Dominican Republic Travel Guide
The Dominican Republic, a country that will take your traveling experience to the next level, ignite a new flame in your soul, and leave you dancing to a beautiful rhythm of life. It’s hands down my favorite destination in the Caribbean, this island boasts some breathtaking features that range from top class beaches, amazing hotels and resorts, to diverse sports and recreation options. This travel destination also boasts a warm tropical climate, 1300 Kilometers of coastline including some magnificent beaches, not to mention an intriguing history and a rich culture. The Dominican Republic is definitely a must visit Caribbean destination. It boasts places like Pico Duarte, the highest peak in the Caribbean, Lake Enriquillo, the largest lake in the Caribbean, as well as cathedrals, castles, fortresses and monasteries that are declared World Heritage Sites, and a list of firsts in America, ranging from the first university to the first hospital to be built in the ‘new world’.
This Caribbean country was discovered by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage in 1492, and he subsequently claimed it for the Spanish crown and named it La Hispaniola. Later, it became the capital of the Spanish colonies in the region and a landing point for future Spanish conquests. The country was subject to three different rules; the Spanish rule, French rule and the Haitian rule, giving it a unique cultural exposure. The country has witnessed tremendous developments over time and tourism constitutes a major proportion of the country’s economic sector.
Here are some of my personal favorite places in the D.R:
Commonly known as “The first city of America” and listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, it prides itself as the very first European settlement in the “New World”. The city is a hub with a rich cultural heritage and long political history. It is home to attractions like the Zona Colonial (or colonial zone), the oldest part of the city, a sixteen square block built by the Spanish, the zone contains numerous monuments and political symbols that define the cradle of civilization in America, such as The Alcazar de Colon, the mansion where Diego Columbus, Christopher’s son, lived when he was governing the Spanish colony, The Monasterio de San Francisco, the first ever monastery in the new world, as well as the first hospital in America, The Hospital of St. Nicolas of Bari. Complement your visit with a view of the astounding Plaza de Espana, Calle Las Damas, and the local Chocolate Museum, “The Kah Kow Experience”. You rarely ever see a city flourishing with history and culture like this one!
Located at the easternmost tip of the island, right between the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, this world famous resort boasts the World’s top rated beaches and luxurious 5 star hotels & resorts that will blow your mind. This touristic zone prides itself in offering the best recreational activities, including some world class golfing with many golf courses which are actually designed by professional players, as well as a wide array of beach/sea activities all throughout its 32 km stretch of beaches, which is combined with the Bavaro area to form La Costa del Coco or the Coconut Coast. The beaches are simply perfect with calm warm waters gently brushing over soft white sand. Enjoy the thrill of an outdoor skiing adventure or clapping to the traditional music of the DR at a cultural performance. Top attractions and beaches in town include; Macao beach, and Bavaro beach, Juanillo and Hoyo Azul (or blue hole); a natural pool with crystal clear waters.
With a major proportion of the Dominican Republic’s land being covered by coastlines and beaches, Puerto Plata stands out as another lovely town dotted with all inclusive beach resorts. It is home to the only aerial tramway in the Caribbean which takes you up to the peak of Mount Isabel de Torres. Enjoy a concert in an amphitheater overlooking the Atlantic Ocean or visit the 16th-century castle of San Felipe. Explore the nearby Damajagua Falls or enjoy a dip, some snorkeling and diving in the beautiful waters of Cayo Arena island amidst picturesque surroundings. I also highly recommend a trip to the nearby towns of Cabarete, a surf and water skiing center, and Sosua, an unrivaled bohemian beachfront area with some great bars and restaurants where you can enjoy an icy Pina Colada. And to complement that, there are various glass bottomed boat tours to check out the coral reefs just off the coast.
The capital of Samana Province and the main center for whale watching tours in the Caribbean. Make sure to watch the majestic whales in the beautiful bay of Samana, or explore the gorgeous Las Terrenas area with its incredibly scenic landscapes and outstanding pristine beaches with crystal clear waters, like Punta Poppy or Playa Bonita. Also worth checking out is the Bay of arrows/the Gulf of arrows, the scene of a bitter clash between Columbus’ men and the indigenous Ciguayos; a tale of the rich history and roots of the inhabitants who violently reacted to the Spanish invasion. Discover some of Samana’s caves like Cueva Del Angel, a great place for bird watching, and the Parque Nacional Los Haitises with its dense mangrove forests.
An amazing coastal town that was once a rural fishing community, packed with resorts and combed with clear beaches, it is nothing short of a man made paradise. It’s a major touristic destination, well known for its eco-tourism industry. Catch a glimpse of the unique Perskia Quisqueyana, also called the Bayahibe Rose, a rare type of cactus, and an essential part of Bayahibe’s ecosystem. The town is also home to numerous sea sports like Scuba diving with numerous official diving sites, diving shops and boats. The town enjoys calm and clear waters, creating an excellent environment for activities such as snorkeling, deep sea diving and paddle boarding. The waters have three vintage ship wrecks; the Atlantic Princess, The Coco and St. George. Also not to be missed is gorgeous Saona Island and its picturesque beaches, but best get there early morning before the hordes of tourists start flocking.
Looking for a cooler getaway? Then head to Jarabacoa! The climate is considerably milder than the rest of the country due to the altitude and nature of the terrain. Some of the activities that one can enjoy doing here are hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and horseback riding… Enjoy some beautiful refreshing landscapes of rivers, waterfalls and sweeping pine forest. The area is host to three major rivers; Baiguate, Jimenoa and Yaque de Norte. Jarabacoa attracts quite a number of visitors including locals who are looking to escape the coastal heat. The town also boasts numerous attractions such as; the Cistercian Monastery, Jimenoa waterfalls, Constanza Valley, and Ebarno Verde Reserve.
Nuff said! Just grab your hat, swimsuit and sunscreen lotions and head on down to the sandy, welcoming and cool beaches of the Dominican Republic… The stunning landscapes, mountains, luxurious hotels, spas, city attractions and the rhythms of Salsa and Merengue are more than spectacular. Let the D.R work its magic on you!