Top 10 Things to See and Do
1. Known for its warm, crystalline waters, teeming coral reefs and ethereal sunken shipwrecks, the Dominican Republic is a pleasure land for experienced and novice divers alike. Almost all regions have their signature diving spots, and a number of excellent, PADI-accredited dive companies operate across the coast.
2. When in Santo Domingo, a visit to the city’s Zona Colonial is imperative; the oldest city in the New World, its narrow, cobblestone streets and beautiful colonial architecture will transport you back in time. Visit the reasonably priced and highly informative museums, and enjoy a drink as you watch the world go by at one of the many charming cafes.
3. An obvious one of course, but the beaches of the DR truly are something special. Vivid, electric turquoise waters lap the shore of seemingly endless stretches of snow-white sand speckled with palm trees; whether you’re looking for secluded bays backed by sleepy fishing villages or buzzing resort beaches with plenty going on, the coast boasts a beach for every occasion.
4. Each year, thousands of humpback whales migrate south towards the shores of the Dominican Republic, congregating close to the Penisula de Samana to mate and give birth. Take a whale watching tour for a unique chance to see these majestic creatures up close – there are even rare opportunities to snorkel alongside them if you’re feeling brave!
5. The 27 waterfalls of Damajagua are nothing short of spectacular - although experiencing their splendour is far from a spectator sport! Swim through narrow canyons, wade through pools, hike through dense rainforest and scramble over rocks, ropes and ladders through the falls themselves for the full Damajagua experience – one you are unlikely to forget in a hurry.
6. Although a destination that is (unsurprisingly) best known for its beach holidays, rugged mountainous terrain covers almost 80 percent of the country and provides unrivalled hiking opportunities. If you’re in the mood for a challenge tackle the trails of the Cordillera Central, the highest range in the whole of the West Indies; or for some truly breathtaking scenery, head for the cloud-obscured peaks of the central highlands.
7. Head to the Rio Yaque del Norte river in the Dominican Republics picturesque central highlands for the country’s premier white water rafting experience; trigger your adrenaline with an intense series of white water rapids, interspersed with more serene stretches of river where you can catch your breath and enjoy the mountain scenery.
8. Baseball is more than just a sport in the Dominican Republic – it’s a way of life! Catch a game at the Yankee Stadium or Fenway park on a Sunday to cheer with the locals and experience the level of devotion firsthand.
9. The Centro Leon in Santiago is a world-class institution that houses an expansive collection of paintings tracing the evolution of Dominican art in the 20th Century, as well as various exhibitions on Taino history, cultural diversity and biodiversity on the island. The site also boasts a working cigar factory where you can watch cigar rollers going about their trade, and by premium brand cigars in the adjoining shop.
10. The Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park Reserve is a far cry from the development of other parts of the coastline, encompassing over six square kilometres of idyllic, protected coastal plains and mangrove forests. Ninety minute guided tours available in English, Spanish, French and German take visitors through a 30 hectare portion of the park that is abundant in freshwater lagoons all fed by an underground river, before a visit to the botanical and fruit gardens, iguana farm and a farm-animal petting zoo.
Culture in the Dominican Republic
The vibrant culture of the Dominican Republic is driven by a diverse heritage, blending European, African and native Taino Indian cultures. A highly artistic nation, the Dominican Republic is abundant in varied, colourful artwork, jewellery made from amber, bone, horn and coconut husk, as well as crafts and religious figurines made from clay, porcelain, hemp and guano. Baseball is a major source of national pride and identity, as well as one of the country’s most popular pastimes; many players in the US major and minor leagues hail from the Dominican Republic