traveling to Dominican Republic

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Blogs about traveling to Dominican Republic

1. Top 10 Tourist Attractions in the Dominican Republic

Attractions in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is the undisputed most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti has on average 6.1 million people visiting for vacation. That is 2 million more than Cuba, the second most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean. So what are some of the more popular attraction in the Dominican Republic? Below we list out the top 10.

1. Punta Cana
Thousands of tourists flock the beaches of Punta Cana, one of the most popular resort destinations in the Caribbean. Located on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana’s public beach is also popular for water sports including surfing and kayaking. The area is served by an airstrip with regular flights and charters bringing pleasure-seekers to its world-class golf courses and the nearby Scape Park where adventure seekers can enjoy a zipline tour, dune buggies, and visit the refreshing Hoyo Azul Lagoon.

2. Playa Dorada
Playa Dorada is one of the most popular beach destinations on the Dominican Republic’s northern coastline. This massive resort complex, known as the country’s first tourism destination, lies on a gorgeous stretch of replenished beach surrounded by coconut palms. The resort area is home to the Robert Trent Jones golf course and has a ton of facilities and amenities including restaurants and shopping.

Note: To book tours, activities, and things to do in the Dominican Republic, visit our travel partner Viator.

3. Santo Domingo

The country’s capital Santo Domingo is a picture of Old World charm with remnants of its colonial past scattered throughout the city. Santo Domingo has the oldest existing cathedral in the Western hemisphere, aptly named the First Cathedral of America. The historical city is also home to the Museum of the Royal Houses and the early 16th century Alcazar De Colón built by the son of Christopher Columbus. Also in Santo Domingo is the UNESCO World Heritage Site Colonial City (Zona Colonial), which boasts Spanish old world architecture and quaint cobblestone streets. Other notable sites showcasing the country’s rich cultural history include The Plaza de la Cultura, which houses the Palace of Fine Arts, the Museum of Modern Art, and the National Palace.

4. Lake Enriquillo
The abundance of flamingos and iguanas are the main attraction at Lake Enriquillo (Lago Enriquillo), which has the distinction of being the largest saltwater lake in the Antilles. Located in its center is the Parque Nacional Isla Cabritos, one of the largest natural reserves of American Crocodiles, and over 100 species of flora. The park is also home to 62 species of birds.

Note: To book tours, activities, and things to do in the Dominican Republic, visit our travel partner Viator.

5. Eastern National Park
The rich biodiversity of the Eastern National Park (Parque Nacional del Este) has made it the ideal habitat for an abundance of tropical plant and animal species. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has one of the largest marine parks in the Caribbean, with manatees, bottlenose dolphins, four species of sea turtles, as well as numerous species of fish. The park is also home to the rare Paloma Coronita, known also as the crowned, or white-headed dove, in addition to the rhinoceros iguana and 112 species of birds.

6. Samaná Peninsula and Samaná Bay
In the months of January and February, the Samana Bay Peninsula is a prime spot to see humpback whales birth their calves. This is just one of many marine animals which frequent the waters off Samana Bay. It is the ideal spot for lovers of nature, where they will find the Parque Nacional Los Haïtises, a natural utopia of lush vegetation, crystal clear waters, thick mangroves, and unique rock formations rising from the sea. Visitors can also find bird-filled caves like the Cueva del Angel as well as the Salto El Limón waterfall, which is one of the most scenic beaches in the country.

Note: To book tours, activities, and things to do in the Dominican Republic, visit our travel partner Viator.

7. Bahia de Las Aguilas and Jaragua National Park
The remote Bahía de Las Águilas is a six-mile stretch of magnificent, unspoiled beach on the Dominican Republic’s southwestern coast. The calm, turquoise waters of the protected Jaragua National Park abound with marine life as well as several species of birds. The area is best accessed by boat from the small village of La Cueva.

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2. 12 Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in the Dominican Republic

Written by Lana Law

The Dominican Republic is unique from other Caribbean Islands. Like many destinations in this area, it has postcard-perfect beaches, luxury resorts, and a solid tourism infrastructure in many parts of the country. Unlike smaller islands, it has a large population (more than 10 million people), a diverse geography, and a history that dates back to Christopher Columbus. As a result, travelers of almost any sort can find what they are looking for in this country.

