Many thanks to Thomson for supporting this post. As always, all opinions are my own.
Flying over the island of Hispaniola, home of the Dominican Republic, you see lush terrain and emerald-green water splashing over the white sand-filled beaches. Resorts and cities litter this tiny nation, and sometimes the tourists seem to run around like little ants along the beach. Obviously there is a reason for this Caribbean destination’s popularity. But what could it be?
For one thing it is one of the most affordable countries in the Caribbean, meaning your dollar can stretch a lot further here. Just go to any of the local restaurants (not the ones in a resort) and you can order a feast for your family for under $10; no added fee for the ocean view.
If you think all there is to do in the Dominican Republic is sit on the beach and enjoy some amazing local cuisine though, think again. There are numerous national parks to explore and one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean can be found here.
Navigating the beaches
Some of the most popular beaches are around Punta Cana, which has more than a few all-inclusive, family-friendly resorts to choose from on the eastern shore. Playa Dorado is a big resort area on the North Shore you can also set up camp if you like to do more activities in the water instead of working on your tan, although you can do that there too.
The remote Bahía de Las Águilas on the southwest coast offers six miles of almost untouched sands. This part of the country is also home to the Jaragua National Park, which is where you’ll find one of the most undeveloped beach areas in the country.
Explore the island’s natural beauty
The Dominican Republic is home to no less than 16 national parks. Over 25% of the country is made up of huge untouched and protected natural areas. Grab the kids and explore secluded coastal islands, trek through mountains and rainforests, and swim beside one of the many famous waterfalls, including Cascada Salto Limon near the town of Samano.
There’s plenty of wildlife to check out including the American Crocodiles at the Parque Nacional Isla Cabritos and the colorful flamingos at the saltwater Lake Enriquillo. A visit to the Aguas Blancas (the white waterfalls) of Constanza and the amazing Cave of Wonders near San Pedro de Macoris are definitely a must.
Dive into city life
Santo Domingo offers a vibrant mix of cultures, historic buildings and modern architecture. It’s here that you can sip a coffee made from locally produced beans in one of the many sidewalk cafes or visit the incredible Los Tres Ojos– three underground cave lakes that are illuminated at night and have been a tourist attraction since the 1970s. Step back in time by viewing the colonial buildings, like the 1520 El Alcázar de Colón as well as the Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, the oldest cathedral in the Americas.
Beaches, natural exploration and city life are just three of the reasons to add the Dominican Republic to your bucket list. Once you’ve arrived in the Dominican Republic you will find that your dollar travels a bit farther, creating cheap holidays and fun that never stops. Whether you take a week to explore or stay for a month, there is always a reason to love and come back to this small nation in the Caribbean.