Christopher Columbus wasn’t wrong when he weighed anchor off the Dominican Republic coast. In 1492, Spain grabbed this luscious corner of the Caribbean and established the first New World colony in this untouched paradise.
Modern day Dominican Republic has come a long way from those early days of the Conquistadores. It has evolved into one of the most desirable places to holiday in the Caribbean, laced in Dominican Republic Villas. In under three hours, you can fly from the hustle and bustle of Miami into a tropical paradise with miles and miles of beaches and so many other wonderful natural phenomena.
With a stimulating blend of modernity, ancient history, natural wonders and a youthful vibrancy – there are so many Dominican Republic tourist attractions from which to choose. You might be one of those laid-back types who longs to doze in a hammock and half-heartedly read the latest best-sellers. Alternatively, you might be the tourist group who never leave home without golf clubs or fishing rods. Perhaps you are happy honeymooners – first or second time around. Whatever your desire, there is a magical corner of Dominican Republic simply waiting to embrace you.
Having a Whale of a Time
We are all captivated by the sheer size and gentleness of whales. These incredible creatures are closely linked to us humans as they are mammals who breathe air, nurse their young, live in family groups as well as having a clever and enquiring brain. In a way our relationship with whales is a valuable metaphor for all human interaction: namely, focus on our similarities rather than what separates us.
In the early months of each year, many pods (whale colonies) of humpbacked whales migrate to the temperate waters of Samana Bay off the Northern coast of Dominican Republic. In these protected waters, the whales give birth and replenish their energies for their migration back to the cooler waters around Iceland, Greenland and Canada. With numerous Samana Bay whale-watching expeditions to choose from, it has to be one of the top Dominican republic tourist attractions that will mesmerise.
My advice to any tourist, going anywhere in the world, is try to enjoy the sight of whales and dolphins in their natural environment. The sense of joy you will feel when you see these creatures frolic in their watery home will beat, hands down, any stagey trip to the unnatural arena of a manmade aquarium.
Water, Water, Everywhere!
The geology of Dominican Republic coupled with its climate has overtime created many caves, waterfalls and underground lake systems throughout this independent nation. As well, the gorgeous beaches of both the North and South / Southwest coastlines attract many visitors each year who enjoy all that nature has meticulously created. Any holiday to the Caribbean wouldn’t be complete without the need for more than one swimsuit! Let’s dive in.
Les Tres Ojos
Whether you are lolling about on one of the perfect white sandy beached, fringed with palm trees, or hiking into the interior through verdant jungle or perhaps taking a trip to view or conquer the mountains and lakes, the hinterland of Dominican Republic offers a different experience from the coastal one. The most unusual Dominican Republic points of interest are the cave structures that have evolved over many centuries. The most notable in Dominican Republic has to be Les Tres Ojos (The Three Eyes) referring to large open-air caverns with three jewel-like lakes within them. Located in the Mirador del Este National Park, these lagoons are one of the Dominican Republic points of interest for tourists.
Gri Gri Lagoon
If you enjoy a day of adventure then a guided tour to the Laguna Gri Gri from the town of Puerto Plata, on the Northern coast of Dominican Republic, might be the very thing for you. The Blue Lagoon tour can take a full day and involves a trek through some coconut and pineapple plantations, a trip along the San Juan river until you finally reach Gri Gri Lagoon where you can swim and relax – enjoying the sights of turtles at a nearby stream. There is a profusion of wildlife to see around the lagoon – brightly coloured exotic birds chirp in the lush foliage. The clear waters allow you to see many fish moving around under the surface.
A shorter route to this lagoon can be completed by boat along the coast. You will find a number of reputable tours in the region that can safely take you and your family to this gorgeous coastal area.
If you get an opportunity to visit the Northern Corridor mountain range, you can visit the famous 27 Waterfalls (Damajaqua Cascades). Hewn from solid limestone over centuries, these series of waterfalls are a stunning feature within Dominican Republic. You can hike up some of the falls, swim in the refreshing pool beneath them or just find a quite spot on a large warm boulder and contemplate your existence in this paradise.
