Dominican Republic: Discovering your Idyllic Corner of this Caribbean Island

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.”

– Wyland-

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Turquoise water framed by pristine white sand and a brilliant blue sky.  Palm trees swaying in a gentle breeze, dancing to the invisible vibrations of island life.  Grass roof palapas, stark seaside cliffs and award winning golf courses dot miles of coastline as travelers revel in this Caribbean paradise of perfect temperatures and a diversity of landscape that commands both relaxation and soul stirring adventure.  While sprawling all-inclusive resort complexes are prevalent, travelers seeking to indulge in the intimate and authentic connections made over jaw dropping views, private spaces, luxury amenities and catered services such as a chef and butler can find their own slice of paradise in one of the luxurious villas of Dominican Republic Home Rentals.  This spectacular island is meant for indulgence, a place where the vibrant palette of nature and the elements of human experience collide, where tourism and local life blend harmoniously in this “Global Village”.  The Dominican Republic is a country that travel fantasies are made of.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

With a surface area of 48,442 square km and nearly 10 million residents, the Dominican Republic is the second largest country in the Caribbean.  Occupying nearly two-thirds of the island of Hispanola, sharing it’s western border with the country of Haiti, the Dominican is a country that boasts nearly 1,600 km of coastline, including 400 km of the world’s top beaches.  An extremely diverse landscape combines white sand shorelines with mangrove lagoons, dramatic rocky cliffs, scenic offshore islands, extensive cave systems, jutting mountain peaks, lush jungle and cascading waterfalls.  It is a destination that is the epitome of dynamic contrast, making it a tropical destination for all ages and desires.

So which area of the Dominican Republic would be perfect for your dream island experience?  Here are 8 stunningly diverse options to get you started:

CABRERA

Located 130 km north of the country’s capital city, Santo Domingo, on the eastern end of the northern coast lies the small town of Cabrera.  While there is little tourism infrastructure, this area is known as one of the most beautiful in the Dominican Republic, and is therefore home to many very famous luxury vacation villas.   Cited by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Playa Grande (Big Beach) is a 2000 acre, 7 mile stretch of magnificent proportions as white sandy beaches mix with a lush mountain backdrop, rolling hills and royal palms. Dramatic 60 foot cliffs overlooking the Atlantic ocean are adorned by the famous Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed golf course.  Quickly becoming a name in extravagant locales, Cabrera is an area setting a standard in the art of design, service and community.

Playa Grande, Dominican Republic
Photo Credit: Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

CAP CANA

Known for exclusive real estate and accommodations, this elite 6,200 acre eastern island location, is heeded as one of the best in the Caribbean.  Considered a protected harbour due to its inland construction, Cap Cana houses a state-of-the-art, 150 slip marina offering complete services for captains and crew.  It is also known to be one of the greatest spots in the world for deep water diving, as well as playing host to many record breaking fishing tournaments.  Golfers can take a swing on the renowned Jack Nicklaus ‘Punta Espada Golf Course’, an award winning, par 72 signature course that was ranked as the number one course in the Caribbean and Mexico by Golf MagazineLos Establos, a state-of-the-art equestrian center is home to two world class polo fields, an arena for pas fino competitions as well as having a racetrack and casino in the works. Nature lovers can venture over to “Scape Park”, 15 km of hiking trails and 74 acres of forest promoting preservation and adventure, as well as the popular “Hoyo Azul” (Blue Hole), a natural limestone sinkhole at the bottom of a cliff.