The beautiful beach resorts of Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, and La Romana, offer what many packaged vacationers are looking for: a tropical escape designed for relaxation. Independent travelers looking to get away from this scene can head to remote areas of the country, like the Samaná Peninsula, the mountainous interior, or the less tourist-focused towns and cities. These destinations offer opportunities for immersing yourself in nature, finding secluded beaches, or learning about the local culture. Surfers, kiteboarders, and other sports-oriented visitors will find exactly what they’re looking for in places like Cabarete. And no place in the Caribbean delivers on history quite like the colonial zone in Santo Domingo. Find what you’re looking for with our list of the top attractions and best places to visit in the Dominican Republic.

1. Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial

Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial

Calle el Conde, Santo Domingo | Photo Copyright: lanalawtravels.com

In this city, where Christopher Columbus first landed in the America’s, you’ll find the hustle and bustle of modern day life being played out against the backdrop of centuries-old buildings. The colonial architecture, much of which today houses museums, restaurants, shops, and quaint hotels, lines the streets and squares, and takes you back to another era in mind-blowing fashion. Much of the activity focuses around Calle El Conde, the main thoroughfare and a popular street for shopping or dining el fresco. Wandering around the various streets, you’ll see crumbling ruins, like those of Monesterio de San Francisco; beautifully preserved buildings, such as the Catedral Primada de América (First Cathedral in the Americas), which is still in use today; and residential areas, offering a glimpse into local life. Even eating pizza in a restored colonial building on a hot night, or lounging in the courtyard of your 450-year-old hotel can feel like a unique experience in this beautiful city. Santo Domingo is definitely a place worth spending some time.

2. The Resort Destination of Punta Cana

The Resort Destination of Punta Cana

Where an endless stretch of beautiful white-sand beach meets the emerald waters of the Caribbean is Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic’s premiere resort destination. If you are looking for luxury all-inclusive resorts, a couple’s retreat, or family-friendly accommodation combined with an unending list of water-based activities for entertainment, this is the place to come. Bavaro Beach is Punta Cana’s most impressive stretch of beach, where you can wade into the water or walk for hours along the sand. Resorts line the beach and offer easy access to all the activities. This is not a place to come for a quiet getaway. The ocean is a flurry of activity, with boats, parasailers, and tour boats coming and going. Roped-off areas offer safe places to swim. Inland from the beach are a smattering of restaurants and retail, most of which are very modern, especially by Dominican Republic standards.

3. Puerto Plata & Playa Dorada

Along the north coast, looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, the resort destination of Puerto Plata and the beautiful stretch of beach known as Playa Dorada is one of the Dominican Republic’s biggest tourist draws. This golden-sand beach is lined with luxury resorts, although much less densely packed than what you’ll find in Punta Cana. This area is also much more subdued and has more of a tranquil feel. The beaches are not busy with boats and water sports, although it’s a beautiful area for swimming or snorkeling. You can walk beyond the resorts to undeveloped beaches backed by palm trees and forest.

4. Cabarate & the Beachside Restaurants

Cabarete is known for its relaxed atmosphere and huge, crescent-shaped beach lined with casual restaurants where visitors can dine right on the sand. Unlike the Dominican Republic’s resort destinations like Punta Cana or Puerto Plata, this town is not full of all-inclusive resorts and packaged-vacation tourists. Instead, Cabarete attracts free spirits, backpackers, retirees, and kiteboarders who come here to spend a few weeks or months, particularly during the winter.

If you are staying in nearby Puerto Plata you can day trip to Cabarete to spend a day on the beach, enjoy a meal, or do some shopping. In the early evenings, especially on weekends and Tuesdays, musicians often perform in the local beachfront restaurants and provide entertainment as the sun sets.

5. Las Galeras

Las Galeras

Las Galeras | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

At the farthest tip of the Samaná Peninsula, where the road dead ends at the ocean, looking out over one of the area’s many beautiful beaches, is the small town of Las Galeras. Its remote location will appeal to independent travelers looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience. Palm-lined, white-sand beaches and turquoise water create an idyllic scene. Beaches like Playa Rincon, La Playita, Playa Fronton, and other unnamed stretches of undeveloped beaches in the area are some of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic and offer the polar opposite experience of the major resort destinations on the island. Here, you can hire a boat to take you to a remote beach for a morning or afternoon, or walk from town to several beautiful sandy coves in the surrounding area.

