- 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
Often overlooked, Las Salinas is a beautiful southwestern getaway 16 kilometers south of Baní on Carretera Las Calderas. Here you will find the Dunas de las Calderas, which stretch about 15 kilometers in a straight line from the town of Matanzas to Las Salinas at Puerto Hermoso. They are the largest sand dunes in the Antilles and were declared a national monument in 1996.
Amid the brown sand dunes, you will find endemic flora like cacti, olive trees, and other plants that enjoy this arid environment. Gulls and pelicans are among the fauna that live here. This unforgettable land is a perfect backdrop for photographers looking for peaceful subject matter in a unique setting unlike any other Caribbean vacation.
Without a doubt, the best place to stay or grab a good meal is Salinas Hotel & Restaurant (Las Salinas, Puerto Hermoso 7, tel. 809/866-8141, hotel_salinas [at] hotmail [dot] com, per person US$84 per day). Located in Calderas Bay, this all-inclusive hotel is a splendid step up (way up) from what you will find in Baní. Standard rooms are comfortable (and quite large) and rich-rustic with dark woods and tile floors and ceiling fans. Best of all, most rooms are afforded phenomenal views from the balcony.
If you are on a romantic vacation and can swing the extra cost, inquire about renting the large fourth floor suite, which actually sleeps four with one bed lofted (the other is in the main living space). Decorated all in white with windows galore and dark wood accents, it comes complete with treadmill, weight bench, dining area, and refrigerator. The crowning glory of this flat is the winding staircase leading up to a thatched roof lookout deck with panoramic views. The rates include all meals. The restaurant looks out over the bay and across to the mountains.
Even if not staying here, you should come and feast on grilled seafood (US$20) or lambí criolla (US$7), octopus in vinaigrette (US$7.80), and pork chops (US$7). Outside of Cabarete, this is the best windsurfing spot in the nation. Bring your own equipment, though. The hotel has a large dock where sailboats are docked. You can charter one of these boats (US$40–55) to take you to see the nearby mangroves and the beach at Punta El Derrumbao.
The salt mines just beyond the village of Las Salinas are what define the area. Make sure to have your camera; this area is one of the most uniquely atmospheric in the whole southwest region.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition