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a large building with a mountain in the background

Located on high elevation in the Dominican Republic’s Cordillera Central (central region), Jarabacoa is one of the country’s inland pearls. A historical town with many lush attractions like waterfalls, rivers and forests. At a 2 hours drive from Santo Domingo and a 4.5 hours from Punta Cana, a visit to Jarabacoa can be made into a 1 or 2 day trip as a break from the Dominican main tourist attractions. Read on and find out about the many wonders this town has to offer!

History of Jarabacoa

While Jarabacoa’s history is not entirely known, it is believed the Jarabacoa valley was once inhabited by the indigenous people of the Dominican Republic. The name is derived from the words ‘Jaraba’ and ‘Coa’, meaning land of the waters in Taino. The town became re-populated around 1805, when survivors of a massacre during the Haitian invasion escaped and settled in Jarabacoa.


Jarabacoa is a scenic mountain escape from people looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of Santiago and Santo Domingo. With its lush green surroundings, cool temperatures and fresh lakes, it’s a popular eco-tourism hub that offers everything from countryside ranches to luxurious villas and lodges in the mountains. Speaking of mountains, Jarabacoa gives access to Pico Duarte, which stands 3087 meters (10125 feet) tall, the highest peak in the Caribbean! No wonder adventure seekers travel to this part of the Dominican Republic. From the summit flows the Rio Yaque del Norte, the longest river in the Dominican Republic, into the land as a clearblue heartline, branching out into 6 smaller rivers. So definitely bring your hiking shoes, because a walk through the pastoral Dominican Cordillera might be very rewarding.

Places of interest

In many ways, Jarabacoa offers the exact opposite of the standard picture of a Dominican vacation. No white beaches, swaying palms and coastal resorts, but fresh rivers, dense pine trees and mountain lodges. A big part of the local culture is horseback riding, but you can also rent a scooter or mountain bike to ride past the cilantro fields, wooden cabins and grazing cows. Take a canoe onto the water and spend a day exploring rivers and waterfalls, or go wild and go for a white water rafting adventure. Another option is a coffee-making tour, where you’ll learn everything about this great little bean from tree to cup, all produced by a local family. For a bit of history, go and take a look at Santo Cerro, one of the holiest sites in the country, or La Vega Vieja, where you’ll find the archeological ruins of the town Christopher Columbus founded in 1494.

Want to know what is going on in Jarabacoa? Check out the event calendar here.

This is just a snippet of what Jarabacoa has to offer, expect a part 2 soon!

Planning on doing a Dominican roadtrip to the Cordillera central region? Take us with you! Tag us @bestofpuntacanaofficial

Photo: the River Club Hotel and Resort, a beautiful place to stay in when visiting Jarabacoa!