Cap Cana, Dominican Republic
Photo Credit: Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

PUNTA CANA

Mixing mega resorts and luxury villas, lazy afternoons by the pool and adrenaline filled adventures, Punta Cana has your wish list covered.  With an international airport (PUJ), 11 golf courses and a dramatic string of nine white sand beaches located along this southeastern strip of coast, Punta Cana kicked off it’s label as an international resort hot spot back in 1978 with the opening of Club Med.  With experiences that range from heli-tours to sunset cruises, horseback riding to snorkeling and dolphin encounters in the sea, the options of activities here are as broad as your imagination.  Fun seekers can try out a double decker party boat or a multitude of bars in the vibrant nightlife scene, those looking to relax can relish in some of the best spa pampering services around and the 27 hole (three nines) ‘La Cana’ Golf Course was rated as a number one golf course in the Caribbean.  One of the most popular excursions in the Dominican Republic is a day trip to the hotel free Soana Island, where travelers can experience the gentleness of a turquoise Caribbean Sea and never ending groves of palms.  Basically, Punta Cana is everything you’ve dreamed of, and more.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

LA ROMANA (Casa de Campo)

Known for spectacular diving and surrounded by sprawling sugar plantations, the historical roots of the enormous ‘Casa de Campo’ luxury resort area, this bustling city feels slightly more prosperous than its neighbors and is one of the top visitor destinations in the country.  Also having deep roots in baseball, travelers can take in a game at the Estadio Francisco Micheli,  home to the Toros del Este (Bulls of the East).  In Casa de Campo, travelers can check out baseball legend Sammy Sosa’s horses at the Equestrian Ranch, or peruse the world famous artists’ village of Altos de Chavón, which features numerous galleries and shops.  Catalina Island is a day excursion where locals and cruise ship guests alike are shuttled by boat to enjoy white sand beaches, the ‘Living Museum of the Sea‘, where the wreck of the sunken ship of pirate William Kidd is just offshore, and three overlapping plateaus that form an incredible coral stone reef off this 9.6 square km island.

Altos de Chavón, La Romana, Dominican Republic
Photo Credit: Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

PUERTO PLATA

With over 100 km of coastline, and an international airport (POP), Puerto Plata serves as a major trading port, and is a very popular option for travelers. Ride the Dominican’s only aerial tramway to the top of Mt. Isabel de Torres, a 855 meter peak known for it’s sweeping panorama and huge statue of Christ.  History buffs will enjoy a visit to the legendary San Felipe Fort.  Built in 1564, it is one of the oldest military colonial period fortresses in the area, and boasts 7 foot thick walls, a former moat that was filled with coral and swords, and spectacular views of the Atlantic ocean.  Damajagua Falls, located just a 30-minute ride south, is a spectacular water excursion made of cascading waterfalls and 27 lagoons, offering 12 natural waterslides and jumps of up to 25 feet.  Beach goers will not be disappointed in the golden hues, striking cliffs and palm tree fringe of Playa Grande or the white sand shores and mountain views of Punta Rucia.  A snorkeling paradise can be found in the coral reefs of Cayo Arena, or get off the beaten path to witness the sunken Spanish galleon shipwreck of El Breton beach.

Cable Car, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Photo Credit: Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

CABARETE-SOSUA

If you are looking for that laid back surf vibe, colorful nightlife and a chance for adventure, this area just half an hour from Puerto Plata is the location for you.  Once a fishing hamlet, Cabarete is now a booming and developing beach town known for dining experiences and surfing of all kinds.  On a windy day, head 2 km out of town to “Kite Beach” to catch the action as adrenaline junkies negotiate the waves or head to the popular Playa Sosua, the popular U-shaped bay with a white sand bottom that is a snorkel and diving dream.  The privately managed caves of the Parque Nacional El Choco are famous for the crystal-stalactite caverns located 25m below the surface, and make sure to bring a swimsuit to enjoy swimming in the two clear pools.

