A haven for the outdoorsy, the Dominican Republic offers up a full portion of beachscape with a little side of palm-drenched gorgeous. This Caribbean island is one part colonial architecture and history, and two parts endless white sand beach. Where you spend your holiday here is totally up to you.
The Dominican Republic at a glance
Everything about the Dominican Republic screams sun-trap paradise. The white sand beaches, the craggy caves and cliffs and the Spanish colonial architecture, not to mention the eternally warm weather, all work together to make the total island package.
The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti in the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean. Christopher Columbus hit these shores in 1492, where the capital Santo Domingo became the first European settlement in the Americas.
From there, the Dominican Republic was owned and operated by the Spanish and then the French for the next three hundred years until the Dominicans declared independence in 1821.
As you can imagine, Spanish culture is still deeply rooted here. With merengue music pouring out of clubs to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and colonial district Ciudad Colonial in Santo Domingo, there’s really no escaping it. Not that you’d want to.
Days here are spent paddling through sheltered lagoons while nights are all about Dominican cuisine and a good dance at the popular Coco Bongo club. It’s no wonder the Dominican Republic is the most visited island in the Caribbean.
5 fun facts about the Dominican Republic
- The tallest mountain point in the Caribbean is in the Dominican Republic at Pico Duarte.
- Despite strong Spanish roots, the Dominican Republic is a regular member of the Oranisation Internationale de la Francophonie.
- The world famous music and dance style merengue originated in the Dominican Republic.
- The Dominican Republic is home to the Americas’ first cathedral, monastery, castle and fortress.
- The famous hunk of amber holding a prehistoric mosquito from the film Jurassic Park is held in the Amber Museum in Puerto Plata.
Things to do
The Scape Park in Cap Cana is a natural theme park, complete with tree top ziplines, an assortment of guided tours and boating trips, and the famous Hoya Azul, a hidden cenote with blindingly-turquoise water.
Visits to the nature reserve known as Isla Saona, found at the southeastern tip of the DR and reachable from Bavaro, is one of the most popular daytrips in these parts, as it’s so close to the mainland and features gorgeous Hollywood-ready beaches and water teeming with wildlife.
Scuba diving and snorkelling
The Dominican Republic is rife with scuba and snorkelling opportunities – especially in Punta Cana and small, offshore islands – as caverns, shipwrecks and a crazy array of fish and water-born mammals call this stretch of sea home.
Every winter thousands of humpback whales make their way to the Bay of Samana in Samana to mate, so as you can imagine, there are a number of whale watching tours that operate in these parts.
Riu Merengue Hotel
This stunner of a hotel is all tropical, complete with two huge pools and a beachfront location along the Bay of Maimon. On offer here are Spanish classes and dance classes, plus live music and shows at night along with a dance club and casino at a nearby sister-hotel.
Clubhotel Riu Bachata
The sweeping Clubhotel Riu Bachata is tucked up right along the Bay of Maimon in tropical gardens, offering holidaymakers scuba lessons and a spa, evening entertainment, pools and its very own disco. For more, Puerto Plata is just a 10-minute drive away.
Be Live Collection Marien
Stashed up along the coast in Costa Dorada, the Be Live Collection Marien is anchored by its huge pool scene and four restaurants, with Dominican, Mexican and Brazilian barbecue on the menu. There are watersports and tennis courts, a spa and the beach by day, plus a sports bar, karaoke and disco at night.
Been to the Dominican Republic before? Let us know what your highlights were in the comments below.