Updated by Rachel Tellez: February 21, 2019
It’s always tough to pick a favorite place to vacation in the Caribbean. But if we have to choose, the Dominican Republic would definitely be at the top of the list! The country’s natural beauty is off-the-charts and so is the fun. As if you needed real convincing… here’s the top 8 reasons you need to visit the Dominican Republic!
The beaches will take your breath away
Soft, toe-loving, snow-white sand. Crystal clear, teal waves that gently hug the shore. Long stretches of secluded beaches that meander for miles. Curvaceous palms reaching out to welcome you. These are what make Dominican Republic beaches like no others in the world and the place to vacation. Some of our all-time favorites include Playa Blanca, Cap Cana, Uvero Alto, Cabeza de Toro, Bavaro Beach, El Cortecito and Macao Beach.
Punta Cana is picture-perfect
The dreamy beaches of Punta Cana are probably where you’ll want to spend the majority of your vacation but, we promise, there’s so much more to do there! Want to swim with nurse sharks and stingrays, and even pet them? Then the Marinarium is the place to be. Want to continue the fun on the water with the best company? Take a catamaran, speed boat or booze cruise out to a cove where you can continue your revelry. To catch cigar rolling and go shopping, Autentico is where the action is. Punta Cana truly has something for everyone!
There’s so much to love about La Romana
As the third largest city on the southeast shore of the Dominican Republic, La Romana offers a mix of gorgeous beaches and captivating culture. Altos de Chavon is a must-visit. Overlooking the Chavon River, it’s a re-created 16th-century Mediterranean village that features artisans, performers and so much more! Not too far away, are the Cuevas de la Maravillas, or “Caves of Wonder,” where you can see walls covered in ancient Taino paintings.
Golfers have to check out Casa de Campo’s world-renowned Teeth of the Dog course–it’s amazing! If you want to steal away for an afternoon, take a boat to Isla Soana for powdery, white sand and unbelievable turquoise water; or to Isla Catalina for snorkeling at coral reefs. Last but never least, the beaches: Dominicus-Bayahibe is the prime area for stunning sand and clear, teal water.
The panoramic views of Puerto Plata
Known as the “Amber Coast,” Puerta Plata is one sweet place where you can kick back and chill on unspoiled, sandy beaches hugged by shimmering, aquamarine water. Playa Grande (just 15 miles east of Rio San Juan) is a local and tourist favorite with its long, broad stretches of tawny sand, lined by lush palm trees. Other spots for sun ‘n surf are Playa Dorada, Confresi and Playa Mariposa for some awesome kite surfing and windsurfing. For advanced surfers, Playa Encuentro is where you’ll want to dive in!
Eco-adventure tours abound with zip line tours, water sports and the famous Ocean World Adventure Park. If you’re vacationing between January and April, whale watching from Samana Bay is a must! It’s about a 2 ½ drive from Puerta Plata, but well worth the trip once you hear and see them lunge into the air before you. Ah, the beauty of the Dominican Republic never ceases amaze us!
More Mamajuana, please!
From the moment you set foot in DR, locals are welcoming you left and right with a shot of their national drink, Mamajuana. This locally-sourced, and bold concoction is everywhere, no matter the part of the island. It’s actually achieved somewhat of a mythic status, so you’ll definitely want to give it a try. The deep red drink is made by allowing rum, red wine and honey to soak in a bottle with tree bark and herbs, which yields a taste similar to port wine.
The herbs were originally prepared as an herbal tea by the native Taino Indians, but after Columbus paid a visit to the island, alcohol was added to the recipe. It’s rumored to be an aphrodisiac, so if you come across those naughty-looking, Dominican souvenirs, that’s why! Find out more about mamajuana that you probably didn’t know.
Easy access to nearby, swoon-worthy islands
Isla Saona and Cayo Levantado are two jewels off the coast of the DR that you don’t want to miss. Isla Saona is a secluded haven that’s simply breathtaking. Boats leave every morning from Bayahibe to Saona, but you can also get there from Punta Cana. There are no hotels on the island, so it’s a perfect day trip. When you arrive, dive into snorkeling, scuba or just revel in the unbridled tropical beauty, as it’s part of the Parque Nacional del Este, or East National Park.
Cayo Levantado is a small coral reef island in Samana Bay. Sometimes known as “Bacardi Island,” because the palm trees look like those in the Barcadi ads, Cayo Levantado promises white, powdery sand and crystal clear, turquoise waters. Travelers report that the piña coladas there are spectacular.
Sandsational snorkeling and scuba diving
There are so many awesome places to descend into the deep in the Dominican Republic. Again, Soana Island is fantastic. The Bayahibe/Dominicus area is good, too, because it’s on the Caribbean side of the island, where the water is more calm. Samana, (where you can see the whales rendezvous & mate) is also wonderful – check out Las Galeras, Las Terrenas and Isla Catalina. Take the plunge and explore the DR underwater!
Go zip lining in Samana (reach speeds up to 40 mph), then grab a bite afterwards at El Valle beach. Hop on a filly and go horseback riding on the beach in northern Punta Cana. Ride out on an ATV adventure or Jeep Safari in Puerto Plata. Hike, then swim in the sparkling cenote (natural pool) at Hoyo Azul. Explore peaceful lakes and tranquil caves at 3 Eyes National Park. Climb, jump, slide and swim at Damajaqua Cascades (27 Waterfalls) in Puerta Plata, where Mother Nature has carved out some pretty killer limestone-etched pools.
And there you have it. The Dominican Republic seriously has it all and more! The beaches, the adventure and the culture are all what make it such an irresistible destination. Whether you want to explore Punta Cana, La Romana, Puerto Plata or Samana, you’ll surely have an unforgettable experience in paradise!
Not sure which city you should stay in? Check out this ultimate guide to the Dominican Republic to find out which one is best for you.