A guide to things to do in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic‘s tropical climate means outdoor adventures are always in season. Activities here are all about getting in tune with nature, from ziplining above the lush forest canopy to swimming with dolphins and wading through natural pools. There’s also the chance to go golfing or raise the stakes at a casino, but the great outdoors is where the real adventures on your Dominican Republic holidays begin.

Wade in the Hoyo Azul

The richly-turquoise water in Hoyo Azul is something you have to see to believe. Hoyo Azul is a deep rock pool surrounded by tall, craggy cliffs and accessed only by a wooden bridge leading down to the centre. This is a cenote, which was formed by the collapse of limestone to reveal the water-filled cave below. Once down there, you can get your feet – or your entire body – wet and go for a dip in the natural water. It’s the ultimate way to stay cool.

Get sporty at the Bavaro Adventure Park

The Bavaro Adventure Park in Bavaro is a playground for outdoors types, as they’ve grouped together 15 attractions all in one place. There’s ziplining high above the treetops, flight simulators, horseback riding, bungee trampolines and mountain bike tracks. The grounds are even overrun with massive dinosaur statues, so that you’re not only embarking on the excursion of a lifetime, but in the company of some prehistoric baddies like the terrifying T-rex.

Hit the waves with watersports

The Dominican Republic knows a thing or two about watersports. They’ve got practically everything you can think of available somewhere along the coast. You’ll find scuba diving, kitesurfing, windsurfing, parasailing and jet skis, plus boat cruises and private catamaran rides. With weather this gorgeous and a watersport selection so wide, it’s no wonder people spend the majority of their time at the beach.

Jump into the Damajaqua Cascades

The Damajaqua Cascades are hidden behind a field of sugar cane and nestled within the hills of the Northern Corridor in Puerto Plata. Otherwise known as the 27 waterfalls, they’re just that – 27 naturally-formed waterfalls that holidaymakers are invited to jump, splash and wade around in.

You can join a guided tour and hike up to the falls, where a guide will show you around any number of the waterfalls that empty into pools surrounded by naturally-eroded walls of limestone. One of the falls – known as ‘La Tinajita’ – functions as a makeshift waterslide, shooting holidaymakers down the slick stone and into the water below.

Swim with dolphins or whizz down waterslides

Though there are plenty of natural waterparks to be found throughout holidays to the Dominican Republic – including the beaches, rock pools and 27 waterfalls – there are also man-made waterparks to enjoy. In Punta Cana, there’s the Sirenis Aquagames waterpark, which features a cluster of colourful waterslides and a splash park. Also there, Dolphin Discovery is a dolphinarium that gets holidaymakers up close and personal with some of the finned locals.

And then there’s the Ocean World Adventure Park in Puerto Plata, near Cabarete and Sosua, which gets you swimming with basically half of the sea. By that we mean you’ll get the chance to swim alongside everything from dolphins to sharks, high five a sea lion and snorkel past a coral reef – all in the same location.

Walk on the wild side at the National Park Del Este

Many people are surprised at just how gorgeous the scenery is in the Dominican Republic. The country is coated in greenery, stacked with national parks, rugged landscapes and, of course, some pretty beautiful beaches.

The National Park Del Este is a whopper, stretching over part of the mainland and onto the Isla Saona. It encompasses eight barrier reefs, hundreds of caverns and acres and acres of forest. It’s also home to more than 112 species of birds, including rare species like the brown pelican, 120 species of fish and even more species of insects and arachnids.