ beaches.

Happy Hour in Las Terrenashappy hour las terrenas

Once you’re at one of Las Terrenas’ beaches, you also shouldn’t miss the happy hour. And this means really happy prices here in Las Terrenas. There are a couple of bars along Playa Punta Popy and Playa Las Ballenas that offer Cuba Libre, Mojito and other cocktails classics for around 150 DOP per drink, that’s less than 3 USD. Among those bars are Rama de Olivo or the beach bar of Hotel Playa Colibri.

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Hit the nightlife in Las Terrenas

 If you feel that you want to extend drinking into the night, you can check out the small but vibrating nightlife of Las Terrenas. Particularly the bars around the Mosquito Art Bar and the Pueblo de los Pescadores are worth it when starting the night, before heading over to famous La Bodega, the most popular dancing and nightlife spot in Las Terrenas.

SUP & kitesurfing in Las Terrenas

If you want to get active while staying in Las Terrenas, you can rent SUPs or kitesurfing equipment or even take classes. A good shop for rentals (and classes) is located next to Afrika Beach Hostel at Playa Punta Popy.

Refresh yourself at the spring river of Playa Cosonlas terrenas playa coson

Another beach in Las Terrenas you shouldn’t miss is Playa Coson – it is even the most beautiful one in Las Terrenas, as it is close to 3 miles long and is – particularly in its western part – absolutely pristine and virgin. Even though it is still located within Las Terrenas, you probably need a taxi or a Motoconcho (a local motorbike taxi for 1-2 people) to get to Playa Coson, but it is well worth it. You can also refresh yourself in the river which is flowing into the ocean, which offers super cool fresh water – perfect to rinse off after a dip into the ocean.

Best beaches on the Samaná peninsulasamana

As you can see, Las Terrenas has already stunning beaches, but many more extremely beautiful beaches on the Samaná peninsula are worth exploring. Some of them are even so virgin and untouched that you will have them completely on your own – you should definitely put them on your to-do list for Las Terrenas. Most of the following beaches can be best reached by rental car.

Playa Rincón

Playa Rincón might be THE most famous beach on the Samaná peninsula. It features indeed a stunning setting, surrounded by green hills and a beautiful coastline. It offers a minimum of infrastructure (two local restaurants and you can rent beach chairs), but the main attraction is definitely its stunning beauty plus the crystal-clear river that flows into Playa Rincón on its west end. Playa Rincón is located in Las Galeras and a 1.5-hour drive from Las Terrenas.

Playa Frontón

If you head to Playa Rincón, you can ideally combine it with another great attraction reachable from Las Terrenas: Playa Frontón, another unique beach on the Samaná peninsula. It is only accessible by a 30-minute boat ride from Las Galeras (or by a 1.5- to 2-hour hike) and offers a dramatic backdrop thanks to its 400-foot-high cliff. The water here at Playa Frontón is particularly shallow with some smaller reefs around, making it a perfect destination from Las Terrenas if you’re looking for some decent snorkeling opportunities.

Playa Ermitañosamana playa ermitano

Playa Rincón and Playa Frontón are the more famous beaches on the Samaná peninsula. You most likely won’t be alone there, but the beaches are still far away from being crowded, especially when you’re visiting during the week. 

However, there are beaches that you will have completely on your own and which are definitely a must-do in Las Terrenas when you’re an adventurous traveler. One of them is Playa Ermitaño, a beach somewhere between Las Terrenas and Las Galeras, only accessible by boat or an exciting 1.5-hour hike. The beach is so remote and beautiful that it was home to several foreign survival TV shows, focusing on the “Lost in Paradise” story. You might feel like in paradise once you have reached this beach, especially due to the spectacular tropical backdrop. Once you’re here, you can visit three beaches at once: Playa Ermitaño I, Playa Ermitaño II, and Playa Onda Samana.

