Capital City: Santo Domingo
Official Language: Spanish is the official language with some English and French also being spoken
Currency: Dominican Peso
Welcome to the most visited country in the Caribbean! With what seems to be an endless expanse of white-sandy beaches lined by palm trees and resorts, it’s really not hard to understand why the Dominican Republic is such a popular tourist destination. The Dominican Republic allows you to have the island paradise vacation on an average man’s budget. But it’s not just beaches that draw the masses here. Hispaniola, which makes up half of the country, is one of the most geographically diverse places in the Caribbean, with everything from rainforests to alpine ranges, mangrove swamps and semi-desert areas. The Dominican Republic caters for travelers from all walks of life, entertaining them with merengue and bachata music, rum and their passion for the game of baseball.Step inside and explore the Colonial-era churches and fortresses, the beaches, the music, the countryside and the culture that all come together to make the Dominican Republic one of the greatest destinations in the Caribbean.
The Columbus Lighthouse
This massive cross-shaped monument in honor of Christopher Columbus is located on the south coast of the country. It was built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of South America. The cross-shaped light beam it projects into the sky at night is a sight not to be missed and can be seen from as far as Puerto Rico. The lighthouse is also a museum with a sarcophagus rumored to contain Columbus’ remains as part of the exhibit.
Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial
Listed as a UNESO World Heritage Site, the Zona Colonial is where you can explore some of the oldest buildings in the Americas. Some of the most popular sites include the Alcazar de Colón and the Catedral de la Primada, the oldest cathedral in the Americas.
With an absorbing Old Town, the stunning Fort San Felipe, superb beaches like Sosua and Cabarete, the historical northern city of Puerto Plata is a destination that has a lot to offer to travelers from all walks of life.
Museo del Hombre Dominicano
Located in Santo Domingo, this museum is one of the best in the country. It was devoted to the Dominican Republic’s anthropology and boasts sculptures and artefacts offering a superb insight on the Tainos, the island’s earliest settlers. The carnival costumes with their vivid colors and the exhibits of the Voodoo cult religion are also major points of interest.
The massive saltwater lake of Lago Enriquillo near the Haitian border is home to an abundance of tropical birds and more than enough crocodiles. The natural fauna and flora of this area is protected withi a combined national park called the Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquill Biosphere Reserve. Boat trips excursions allow visitors to explore the lake, or you can also climb up to the lookout tower for a panoramic view of the stunning landscape.
Mount Isabela de Torres
Located on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, Mount Isabela de Torres is bound to deliver some of the most breathtaking views over the national park and the ocean. You can either climb to the top, or choose the faster and easier route of taking a cable car up to the top of the peak where you will be greeted by a replica of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ Redeemer statue and a botanical garden to explore.
Eastern National Park
The National Park of the East is located in La Romana, Bayahibe. Renowned for its crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches, this national park covers 791 square kilometers which includes subtropical rainforests, subtropical dry forests and an area once inhabited by the Taino Indians. Saona Island is the most popular spot in the reserve where the traditional wooden houses line the streets in the settlement of Mano Juan. Saona is also famous for its large population of marine turtles nesting here among the many other spectacular marine and land animals and plants that thrive here. Spanning across 4 islands, the Eastern National Park is the largest of its kind in the region.
La Romana Village
Located at the southeast end of the DR, La Romana is best known for its stunning collection of exquisite resorts that run along the picturesque beaches. On offer here is the renowned 16th Century Altos de Chavón, and entire village sculpted in stone, endless stretches of sugar cane fields, golfing at its best and galleries and shops galore.
Lying peacefully in the foothills of the Cordillera Central, Jarabacoa is home to some of the most breathtaking rivers, forested slopes and the nighttime hotspot of Parque Central. Also known as The City of Eternal Spring, Jarabacoa is where you want to go to explore some untamed rural life. With warm days and slightly chilly nights, this area has a tropical rainforest climate, but that makes conditions perfect for exploring the mountains and participating in the array of outdoor activities.
Things to do in Dominican Republic
Dance to the local rhythm
The Dominican Republic is well known for its vibrant nightlife, which is why you shouldn’t miss out on the fun. Santo Domingo is arguably one of the best places to experience great vibes with the sounds of the merengue filling the bars and clubs. Avenida Venezuela has an impressive row of nightclubs and dance halls to offer. There’s also the Malecón boardwalk with its own spin of nighttime entertainment venues.
Party at the Carnival
La Vega comes to life every year in February for the annual carnival. This is one of the most colorful and raucous of its sort and boasts 20 groups of costumed parading locals led by Diablo Cojuelo. People cram the streets in crowds in excess of 2,000 every Sunday in February for the showdown.
Take a swing
A good round of golf is never a bad idea, especially in the DR seeing that it has dozens of courses located at luxury resorts, many of which are rated among the top 50 courses in the Caribbean.
Go whale watching
Thousands of humpback whales make their way to the Samaná headland on the northeast of the Dominican Republic every year between the months of January and March. Organized boat trips depart from the port of Santa Barbara de Samaná to take tourists out for viewing pleasure.
Get yourself some amber
If there ever was an authentic Dominican Republic souvenir to take hoe, amber would be it. You’ll find it at the local markets at great prices.
Best time to visit
Tourists visit the Dominican Republic from August to November
The Dominican Republic has a hot and tropical climate throughout the year and the coastal areas ten to be slightly warmer than the central regions. The DR has 2 rainy seasons, the heaviest one running from May to August and the lighter rain season running from November to December.
Did you know?
- La bandera is a national dish that consists of white rice, red beans, stewed meat, salad and fried plaintain
- Chicharrones is crisp pork rind
- Chicharrones de pollo is small pieces of fried chicken
- Sopa criolla dominicana is a native soup with meat and vegetables
- Pastelón is a baked vegetable cake
- Bathing suits are only acceptable for the beach and the poolside, so always get dressed properly before heading out for sightseeing
- The DR is a conservative nation, so revealing clothing is frowned upon
- Always stick to bottled water for drinking for health reasons