Travelers driving the 70 miles (115 km) from the city of Santiago to Montecristi will find an unpretentious town offering history, nature and some of the best snorkeling and diving adventures in the country. Few people know that this seemingly laid-back city, founded by Nicolás de Ovando in 1501, and named San Fernando de Montecristi after King Ferdinand of Spain, is where the country’s first aqueduct, railroad and telephones were installed.
In its heyday, the northwestern port of Montecristi was a magnet for immigrants from Europe, the US and South America who worked with Dominicans to set up businesses to export wood and agricultural products that were grown in the region. Montecristi even can boast that a native son, Juan Isidro Jimenez, was the President of the Dominican Republic in 1899 and 1911. The iconic symbol of Montecristi is the towering mesa, El Morro, which rises abruptly from the sea.