Dominican Republic

Our expert review and guide.

The Dominican Republic will introduce you to the tallest Caribbean mountains, historic architecture, and world-famous beaches, all of which make up the Dominican Republic’s stunning landscape. One of its great claims to fame are the resorts of Punta Cana. This man-made getaway was designed for the sole purpose of catering to the needs of its guests. With sugar-like beaches, incredible watersports, and 24,000 hotel rooms, it can be difficult to persuade visitors to leave.

Families can visit with dolphins and sea lions at Ocean Word Adventure Park near the town of Puerto Valla and thump go-karts at Fun City Action Park in the city of Puerto Plata. A Dominican Republic vacation offers thrills for one and all. 

About The Dominican Republic 

Beautiful Caribbean beach on Saona Island, Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic, located in the West Indies, consists of two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, an island it shares with Haiti. It is the second-largest island in the Caribbean’s Greater Antilles chain, spreading out over 18,704 square miles with a population of over 10 million. 

The Caribbean surrounds the Dominican Republic to the south, while the Atlantic Ocean borders it to the north. The Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos are a mere 90 miles away. The nation’s capital is Santo Domingo.

Hispaniola is one of the many islands “discovered” by Christopher Columbus. Rumors of gold had the Spaniards eager for colonization. The island, and the local Taino tribe, were quickly settled by Spain, and the city of Santo Domingo was established. It did not take long for Spain to rule the entire island and establish the oldest hospital, cathedral, and monastery in the New World. The first New World university was established in Santo Domingo in 1538.

Once the Spanish were settled, they established a rigid class system, with the Roman Church at the head and the local slaves at the bottom. Hispaniola served as the center for all of Spain’s New World holdings. However, the French took over the western part of Hispaniola now known as Haiti, and subsequently, the entire island came under French control. Before long, the Spaniards, French, and Haitians were vying for dominance. The Spanish were finally thrown out in 1809, and Haiti became an independent country. The Dominicans rebelled and declared their own independence on February 27, 1844, officially establishing the country of the Dominican Republic. To this day, both countries share one island.

The Peso Dominicano is the Dominican Republic’s official currency. This peso is worth 100 centavos. The US dollar can also be used to make purchases.

Most Dominican Republicans speak a dialect called Dominican Spanish. This dialect includes words from the indigenous Indian population. Both English and French are taught in all schools.

Dominican Republicans of Haitian descent speak Haitian Creole. 

Thanks to its diverse history, the Dominican Republic has a very diverse population, with the majority of citizens being multi-racial. Those of mixed ancestry make up 72 percent of the population. Those of Spanish and French ancestry only make up 16 percent of the citizenry. Former black slaves constitute approximately 11 percent of the Dominican Republic’s population.

What Is Dominican Republic Most Known For?

The diverse culture and geography of the Dominican Republic make it unique among the Caribbean islands. 

It is known for some of the greatest beaches anywhere. Bahía de las Águilas is known as one of the most pristine and unexplored beaches in the world. The coral reefs and clear waters span for five miles within the Jaragua National Park, and it is a prime location for swimming and diving. The magical experience here is strictly between visitors and nature. The wildlife in the park consists of birds, iguanas, and the Hawksbill sea turtles. There are excellent accommodations a few kilometers from this natural wonder. Visitors who wish to remain closer can go glamping at the Glamping EcoLodge Cueva De Las Aguilas. There are luxury tents and an on-site restaurant.

The Playa El Valle Beach is not only beautiful, but it is also surrounded by a breathtaking view of the jungle forest.

Samana Bay is known for its fine white beaches and whale watching from January to March when 1,500 humpbacks travel to give birth in the Atlantic Ocean. The Bay’s white beaches are picture-postcard perfect.

The Dominican Republic takes justifiable pride in its world-famous rum, which is to the Dominican Republic what vodka is to Russia. Distilleries provide extensive tours and education. Some of the distilleries date back hundreds of years. This is sheer Eden for rum aficionados. Ron Barcelo is the best-known distiller in the Dominican Republic and is internationally respected. The tour of the distillery includes tasting some of their finest aged rum. 

The largest distillery is Brugal in Puerto Plata, and like the others, it offers lectures and tastings of their five different rums.

The oldest distiller on the island is J. Armando Bermudez & Co, whose rum is more mellow than its competitors.  They also offer a tasting and factory tour.

The Dominican Republic has its beaches and its rum. Few people realize it also has the tallest mountain range in the Caribbean. The Cordillera Central range includes the Pico Duarte, which at over 10,000 feet is the tallest peak in the Caribbean. The office at the entrance rents equipment and even mules to carry said equipment. An official tour to the top will likely take three days and two nights of camping out (hence the heavy equipment). There are several routes, the longest taking a week. Regardless of which trail visitors take, they are guaranteed an amazing vista of the ocean both south and north. This is a true outdoor adventure.

