If you're willing to spend the day getting there, Las Galeras is absolutely fantastic for lovers of off-the-beaten path destinations. I would recommend flying into Las Terrenas or Samana airports if you want to avoid the 5 hour bus ride from Santo Domingo. Las Galeras is on the northeastern coast of DR, the coastline protected by reefs.
It has several wonderful beaches: La Playita, Playa Rincon, the beach in front of Casa Marine (the only large resort in town), the beach at the end of main street, Playa Madame, and Playa Fronton. All of these beaches are wonderful in their own way. La Playita has a tarped hut (better than the concrete restaurant there) where amazing grilled fish is prepared after you've watched a local hip-deep in the water, reeling the fish in. The view of the dark mountains are glorious! Either take the 20 minute walk there from town or grab a moto concho. The beach in front of Casa Marine is pristine, easily swimmable, littered with Europeans and Canadians, great for kids. The beach at the end of main street has a good deal of seaweed and trash littering the sand, but is nice to wonder on after a meal in town. Playa Rincon, Fronton, and Madame are all reachable by a long hike (45-60 minutes) or by boat. Fronton and Madame were by far my favorites! They are wedges of paradise backed by palms and sharp volcanic rock faces. Few people go there, which make them solitary and peaceful. Bring several bottles of water with you, as the hike will leave you wilting, and plan to stay for the day. Madame has the best and safest snorkeling in Las Galeras (head to the rock sticking out of the water far off shore). Fronton is beautiful for snorkeling as well, but only if you have reef shoes, as the sea floor is riddled with spiney urchins that will buy you a trip to the hospital if you step on one. I had the most incredible grilled fish, beans, and rice at Fronton (small palapa restaurant). These two trips, if taken by foot, are only for folks who are somewhat fit, have good hiking shoes on, and strong knees.
My favorite foods finds are: La Rancheta for the pizza and rum concoctions, Chez Denise for the curried fish and crepes (fantastic in any form, for any meal), and the grilled fish at Fronton, La Playita, or the open-air restaurant (no name) on the main beach; Pizzeria, and the French deli. Plaza Lusitania Italian restaurant was rumored to be good, but consistently empty every night.
Best bars: the thatched Paradiso bar, Gri Gris, and El Cabito. Paradiso triumphs with their Pina Coladas. El Cabito was just opened this year but a German couple. They have simple accomodations that are still under construction. The walk is easy but long (past Casa Marine). The view from the bar, which is literally perched over the turquoise see, is what makes this experience a must!!! There are also the open aire discos on the main drag which are usually empty during the week, and busier on the weekend after 10pm. Be prepared to lose a smidge of your hearing due to the blaring beat. For the most part, this town hasn't much of night life. You are better off hooking up with other travelers, buying some rum/Cokes/limes, and hanging out on a front porch together.
Shopping: there are two small boutiques in town that offer a charming selection of gifts.
Accomodations: I liked La Rancheta for its rustic charm, affordability, and friendly staff, and Casa Lotus for its lush setting, elegant rooms, lovely breakfasts, and resourceful hostess. Casa Marina is an all-inclusive that doesn't hold much appeal. Club Bonito and Todo Blanco are closed. Villa Serena is over-priced for how little they cater to their clientele. Casa Por que no is rumored to be quaint, serving good breakfasts. The Paradiso Bungalows are at the heart of town, hence subject to lots of noise from the moto conchos...also, not the cleanest. La Bella Adventura is in a great location; in town, but at the end of a quiet street. Hotel Lusitania, right on street hence subject to lots of noise.
The crowning glory of this trip include the remote beaches and very friendly expats and locals. The experience was intimate, stunning, and tranquil.
Things to pack: energy bars that won't melt, trail mix in baggies, bottles for water, reef shoes, several books, good hiking shoes, mosquito spray, and a comfortable backpack for day trips.