Playa Las Canassamana playa las canas

Not less worth visiting is Playa Las Canas, a gorgeous one-mile stretch of beach that is completely untouched and pristine. The only thing you’ll see here is endless sand and thousands of coconut trees. Similar to Playa Ermitaño, this might feel like you have found paradise and it is one of the things to do in Las Terrenas you shouldn’t miss when you’re an avid adventurer. 

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You can get here either by a short hike from Playa Lanza del Norte or by car through Agua Sabrosa, but the latter only if you have a four-wheel drive. The southeastern end of Playa Las Canas is also the starting point for the Playa Ermitaño hike. 

Playa Jacksonlas terrenas playa jackson

Playa Jackson is another of Samanás’ untouched beaches and is even closer than Playa Ermitaño and Playa Las Canas (both are around a 45-minute drive away from Las Terrenas). The beach is shorter than the aforementioned ones, but not less impressive and paradisiacal, especially as it features a secret river that flows out of a cave straight into the ocean. To get here, check Google Maps for the location and park your car at Boulevard de Atlantico. Simply walk down the steep path for around 15-20 minutes until you reach Playa Jackson.

Best excursions in Las Terrenas 

In case you’re wondering if there are other things to do in Las Terrenas than just beaches: yes there are! Beaches are just one of the main attractions in Las Terrenas, but there are further places to visit. Some of them can ideally be visited by guided excursions, so you don’t have to take care of anything.

Visit waterfall Salto El Limon el limon salto el limon

The trip to Salto El Limón is definitely the top excursion in Las Terrenas as it is not far away and an absolutely gorgeous site to visit. 

Salto El Limón is the most famous and most picturesque waterfall on the Samaná peninsula – if you see the photos, you understand why. You can either take a horseback ride here (included with most excursions, but not recommended, as most of the horses or mules are in terrible shape) or hike along the trails, just be prepared for a muddy encounter. Most of the tour operators use the western trailheads, which will bring you to Salto El Limón after a 30- to 45-minute hike or ride. 

Don’t forget your swimsuits when heading to Salto El Limón as you can swim in the natural waterfall pool. 

P.S.: Continue reading our best things to do in Las Terrenas to see how you can experience Salto El Limon on your own in case you don’t want to buy an excursion.

Zipline Excursion from Las Terrenas

Another favorite among Las Terrenas’ excursions is ziplining. There are two zip-lining courses you can choose from: the one from Runners Adventures between El Limon and Santa Barbara de Samaná or the one in El Valle around the Dominican Tree House Village. Both feature mesmerizing views of the lush tropical vegetation and the multiple hills on the Samaná peninsula. 

ATV excursion in Samaná

Another excursion from Las Terrenas are the ATV quad tours, which are a perfect introduction to the countryside and the local life. Most of these tours combine one of the pristine beaches with visiting authentic fishing villages, where you can learn more about local products, the way of living in this part of the Dominican Republic and the special characteristics of the Samaná peninsula. Those tours are usually done in small groups, hence there is a large difference between the typical dune buggy/ATV tours in Punta Cana, where you are organized in groups with dozens of vehicles, and those smaller group tours here in Las Terrenas.

Los Haitises National Park

When talking about attractions in Las Terrenas, Los Haitises National Park is another important place to visit. It is one of the most crucial areas for bio-diversity in the Dominican Republic as it is home to many species. It is particularly famous for its network of mangroves, the several caves with Taino paintings (Tainos were the original inhabitants of the Dominican Republic) and the hundreds of islands, which makes Los Haitises appear a bit like the famous Halong Bay in Vietnam.

Tours to Los Haitises National Park usually start in Sanchez or Santa Barbara de Samaná, but can be booked including transfer from Las Terrenas as well.

Whale-watching tours samana whale-watching

Last but not least, and this is another thing to do in Las Terrenas not to miss, we should not forget the whale-watching excursions in the Dominican Republic as this is one of the biggest attractions of Las Terrenas and the Samaná area. Each year from mid-January to the end of March, the humpback whales visit the Bay of Samaná for the mating season. The warm and protected waters of the bay make it a perfect playground for these giant mammals. This is the perfect opportunity for affordable whale-watching tours, especially as strict rules are in place to protect the animals.

