Dominican Republic Travel Guide • Plan Your Trip to the Dominican Republic

by Sarah Peterson

From diving into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean to climbing the highest mountain peak in the Caribbean, the list of things to do in the Dominican Republic is endless and exciting. 

Adventure is everywhere in the Dominican Republic and that’s one of the many reasons why it’s the most visited destination in the Caribbean. Whether it’s snorkelling  at the beach in Punta Cana, hiking Pico Durante in Jaracoba or watching humpback whales breach in Samaná Bay, the things to do in the Dominican Republic are truly bucket-list worthy. 

The Dominican Republic is home to some of the world’s most popular beaches, lush natural vegetation and a bustling metropolitan capital city. With so many places to explore and things to do in the Dominican Republic, this guide will help you know which activities to try out while on your trip. 

Check out: Dominican Republic Travel Guide • Plan Your Trip to the Dominican Republic

Article Guide

11 Top-Rated Things to Do in the Dominican Republic

Whether you prefer to relax at the beach, explore the natural environment or immerse yourself in local culture, you’ll find plenty of things to do that meet your travel needs in the Dominican Republic. 

With each activity listed below you’ll find more details about each so you can make the most of your stay in the Dominican Republic:

#1. Best Beach in the Dominican Republic: Bávaro Beach

Thing to do in the Dominican Republic

With so many beautiful beaches in the Dominican  Republic to choose from, you’ll find some of the best beaches in Punta Cana and among the best of the best is Bávaro Beach. 

Situated just north of the booming resort town, here you can snorkel the beach’s coral reef, kayak on the water or visit any of the high-quality restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops nearby.

While there’s a higher chance of more people flocking to Bávaro Beach, the miles of white sand beach and turquoise water gives travellers  the chance to spread out and bask in the beauty of this world-class beach.

Category: Beach
Neighbourhood: Punta Cana

Hours of operation: All day

Best for: Water lovers who enjoy adventure and luxury travellers  who like to have the best amenities available while they relax by the beach

Time to spend here: At least 3 hours or the entire day

#2. Best Hike in the Dominican Republic: Armando Bermúdez National Park

Thing to do in the Dominican Republic

Running through the heart of the Dominican Republic is the Cordillera Central mountain range, which is often referred to as the Dominican Alps and includes the highest mountain in the entire Caribbean, Pico Durante. 

These mountains are all included within Armando Bermúdez National Park where hikers can explore the natural landscape of the Dominican Republic with the help of an experienced tour guide. 

These mountains are often overlooked as a popular attraction because the Dominican Republic is typically known for its beaches. So despite their size and majesty, the mountains at this national park could be considered a hidden gem for tourists. 

If you decide to go for a hike anywhere within the national park, just be sure to pack appropriately and be prepared for a long stay especially if you try to conquer Pico Durante. The hike that goes more than 10,000 feet above sea level takes at least two days to complete. 

Category: Hike

Neighbourhood: Jarabacoa 

Hours of operation: Not listed

Best for: Intermediate and expert hikers looking for a rewarding hike through memorable terrain

Time to spend here: Anywhere from one to three full days 

#3. Best Outdoor Activity in the Dominican Republic: Whale Watching

Thing to do in the Dominican Republic

As one of the few places in the world along the humpback whales migration path, Samaná Bay in the Dominican Republic gives visitors the chance to see the majesty of these whales up close. 

The Atlantic Ocean waters just off of Samaná Bay were named a Marine Mammal Sanctuary in 1986 and as such it is the safest and most natural way to watch these humpback whales interact with one another and even jump out of the water to play.

Whale watching season is from January 15 to March 30 and during this time you can sign up for a tour that will take you for a boat ride to see the whales up close, something you might not be able to do anywhere else. 

Category: Outdoors
Neighbourhood: Samaná Bay

Hours of operation: All day 

Best for: Families with children or couples who want to see these immense creatures in their natural habitat 

Time to spend here: At least two hours for the tour and boat ride

#4. Best Restaurant in the Dominican Republic: La Yola

Thing to do in the Dominican Republic

Designed by Oscar de la Renta, La Yola is set right on the Caribbean ocean to replicate the feel of dining on a yola, or small fishing boat. 

Set on stilts with glass floors that allow you to see the water below, this al fresco eatery lets you take in the full beauty of the Dominican Republic while enjoying an elegant meal. 

This unique restaurant serves classic Caribbean cuisine as well as Mediterranean  inspired dishes and boast fresh seafood everyday.

Category: Food
Neighbourhood: San Jaun

Hours of operation: Tuesday to Sunday 6:30pm -10:30pm; Closed Monday

Best for: Luxury travellers or couples looking for an elegant meal with a beautiful view of the water

Time to spend here: One hour 

#5. Best Museum in the Dominican Republic: Alcázar de Colón

Thing to do in the Dominican Republic

If you want to experience the history of the Dominican Republic first-hand, then you’ll want to visit the Alcázar de Colón. 

This Gothic and Renaissance style structure in Santo Domingo’s Colonial City is a former palace turned museum. Completed around 1512, it was once the home of Diego Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus, and his wife María de Toledo, niece of King Ferdinand of Spain.

