The island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean consists of two countries. Haiti is to the west, and on the eastern side you’ll find the sun, sea and sangria of the Dominican Republic. It’s massively popular with holidaymakers all year round, and a big reason behind that is the superb mix of resorts and holidaying hotspots for you to enjoy. Let’s take a look at a few firm favourites.
Santa Barbara de Samana
Better known simply as Samana, this port town in its namesake Samana Bay evokes Hispanic traditions as much as it offers modern and sleek ways to enjoy a holiday by the beach. Samana wears its heart on its sleeve and is a superbly well maintained town, whose pristine and pretty buildings grew from the efforts of Christopher Columbus. It was he who once declared Samana the most beautiful place in the world, and it’s a remark well earned. Beyond the colonial houses and shops, head out into the bay for a spot of whale-watching, with majestic humpbacks choosing the bay as their breeding ground every year.
With 10 kilometres of beach to set your towel down on, it’s safe to say you’ll find a part of Bavaro to call your own. Expect shores among the Caribbean’s finest, with rich blue seas and light sand glinting in the sunlight, disturbed only by whispering winds rustling palm tree leaves. That said, you can expect plenty of excitement too, thanks to Bavaro’s adventure parks, dinosaur-themed attractions, waterpark and pirate ship voyages. There’s also cosmopolitan flair to be had in its restaurant scene, where local favourites rub culinary shoulders with Japanese, Italian and all-American eats.
Playa Dorada is where tourism in the Dominican Republic first really hit the high notes. It’s awash with affordable luxuries by the sea, yet it’s also gained a solid reputation for its lively watersports scene. While more traditional boat rides and scuba diving are available to you, the likes of flyboarding sees you hovering above the sea on powerful streams of water. Back on dry land, both horse riding and golf cater to a more serene clientele, and the retail therapy on offer – from designer boutiques to cute local crafts shops – makes everyone feel at home.
Friendly competition between residents of La Romana and other areas of the Dominican Republic sees them comparing which part of the island boasts the best beaches. Make sure you check out the sublime shores here yourself to form your own opinion. La Romana is a town full of quaint touches too, with its centre forming a patchwork maze of criss-crossed olde-worlde streets. That love of the past is further highlighted in the Altos de Chavon amphitheatre, perched above the town and reproduced meticulously to match medieval European cities of old. Visiting an amphitheatre during a Caribbean holiday is sure to raise some eyebrows back home.
For a real slice of serenity, get yourself over to the far eastern fringes of the Dominican Republic, where tranquil Uvero Alto awaits in the embrace of the aptly named Coconut Coast. Yet while wonderful beaches are a given, there’s plenty of culture to see here too. The annual Bavaro Brugal Merengue Festival brings traditional local music to life every October, while all year round you can expect Higuey, a few miles inland, to offer plenty of colonial-era sights, including a majestic 15th-century church. All of this assumes you’re able to leave the blazing hot beaches of course, which serve up sublime relaxation and an array of watersports.
All in all, the Dominican Republic has plenty more variety and excitement in its resorts than even the most comprehensive guidebooks can reveal. If you’ve any of your own tales to tell, we’d love to hear from you!