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Whale-watching tours usually start from Santa Barbara de Samaná, approximately one hour away from Las Terrenas, but regular tours leave from Las Terrenas during the whale-watching season including transfers to Santa Barbara de Samaná.

The best DIY adventures and activities in Las Terrenas

After having covered a lot of beaches and excursions, let’s have a look at what kind of activities you can do on your own – without the need for a tour guide. This is in addition to all the beaches we have already presented above among the best things to do in Las Terrenas.

Hike Salto El Limon  Waterfallsalto el limon

You already know what Salto El Limón is. But if you feel that the excursions are not your cup of tea, you can also head there on your own. 

Contrary to most other hiking areas in the Dominican Republic, signposting around Salto El Limon is existent. There are maps at each of the 6 trailheads and you can find some further signs along the trail as well. Still, it can’t hurt to have your GPS with you as getting lost in the jungle might happen quicker than you might think. 

Starting points are either Parada El Café, Parada Franklin, Parada Arroyo Surdido, Parada Manzana, Parada La Javilla or Parada Olga. The trails are between 30 and 90 minutes of walking. The shortest trails are Sendero Franklin and Sendero Arroyo Surdido, the longest (but most beautiful) one is Sendero El Café.

People will try to convince you that a guide is necessary, but it is not as long as you feel comfortable walking on your own and consider yourself reasonably fit. Take a lot of water and sunscreen when you go + pack snacks. Try to be as early as possible at Salto el Limon (ideally before 9 a.m.) to avoid any tour groups. Salto El Limón is one of the most touristy things to do in Las Terrenas but it is definitely worth it as long as you can skip the crowds.

Waterfall hikingwaterfall juana vicente

If you feel that Salto El Limón is too touristy for you or if you simply want to visit other waterfalls on the Samaná peninsula, there are further options as well:

 – Cascada Lulu, located in lush El Valle, approx. a 20 to 30-minute hike

 – Cascada Rio de Coco, located along the road from Sanchez to Santa Barbara, approx. a 10-minute walk

 – Cascada Juana Vicente (shown), starting from Agua Sabrosa, approx. a 1-hour hike

El Valle

Talking about El Valle, this is a fantastic place to visit for a quick road trip from Las Terrenas. It is a lush, wild, and gorgeous valley. The beach at the valley’s end carries the same attributes. It is a one-hour drive from Las Terrenas and can be perfectly reached by rental car. For a great fishermen’s lunch, head to one of the ramshackle beach restaurants and ask for the catch of the day.

Renting an ATV

We’ve presented the ATV tour further above among the Las Terrenas excursions, but the bustling beach town is also famous for its omnipresent quads and ATVs you can rent at every corner. Do so and you can have a day full of fun and adventure when exploring the beach towns, hills and villages. Make sure to check for the right insurance when renting them.

Mirador del Atlantico

One of the places to visit in Las Terrenas you shouldn’t miss with your ATV or rental car is the Mirador del Atlantico. Chances are high that you already pass this amazing viewpoint on your first trip to Las Terrenas when coming from Santo Domingo or Punta Cana. But just in case you haven’t stopped here, make sure to make an extra trip to the Mirador del Atlantico as it offers a breathtaking view of Las Terrenas, Playa Coson, and all the surrounding areas.

 

 

Guest Author: Chris has not only studied and worked in tourism for more than 15 years, but he is also passionate about exploring the world and has traveled to more than 80 countries and lived more than 10 years abroad, mainly in the Caribbean. If you’d like to know more about all the pristine beaches and secluded waterfalls you can explore in the Dominican Republic and other countries, you can find more information in his travel blogs My Travelworld and Punta Cana Travel Blog

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