Nature and culture meld seamlessly at every corner of the Dominican Republic. Both rich in history and tropical landscapes, the island has the same allure as many other Caribbean countries — plus golf courses, famous carnivals, scuba diving spots and outdoor adventures.
Home to several types of ecosystems, all-inclusive resorts and restaurants serving delicious local cuisine, there are so many things to do and places to see in Dominican Republic. The island offers a wide range of attractions from its white-sand beaches and classical colonial neighbourhoods in the cities to the mountain ranges in the heart of the country.
Here is our list of the nine best Dominican Republic attractions!
Visiting the historic Zona Colonial neighbourhood, you'll find Spanish fortresses, cathedrals and ruins from its colonial past mere steps away from classical townhouses with wrought iron-grated windows. Along the Ozama River, the area bustles with roadside cafes, boutique shops, and contemporary art galleries and museums spread around European-style plazas.
At night, Santo Domingo radiates with the lights of fine-dining restaurants, bistros, bars and trendy nightclubs — all within walking distance of the city's historic district, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. Punta Cana
One of the country's most popular beach destinations, Punta Cana is the place to dive into the unspoiled natural surroundings of northeastern Dominican Republic. From diving into the crystal-blue pool of a spectacular swimming hole, Hoyo Azul, at the foot of a 75m-tall cliff to going off-roading on buggies in the nearby tropical jungles, Punta Cana's rugged coast begs to be explored.
Beyond water sports activities by the city's famous 35km stretch of pristine beaches, the resort town of Punta Cana offers the ultimate beachside relaxation. Think horseback riding and golfing at its Bávaro resort area, and quick excursions to the nearby Saona Island.
3. Puerto Plata
Known as the “Silver Port,” Puerto Plata is a blend of the old and the new. With the lush green tropical greenery of Mount Isabel de Torres as its backdrop, the city's urban landscape enjoys dashes of nature and colonial history.
Walk among the many 19th-century Victorian-style houses and streets leftover from its once-booming tobacco industry, and you'll find unique restaurants replete with local charms hidden behind faded facades.
This tourist destination is also known for its 16th-century Spanish fortress, Fortaleza San Felipe, that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, and cable car ride to the lookout points at the top of Isabel de Torres with a Christ the Redeemer statue.
4. La Romana
Although the city's economy has shifted from sugar to tourism in recent decades, La Romana's sugar plantations still prosper along the Chavón River and are among the top tourist attractions in Dominican Republic.
As a corporation run “company town,” La Romana has a well-developed infrastructure and hosts one of the biggest resort complexes in the country, Casa de Campo. Nearby, one of La Romana's main attractions, a recreated 16th-century Mediterranean style European village, Alto de Chavón, sits high above the river and draws visitors in with its clusters of stylish medieval architecture, including an amphitheatre that hosts concerts for Grammy Award-winning artists like Shakira, Sting and Elton John.
5. National Parks and Ecological Parks
Among the most visited, Jaragua National Park features marine terraces, coastal plains, dry forests and mangroves that shape the habitat of 130 bird species, including a constant flock of flamingos at its saltwater lake Lago de Oviedo.
Meanwhile, Los Haitises National Park, located off the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic is a maze of mangrove forests sprouting along limestone karst plateaus. With lush, green conical hills rising above glassy, turquoise waters, the park is both a marine park and coastal park. A hotspot for ecotourism, Los Haitises is perfect for birdwatchers to spot endemic bird species and intrepid travellers to explore hidden caves with ancient pictographs and petroglyphs.
Along the eastern coast, the Indigenous Eye Ecological Park consists of 45 acres of tropical forests speckled with crystal-clear freshwater lagoons called “eyes.” Fed by several rivers, these lagoons are surrounded by mangroves, as well as tropical flora, fauna and wildlife. Ideal for both guided walking tours and self-guided tours, the park can be fully explored on foot and offers opportunities for quick dips and swims in some of its more massive lagoons.
6. Constanza and the Dominican Alps
Heading into the valleys around the village of Constanza, you'll find a part of the island covered in green meadows, river streams and pine forests as if you're walking through the Alps in the Caribbean.
7. Saona Island
Rimmed by pearl-white sandy beaches and tall, leaning palm trees, the island is a popular destination for day trips from Punta Cana through catamaran tours.
Do as much or as little as you like on this postcard-perfect island. From doing water sports and trekking across sandbars to checking out ocean-fed lagoons and visiting a small fishing village, Isla Saona's unspoiled landscape offers opportunities for quiet island getaways.
8. Cabeza de Toro Nature Reserve
Beyond catching the rays, though, we highly recommend booking a snorkelling trip in Cabeza de Toro Nature Reserve. Your travel consultant can arrange for a catamaran tour or private boat ride to take you further into the crystal-clear conditions for some snorkelling.
9. Bávaro Beach
Playa Bávaro is worth exploring for more than just one day. Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches and top attractions in Dominican Republic (or at least a very strong contender against Kite Beach, Playa Rincón and Playa Bahía de las Águilas), Bávaro delivers on both sights and stuff to do.
Fill up your beach days with your personal style of travel: whether you're hopping from delicious restaurants to bars and back again, fishing or sailing off the coast, or getting a taste of adventure with the area's many tour operators.
Popular activities at Bávaro Beach including parasailing, dune buggy tours, snorkelling, and private boats for romantic dinners or a fun day with a group of friends.
Now that you know about these attractions in Dominican Republic, it's time to plan your trip! Whether you want to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere at one of the country's many luxury resorts or spend a day on the Caribbean Sea or go chasing (and exploring) waterfalls, our travel consultants can help you make the most of your visit to the Dominican Republic.