Monte Cristi is about 135 kilometers west of Puerto Plata  and is the capital of the arid and desert-like province of the same name. There isn’t a lot of tourism here, but those who do come enjoy beaches  and diving . It is said that the surrounding waters have about 180 sunken galleons whose treasures still quietly rest in the sea.
Others come to see the Parque Nacional Monte Cristi  and its subtropical dry forest, its lagoons, and the 274-meter-high mesa. Off the coast is a collection of islands where sea turtles lay their eggs. Most of the residents of Monte Cristi still make their living farming the land, fishing, or from the salt flats in the north.
The town was founded in the early part of the 16th century and for many years was an important trading port for cattle and manufactured goods. But in 1606, the Spanish crown ordered the northwest corner of the country to be evacuated and moved to Santo Domingo , when it had become clear that pirates were gaining control of trading with the colonists after having bullied the Spanish galleons from the shores.
And for 150 years, Monte Cristi was a ghost town. That is, until the French began moving into the territory. Concerned about losing control of the land, the Spanish moved 100 farming families from the Canary Islands and settled them into the area. Once again, it became an important port with its perfect positioning at the mouth of the Yaque del Norte river basin. Timber and tobacco were floated down from such towns as Santiago  and La Vega  to be exported from Monte Cristi. The timber industry began to attract Europeans, who settled the area, and the economy flourished.
But the prosperous time came to an end when, in 1860, the four-year Restoration War, in which the Dominicans fought the Spanish for their independence, ruined the city. But the European influence was still present as they rebuilt in their Victorian architecture, some of which survives to this day.
On Avenida Mella is the former house where Máximo Gómez (Cuban military commander) and José Martí (leader of the Cuban independence movement) signed the Montecristi Manifesto for Cuba’s independence on March 25, 1895.
Highway 1 (Autopista Duarte) coming into Monte Cristi from the Southeast  becomes Calle Duarte (the main drag) in town. Highway 45 into town from Dajabón  becomes Avenida Mella. Incidentally, this is a notoriously dangerous highway to drive at night. Many Dominicans advise highly against it as robberies are very common.
Caribe Tours (Av. Mella and Rodriguez Camargo, tel. 809/579-2129) is a block north from Calle Duarte. You can catch a bus to Santo Domingo  (US$8.50) leaving at 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 1:45 p.m., 2:45 p.m., and 4 p.m. This same bus makes a stop in Santiago  (US$3.65).
There is a guagua terminal on Calle Duarte between 27 de Febrero and Benito Monción. They go to Dajabón and Santiago (US$1–4) and generally depart every 20 minutes.
Walking is best in Monte Cristi, but as usual, motoconchos are readily available if you’re feeling adventurous.