When people think Dominican Republic they may think all-inclusive resorts and dismiss the island as a resort-filled tourist trap; but nothing could be further from the truth. Beyond the popular resorts of Punta Cana and Puerto Plata, the Dominican Republic is full of picturesque beaches, warm people, and incredible food. With a recent focus on infrastructure it has never been easier or more comfortable to get around the DR and experience a trust Caribbean paradise. Here are our picks for the 5 places to add to your list for your next trip to the Dominican Republic.
Admittedly, I first visited the Dominican Republic 10 years ago while my cousin was working there. I stayed 5 days with his family and other than the Aquarium and having a beer in Parque Colon, I remember very little of the city. On my most recent trip to Santo Domingo, I was completely blown away by the city. The food scene is fantastic, the Zona Colonial is beautifully preserved, and on Sundays, they set up a band and locals dance the night away amongst monastery ruins. Do not skip Santo Domingo on your DR trip!
Where to stay if you can’t Couchsurf? I can not say enough great things about Island Life Hostel. It has a pool, a bar, free breakfast and the exact kind of vibe you’re looking for in a hostel.
2. Las Terrenas
2 hours directly north of Santo Domingo lies this small peninsula with the perfect-picture beaches you crave. There is a road running along the coast with many hotels, hostels, restaurants and shops, as well as a larger town a little bit inland – but the real reason you will love Las Terrenas are the endless beaches. If you want to be the only person in sight lounging in the shade of a palm tree, you can do that. If you want to eat fresh ceviche surrounded by the fisherman who caught it, you can do that. If you want to sip passion fruit mojitos and watch the sunset, you can definitely do that too. Las Terrenas is a beautifully tranquil getaway which will be exact escape from city life that you need.
If you are looking to do water sports, look no further than the beach town of Cabarete. Calm waters mixed with windy conditions make it the perfect place to kitesurf, windsurf, wakeboard, and scuba dive. If you’re looking for a calm backpacker vibe with plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy, then Cabarete is your place. Best part? It is only 20km from the Puerto Plata airport, so if you only have a few days and a direct flight to Puerto Plata, you won’t waste any time getting there.
If you need a break from beach life and are ready for a little more adventure, then Jarabacoa is your place. Practically in the center of the island, this town is located in the Valle de la Vega in the Central Mountain Range and will be the break you need from sun and sand. Surrounded by rivers, this town is the perfect jumping off point for white water rafting, canyoning and waterfall chasing.
A little less than 3km off the southern coast of the DR is this small island with crystal clear water and white sand beaches. Hop on a boat from La Romana and enjoy the endless beaches, scuba dive amongst the coral reef or just get a tan on a sun bed. Isla Catalina may be the most ‘touristy’ of the places on our list, but it is truly a gorgeous stretch of beach if you are in the southeast part of the island.
No matter where you go in the DR, you will be captivated by the white sand, clear water and hanging palm trees. No matter what you’re looking for, the DR has it. From all-inclusive resorts to colonial architecture to tranquil eco lodges – the DR is a perfect winter getaway for every type of traveler.