Reasons Why You Should Visit the Dominican Republic at Least Once

White sandy beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
White sandy beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic | © JOHN KELLERMAN / Alamy Stock Photo
Siobhan Grogan

The Dominican Republic is a mixed bag of cloud-scraping mountains, crumbling colonial architecture, brochure-worthy beaches and desert scrublands. Though it’s most famous for the all-inclusive beach resorts of Punta Cana, anyone looking to escape the sands will never be bored with jungle treks, white water rafting, lively towns and even fascinating museums to choose from. Here are the things you shouldn’t miss when visiting this vibrant Caribbean nation.

1. Have fun for all the family

Amusement Park, Park

Dominikanische Republik, Norden, Puerto Plata, Cofresi, Ocean World
© Hackenberg-Photo-Cologne / Alamy Stock Photo
There’s no chance anyone will get bored in the Dominican Republic. Families can paddle in bath-warm waters, swim with dolphins and sea lions at Ocean World adventure park; try zorbing and paintballing at Bavaro Adventure Park; or whizz round on go-karts at Fun City Action Park. Better still, it’s possible on a budget thanks to great value all-inclusive hotels at Punta Cana in the south and Puerto Plata in the north.

2. Tee off at the golf course

Sports Center

Dominican Republic, Punta Cana, View of A Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe Hotel and The Lakes Golf Course by P.D. Dye
© Jane Sweeney / Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Want to guarantee rain won’t stop play? Golfing in the Dominican Republic means long days in the sunshine, year-round, on one of nearly 30 top-notch golf courses. Don’t expect boring, holiday-standard rounds either. There are countless adventurous that make the most of the country’s extraordinary geography. Try the Lakes Barcelo Golf Course lined with mangroves or the oceanfront Teeth of the Dog, designed by Pete Dye.

3. Go whale watching

Architectural Landmark

Dominican Republic - Humpback whales reproduction season in Samana - An adult female humpback whale jumps out of the sea in front of a whale observation touristic boat in Samana Bay, by the north east of the Dominican Republic, where the humpback whales j
© santiago vidal vallejo / Alamy Stock Photo

December to March is peak season for the Dominican Republic, but not just for tourists. The months are also ideal to spot the thousands of majestic humpback whales who come to the area of Samana to mate near the coast. It’s one of the most awe-inspiring sights imaginable to spy the whales leaping through the year and ‘clapping’ with their tails to attract females. Head out on a boat trip and keep your fingers crossed.

4. Have a jungle adventure

Natural Feature

With rainforests, mountains and waterfalls all within reach, it would be a shame if you only see the Dominican Republic’s beaches, beautiful though they are. Instead, try white water rafting on Rio Yaque del Norte – twisting and winding through frothing canyons –horse ride through the rainforest or fly over treetops at the Samana Treetop Zipline course. You’ll really feel like you’ve earned that pina colada on the sunlounger.

5. Hit the capital city

Architectural Landmark

Colonial Zone (Ciudad Colonial), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Colonial architectures of the Palacio Consistorial.
© ClickAlps / mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Sultry Santo Domingo throngs with life, part-chaotic urban metropolis, part-blissful beach resort. Zona Colonial is its beating heart, with cobbled streets leading to stately monasteries, humidors serving cigars on every corner and some of the oldest buildings in the Western hemisphere. Throw in exceptional restaurants, enthralling museums and a booming club scene, and you’ll discover Santo Domingo is no ordinary Caribbean capital.

6. Try watersports

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark

Kiteboarder , Cabarete beach, North Coast, Dominican Republic
© travelstock44.de / Juergen Held / Alamy Stock Photo

Lapped by both the Caribbean Sea in the south and the Atlantic Ocean in the north, thrill seekers don’t need to go far to have fun on the water. Most hotels offer paddle boards, banana boats and kayaks but if you’re keen to kitesurf or windsurf, chilled-out Cabarete is the only place to be. Known for its warm water, steady strong winds and four-mile-long (6.4km) white beach, it’s a magnet for watersport obsessives and beginners.

7. Head to the beach

Natural Feature

Amazing tropical holidays. Sun umbrellas on the beach. Tropical paradise. Caribbean. Punta Cana. Dominican Republic
© Aleksandra Kossowska / Alamy Stock Photo

With a mere 800 miles (1,300km) of coastline to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find the beach of your dreams in the Dominican Republic. Some wrap round sleep fishing villages with boats bobbing in the water, others have coves once commandeered by pirates or wild dunes hugging the coastline. The most popular are tourist-friendly tropical wonderlands of white sand, palm trees and glossy, clear water made for snorkeling and swimming.

8. Romp through waterfalls

Natural Feature

GroBe Antillen, Karibik, Dominikanische Republik, Imbert, Naturjuwel 27 Charcos de Damajagua
© mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Some countries have waterfalls but the Dominican Republic has a staggering series of 27 falls and rock pools in Puerto Plata that should be a must-do for any nature-loving visitor. Sign up for a tour and you’ll be strapped into a lifejacket and helmet before setting off on a watery assault course to remember – taking in jungle climbs, waterfall sliding and plunging into the pools fed by each torrent.

9. Join the party

Architectural Landmark

Carnival participants from Santiago dressed up as Diablo Cojuelo performing during Santo Domingo Carnival, Dominican Republic
© Vova Pomortzeff / Alamy Stock Photo

Music is everywhere in the Dominican Republic as the country’s bars, shops and streets pulsate to merengue, a mix of Latin percussion, piano, African drums, brass and traditional instruments. Hear it at its best as one of the many festivals and concerts that happen throughout the year including February’s carnival or the two-week merengue festival in July.

10. Pick up some amber jewellery

Museum

Treat yourself to a holiday souvenir you’ll still love after your tan fades by picking up some amber, the national gem of the Dominican Republic. In Puerto Plata, the Museo Del Ámbar (Amber Museum) offers tours in English and Spanish and a collection of rare amber exhibits, often featuring prehistoric fossils. If you’re in Santo Domingo, head to the Amber World Museum instead, which explains amber’s origins, the history of mining and how amber is turned into a covetable jewel.

Now that you’ve seen what the Dominican Republic’s got to offer, book your stay now through Culture Trip. Check out the best hotels in the Dominican Republic and the best resorts in the country now. For more things to do once you get out there, read how to make the most of your stay.

This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Shimon Brathwaite.

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