The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean. The national language is Spanish and the capital Santo Domingo is located in the south of the island. The climate is warm all year round and is usually suitable for a relaxed holiday even during the rainy season.
Many travellers are attracted above all to the popular seaside resorts at Bavaro and Punta Cana in the southeast or Puerto Plata in the north of the island. In fact, the DomRep offers dream beaches and a variety of great, luxurious resorts. But did you know, for example, that the country is also home to 13 national parks?
Below we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights in the Dominican Republic.
1. Historic old town of Santo Domingo
The capital of the Dominican Republic is a place of contrasts. On the one hand the modern metropolis, on the other the oldest city of the “New World”. In the old town, the Zona Colonial, at every street corner, one comes across historical witnesses of the colonisation in the 16th century.
Here you will find America’s oldest cathedral by far, the basilica “Santa Mar├şa la Menor”, the palace “Alc├ízar de Col├│n” at the Plaza de Espa├▒a, the fortress “Fortaleza Ozama” as well as numerous houses in colonial style. A walk through the cobbled streets reminds of a journey through time and offers fantastic photo opportunities.
2. Altos de Chavon
The reconstructed artist village in Mediterranean style is the biggest visitor magnet of the region around La Romana, in the south of the Dominican Republic. It offers an art school, various restaurants and boutiques and an amphitheatre with space for more than 5000 people. Concerts of great stars like Carlos Santana or Frank Sinatra have already taken place here.
Especially beautiful are the excursion combinations, which also include a boat trip on the nearby Rio Chav├│n, which served as a backdrop for film classics such as Apocalypse Now and Rambo. Here you have the possibility to glide along the beautiful nature with a paddle steamer and to leave the river by speedboat to Saona.
3. Postcard idyll on Isla Saona
The island of Saona lies off the southeast tip of the Dominican Republic and is considered one of the most popular sights of the entire Caribbean. The island can be reached from Punta Cana or Bayahibe by speedboat or catamaran. The beach is a dream come true and also served as a perfect backdrop for numerous commercials (e.g. Bounty). The excursions usually include an extensive barbecue lunch under palm trees.
On Saona you have enough time to enjoy the beach and the sea or to play a round of beach volleyball. Sun loungers are available to relax in comfort. We recommend a short walk, as often there are really untouched postcard motifs only a few hundred metres away from the jetties. In the late afternoon you will start the return journey, with a stopover in a natural pool, where you can admire colourful starfish.
4. Beaches of B├ívaro and Punta Cana
The southeast coast of the Dominican Republic is known for its paradisiacal sandy beaches. Fine, white sand and turquoise water, protected from the surf by an offshore coral reef about 50 kilometres long. It is the holiday dream for visitors from all over the world. Here, the beaches themselves are the real attraction!
Bavaro and the famous Punta Cana are undoubtedly among the most popular regions. Here you will find some of the best beach hotels in the country, most of them offering an all-inclusive package with extensive all-inclusive catering. The nightlife in Punta Cana is also vibrant and spectacular beach parties with the world’s most famous DJs take place regularly.
5. Peninsula Saman├í and tour to Bacardi Island
The peninsula Saman├í, located at the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic, offers a lot of sights. On the one hand there are some beautiful, original and lonely beaches. These include Playa Rinc├│n and Playa Bonita, to name just two. The bay of Saman├í is a very popular destination, with its colourful town centre and a beautiful view out onto the bridge in front of it.
From here also the boat trips start to the nearby island “Cayo Levantado”, which is probably better known as Bacardi Island. Whales can also be observed off the coast from January to March. Another sight not to be missed is the Salto Lim├│n waterfall. After an easy hike one reaches this hidden jewel of nature in the jungle.
6. Kitesurfing in Cabarete
In the north of the island, in the small but very lively village Cabarete, you will find an international hotspot for kitesurfers. Cabarete has a very relaxed and cool atmosphere. Every year one of the most important events of the international kitesurfing scene takes place here with the Master of the Ocean. But even beginners can make their first attempts during the rest of the year.
Several providers offer taster courses and beginner courses. If you don’t dare to go into the waves yourself, you can also watch the spectacular hustle and bustle from the beach – a thoroughly worth seeing place! In the evening you can relax in the lively nightlife of Cabarete with some cool drinks.
7. Paradise Island (Cayo Arena)
One of the most popular sights of the Dominican Republic is the tiny island of Paradise Island, often called the Cayo Arena. This lies in a coral reef about 20 minutes off the north coast. It’s a real Robinson Crusoe feeling to arrive at this tiny island in the middle of the ocean. It is also suitable for beginners for snorkelling, as there are already a few meters in the water a lot of colorful fish in the coral reef.
Paradise Island is an impressive experience, as the shallow clear water suddenly falls down into the endless depths of the ocean and provides shelter at the edges for countless species of fish. There are many providers for this tour in the hotels of the north coast, especially in Puerto Plata. You can also organize your own trip to the beaches of La Ensenada or Punta Rucia.
8. Trekking tour to the Pico Duarte
A sight for all hikers and mountain lovers can be found quite unexpectedly in the interior of the Dominican Republic. The Pico Duarte is the highest peak of the Antilles. At just over 3,000 metres, the Zugspitze is higher than the Zugspitze, but can easily be reached in a trekking tour lasting several days. The ascent does not make any technical demands, only a little physical condition.
The Pico Duarte is located in the National Park and climbing is only allowed with local mountain guides. The tour is best organized in Jarabacoa, the largest town in the area. The Rancho Baiguate team is particularly recommended. During the tour you will stay overnight in simple accommodations, with sleeping mat and sleeping bag. But the evenings around the campfire make up for all the hardship.
9. Paradise Island,Pico Duarte,Ruinas La Isabela
In the northwest of the island, about 65 kilometres from Puerto Plata, are the ruins of the first city of the New World, whose construction was once ordered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus. Today, the Arqueol├│gico-Hist├│rico La Isabela National Park still shows many remains of the old buildings.
The city of Isabela, named in honour of the then Queen Isabela La Cat├│lica, once consisted of a civil and a military area. Only three years after its construction, however, Columbus had to give up the city because riots and illnesses made this necessary. Shortly afterwards, the new Isabela (Nueva Isabela) was founded in the south of the island, from which Santo Domingo emerged.
10. Canyoning in the 27 Charcos de Damajagua
Among the special sights of the Dominican Republic are the “27 Charcos de Damajagua” (27 waterfalls of Damajagua), which are located near Imbert. Only about 45 minutes from the north coast to the south. You can either take part in an organized tour, starting from the hotels in Puerto Plata or book a guide directly on the spot after your own arrival. The 27 Charcos, as they are colloquially called, offer a unique experience.
First, one hikes for about an hour through dense forest until one arrives at the top of the waterfalls. That’s where the fun starts. You jump, slide and climb from pool to pool, always following the river. Equipped with a helmet and life jacket, accompanied by an experienced guide, this is an adrenaline-rich but very safe trip. Afterwards a delicious, typical Dominican lunch awaits you in the small restaurant.
More things to do and activities for your Dominican Republic holiday
Best time to visit Dominican Republic
We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Dominican Republic:
January, February, March, April, November, and December
You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Dominican Republic.