The palace overlooks both Plaza de España and the Ozama River and features well-preserved rooms that feature 16th century furniture, art, musical instruments, and weapons. It is the first ever fortified palace to be into a museum and it is something you’ll want to see on our trip to the Dominican Republic. 

Category: Museum
Neighbourhood: Santo Domingo Colonial City 

Hours of operation: Tuesday-Sunday 9am-5pm; Closed Monday

Best for: History buffs who appreciate an interactive trip back in time to experience the past of the Dominican Republic

Time to spend here: One to two hours 

#6. Must-See Landmark in the Dominican Republic: Cathedral of Santa María la Menor

Thing to do in the Dominican Republic

As the oldest cathedral in the Americas, the Cathedral of Santa María la Menor was built in the early 1500s. This cathedral, which features architecture of both gothic and renaissance styles, is also known as the resting place of Christopher Columbus. 

This historic landmark is open for visitors to explore the architecture as well as an art collection of furnishings, jewelry, silver and wood carvings. 

Category: Historic Landmark
Neighbourhood: Santo Domingo Colonial City

Hours of operation: Everyday 8am-6pm

Best for: History buffs who enjoy architecture and an interactive cultural experience

Time to spend here: one to two hours

#7. Best Cultural Experience in the Dominican Republic: Ciudad Colonial of Santo Domingo 

Thing to do in the Dominican Republic

A visit to the Ciudad Colonial will take you back in time to the earliest days of the Americas. Located in the Dominican Republic Capital City of Santo Domingo, this section of town was the first permanent European settlement established in the New World. 

Now deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ciudad Colonial is a romantic and lively neighbourhood filled with shops, restaurants, churches and parks. A walk down the main street of Calle El Condec and you’ll be able to enjoy cafés, street side art and even dine at lantern lit plazas. 

Category: History
Neighbourhood: Santo Domingo

Hours of operation: Varies

Best for: History buffs and couples looking for a romantic look at the Dominican Republic's past and how it influences its current culture

Time to spend here: Two to three hours

#8. Best Day Trip in the Dominican Republic: Samaná Peninsula

Thing to do in the Dominican Republic

As a secluded paradise ripe with wild beaches, coconut plantations, and rainforests, the Samaná Peninsula is the best place for a day trip in the Dominican Republic. 

The Samaná Peninsula is located on the Dominican Republic’s northeastern shore and home to some of the country’s most beautiful natural landscapes. 

With so much terrain to explore and activities like body-boarding, kitesurfing, caving canyoning and horseback, the Samaná Peninsula is a destination you’ll want to spend all day getting to know.

Category: Day Trip
Neighbourhood: Samaná Peninsula

Hours of operation: All day

Best for: Beach lovers and nature enthusiasts who love exploring new terrain and enjoy a private trip through paradise

Time to spend here: The entire day or even a weekend

#9. Best Surf Spot in the Dominican Republic: La Puntilla 

Thing to do in the Dominican Republic

Located near the beach down of Puerto Plata, La Puntilla is a great surf spot for surfers with experience who want to paddle out in the Dominican Republic. 

La Puntilla is known for long powerful waves especially during the peak surf season from November to April. With the best swell coming from the north and northeast, waves can typically come in at about 5 to 7 foot waves. 

Like most unfamiliar beaches, surfers will want to beware of unexpected rocks and urchins that might get in their way. 

Category: Beach
Neighbourhood: Puerto Plata

Hours of operation: All day

Best for: Adventurous surfers who want to experience some of the best waves in the Dominican Republic.

Time to spend here: Three hours or more 

#10. Best Dive Spot in the Dominican Republic: Airport Wall 

Thing to do in the Dominican Republic

As a favourite  of local divers, and a great spot for all levels of diving certification, Airport Wall is a dive spot that features a variety of sea life and coral reefs. 

Following the coastline in front of Puerto Plata airport, the wall is covered with soft and hard corals and sea whips. You’ll be able to see large and small fish swimming throughout the reef as well. 

The descent from about 30 to 100 feet down the vertical facade is also a popular attraction for divers at this spot.

Category: Scuba Diving
Neighbourhood: Puerto Plata

Hours of operation: All Day 

Best for: Any level of certified diver looking to experience new sea life and coral reefs. 

Time to spend here: Two to three hours

#11. Best Golf Course in the Dominican Republic: La Cana Golf Club 

Thing to do in the Dominican Republic

With 14 holes that have ocean views of the Caribbean Sea, La Cana Golf Club is a spacious and luxurious golf experience. La Gana is a 27 holes golf course with three nines and has become a favourite of golfers from all over the world. 

La Cana Golf Club also has a practice facility that includes a double-sided driving range and clubhouse with an onsite bar.

Category: Golf
Neighbourhood: Punta Cana 

Hours of operation: Golf outings scheduled by reservation

Best for: Avid golfers looking for a luxurious experience with variety and beautiful views

Time to spend here: Two to three hours


Sarah Peterson
@sarah
Sarah Peterson
@sarah

Sarah Peterson is sthe co-founder and head of marketing at FLIGHTFŪD. She is a travel health expert and frequent business traveler. After having visited over 20 countries as a digital nomad, and flying every 4-6 weeks for business, she's passionate about empowering others to protect their bodies on the go.


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