Much more than beach resorts, the Dominican Republic is one of the Caribbean’s most geographically diverse countries, from stunning mountain scenery to desert scrublands, not to mention evocative colonial architecture and warm welcoming people. Where do you start? Try these 10 top travel experiences:
Take a walk through history in the oldest city in the New World. With its cobblestone streets and beautifully restored mansions, it’s easy to imagine Santo Domingo’s landmark quarter as the seat of Spain’s 16th-century empire. But the past and present coexist rather gracefully here; follow in the footsteps of pirates and conquistadors one moment, while the next pop into a shop selling CDs from the latest Dominican merengue star.
1. Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial
2. Relaxing at Playa Rincón
Consistently rated one of the top beaches in the Caribbean by those in the know – people who courageously brave heatstroke and sunburn in a quest for the ideal – Rincón is large enough for every day-tripper to claim their own piece of real estate without nosy neighbors peeking over the seaweed and driftwood. A thick palm forest provides the backdrop and fresh seafood can be served upon request.
3. Leisurely Las Galeras
This sleepy fishing village at the far eastern end of the Península de Samaná is an escape from your getaway. Fewer tourists and therefore less development means the area around Las Galeras includes some of the more scenic locales in all the DR. Swaying palm trees back beaches ready-made for a movie set and waves crash over hard-to-get-to cliffs. For at least one sunset, venture out to Restaurant El Cabito, where you might glimpse migrating whales and a dolphin or two.
4. Bahía de Las Águilas
The remoteness and loneliness add savor and spice to the adventure of getting to Bahía de Las Águilas, a stunning stretch of yellow sand. That you have to take a boat to get there – and that there won’t be any tourists there except for you – transform it into one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
5. Santo Domingo Nightlife & Dancing
Get dressed to the nines, do some stretching and get your dance moves on. Nightclubs in the seaside resort hotels host some of the best merengue and salsa bands this side of Havana. No museum showcase, even the Zona Colonial is chock-a-block with bars, from trendy hangouts for the fashionable set to loud and sweaty corner stores for locals.
Read more: WashingtonPost