The town itself has only one main street but restaurants along here, many operated by French expats, offer outstanding cuisine at backpacker prices. Restaurants in the surrounding mountains or along the oceanfront cliffs, which require a drive from town, provide more great options. Las Galeras is the perfect place to get away from busy streets and the tourist scene, while still offering enough infrastructure to make you comfortable.

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3. 10 of the most beautiful places to visit in the Dominican Republic

beautiful places to visit in the Dominican

Tourism in the Dominican Republic has been accelerating at a dizzying pace and it’s easy to see why it has become a highly-sought after holiday destination owing to its hundreds of miles of coastline, picturesque views and colonial architecture. The country’s roller-coaster historical journey accounts for the wide diversity of ethnicities which, comes through in the cuisine on offer and the music blasting from the cafes and restaurants of the bustling cities like Santo Domingo to the smallest fishing village.

Punta Cana

Punta Cana

Punta Cana is located at the easternmost province of the Dominican Republic and is known for its beaches which face both the Atlantic and Caribbean. The area is dotted with upscale hotels and amazing golf courses nestled in a truly romantic setting.  There are plenty of all inclusive resorts in Punta Cana, and numerous activities available from reef exploring to catamaran sailing. With average temperatures ranging from the late 20s to early 30s why not just enjoy relaxing on the sands of one of the world’s best beaches.

Samana Province

Samana Province

Samana is an Atlantic-facing stretch of coastline including the beaches of Playa Rincón, La Playita Beach and Cayo Levantado  in the northern area of the DR. It was famously discovered by Christopher Columbas in 1492 who was greeted by a barrage of arrows by the locals, thankfully tourists are more welcomed now, with an international airport opening in 2006. Its tropical forests, coconut groves and hundreds of tiny, sandy alcoves are as yet still relatively unexplored by tourist hordes but its unique selling point is that it is the special breeding place of the humpback whale and thousands of them congregate off the coast of Samana from January to March. Surely the national parks, unspoilt bays and peninsulas are only a bonus after watching these gentle giants cavort in the crystal, turquoise waters. For an even more intimate experience, week long live-on-board excursions can be arranged offering the rare opportunity to snorkel alongside the whales.

Parque Nacional del Este

Parque Nacional del Este

A visit to the ‘Eastern National Park’ is a special treat for any nature enthusiast, as one of the largest marine parks in the Caribbean it has an amazing offshore coral reef system which, offers stunning places to dive and where divers can encounter a myriad of marine life. Those that prefer dry land will not be disappointed with over a hundred different species of birds, remote beaches and tropical forests. All the ingredients for a romantic getaway with a difference! There is also evidence of early Taino activity and visitors are treated to the rare cave drawings that exist along the area, documenting early indigenous life.

Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial

This historic neighbourhood of Santo Domingo is the oldest European settlement of the New World and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it’s located on the west bank of the Ozama river and exudes romance with delightful pastel-coloured buildings, colourful hanging baskets, beautifully restored mansions and cobblestone streets. There is a sense of nostalgia as you follow the footsteps of the conquistadors.  Among the many tourist attractions of the quarter is the Calle Las Damas is the New World’s oldest paved street, dating from 1502, the 16th century cathedral, 19th century bronzed statue of Christopher Columbas and the fabled home of Herman Cortes. Spend an afternoon steeped in history, meandering through the area, sipping strong coffee in the many roadside cafes or checking out the local craft for sale in the many little shops on street corners.

Saona Island

Saona Island

Although this little isle is part of the national park, it deserves some column inches of its own and is widely considered to be the most popular part of the park. The panorama alternates between idyllic stretches of coastline to acres of mangrove swamp to the tiny fishing hamlet – the only inhabited part of the island. For tourists this tropical paradise island is easily accessible by boat or catamaran and tourism has increased significantly thanks to its desert island setting and its rise to fame as the location for the filming for the Bounty bar advert. Definitely a tranquil haven not to be missed on any trip to the DR.

Bahia de las Aguilas

Literally meaning ‘Eagle Bay’, this 8km stretch of sandy and clear water, is considered to be one of the most beautiful beach in the world by both locals and visitors alike. The main reason for this is that it is completely unspoilt and virtually totally isolated, miles away from the major tourist regions and needs to be accessed by boat or by finding a local tour guide from the tiny fishing village of La Cueva (the cave). Once here a local villager will oblige you by driving you to the isolated sandy stretch for a small fee. Although getting here can be a bit of a mission, it is worth it to lie out on one of the world’s most utopian stretches of coastline.

