Unveiling Los Haitises: The Caribbean’s Best-Kept Secret and Ultimate Adventure Guide

los haitises

A Caribbean Paradise

Los Haitises, Where is it? Is it in Haiti? How to Get there? What To Do? Los Haitises National Park is a hidden treasure, nestled in the northeastern part of the Dominican Republic. Contrary to popular belief, it is not located in Haiti, although the name might suggest otherwise. The park boasts an abundance of natural beauty, including lush mangrove forests, captivating limestone formations, and a vibrant ecosystem teeming with wildlife. In this article, we will provide an extensive guide on how to reach Los Haitises, the best activities to partake in, and insider tips to make the most of your visit.

Getting to Los Haitises National Park

Los Haitises is situated approximately 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the bustling city of Santo Domingo. There are several ways to reach the park, depending on your preferences and budget.

By Car

Renting a car is a popular option, as it provides flexibility and convenience. From Santo Domingo, take the Autopista Juan Pablo II (Highway DR-4) eastward toward Samaná. Exit at Sabana de la Mar and continue along the coastal road until you reach the park entrance.

By Bus

For those seeking a more budget-friendly option, consider taking a bus from Santo Domingo to the nearby town of Sabana de la Mar. From there, you can hire a local taxi or arrange a guided tour to Los Haitises.

By Boat

Another way to access Los Haitises is by boat from Samaná, a picturesque town on the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic. The boat ride offers spectacular views of the park’s coastline and allows for a unique perspective on its natural splendor.

Exploring the Wonders of Los Haitises

Los Haitises National Park encompasses a vast area of 826 square kilometers (319 square miles), offering visitors myriad opportunities for adventure and discovery.

Majestic Limestone Caves: Delving into the Past

The park is home to an impressive network of limestone caves, many adorned with ancient Taino petroglyphs and pictographs. These caves provide a glimpse into the region’s rich history and cultural heritage. Some of the most popular caves to explore include:

Cueva de la Arena

Accessible by boat, Cueva de la Arena features a small beach where visitors can disembark and venture into the cave. The walls are adorned with Taino art, offering a fascinating insight into the lives of the indigenous people who once inhabited the area.

Cueva de la Línea

Named for the railway line that once passed nearby, Cueva de la Línea boasts a collection of well-preserved petroglyphs. A knowledgeable guide can help you decipher the intricate symbols and appreciate the skill and artistry of the Taino people.

Cueva San Gabriel

This cave holds a sacred significance for the Taino people and is believed to have been used for ceremonial purposes. The cave’s remarkable acoustics and mesmerizing stalactite formations add to its mystical allure.

Mangrove Forests: A Thriving Ecosystem

los haitises mangrove

Los Haitises is renowned for its extensive mangrove forests, which serve as a vital habitat for countless species of flora and fauna. A boat tour through the mangrove channels offers a captivating experience, allowing you to witness the park’s diverse ecosystem up close.


The park is a haven for bird enthusiasts, with over 120 species recorded. Keep your eyes peeled for the endangered Ridgway’s Hawk, as well as various herons, egrets, and pelicans.


The park’s estuaries and mangrove channels provide a sanctuary for the West Indian manatee. These gentle giants can occasionally be spotted as they graze on seagrass and surface to breathe.

Hiking Trails: Immerse Yourself in Nature

For those who prefer land-based activities, Los Haitises National Park offers a variety of hiking trails that cater to different fitness levels and interests. Here are a few trails worth exploring:

Sendero El Naranjal

This moderately challenging trail takes you through lush rainforest, past towering limestone cliffs, and ultimately to a scenic viewpoint overlooking the park’s distinctive mogotes, or karst formations. The 2.5-kilometer (1.6-mile) hike offers ample opportunities to spot wildlife and admire the park’s diverse vegetation.

Sendero La Meseta

Starting from the park’s visitor center, this 3.5-kilometer (2.2-mile) trail ascends to a plateau with sweeping views of the surrounding landscape. Along the way, you’ll pass through dense forest and open savanna, providing a glimpse into the park’s various ecosystems.

Sendero Los Cacaos

For a more leisurely hike, consider the 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile) Sendero Los Cacaos. This trail meanders through an old cacao plantation and offers a fascinating insight into the region’s agricultural history.

Sampling Local Delicacies

No visit to Los Haitises would be complete without indulging in some of the Dominican Republic’s mouthwatering cuisine. The park’s surrounding communities offer a selection of eateries where you can savor local delicacies.

Fish and Seafood

Given its coastal location, the area around Los Haitises is a prime spot for fresh fish and seafood. Don’t miss the opportunity to try pescado con coco, a traditional Dominican dish featuring fish cooked in a rich coconut sauce.

Tropical Fruits

The fertile soil and tropical climate of the Dominican Republic yield an abundance of exotic fruits. Take advantage of the local produce by sampling juicy mangoes, sweet papayas, and tangy passion fruit.

Planning Your Visit: Insider Tips and Recommendations

To make the most of your trip to Los Haitises National Park, consider the following tips and recommendations:

Best Time to Visit

The park is open year-round, but the optimal time to visit is during the dry season, which runs from December to April. During this period, you’ll encounter fewer mosquitos and have a better chance of spotting wildlife.


While there are no accommodations within the park, several options are available in the nearby towns of Sabana de la Mar and Samaná. From budget-friendly hostels to luxurious eco-lodges, there is something to suit every taste and budget.

Guided Tours

Given the park’s vast size and complexity, it is advisable to hire a knowledgeable guide to help you navigate the area and gain deeper insights into its natural and cultural treasures. Many tour operators offer a range of packages, including boat tours, cave excursions, and birdwatching expeditions.

Responsible Tourism

Los Haitises National Park is an invaluable natural and cultural resource. As visitors, it is our responsibility to minimize our impact on the environment and respect the park’s unique ecosystem. Remember to adhere to the “Leave No Trace” principles, dispose of waste properly, and refrain from disturbing the wildlife.


  • How much time should one allocate for a visit? A full day would allow you to soak in the diverse experiences the park offers.
  • Is it family-friendly? Absolutely! With activities for all age groups, it’s a family favorite.
  • What’s the best time of the year to visit? The months from November to April offer pleasant weather, perfect for exploring.
  • Are there any local guides available? Yes, local guides can provide enriched experiences with their vast knowledge.
  • Is it safe for solo travelers? Certainly! However, always follow the park’s safety guidelines.
  • What should one pack for a visit? Comfortable shoes, water, snacks, and a camera are essentials.

In conclusion, Los Haitises National Park is a captivating destination, offering a wealth of natural wonders and cultural treasures. Far from the misconception of being located in Haiti, this Caribbean gem in the Dominican Republic presents an opportunity for unforgettable adventures and lasting memories. By following our comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of your visit to this enchanting corner of the world.