Monte Cristi National Park, or Parque National Monte Cristi, is a national park in the Dominican Republic. It is one of the driest areas in the Dominican Republic, receiving about two inches of rain per year.The area extends from the Haiti border to the tip of Punta Rucia. Monte Cristi includes subtropical dry forests, lagoons, mangrove swamps, beaches and a stunning 777-foot (237-meter) limestone mesa called El Morro that juts up from the water.
A trip to Monte Cristi National Park includes a boat ride through the mangroves on which you can look for some of the 160 species of birds that call the area home. Several offshore islands called The Seven Brothers Cays, or Los Cayos Siete Hermanos, are visible from Monte Cristi National Park. In addition to visiting Monte Cristi National Park, the nearby island of Cayo Paraiso is worth a stop. This uninhabited island is said to have some of the best snorkeling in all of the Dominican Republic. Its shallow lagoon and coral reef give visitors the opportunity to see a number of brightly colored fish and coral formations.
The town of Monte Cristi was founded in 1506 and served as a trading post until the 19th century. Today, some 25,000 inhabitants make their living fishing and farming and harvesting salt from salt flats to the north of the area.
Monte Cristi is located about 84 miles (135 km) west of Puerto Plata. Tours to the area include a 30-minute boat ride through the mangroves. For this trip, bring sunscreen and protective gear, like a hat. If you want to experience the culture of Monte Cristi, visit on the days leading up to Easter Sunday when locals host a big Carnival-like celebration.