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4. 10 THINGS TO DO IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

10 THINGS TO DO IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

I’ve been visiting Dominican Republic for vacations this February and since we’ve been traveling around the island quite a lot I thought I’d give you a little guide what to do if you’re planning to visit the island. We stayed there for 12 days, which I’d say was enough to see most of the things and to put our minds on off, but I could just stay there forever, cause it really is the heaven on earth! Here are 10 things I think you shouldn’t miss it if you’re planning to pay a visit 😉

  1. Take as many sangrias as you can and party hard at Playa Bayahibe

First destination (and the most worth to visit) of our trip was Bayahibe, Punta Cana. It’s the city, or village better said, that I’d highly recommended if you’re planning to visit Dominican Republic. You might hear people saying is totally touristic, but that’s something you want there, believe me 🙂 Normally I’d imagine it’ll be packed with people and have dirty. But it’s just the opposite – very kind locals, paradise beaches and a lot of things to do. Playa Bayahibe was actually the first beach we visited while staying on the island and it put on some high standards for the rest of the beached. Long white bay with palm tress and beach clubs playing local music is what this beach is all about. I’d call it party beach (or at least we experienced it that way haha). You can get sunbeds in the first row (literally, almost in the ocean), dance on the beach and drink A LOT of Sangria for $5/liter. Sounds like party on the beach kind of the day 😉

2  Eat the best breakfast at Dalias

Dalias was ours every days spot to start the day. Heavenly good eggs, made on hundred different ways, and freshly squeezed juices is something you just cannot skip to start the day properly. It was a suggestion from a local woman and we don’t regret any single peso spent there 🙂

3. Spend the day in paradise on Playa Blanca

Spend the day in paradise on Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca is one of the most magic beaches I’ve been to in Dominican Republic. When you think of white sand, clear blue sea and palm trees – that’s what Playa Blanca is all about. It’s actually located in a private resort in Punta Cana and you even have to “check in” at the entrance to visit the beach, but when you come there you know why. It’s very calm, almost no people, sun beds on the beach, nice beach club with jazz music and waiter waiting for you, to serve you the whole day. I mean, that’s some real spoiling! Unfortunately we had only a day to enjoy it there, but I’d most definitely go there more often if we’d stay longer.

  3. Eat traditional food (chicken, beans, rice and avocado)

Dominican traditional food is fried chicken, white beans, rice and avocado salad. It doesn’t sound that tasty, but believe me it is! It’s the food you could be eating whole vacations long. Especially if you’re an avocado lover, like I am 🙂 There is a local restaurant in Bayahibe, where you get it really cheap (less than $4).

4. Ride some waves at Macao Beach

Macao beach is located in Punta Cana as well, but it’s about 15 minutes drive from Bayahibe. It’s very different from all the other beaches you’ll see. Long bay, waves (not very big ones though, but you can still surf on a good days), and local people selling coconuts, avocados and empenadas the whole day long. You have to drive through the village before you arrive to paradise. There are not many tourists around thought.

5. Go to Saona island all-inclusive paradise

We’ve been planning this trip since the beginning and it was totally worth it! One of the best days (if not the best one) while staying on the island. Saona is an island, 1,5 hours drive from Dominican Republic (La Romana) and it totally looks like in dreams – long white send beaches, palm trees and crystal clear ocean. While we were sun bathing on the boat, locals were dancing salsa with guests (us) and serving some traditional drinks/shots. Very few people, locals selling coconuts and delicious seafood lunch probably just added a cherry on the top to this trip. They normally organize catamaran on the way forward and speedboat, stopping in the natural pools, on the way back.

There are many all-inclusive trips organized to get to the island but the cheapest option would be to ride a boat from La Romana and book it with locals. We paid $40 for this trip and those were very well worth 40 bucks! But the prices vary, from $35 to $100, if you decide to book with agency and go from Punta Cana.

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5. A Solo Traveller’s Guide to the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has the highest concentration of visitors of any Caribbean country and with a diverse culture, made from a mixture of Spanish, Creole, and Taíno, it has a vast amount of activities to offer that’s hard to find anywhere else in the world. Here are some of the best things the Dominican Republic has to offer.

What to Do & See

Zona Colonial

This area has tremendous historical importance to Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic. Filled with the oldest colonial buildings of the New World, this area is also home to some of the best restaurants and shops in the entire country.

