- Where to Go
- The Best of the Dominican Republic
- A Nature Lover’s Dominican Trek
- The Sexiest Dominican Beaches
- Historical Dominican Road Trip
- A Dominican Culture Tour
- Carnaval and Its Masks
- Planning Your Dominican Wedding
- Dominican Adventures
- Golfing the Dominican Republic
- Dominican Music and Dance
- La Ruta del Mango
- Day-Tripping in Monte Plata
- The Best Small Resorts
The town of Monte Cristi is hugged on three sides by the Parque Nacional Monte Cristi, which is made up of lagoons on either side of the town, beaches, a cluster of islands called Los Cayos de los Siete Hermanos, and one hill (El Morro) rising 239 meters above sea level and shaped like a camel’s back. Living in the mangroves are more than 160 species of birds and more than 10 species of reptiles; both the ever-elusive manatee and rare solenodon call this national park home.
At Monte Cristi’s main beach, Playa Juan de Bolaños (located at the end of Avenida San Fernando where it meets the sea), you can find some hotel accommodations and restaurants, but the beach itself is not grand.
The beach affectionately called Playa Detras del Morro is behind the hill that looks like a camel’s back. It’s worth seeking it out, because it is the best in the area. It’s a beautiful half moon of sand surrounded by the rocky cliffs. Following Avenida San Fernando to the national park will take you right to the beach. The steps leading up the hillside were closed when we passed through in 2009, but hopefully they will be repaired when you visit because it is a marvelous view from the top, although it’s incredibly windy.
If you’re up for a short boat ride, catch one out to Isla Cabra, where there is a nice and very private beach. Just ask one of the boat captains at Playa Juan de Bolaños and negotiate for a round-trip boat ride. Make sure to get a flat rate for the entire boatload of you, rather than per person, and have it agreed upon before you get in. Here you can also find a boat to take you snorkeling.
Los Cayos de los Siete Hermanos are about a kilometer from shore and are part of the national park. The white beaches of these uninhabited islands are beautiful, and there are many dive spots in the offshore reefs.
La Casa de Máximo Gómez (Av. Mella, 9 a.m.–noon and 2:30–5:30 p.m., free) was once the home of the Dominican who was instrumental in Cuba’s independence and the Dominican restoration, Máximo Gómez. Inside are photos and mementos. If you speak Spanish, you can ask for a historical tour of the museum. Tipping is greatly appreciated.
Parque Central or, as it’s sometimes called, Parque Reloj, is at the corner of Calle Duarte and San Fernando. The clock tower here is notable. Remind you of anything? It has an Eiffel Tower quality to it. In the late 1990s it was restored. Lining the park are some run-down Victorian homes, some of which have been restored (a little). They all stand in testament to the European influence that the third wave of settlers had on Monte Cristi.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition