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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Dominican Republic

A Guide to the Best Beaches of the Dominican Republic

The white beaches you'll find on your Dominican Republic holidays are the colour of sugar, lined with palm and coconut trees and surrounded by lush forests. No wonder they're considered to be some of the best beaches in the world. But depending on what you're after, the north, south, or east, have slightly different offerings. They vary from popular to empty, great for snorkelling to surfing, and small and private to kilometres long.

The east – long and popular stretch of sand
The east – long and popular stretch of sand

One of the world's greatest beach strips is centred around Punta Cana, offering a fantastic beach for the private use of guests staying in the luxury hotels here. Also along this 50-kilometre stretch of coastline is the equally popular 16-kilometre long Bavaro.

Both beach areas are located on the Dominican Republic's east coast, which is renowned for its All Inclusive resorts, the largest concentration in the Caribbean. The beaches here are wide and simply gorgeous.

If you want something a bit more tranquil for your holidays to the Dominican Republic, try Macao, voted by UNESCO as the best for its fine sand and beautiful palm trees. At the northern most point sits Uvero Alto with its incredible wide stretch of beach backed by lush palm trees where you can horse-ride or take out a dune buggy.

The south - amenities without the crowds
The south - amenities without the crowds

Beaches in the south of the Dominican Republic are well-loved by tourists who want a less hectic experience, as it's less busy than larger resorts such as Punta Cana in the east.

La Romana has a stunning semi-circular bay with still crystal clear water. Here, and in the nearby bay of Bayahibe, a tranquil sea shimmers in transparent hues of green and blue. It's a great area for families and watersports enthusiasts who can try everything from snorkelling to paddle boarding and fly-boarding.

Bayahibe is also considered the best area in the Dominican Republic for scuba diving, with over 20 official dive sites located in the area. The marine life, coral reefs and shipwrecks offer a fantastic and varied marine life to discover.

From here you can go on a diving expedition of Saona island, or you can take a boat to this incredible nature reserve and palm-studded tropical island. Sit back and relax in a hammock and take a deep breath as you languor in the natural surroundings.

Samana Peninsula - snorkelling and whale-watching
Samana Peninsula - snorkelling and whale-watching

The Samana peninsula is home to some fantastic beaches such as Playa Madama. The clear, shallow water means you get the opportunity to view marine life up close without going too far out. It's great if you fancy a bit of a snorkel.

And don't miss out on seeing the humpback whales that migrate to the area during the winter months – mid-January to mid-March. As the weather is fine here all year around it's stil a warm season to have this experience. Be aware that beaches in this area located on the Atlantic Ocean tend to have more turbulent water.

North – City beaches and forest-backed sands
North – City beaches and forest-backed sands

The capital of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Plata, has many charms, not least its excellent beaches. The three kilometre stretch of Playa Dorada was the first tourist destination in the Dominican Republic and remains one of the most popular.

White sands are dotted with palm trees that offer a bit of shade and the sea gently strokes the sloping shore, making it a safe place for children to play. And with most of the hotels right on the beach, you need only roll out of bed to get there.

Another nearby beach is gorgeous Cabarete. This area is considered to have the best conditions for surfing in the Caribbean and boogie boarders also love it here. The winds mean you get to cool down if the temperatures get too hot and help along watersports such as windsurfing and kiteboarding.

Only 15 minutes from Cabarete is Sosua, also a surfers' spot it has a beautiful one-kilometre-long beach that backs onto a stunning forest. Its vibrant town centre is fuelled by an ex-pat community. And close by is Bahia Maimon – one of the island's more secluded spots.