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With its white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and colonial charm, the Dominican Republic is a Caribbean jewel. It's rich with history and diverse landscapes that draw tourists from across the globe. While most visitors reside on its immaculate coastlines to relax, there are thrilling adventures off the beaten path.
Outside of the five-star beach resorts, travelers can watch mating humpback whales, swim beneath waterfalls, or hike in the mountains. And other sugar-sand beaches are isolated from the tourist infrastructure. There is something for everyone in the Dominican Republic, and it’s one of the top destinations for an unforgettable Caribbean vacation.
If you’re unsure of which places to visit in the Dominican Republic or when to schedule your trip, this ultimate travel guide has you covered. Discover some of the country’s top destinations, tips on planning your Caribbean getaway, and how to travel around the Dominican Republic.
Transportation around the Dominican Republic is affordable and accessible for most destinations. When you’re based in the city, you’ll find taxis in most locations, and Uber operates in Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo, and Santiago. If you’re traveling on a budget, there are bus services to get around town.
When you can’t swing a car rental, the Dominican Republic offers a series of modern bus companies that connect the country. Metro Tours and Caribe Tours are the primary bus companies, but Expreso Bavaro transports riders between Santo Domingo and Punta Cana.
For long-distance travel in the Dominican Republic, guaguas are an alternative to reach your destination. These minivan buses can shorten your travel time since they only carry around two dozen passengers. Whether you take the bus or guaguas, there’s WIFI available to stay connected.
The North American and European winter from December-March is overwhelmingly the most popular time to visit the Dominican Republic. Tourists desperate to escape the chilly temperatures back home flock to the Caribbean for balmy temperatures. With hurricane season not inflicting the area, December-March is a fantastic time to visit when you can handle the crowds.
But if you’re willing to wait for the peak tourist crowds to pass, April and May are amazing months to visit the country. The biggest tourist wave heads back home in April as the beginning of the rainy season approaches. Although May is a little rainier, this month has an unbeatable combination of warm weather, lower prices, and fewer tourists. A spectacular time to travel to the Dominican Republic.
Most visitors flock to the Dominican Republic for its pristine beaches, but there’s more fun around this incredible country. From exciting outdoor adventures to pulsating city life, there is a whirlwind of destinations to visit in this Caribbean nation. Here are just 5 of the best places to include in your Dominican Republic vacation.
Peppered with white-sand beaches and all-inclusive resorts, Punta Cana has one of the Caribbean’s most dazzling coastlines. With 30 miles of crystal-clear waters jutting from the shoreline, there’s room for all beachgoers. From couple’s retreats to family vacations, Punta Cana welcomes everyone with open arms.
Palm trees sway in the breeze as visitors lounge around to count their blessings of escaping the frigid winter back home. Punta Cana also boasts water parks, zip-lining, windsurfing, kayaking, boating, and other adventures. And when you’re exhausted after a long beach day, walk the shores of Bavaro Beach to find a string of lavish resorts.
If undersea excursions sound more your style, Punta Cana is one of the best places to visit in the Dominican Republic for scuba diving. Jump into the turquoise waters to find an underwater utopia of marine life and shipwrecks. And for landlubbers, there are 10 golf courses to practice your swing and some of the Caribbean’s best spas.
Regardless of your activity preference, Punta Cana is a destination with something for everyone.
Situated in eastern Dominican Republic, Samana Bay hosts Mother Nature’s greatest marine creature each winter. The Samana Peninsula offers the country’s best launching pads to watch humpback whales in their natural habitat.
From January to March, whale watching excursions depart Santa Bárbara de Samana to witness these majestic creatures mate and give birth. Over 1,000 humpback whales reside in the warm waters of Samana Bay, and it’s a sight that takes your breath away.
Even if you don’t partake in a whale-watching cruise, Samana Bay has some of the Dominican Republic’s top beaches. Backed by lush jungles, the sugar sands, and azure waters are prettier than a postcard. Just sink your feet deep into the shores and admire the mangrove cayes and corals of the bay. Outside of whale watching, other thrilling trips include trekking, horseback riding, and kitesurfing.
If you’re an intrepid traveler searching for parts unknown, Bahia de Las Aguilas is a 5 mile stretch of peaceful bliss. Wedged into the southwest portion of the Dominican Republic near the Haiti border, Bahia de Las Aguilas doesn’t receive many tourists. But ask local Dominicans, and you’ll likely hear that it’s the most beautiful beach in the world.
When you wander the sparkling sands, crystalline waters, and rocky walls, it’s shocking that to find this idyllic location to yourself. Pedernales is the nearest town, and that’s around 1 hour away by car. And don’t expect the luxurious resorts that you see in Punta Cana. Bahia de Las Aguilas is for explorers ready for a wild adventure far from the crowds.
Jaragua National Park hugs the coast and contains one of the most diverse ecosystems in the Dominican Republic. Its surreal landscapes include karst rocks, cacti, natural forests, wetlands, coral reefs, and more.
And its wildlife is equally insane with turtles, manatees, iguanas, and hundreds of bird species. For nature lovers, this may be the best place to visit in the Dominican Republic.
Need a break from the beach and wish to head into the mountains? Then make a beeline to Jarabacoa for a field day in the great outdoors of the Dominican Republic’s interior. Jarabacoa is the best place to visit in the Dominican Republic for thrilling outdoor activities in a cooler climate than the coast. The area rests at an elevation around 1,700 feet, and the town of Jarabacoa retains its rustic vibe due to lack of tourism.
For the hardy explorers who venture here, a world of waterfalls, pristine rivers, and verdant forests await you. There are countless swimming holes for a refreshing dip and thrilling hiking trails to some of the Caribbean’s highest peaks. And for a pure shot of adrenaline, embark on an epic whitewater rafting trip down the Yaque del Norte River. Other exciting activities offered in the Dominican Republic highlands include paragliding, canyoning, and biking.
City slickers are in luck with the chance to wander the cobblestone streets of this historic Caribbean urban center. Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic and a sprawling metropolis full of adventures. Founded in 1496, Santo Domingo was the first Spanish settlement of the New World and earned status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Just wander down Calle El Conde to feast your eyes on its colonial architecture, beautiful churches, and cultural institutes. The pedestrian-friendly corridors delight your senses with fabulous restaurants, shopping outlets, and cheerful locals. Much of the centuries-old architecture operates today as museums, hotels, cafés, and other popular attractions. Hop on the Chu Chu Colonial Train for a relaxing ride around Santo Domingo and to see its most beloved attractions.
When sunset approaches, take a stroll down the Malecon for breathtaking waterfront views of the Caribbean Sea. And with Santo Domingo’s vibrant nightlife scene, the party continues well into the night. In this hotbed of Dominican culture, there’s fun for everyone in Santo Domingo.
We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.