Even die-hard beach fanatics will eventually overdose on sun and sand. When you do, the cool, mountainous playground of the Central Highlands is the place to come: where else can you sit at dusk, huddled in a sweater, and watch the mist descend into the valley as the sun sets behind the mountains? Popular retreats, roaring rivers, soaring peaks and the only white-water rafting in the Caribbean beckon. Down below in the plains of the Valle del Cibao is where merengue spontaneously erupted onto the musical landscape, and where you’ll find some of the best Carnival celebrations in the country. Economic life in the Central Highlands revolves around Santiago, the Dominican Republic’s second-largest city and the capital of a vast tobacco- and sugarcane-growing region. So it goes without saying that a visit here requires sipping rum and puffing a local cigar.