Las Terrenas, A Little Something For Everyone
Updated: Apr 12, 2020
I could describe Las Terrenas as a tale of three districts - east, west and centro. Depending on the direction of your arrival, you will be offered a jaded first impression of this little city by the sea. We arrived to Las Terrenas from the east, having driven through the mountains from Las Galeras. The roadway, which was nestled up against the ocean for the last few remaining miles, gingerly nudged us forward into the heart Las Terrenas. The shoreline serenity quickly gave way to a chaotic cascade of sight and sound. Much like our visit to Santo Domingo prior, cars, motor scooters & pedestrians run amok in the center of town. If you were looking for semi organized chaos, congrats, you just landed face first into it. That’s not saying it’s a bad thing, but it is a thing, and you will have to acclimate yourself to the surroundings.
Las Terrenas is flanked on the east and west by restaurants, small hotels and condos, both of which front the beach. West Las Terrenas is little more quieter with quaint beach clubs (and a better beach), but fewer restaurants. East Las Terrenas has less beach, due to erosion, but better restaurants (see the reviews on this site) and a laid back vibe. You won’t find true beach life on the east side of Las Terrenas, until Playa Punta Popy, and while not large, it is homie and beautiful.
Las Terrenas Centro, where it meets the ocean is a nice mash up of upscale, to no scale dining & shopping. As they say, there is a little something here for everyone and it seems everyone is here. French, Italian, Belgian expats and tourists give the “Centro” a distinctly European feel.
As you move away from the shore, further south into Las Terrenas Centro, it is uniquely Dominican, which can be translated as boisterous, rowdy and ever present. To be in the Dominican, among local Dominicans is to be alive, as it is not a half in, half out proposition. I found that unique, not only in Santo Domingo, but Las Terrenas as well. The Dominican has a way of growing on you, and if you are out about among the people, you can’t help but feel it. Real or imagined there is an excitement and energy to being in the DR.
Our accommodations were located on the east side of Las Terrenas, Residence La Fenice. Our stay at La Fenice found us in a multi storied condo, with beautiful grounds and balconies, that offered ocean views. Playa Punta Popy was footsteps away and some of the best dining was within a 10 minute walk of the residence. Little did we know, our bellies, when it came to dining would remain full throughout our stay. Lugar’s and La Dolce Vita restaurants treated us well, and also to some of the best dishes in Las Terrenas.
When it comes to spending time on the beach, the west side of Las Terrenas is best in my opinion, second to Playa Punta Popy. The west side beaches are serene, offer decent beach clubs and arresting sunsets. It’s a great place to just lay out and enjoy where you are. Playa Punta Popy is park like, you can drive right in and find your spot. Locals and tourists are both here, bathing in the tranquility and scenic ocean views.
Las Terrenas is a lot of things, cosmopolitan, European and distinctly Dominican. No matter what you might be looking for, chances are you could find your place here, whether in small or great big doses. It’s just a matter of what you might be looking for, but rest assured it is here.