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The aptly named Playa Bonita, or "beautiful beach," at Punta Bonita lies only a 10-minute ride by motoconcho west from the heart of Las Terrenas. We suggest that you take this ride and not attempt to walk here along a coastal road that is dirty, muddy, and rather steep. Once here, you'll find a kilometer (2/3 mile) of golden sand set against the backdrop of coconut palms and a surf of clean waters. In the distance you can see several palm-studded islets. Humpback whales can be spotted off the coast in season. Playa Bonita is far less discovered than the beach at Las Terrenas, and we prefer it for this reason.

Punta Bonita lies 6km (3 3/4 miles) west of Las Terrenas and only a 10-minute drive east of the village of Cosón. Punta Bonita offers 13km (8 miles) of uninterrupted powdery-white sand. With its tranquil waters, this is our preferred spot for snorkeling on the north coast of the peninsula, and the usually clear waters contain rainbow-hued fish and beautiful coral formations.

Back in Las Terrenas, you can enjoy some good beaches as well, including Playa Cacao, although these sands are more crowded, especially in winter. The beachfront at Las Terrenas stretches about 2km (1 1/4 miles) both east and west from the center. The waters are generally tranquil here, suitable for swimming. Projecting out is a coral reef at 100m (330 ft.) that is ideal for some excellent snorkeling.

Scuba divers wanting to explore the northern shore of La Samaná Peninsula head for one of the peninsula's best dive outfitters, Stellina Dive Center, Playa Cacao (tel. 829/887-5503; www.stellinadiving.com), the office open daily 9am to 1pm and 3 to 5pm. The staff here offers diving for all levels from beginner to advanced. A 1-day dive costs RD$1,350 with equipment provided, RD$1,000 without equipment. Night dives go for RD$1,350 per person with equipment, RD$1,200 without equipment.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.