Santo Domingo

The capital city of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, is the most-visited city in the entire Caribbean. Here, visitors will be able to experience the island’s diverse culture as well as top-class restaurants, beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and indigenous wildlife that are hard to find elsewhere.

Humpback Whales in Samana

Every year between December and March, about 2,000 humpback whales come to mate and give birth in Samana’s waters. Known as the Sanctuary of the Humpback Whales, it is believed that at least 85% of Atlantic humpback whales were born in these waters. They then return here to mate and give birth, making it the greatest collection of humpback whales in the world.

Where to eat

Passion

A AAA 4-Diamond restaurant found at the Paradisus Palma Real Resort, internationally-acclaimed chef Martin Berasateguithis runs this restaurant. Known for serving seafood-heavy Spanish cuisine, Berasategui’s goal is to make it an unparalleled dining experience. This restaurant serves only dinner, so plan accordingly.

Eze Bar & Restaurant

Found in Cabarete—the windsurfing town of the Dominican Republic—Eze Bar & Restaurant is an Italian-owned, beach-side restaurant and bar set under open palm tree. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and their menu ranges from fruit smoothies and green-veggie drinks to Italian cuisine.

Where to stay

Paradisus Palma Real Resort

Paradisus Palm Real Resort Golf & Spa Resort is a five-star resort located in Punta Cunta, Dominican Republic. Located on the beachfront of Bavaro Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, this resort offers an all-inclusive hotel with a Wellness Center, Royal Service, fine dining, three pools, a casino, and more.

Tortuga Bay Resort & Club

Tortuga Bay is the only AAA Five Diamond-awarded resort in the Dominican Republic. Tortuga has miles of white-sand beaches, two seaside championship golf courses, the only Six Senses Spa in the Americas, natural springs, 11 tennis courts, and several water sports. Tortuga also offers several island excursions that allow tourists to explore the island. Lastly, Tortuga offers a VIP service that will escort visitors through customs, drive them to the resort in a private car, get them checked in, and provide them with a golf cart for travel throughout the resort.

Practical Tips

When visiting the Dominican Republic, make sure to take the temperature into consideration. The Dominican Republic has an average temperature 28°C in the summer and 25°C in the winter. Bring cool clothing, wear adequate sunscreen, and carry water around to ensure you stay cool and hydrated.

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6. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FAMILY VACATION + TIPS FOR FLYING WITH TODDLERS

REPUBLIC FAMILY VACATION

Last week we came back from our very first Dominican Republic family vacation. We’ve been in Europe last summer visiting my parents in Ukraine, but this is our first all-inclusive Caribbean trip. We loved visiting beach resorts before we had the baby and were very excited for our very first Dominican getaway with the little one. I would have lied if I called this a calm relaxing trip, but we did have the most amazing time! Traveling with kids is never a breeze, but it is so worth it. The feeling, when you learn the world from scratch through the eyes of your little toddler, is just unexplainable. And Dominican was a great place to live these precious moments. I loved being present right there and then, doing nothing but being with my family, having fun together and making memories.

Lots of you, who followed along my insta-stories throughout the trip, asked about our air travel with the baby and how we entertained him during the flight. So I thought I should share some tips that helped us with a smooth ride to our Dominican Republic family vacation. Don’t forget to check them out at the end of the post!

We stayed at The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real, which is a great option for families with young kids. It’s a huge complex made up of two resorts, but guests can use the amenities of both if you stay at the Reserve. There are tons of eating options and many areas to explore, which was really nice. It’s also only about 20 minutes away from the airport, which is very convenient, when you have a little one on your hands, who doesn’t have a lot of patience for long car rides.

The weather was absolutely perfect throughout all of our stay, so we spent most of our mornings playing on the beach and by the kids pool in the afternoon. Our son wasn’t much into the waves on the beach, but he loved the pool.

Paradisus Palma Real

Every morning our son’s first words would be “brrm-brrm” as he was getting ready to go out and jump into a golf buggy to explore the world. Swim diaper – check, inflatable swan – check, gangster hat – check. Let’s roll!

For the most part, food was good. We’ve had the best grilled lobsters here, and the ceviches are always a highlight when visiting the Caribbean. The rest of the food I would describe as typical resort food – not a culinary experience, but we’ve had worse. The great thing was that it’s never ending and always available and accessible. Which is very important for an always hungry toddler.

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