Beaches – The Best Dominican Republic Tourist Attractions
This is the go-to beach for visitors to the Punta Cana region of Dominican Republic. This gorgeous Caribbean beach is picture-postcard perfect with shading coconut palms and crystal clear azure water. The high-end hotels and villas that dot the landscape along this stretch of beach, offer a choice of many lovely restaurants and bars to lucky tourists. Anywhere near to Bavaro is considered one of the Best beaches in the Dominican Republic for a beach holiday.
Surfing – Cabarete
The best place to stay in Dominican Republic for surfing enthusiasts is Cabarete. The beach of the same name that sweeps along the Atlantic coastline has impressive breakers and good wind conditions for the surfing and kite surfing community. Even if you don’t dare to take to a board, it is a fabulous place to sit and watch the thrill seekers as they catch a wave!
And now for something different…. Italy comes to you in Dominican Republic
There are a number of first-class resorts located in this incredible Caribbean country. Some of the very best places to stay in Dominican Republic, for the complete experience, are the exclusive Punta Cana, Cap Cana and the stunning Casa de Campo.
Casa de Campo
Nestled within this incredible development is the replica Italian village, Altos de Chavon. The authenticity of this village is remarkable. You will definitely feel as though you are strolling through some gorgeous village in Tuscany or a hill commune on the Amalfi Coastine. The warm tones of the stone used to build the traditional Catholic church of St Stanislaus that overlooks a cobbled piazza just glows in the warmth of the Caribbean sunshine.
Altos de Chavon has become an artists’ enclave where sculptors, painters and weavers occupy studios along the narrow streets. It is unquestionably one of the best places to visit in dominican republic for a lazy stroll. It’s a great place to pick up some unique gifts too as the artists’ in residence offer for sale some of their creative output.
There are some lovely restaurants and bars that offer delicious food and music so whether or not you drop in during the day to experience the Mediterranean atmosphere or arrange to go one evening for that special romantic dinner or to walk through the amphitheatre, you really won’t be disappointed.
Check out our Casa De Campo villas.
A Caribbean wedding is the epitome of romance and casual elegance. What groom doesn’t look super sexy in his white suit against a turquoise ocean. And that’s before we talk about the bride who always looks as though she has just stepped out of the ultimate Instagram wedding photo montage. One of the great advantages of hosting your ‘happy ever after’ in the Dominican Republic is that your friends and family get to enjoy not just a heavenly wedding but an unforgettable vacation.
The best place to stay in Dominican republic to experience the very best in Caribbean weddings are any of the large resorts that can offer wonderful self-contained villas so you and your guests can all stay within easy access of each other yet have that sense of separateness too. Punta Cana and Cap Cana are two resort that are considered some of the best place to stay in Dominican republic, ideal for that perfect wedding experience.
In addition to all of its fabulous accommodations, Cap Cana has three golf courses one of which is the highly-regarded Jack Nicklaus designed Punta Espada. One of the Dominican Republic facts is that it encompasses 26 golf courses in total. As well, the Sanctuary Spa along with numerous restaurants, most famously Eden Roc, a private marina and over 6000 acres of manicured grounds and wild terrain, combine to give families a diverse and adventurous vacation within the boundary of this exclusive resort.
Stylish and Serene
One of the best places to vacation in Dominican Republic has to be the resort of Punta Cana. This is a self-contained resort made up of architecturally sublime luxury villa accommodations and hotels. The Tortuga Bay at Punta Cana Resort and villas is the only AAA Five Diamond property in Dominican Republic. This glamorous property, designed by Oscar de la Renta the international designer, has direct beach access and is within a short distance of all the wonderful facilities of the Punta Cana Resort.
Again, this is another well-established resort that understands how to truly welcome and care for its guests, and is considered one of the best Dominican Republic Resorts.
