Hispaniola : Dominican Republic : Western Cibao
Western Cibao is a region of Dominican Republic.
The Northern Region of the Dominican Republic, commonly known as El Cibao, is one of the most important and historic regions of the country. While the Southeast of the country was the center of the sugar industry, the Cibao was and remains the center of the Dominican tobacco industry. The city of Santiago de los Caballeros, the Dominican Republic's second largest city, is the industrial, cultural and economic heart of the Cibao. It displays a beautiful old district with its cathedral, but it is rather deprived of tourist sites. However, it is a good place to experience the Dominican Republic at a slower pace than in the capital, all while having all the comfort and services available in Santo Domingo. The "Centro Leon" in Santiago is one of the Caribbean's largest and most important art museums.
Santiago is found in the Cibao Valley, and is surrounded by two mountains ranges, the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera Septentrional. In the Cordillera Central you will find the highest mountains in the Caribbean, including the 3,098 meters-high Pico Duarte, the Caribbean's highest peak. The trek to climb the peak takes around three days, but they are totally worth it. The rest of the mountain range provides with great opportunities for eco-tourism. The mountain towns of Jarabacoa and Constanza offer very beautiful scenery, and opportunities for horse-back riding, paragliding, white-water rafting, or just relaxation in the pure mountain air. In Jarabacoa is found the "Salto de Jimenoa" one of the country's highest waterfalls. In the towns Constanza and Bonao there are Japanese and Chinese settlements, and these migrants are still working in agriculture there up to this date. The neighboring town of Concepción de la Vega has the most famous, colorful and joyful Carnival in the country, celebrated every year on February 27th.
On the North Coast, just about an hour drive away from Santiago, lies the town of Puerto Plata, with its old colonial fort and its beautiful old mansions, all overlooked by a replica of Rio de Janeiro's "Cristo Redentor" statue. Puerto Plata has great all-inclusive resorts in Playa Dorada and Playa Grande. The neighboring town of Sosua received thousands of jews escaping the holocaust, and it has preserved some of its Jewish culture and synagogue. Today, it retains a great number of German settlers, which add to the town's flavor. The beach and art-lined streets of Sosua are very popular among Dominicans and foreigners alike, but the most popular beach in the area has become that of the town of Cabarete, a world-famous destination for surfing, windsurfing, kite-surfing, and basically every kind of water sport. Like Las Terrenas in Samaná, Cabarete also has a very good nightlife, and very nice hotels ranging from the cheap to the luxurious. Right nearby is a very unique location, Los Charcos de Damajagua, a series of 27 small waterfalls that are easy and very fun to explore with a guide.
On the Northwest, closer to the Haitian border, you will find an impressive destination off the beaten track: the town of Montecristi. Its limestone cliffs stand in a great contrast with the rest of the beaches of the North Coast, and the small limestone island of "El Morro" is rather reminiscent of those found, for example, on the coast of French Brittany. The town of Montecristi itself is very historic despite its seclusion. The beach of Punta Rusia by Montecristi is another destination off the beaten track, surrounded by cliffs and mountains, with crystal-clear water and little touristic development.