Featured Hotels in Dominican Republic
Luxury Dominican Republic Holidays
Described by Columbus when he discovered it as "the fairest land on earth", the Dominican Republic is the most visited country in the Caribbean, and with good reason. Sharing the island of Hispaniola with Haiti to the west, the country is a captivating blend of culture, history and spectacular natural beauty, encompassing lofty mountain ranges, tropical rainforests, mangrove swamps and palm-fringed white-sand beaches. Dominican Republic holidays offer endless charm and an array of attractions that cannot fail to delight.
The beating heart of the Dominican Republic, and its cultural jewel, is its enchanting 600-year-old capital, Santo Domingo, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Foremost among its treasures is historic Zona Colonial, with its delightful cobbled streets lined with small brightly-coloured houses, and its Spanish colonial architecture. Each historic plaza throbs with joy, energy and a lively Latin beat, and the city abounds with charming restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as an old cathedral and colonial fortress -- you could certainly spend a week exploring here alone.
Magnificent National Parks
In this land of beauty, the Samaná Peninsula is considered the most beautiful area of all, encapsulating the true magic of the tropical Caribbean -- yet it is quieter and less developed than many of the more touristy spots. The area embraces the Parque Nacional Los Haitises, a wonderland of dense mangrove forests, jungle-covered islands, unique rock formations -- mogotes -- rising from the sea, and caves filled with birds, and Samaná Bay is a haven for marine creatures, including humpback whales that calve here in January and February. Nearby are the spectacular Saltó El Limón falls, and the region offers ample opportunities for biking, hiking, bird-watching and horse-riding -- indeed, the El Limón falls are accessible only on horseback.
Further south, at the heart of the La Romana region, is the magnificent Eastern National Park, containing a forested nature reserve which is a prime habitat for hundreds of species of animals and plants, plus one of the Caribbean's largest marine parks, with an immense system of coral reefs. Within the park you can explore the cave system, which contains examples of prehistoric wall paintings, or relax on some of the area's remote and beautiful beaches. Just off the coast is Saona Island, where you can dive among the coral reefs, and visit the tiny settlement, Mano Juan, strolling along its main street lined with brightly-coloured traditional wooden houses, and browsing the rich array of authentic arts and crafts.
Spectacular Waterfalls and Rivers
A trip to the interior of the country will bring you to the quaint little town of Jarabacoa in the Cordillera Central Mountains, the heart of the country's emerging ecotourism industry, set amidst a landscape of towering mountain peaks, sweeping pine forests, cascades and rivers. The area is particularly well known for its spectacular waterfalls, including the stunning 131-foot Saltó de Jimenoa, and contains the country's only white-water river, Rio Yaque del Norte, offering rafting down gentle rapids. The area's rugged terrain, with enticing jungle trails, is ideal for hiking, rock-climbing and mountain biking.
Probably the most famous waterfall system is the Damajagua Cascades, just south of Puerto Plata on the north coast -- a stunning series of no fewer than 27 waterfalls along the course of Rio Damajagua. Each individual cascade has its own special feature -- some have ladders for climbing to the next rock tier, or pools for swimming, while others have natural chutes down which you can slide into the grottoes. Many of the paths linking the falls have been made into nature trails.
Highest and Lowest Points
On this island you can find both the highest and lowest points in the Caribbean, the highest being 10,000-foot Pico Duarte in the magnificent Cordillera range, part of the Armando Bermudez National Park. It can be climbed by experienced climbers -- the climb takes 2-4 days, depending on the weather and the route you take, and you require the help of guides who accompany you on mules. Pico Duarte is the source of the country's two major rivers.
Fifty miles to the south is Lago Enriquillo, which is not only the lowest point in the Caribbean, at 150 feet below sea level, but also the largest salt-water lake. You can take a boat trip to the island in the middle of the lake, Isla Cabritos, where you can see prehistoric Taino rock art, and flocks of pink flamingos. The lake also has one of the world's largest reserves of wild crocodiles.
The best beaches in the country, and probably in the whole of the Caribbean, are found in Punta Cana at the easternmost point, where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean -- the most popular and sophisticated area of the country. The name Punta Cana literally means "Tip of the White Cane Palms", and refers to the cane palms that grow right down to the water's edge. This area offers an infinite choice of activities, including catamaran cruises, swimming with dolphins and sharks, whale watching, and deep sea fishing trips.
There are certainly lots of other lovely beaches -- in fact the beaches of this land are almost endless -- yet many people say that the best value Dominican Republic holidays have to offer is the welcoming friendliness of its people. Wherever you go you will encounter the joy, music and colourful warmth of Dominicans, who delight in sharing their beautiful country with you. No matter whether you are here for the beaches, the adventure, the scenery or the music, you will find this country hard to beat.