There is a wealth of history to be found in this Caribbean destination. It forms one half of a larger island known as Hispaniola – the very place where Christopher Columbus first touched down in 1492. The Spanish dominated the next number of centuries helping to create the foundation for what has become modern Dominican Republic. The language, religion and architecture are all drawn from its Spanish history. The place to really explore this is in the Zona Colonial or as it’s referred to locally: La Zona.
This UNESCO protected, 4 miles square district of the capital Santo Domingo, is a labyrinth of narrow streets that weave between rows of multicoloured buildings. This is the best places to visit in Dominican Republic if you have an interest in the history of the New World. La Zona is home to the first hospital, university, monastery of the New World. The photos you can take in this most picturesque part of Dominican Republic’s capital are like jumping on a time machine and travelling back to the 1500s.
Buildings of note: Museo de las Casas Reales, the Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, Chapel of Our Lady of Remedies, Palacio Consistorial. If you are lucky enough to visit Dominican Republic, you will have to see Santo Domingo’s La Zona. If you plan your trip to Santo Domingo well you should include a dinner as any number of pretty restaurants have outside seating so you can dine and watch the world wander by surrounded by amazingly preserved ancient monuments.
If ticking off a list of ‘highest mountains climbed’ is your focus, then you might want to take on the challenge of climbing Dominican Republic’s Pico Duarte: the tallest peak in the Caribbean. It reaches heights of over 10,000 feet so is more than a ‘little bump’ to conquer. Unless you have excellent navigational skills and an understanding of the weather conditions on Caribbean islands, it would be important to use a local guide to help you reach the summit and get you home safely again.
One of the recommended starting points for this climb is the mountain town of Jarabocoa which means ‘the place of waters’. In addition to having good access to the Jose del Carmen Ramirez and Armando Bermundez national parks, it is the ideal place to embark on hiking, canoeing, river rafting and rappelling. The altitude of this very eco-minded town ensures cooler temperatures and is a destination loved by the Dominican Republic urban dwellers, who enjoy weekends here throughout the year.
This is only a small glimpse into some of the best places to visit in Dominican Republic to enjoy a flavour of what makes this incredible country such a popular tourist destination. Why not call us at Exceptional Villas so we can design for you a bespoke Dominican Republic experience. We have decades of experience taking happy customers to this wonderful country and have established really strong links with the best guides, tours and properties across the Northern and Southern shores. We visit each property on our portfolio of luxury villas and suites to ensure the highest standards are maintained. All of our concierge teams have first-hand experience of travelling in the Dominican Republic so you are getting knowledgeable advice from our helpful staff.
Dominican Republic is one of those Caribbean destinations that captures the imagination and mind of visitors to its shores. With a limitless supply of fun, luxury and adventure, it’s one of those amazing countries that lures visitors back to its paradise shores again and again. Be like Christopher Columbus and seek out this New World. It will be the beginning of a life-long love affair!
About Mairead Moriarty
Born and raised in Co Kerry, lived in London, New York, San Francisco, Dublin. Owner of one very battered suitcase, a well-worn passport and a million memories.
It seems very fitting for a travel writer that my surname translates as ‘Skilled Navigator’. Apart from an occasion when, aged 3, I got lost in a Supermarket in Tralee, I have managed to live up to my name!
Curiosity is probably the driver that has sent me on magical mystery tours around the world. I want to ‘feel’ a place. I want all my senses to be engaged: from the history and geography that has influenced a country or city, the arts and achievements of its natives, anything and everything really.
Regardless of whether I am on a local train travelling through Morocco, or poking around in Marconi’s study in Bologna or on a canal boat weaving through the heart of the English countryside, the same rules apply - ask questions, talk to locals, eat what they eat, sit quietly with nature and simply be.
Assimilate as much as is possible so as to understand the soul of a place. That is my passion. That is the compass by which I navigate.