The Dominican Republic has plenty to offer families, couples, older travelers and adventure seekers. No matter what your vacation dream, the Dominican Republic offers beautiful coastal views and wonderful beaches. The island on which the Dominican Republic is shared with Haiti (west side). For those seeking a luxury vacation, the biggest negative will be that the areas off resort property are often poverty-stricken, as much of this island nation lives at or below the poverty line.
The most expensive and arguably most beautiful part of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is where most of the luxury, all-inclusive resorts are. Located on the eastern side of the island, this is the island's tourism center, and besides resorts, it includes the town of Bavaro, which is home to many service-industry workers. There is also a water park, shopping plaza, nightclubs and restaurants.
Adventurous and outdoorsy travelers will prefer the North Coast of the Dominican Republic for its good hiking, water sports, beautiful snorkeling and sugar-sand beaches. There are some all-inclusive resorts in this area, but visitors may also choose from smaller, more intimate properties, including vacation rentals, guest houses and small hotels.
The eclectic South Coast is a study in contradiction. The well-known Casa de Campo resort is located in this area, but just down the beach is Bayahibe, a small fishing village with a few hotels, where you can get some local flavor, enjoy the beaches and have easy access to the national park, which has million-year-old limestone terraces and pre-Columbian pictographs.
The country capital, Santo Domingo is a vibrant, cultural city of 2.5 million people. Museums, ballet and opera are side-by-side with excellent professional baseball clubs and a diverse selection of restaurants. There is plenty of lodging in Santo Domingo, but it is not the quintessential Dominican vacation. Certainly worth a day or two to get a real feel for the people of this island, Santo Domingo is not a resort destination.
Little visited by tourists, the interior section of the Dominican is mountainous, filled with spectacular hiking trails, waterfalls and clean, clear rivers. Santiago is the main urban area and has grown from a small farming community to an urban destination. But it is the area around the city that is most compelling—acres of tobacco farms, the Caribbean's highest mountain, Pico Duarte (10,128 feet), rain forests and caves.
Who can resist a beautiful jungle with zip lines and friendly monkeys That’s just a glimpse of what makes Monkey Jungle and Zip Line Adventures awesome. No need to make reservations. Just whisk into the thrill of zip-lining above the jungle canopies on a 7-station course and free fall 60 feet down into an ancient cave. Or take a walking tour through the old grotto-enclosed botanical garden. Monkey Jungle and Zip Line Adventures is open 365 days a year.
Imagine swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and watching magnificent humpback whales that are 40-50 feet long and weigh in at 35-40 tons. One of the few places in the world where you can have this experience is at the Sanctuary for the Marine Mammals of the Dominican Republic. From January to the end of March, thousands of Atlantic humpback whales migrate to the Silver Bank, located between the DR and Turks and Caicos, where you can observe them mating, breaching and rearing their calves. This weeklong whale encounter offered by Row Adventures is for true wildlife enthusiasts and those passionate about whales. Because of strict biodiversity guidelines, there can be only about 60 visitors per week during the season, which makes for an intimate, non-touristy experience. Book at least 3-4 months out. For half- or full-day whale-watching excursions, book with animal advocate and conservationist Kim Beddall of Whale Samana.
Fun Fun Cave
Fun Fun Cave is not exclusively for children. It is actually a historical, ecological and cultural experience for people ages 11 and up. The thrill starts on horseback, followed by a mystical hike through the rain forest in Los Haitises National Park, before you rappel into a cave ornate with enchanting stalactites and stalagmites. This is only the beginning of the fun. After walking and swimming in a river that leads to a tunnel, the Fun Fun Cave appears. Prepare to be awestruck by engravings and rock paintings left by the pre-Columbian societies and the Taino natives of the Dominican Republic.
Ciguapa Water Falls
If you thrive on off-the-beaten-path excursions and are willing to hike deep into the Septentrional Mountain Range, the Ciguapa Falls Cascading tour should be on your DR bucket list. This is for adventure junkies.. With Iguana Mama Eco-Tours, your guide will help you gear up in a wetsuit, harness, helmet and life preserver in preparation for your 12 waterfall jumps. If you do not want to hike the 45-minute uphill path, you can hire a donkey, accompanied by its owner, to take you for $10. This excursion departs from Cabarete on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
- Iguana Mama Eco-Tours
- Calle Principal 75
- Cabarete, 57000 Dominican Republic
Perfect for children and dolphin-loving adults, Dolphin Island Park is a floating platform created in the middle of the ocean for people to experience the gentle and intuitive nature of these creatures in their natural habitat. After a quick sail from Punta Cana, the trainers guide your experience in the water as you engage with the dolphins. Depending on your excursion package, you may also snorkel among the nurse sharks, manta rays and sea lions. Rest assured that all activities here comply with the interaction guidelines recommended by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.
- Punta Cana
The pictures below are from the Nickelodeon Resort in Punta Cana.