Cabarete, Dominican Republic
Photo Credit: Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

SAMANA

This stunning peninsula located in the northeast is known as the prettiest part of the island of Hispaniola, a place that embodies the authentic Caribbean and described by Christopher Columbus as “the fairest land on the face of the earth”.  Travelers can stroll the newly renovated 2 km promenade as it winds past the marina, overlooking this 40 mile wide bay that boats deep water anchorage and a title as a top natural harbour in the West Indies.  From January to March, the stunning Samana Bay becomes home to thousands of Humpback Whales who have returned to their natural mating and calving grounds.  Just 25 km from Samana is ‘Playa Rincon‘, rated as one of the 10 Best Beaches in the World by Conde Nast Traveler.  This 4 km stretch of white sand paradise remains relatively secluded, and is best accessed by Jeep, ATV or a boat ride from Las Galeras.

Playa Rincon, Samana, Dominican Republic
Photo Credit: Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

BARAHONA

Located on the south west edge of the country, plan to spend several days exploring this incredible 3,000 square mile area.  A haven for surfers and bird watchers, this idyllic slice of the Dominican is much less visited with only a few small hotels and resorts, but well worth the efforts.  With three national parks, travelers can view sites such as the Larimar mines where the precious blue stones were discovered, the country’s largest population of flamingos and the largest salt water lake in the Antilles, Lago de Enriquillo, located 45 meters below sea level and home to the American Crocodile.  Barahona is authentic Dominican, and perfect for those looking for serenity, authenticity and stunning, secluded beaches to soak up the sun.

Barahona, Dominican Republic
Photo Credit: Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

No matter what corner you choose to explore, the Dominican Republic is sure to impress even the most seasoned of travelers.  Whether you wish to twirl your toes in the sand, take in a round of golf or dive to the depths of the sea, this is a country that will leave an ecological imprint on your heart and grains of white sand in your suitcase.

Cheers,

Amy

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18 thoughts on “Dominican Republic: Discovering your Idyllic Corner of this Caribbean Island

  1. I always hear about Punta Cana but not the other areas so much. They all seem equally beautiful and that water is just so pretty! Hope to visit one day and check out more of those areas other than just the most popular ones. 🙂

  2. Love these photos! Good you compiled those spectacular views of the republic. It wasn’t in mu bucket list before.

  3. I’m not fond of beaches as I prefer the serene, quiet flow of rivers but, since I’ll be in Latin America starting March 2018, I might as well be open to the possibility of falling in love with turquoise waters.

  4. Wow, so many choices. I haven’t been to the Dominican Republic, and now I’m wondering why. I appreciate that you separated out the regions, making it easier to choose. I think Barahona would be perfect for us – we love exploring areas that are a little less touched by tourism (and people in general).

    1. Thank you so much for reading! I think certain areas automatically jump to mind when travelers think of the Dominican, but it has so many incredible and diverse areas to explore, something to fit everyone. I hope you get a chance to visit Barahona someday!

  5. I never thought of this as a place for hiking, but I’m very impressed by the thought of the trails and the sinkhole. It sounds and looks absolutely beautiful. Thanks for expanding my horizons. and introducing me to the beauty here.

  6. Dominican Republic is such a stunning piece of the planet. Usually, I’m don’t take many beach vacations, but this one, I would like to add to my list. Idyllic is the perfect word to describe this place.

  7. Living in the Southern Hemisphere, on the other side of the world, I read posts like this with envy. The Caribbean looks idyllic and is so accessible for much of the world. I doubt that I will have the opportunity to visit, but it does look really beautiful.All the areas in the post look incredible!

  8. I’ve never been to the Dominican Republic before but is definitely on my bucket list. I think that Puerto Plata would be the ideal spot for me since it seems more adventurous and off the beaten track. Love that there is natural water slides and 25 feet jumps! I also recently got my PADI so would really like to explore the Spanish galleon shipwreck!

  9. Dominican republic is one of the most popular name in the world. There are many beautiful places and traveling places. I was go there 5 years ago in there I visit many places Punta cana is the best places. I face to many problem as a new traveler. Thanks for sharing your this information.

  10. In my mind DR was so much less resorty and still seemingly undiscovered… and now I see that’s not the case at all. It both looks beautiful and completely not what I expected.

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