Backpacking Jarabacoa: City of Everlasting Spring [2024]

High up in the mountains of Hispaniola’s Cordillera Central mountain range is the town of Jarabacoa, city of waterfalls, tranquility, and “Everlasting Spring”.

Lori and I have come to Jarabacoa to visit a friend whom Lori met in Guatemala last year. We are excited to know someone in the central DR who can show us around, introduce to us to some of the locals, and offer us a more authentic travel experience.

What to Know About Jarabacoa

jarabacoa waterfalls dominican republic

Jarabacoa is known as the “City of Everlasting Spring” due to its steady 60°F – 72°F temperature year-round (though it can get quite nippy at night!).

During the Haitian invasion of 1805, survivors from the massacres in nearby Santiago and La Vega escaped to these mountains and settled in the valley of Jarabacoa.

The local economy is based upon strawberries, coffee, pimento and ají pepper.

We also discovered that Jarabacoa is a tourist magnet in its own right due largely to its proximity to Pico Duarte, the highest mountain peak in all the Caribbean Islands at a very respectable 10,164 ft. (3,098m).

With a rockstar claim like that, it may not surprise you that this measurement is vehemently disputed by Duarte’s rival sister peak, La Pelona, which not only stands at a mere 10,150 ft. (3,094m) but can’t even muster up a Wikipedia page of its own.

Pathetic, Pelona. Pathetic.

Lori and I didn’t climb Pico Duarte (this time) but we did get to see some of the areas other attractions, like a couple of Jarabacoa’s waterfalls.

Getting to Jarabacoa

motorbike on street lined with shops

Hispaniola is not a terribly large island, and certainly traveling around the DR portion of it is very manageable in a small amount of time.

It only took us four hours on Caribe Tours (which, contrary to what the name might imply, is not a tour bus at all, but actually an inter-provincial express bus [YAY!]) to get from Santo Domingo to Jarabacoa.

Unfortunately for us, the inter-province bus system in the DR is laid out in a spoke system from the capital, Santo Domingo. So while the buses are fast and efficient for the most part, Lori and I found it frustrating to efficiently travel from city to city in the north.

For example, it would have taken us twice as long by local bus or gua-gua to go directly from Jarabacoa to Samaná than it would have taken to travel back through Santo Domingo (which is over twice the distance between the two towns).

Jimenoa Falls (Salto de Jimenoa)

We visited Jimenoa Falls with a couple of frineds living in the area. Salto de Jimenoa is a 15 minute gua-gua or taxi ride from town and worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Lori and I were surprised to learn that in order to access Jarabacoa’s waterfalls, you have to drop a coin in a turnstile. It’s crazy—almost like you’re back in an NYC subway station in the 90’s and then BOOM!—you’re transported into a magical tropical parallel universe where tourists glide effortlessly, alongside fairies and other enchanting jungle critters, over rickety wooden suspension bridges, and above boulders and rushing rapids.

There weren’t actually any fairies, nor were there any playful monkeys or rambunctious flying squirrels to welcome us but the place was still very much worth a visit.

jarabacoa waterfalls dominican republic
jarabacoa waterfalls dominican republic
jarabacoa waterfalls dominican republic

Alright, so the half-finished staircase and pieces of bridge kindling strewn about don’t exactly scream MAGICAL, and they also don’t inspire confidence, which of course spells intrigue and ADVENTURE!

But…um…you might want to make sure your Tetanus is up to date…

BEHOLD! The pristine majesty of Jimenoa Falls (pronounced HeemmaynOah FAHllz for all you non-native speakers out there).

Is that an enchanted monkey frolicking in the mist!? You decide.

Lori and I enjoy our fence-clad view from a “safe” and police-sanctioned distance and, consequently, live to vogue another day.

The sign reads: “Bathing prohibited in this area,” which is totally fine as none of us were planning on taking a bath on the viewing platform anyway. Now who’s up for a swim!?

hikers standing in front of waterfall giving thumbs up

Eat your heart out, Pico Duarte!

Update: You’ll be happy to know that they’ve spruced up the hike and the platform viewing area quite a bit since our visit. I don’t have any pics of that, so you’ll just have to go see it for yourself!

Staying in Jarabacoa

jarabacoa dominican republic
Our split-personality street: By day, a lazy side street. By evening, a major thoroughfare and party central. It was fun to sit and watch the robust street nightlife from our stoop, which largely died down by bedtime.

In Jarabacoa, we stayed at a clean and pleasant place called Hotel Brisas Del Yaque, which means “Breezes of the Yaque” (Yaque del Norte being one of the rivers that runs through town).

Our room had wood floors, a piping hot shower, and a sturdy balcony, which was great for us, but not for the poor naked fellow three stories below who kept peeking his head out of his bathhouse to see if we had gone away yet so that he could run across his backyard and into his house.

At first we thought he was your token creepy tourist stalker, but eventually figured it out (after 20 minutes—of agony for him, I’m sure…), at which point Lori and I retired momentarily to our quarters to give the modest gentleman a chance to privately dash his privates across the fenced-in yard and into his house. We didn’t see his head poke around the corner for the rest of the evening and like to think he finally made it out of there.

Update: Fortunately, for the poor naked fellow, the hotel no longer exists. But there are plenty of other budget to midrange accommodation to be had in Jarabacoa. Check out Hotel Jaraba and Hotel Quintonido for serviceable centrally-located budget digs.

Eats & Drinks

After a fun-filled day of poking around graveyards and hiking Jarabacoa’s waterfalls, our friends take us to a great local polleria (chicken joint) to devour some fantastic grub call Yaroa.

We wash down our meal with a couple bottles of Bohemia Especial (not to be confused with the Bohemia brand of beers brewed in Mexico and Brazil, nope, this one’s 100% pure Dominicana…that is until its bought out by international beer giant, InBev, as it most certainly will be…)

If fast-food pollerias aren’t your speed, check out Solo Alitas for some oh so tasty barbecue chicken wings, Tinaja for delicious dishes and pastries, and Cafe Colao for tasty mofongos and a little bit of everything.

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2 thoughts on “Backpacking Jarabacoa: City of Everlasting Spring [2024]”

  1. Great fun! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Great post! and pictures 🙂 and the place we ate at is called “Yaroa”

    Reply

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