Once a rustic fishing village, Las Terrenas today is a cosmopolitan town and seems as much French (approaching a colony) and Italian as Dominican. Fashionable-looking European women in designer sunglasses ride their personal ATVs with a bag of baguettes in tow, battling on roads with way too many motos.
The road to this small fishing community 28km northeast of Samaná ends at a fish shack on the beach. So does everything else, metaphorically speaking. One of the great pleasures of a stay here is losing all perspective on the world beyond; even a trip to one of the beautiful and isolated outlying beaches seems far away.
While Las Terrenas and Las Galeras can boast pristine swaths of sand and a sophisticated international vibe, Samaná town is mostly content to trudge along as the gritty workhorse of the peninsula. It would be worth little more than a backwards glance in the rearview mirror for most tourists were it not for the whale-watching on offer here.
A getaway from a getaway, this appropriately named beach only a few kilometers west of Las Terrenas is a better alternative for those seeking a more peaceful, reclusive vacation. Playa Bonita (Pretty Beach) is not without its imperfections – the half-moon-shaped beach is fairly steep and narrow, and parts are strewn with palm-tree detritus.