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The Dominican Republic’s North Coast

BY Lisa Lindblad

December 15, 2013

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I have spent the last few days on a reconnaissance trip on the north coast of the Dominican Republic.  What a gorgeous surprise!  My last visit was to Punta Cana on the east of the island, an enclave of pretty private houses and Oscar de la Renta’s hotel, Tortuga Bay. The East’s dry, flat landscapes, white sand beaches and peaceful Caribbean water could not be more different from the North, with its dramatic cliffs, thick forest, lush grasslands dotted with Jersey and Brahman cattle, and caramel beaches swaying with royal palms and pounded by Atlantic surf.

Fly in to Puerto Plata (Columbus landed here) or, if you are heading to Cabrera, the charming fishing town that drew us, in to Samana.  Rent a car or, better yet, hire a taxi and driver to drive you the hour to Hotel la Catalina, the best hotel in Cabrera.  There is a beach for every taste from Diamante’s perfect white powder to my favorite, La Boca, where the river wends its way into the Atlantic.  Grab a Bandera along the road – DR’s equivalent to Uruguay’s Chivito – a cuba libre at Manny’s Bar Restaurant on Cabrera’s Malecon, a delicious hamburger at Sheila’s Florcafe, or a grilled lobster at Playa Grande served on a plastic table set up for you at the water’s edge.

If sport is your thing, head to Cabarete, the kite and board surfing capital of DR.  Iguana Mama is the one-stop-shop for all things active.  Mountain bike in Ol Choco National Park, cascade in the Ciguapa Falls, canyon down the Rio Blanco, or white water raft through the  “Dominican Alps.”  Kite surf with world class operator Laurel Eastman whose kite board school is located  on the beach next to the Millenium hotel.

When dusk settles, make sure you are sitting quietly on a fisherman’s boat in Laguna Gri-Gri, a lovely mangrove channel that is home to hundreds of egrets, vultures and more. As the sun goes down the egrets return from the fields in swooping flocks and settle noisily on the red mangrove.

A couple of other notes…AmanResorts will have pride of place on a beautiful stretch of coastline here complete with a Robert Trent Jones golf course that is said to be the top choice in the Caribbean.  Due to open in 2015, villas are already on the market.

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On the lovely east end of Long Island, a bookstore has been reinvigorated by a friend of mine, Carolyn Brody. About a year ago, Carolyn purchased BookHampton when it was in jeopardy of closing its doors on East Hampton's Main Street.  Extremely well read and erudite herself, she took the potential loss of the 40-year-old gem personally.  She had dreamed of owning a bookstore since she was a child and, so, she purchased it.  BookHampton's mission would be to "provide a vibrant year-round environment for discovering books that intrigue, amuse, educate, and inspire."

Carolyn enlisted the services of another East Hampton resident and long-time friend, Deborah Berke.  Dean of Yale School of Architecture, Deborah created with her team at Deborah Berke Partners a modern, light-filled space that is both welcoming and exciting.

And there are upwards of 20,000 books, both classic and contemporary, and knowledgeable booksellers to guide you through the literary terrain.

 Carolyn produces a newsy letter that highlights staff picks and alerts to upcoming bookstore events.

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http://www.bookhampton.com/

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BookHampton: The East End’s Storied Gem