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Las Terrenas was originally a quiet fishing village on the northern coast of the Samana Peninsula but has evolved into one of the Dominican Republic's top holiday destinations with a population of 12,000, of which 2000 are European.
It was during the 1970s that many of the European residents first began to settle in Las Terrenas and as a result French, German, Dutch and Italian are common languages to hear although Spanish is the local language and English is widely spoken.
Samana International Airport near the village of El Catey is where most major airlines arrive and depart and Las Terrenas is just a 30 minute drive from here. There is a small airstrip at El Portillo providing daily charter flights to Santo Domingo and Arroyo Barril International Airport across the peninsula is used mainly for domestic flights.
There are two main roads into Las Terrenas, the Sanchez highway to the west and the other from the city of Samana through El Limon and El Portillo in the east. Both routes offer magnificent views as you travel along the winding roads through the mountains and valleys of the region. Car rental is readily available from many locations but public transport serves the area well as do taxis, so it's not particularly essential to have your own transport in and around Las Terrenas, as everything is very centralised.
The popularity of Las Terrenas is due largely to the 15 miles of beautiful unspoiled white sand beaches, palm trees and idyllic weather for the majority of the year. It also has the advantage that unlike many tropical locations, there is no rainy season as such. Rainfall is moderate and the difference in temperature between summer and winter is only a few degrees so it is never particularly cold in Las Terrenas.
Water sports are hugely popular and some of the beautiful coral reefs offshore are easily within swimming distance from the beach. Shallow protected snorkelling areas allow beginners to see some truly amazing underwater sights in safety whilst experienced divers can hire boats to take them further afield under the supervision of a guide.
The best diving is between May and September but that does depend on the weather, however, there is never a bad time of year to go underwater sightseeing off the coast of Las Terrenas and the Caribbean trade winds ensure there is always a steady breeze perfect for wind surfing and kite boarding.
The Paeso is the large shopping mall on the beachfront and most services can be found here including a cash machine and the post office and all the shops you might need. It is advisable to change your money into Dominican pesos at a bank or a designated exchange shop known as a 'cambio' as rates can vary in other establishments.
There are over 50 restaurants and bars in Las Terrenas specialising in both local and international cuisine. Menus are mainly French and Italian, but there is usually a fantastic selection of traditionally prepared chicken and seafood dishes available. Lobster, shrimp, crab and calamari are very popular and always fresh.
Nightlife in Las Terrenas is warm and welcoming. Traditional Dominican salsa, merengue and bachata music dominates the seafront bars at night for a lively, friendly atmosphere that is the trademark of the Dominican Republic.