The Dominican Republic is a tropical island with a vibrant culture, flavorful food and access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. With a year-round temperature averaging around 80°F (27°C), the Dominican Republic is known by many as a tropical paradise. It boasts white, sandy beaches and palm trees that offer fresh coconuts. Its diverse landscapes also include deep rainforests, beautiful mountain views and rushing rivers.
The island was originally settled by a Native American tribe called the Arawak people. The Spanish claimed the island when Christopher Columbus showed up in 1492 during his first voyage. His son, Diego, became its first governor and founded the capital city of Santo Domingo in 1496. For the next few centuries, the country was the target of numerous wars and ownership transferred back and forth between the French and Spanish. While most of this time it was run under dictatorships, by the early 1960s, the first democratically elected official was chosen.
Now the Dominican Republic has a highly diverse population with cultures stemming from American Indians, Spanish, African and more. Home to athletes like David Ortiz and Sammy Sosa, Dominicans are known for their love of baseball as well as their unique music called merengue. And any cigar aficionado knows that the Dominican Republic produces some of the very best stogies in the world.
Whether you plan to spend your time lounging on the beach, visiting the capital, or dancing in one of their many nightclubs, there is something for everyone at this tropical Caribbean destination.
Colonial Santo Domingo
Before you head to the beach, a visit to the capital city of Santo Domingo is a must. During the day, you will find several historic museums and other cultural buildings to explore. Exploring the Colonial City, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a recommended experience for all travelers.
For lunch, stop at a local restaurant for a bowl of sancocho, which some consider the official Dominican dish. It is a unique stew with a handful of different meats and root vegetables. Some other popular dishes are mangú (plantain mash), rice bowls and pollo guisado (braised chicken).
Once you’ve filled your belly and the sun goes down, it’s time for some dancing. The Dominican Republic nightlife is a popular pastime and with clubs playing bachata or merengue music. You can dance all night long! And if you’re not into dancing, make your way over to one of Santo Domingo’s twelve casinos. You’ll find your choice between a vast array of slot machines or table games. You can play all night long!
White Sand Beaches
Next up, it’s time to visit the beach. The Dominican Republic has nearly 1,000 miles of breathtaking beaches just waiting to be enjoyed. One of the most popular destinations is Punta Cana, which is located on the far eastern side of the country. With white sand and clear blue water, it is the perfect place for zip-lining, windsurfing, kayaking, sailing or simply soaking up the sun. Punta Cana has quickly become one of the most sought-after beach destinations in the world. With easy access to island tours of Isla Saona and trips to beautiful waterfalls, it truly is a dream getaway.
If you’re looking for a beach that is closer to Santo Domingo on the Caribbean side, Boca Chica may be your answer. With similar features to Punta Cana, it offers a family-friendly feel and access to many local restaurants. You’ll also find local street performers playing music and dancing, adding to the already enjoyable ambiance.
Wildlife and Adventure
To catch a glimpse of some local wildlife, be sure to take a trip over to Los Haitises National Park, just south of Samana Bay. Home to over 200 species of birds, you’ll be in awe of the shapes, sizes and colors of each. Head out on the water and you might be lucky enough to see dolphins or manatees that often make their way into the park from the bay.
For you thrill seekers, it may be worth a trip to the north side of Samana Bay to do some cliff diving from the El Limon waterfall. With a total height of over 160 feet, many daredevils climb directly up the waterfall to their desired level and jump into the natural pool below. Even if you’re just there to watch and swim (no way I’m jumping 160 feet!) it is one of the most popular locations in the whole country and you’re sure to enjoy it.
What experiences do you want to have on a Dominican Republic vacation? Living part-time in the country, Travel Journey’s owner, Scott, is an expert at planning a well-thought out itinerary for you to enjoy. Give him a call at 1.813.451.1918 or email to start planning your trip today!