Dominican Republic: More Than Just Resorts
It's no secret I'm a huge fan of beachside resorts with smiling poolside bartenders. Throw in a luxury spa and some activities to keep the kids busy and I am in vacation heaven. I tend to relax to the point of laziness (it's vacation, after all!), so it's important for our family to visit destinations that can balance my extreme vacay-mode with active and cultural immersion activities.
Located on Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles, the Dominican Republic occupies a little over half the island, sharing with The Republic of Haiti. Amazingly, the Dominican entertains more than 6 million visitors a year and has a lot to offer in addition to its pristine beaches and luxurious resorts with pampering service.
Here are some great sites to add to your itinerary when you visit the Dominican.
National Parks & Nature Preserves
Lake Enriquillo is the only saltwater lake throughout the Antilles, it is located in the center of the Parque Nacional Isla Cabritos This haven for wildlife is one of the largest natural reserves for the American crocodile.
Eastern National Park This World Heritage Sites is one of the largest marine parks in the Caribbean. Rhinoceros iguanas, bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, and manatees are just some of the amazing wildlife that you can see up close during a visit.
Bahia de las Aguilas and Jaragua National Park The picturesque turquoise waters that line this 6-mile stretch of beach is best accessed by boat from the small village of La Cueva. The marine life and amazing views will make for memories that you won't forget anytime soon.
Jarabacoa is best known for ecotourism and is the location of the Dominican Republic’s only whitewater river, the Rio Yaque del Norte. The terrain, rivers, and waterfalls make it perfect for adventurous activities like hiking, climbing, and mountain biking. You guys grab your helmets while I stay here for a drink!
Samana Peninsula and Bay are lined with beautiful mangroves, caves, rock formations, and one of the most beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic. It is also home to the Parque Nacional Los Haitises. Marine life is abundant year-round with mother humpback whales giving birth in January and February.
The Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia is a beautiful example of modern architecture. The Basilica of Our Lady is one of the prime sites of pilgrimage in Latin America during the huge mass every January 21st.
Santo Domingo is the bustling capital of the Dominican Republic. It is a perfect blend of Spanish colonial past and the present times. Here you can see the oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere, aptly named, the First Cathedral of America and the World Heritage Site Zona Colonial (Colonial City). Santo Domingo's cobblestone streets and colonial architecture make it a site you simply must experience. For visitors drawn to more modern work, there is the Plaza de la Cultura where you can see the Palace of Fine Arts, the National Palace, and the Museum of Modern Art.
The resorts are a great place to spend time when visiting the Dominican, but to get a real sense of what the country has to offer, you'll want to look offsite. There are also many unique excursions for varied interests, such as tobacco & cacao plantation tours, aerial and beach yoga, and native larimar jewelry making classes. Click here to setup a complimentary chat with me to talk about the best time to go, what you'd like to do when you get there, and which Dominican resort serves up the best beachside drinks!