Any visit to the Dominican Republic needs to include the “First City of the New World,” a distinction that belongs to Santo Domingo. Some of the original buildings are still standing, such as the Cathedral of Santa María La Menor. Few cities pack the amazing history that Santo Domingo, a World Heritage Site, does.

For the adventurous visitor low on cash, free accommodations and some meals can be had in Santo Domingo in exchange for volunteering in one of the city’s hostels. 

Best Regions to Visit In the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has several city zones that are all worth visiting and which offer different activities.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo is a vibrant metropolis of over 2 million people with hundreds of years of culture, especially several pre-Columbian museums, such as the Dominican Man Museum, the National Museum of History and Geography, and the Hall of Pre-Hispanic Art. 

The city center is filled with colonial architecture that has changed little since they were built. While downtown, visitors can visit a variety of churches as a reminder of the dominance of the Catholic Church following the island’s conquest. The Dominican Republic fought hard for its independence, and Independence Park and the Memorial Museum of the Dominican Resistance commemorate those difficult times. To learn about the “first city in the Americas,” stroll the cobble-stoned streets of Santo Domingo and simply absorb its history.

Boca Chica and Juan Dolio

Just a few kilometers from the hustle and bustle of Santo Domingo, small seaside resorts offer beaches and relaxation. Boca China is loved for having one of the most stunning beaches on the island as well as thriving nightlife. The beach is enclosed by a huge reef barrier that creates a large shallow pool. The blues and turquoise shades here are intense.

Juan Dolio stretches along the coast with a number of resorts drawing visitors. With only two streets, the region’s resorts offer privacy along with lush tropics. Note that these two streets are home to excellent restaurants. Its proximity to Santo Domingo provides visitors with an ideal mix of tranquility and urban excitement. Many visitors come from Santo Domingo and consider lush Juan Dolio their “weekend getaway” with its white beaches and two superior golf courses.

La Romana

Tourists come to La Romana for the fabulous Casa De Campo beachfront resort and its golf courses. With its delightful private villas and luxury offerings, Casa De Campo serves as the Dominican Republic destination for many. However, adventuresome visitors move beyond the chic resort for a genuine Dominican Republic vacation experience. 

The dining at the  Canaveral Food Park rivals the elegant cuisine within the resort. Visitors to La Romana can enjoy a culinary tour of the park’s six restaurants and ice cream parlor.

Catalina Island

Catalina Island is a quick boat trip from La Romana. Here, visitors swim, snorkel, and dive alongside the gorgeous coral reef. At one time, it was a haven for pirates lying in wait for Spanish ships. Catalina Island is alive with tales of pirates such as Captain Kidd, and visitors can explore his final shipwreck. The island is also the ideal place for water sports, Instagram-perfect walks on one of the three white beaches, or exploring the five hundred different species of colorful flora that thrive here. 

Best All-Inclusive Resort or Hotel in the Dominican Republic 

Casa De Campo Resort and Villas

Casa De Campo Resort and Villas in La Romana is a private and gated resort surrounded by three stunning beaches. The resort is known for having one of the best golf courses in the world. There are seven restaurants, a polo center, and a shooting course. Enjoy complimentary dance lessons during the day; dance the night away to live music after dark. 

The oceanfront or garden villas are the standards in luxury. Each villa enjoys a private pool, daily breakfast, and private maid service. Concierge service will make any reservation or deal with any needs of its guests. 

Best Resort or Hotel for Couples in the Dominican Republic

Melia Caribe Beach All-Inclusive Resort

Melia Caribe Beach All-Inclusive Resort is located by one of the most spectacular beaches, the Playa Bavaro, parts of which have been awarded the coveted Blue Flag status for high global standards. The stunning landscaping and tropical gardens create the perfect setting for romance. Or enjoy the 18-hole golf course, the nine pools, and the in-house casino. The resort will also arrange the details for a romantic wedding.

Couples can upgrade an already spectacular stay to Level Service, which includes the VIP lounge, an international buffet and bar, and exclusive Bali beds

Best Resort or Hotel for Families in the Dominican Republic

Hilton La Romana Resort Punta Cana

The Hilton La Romana Resort Punta Cana is the ideal Dominican Republic family resort. The beachfront resort provides endless amenities, along with large family-sized rooms surrounded by a pristine beach and a tropical forest. Adult activities include dance lessons, board and chess games, nightly entertainment, great food, a spa, fitness center, and unlimited watersports. 

For kids between the ages of 4 to 12, the supervised Kids Club offers daily activities, storytime, treasure hunts, a game room, and camping trips on the beach. The Club will even provide dinner for the youngsters to enable parents to enjoy some alone time.

Teens can participate in the Teen Club for supervised daily activities such as ping pong, archery, and water sports, and weekly bonfires and disco dancing. 

About The Author
Jim is the founder of He loves the Caribbean and wants to share it with everyone he can. He has been traveling in the Caribbean since he was just 18 months old and has seen most of its beautiful beaches and turquoise waters.

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