Thursday, April 11, 2024

Top 8 Best Things to do in Dominican Republic – Adventure Begins


Flanked by the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea, the Dominican Republic emerges as the shining star of the Greater Antilles islands luring visitors with irresistible sandy beaches, infectious rhythmic culture and balmy tropical breezes perfumed by fruity rum cocktails. 

Yet beyond postcard perfect resorts and baseball fanaticism lies a country bursting with diverse adventures spanning untrammeled national parks, evocative colonial landmarks from the first permanent European settlement in the Americas and cutting edge adventuresrun by local insiders. Follow this detailed guide for crafting deeply immersive Dominican Republic itineraries catered to you.

Transport – Navigating the Dominican Republic

Given the Dominican Republic’s relatively compact land area, domestic flights on efficient airlines like Dominicana or Air Century connecting hubs like Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Santiago and Santo Domingo take under two hours allowing easy day trip access. 

Renting vehicles proves essential for veering off major highways into the rural interior where sites like cocoa plantations, fledgling coffee cooperatives and hidden waterfalls await. Assume driving times run slower over deteriorating asphalt roads weaving through mountain ranges. 

Reputable agencies like Avis, Europcar and Jumb Rent supply newer model SUVs with adequate insurance coverage for deep potholes. Intercity guagua buses like Caribe Tours provide an affordable albeit slower public transport alternative to reach destinations like Samaná Peninsula, Constanza or Barahona by mid-day requiring early departures.

Cradled by Nature on Samaná Peninsula

1. Whale Watching Sanctuary

Each winter nearly 10,000 humpback whales make the annual pilgrimage from northern feeding grounds to protected warm waters off Samaná Peninsula for breeding and birthing calves. Local cooperatives like Whale Samaná run responsible catamaran tours placing visitors at eye level with these gentle giants demonstrating uniquely personal behaviors in the wild. Listen as male escort whales serenade potential mates through haunting melodies rising from the depths. Marvel watching protective mother whales nudge sleepy newborns to the surface for their first breaths.

2. Cayo Levantado

Those desiring luxurious private island escapism opt for reserving one of a dozen cabana suites at the exclusive Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado. This adults only resort occupying two thirds of the flawless tropical isle means enjoying tranquil beaches where palm trees outnumber people by 100:1. Here cares dissipate lounging on canopy beds inside overwater bungalows gazing down at schools of tiny electric blue fish. The all inclusive packages mean no decisions beyond choosing beach chairs closer to bars churning out passion fruit daiquiris or mangrove shaded nooks for undisturbed napping.

Colonial Era History Lessons in Zona Colonial

3. Catedral Santa María La Menor

As the first cathedral established in the New World back in 1514, visiting the vaulted interior of Catedral Santa María La Menor allows glimpsing original architectural elements from early Spanish colonization like hand carved wooden columns and intricate stone trimwork. Gaze up the gilded altarpiece main chapel dedicated to Saint Mary the Minor harboring beloved relics like a splinter from the original cross Jesus carried through crucifixion trajectories or fragments from garments worn by pious devotees. Expect goosebumps hearing choristers still practicing ethereal Gregorian chants echoing off ancient wall surfaces as seminal artifacts of Catholicism’s spread throughout the Western continents.

4. Alcázar de Colón

History buffs appreciate exploring the once lavish mansion built in 1510 for Diego Columbus, son of the famed Italian explorer who became one of the first European viceroys governing the new territory. The extensive complex now known as Alcázar de Colón sports diverting period room recreations showing aristocratic life during Spanish colonial rule plus insightful exhibits like Taíno artifacts and medieval navigational tools for history immersion. Don’t miss experiencing the building’s ornately carved interior courtyard bathed in sunlight streaming through stained glass ceilings either.

Adrenaline Adventures Thrill Seekers Crave

5. 27 Waterfalls Hike

Dominican locals love escaping crowded beach resorts driving deep into remote mountain villages like Jamao del Norte bringing visitors to their secret natural wonder, dielectric Twenty Seven Waterfalls hidden inside dense jungle terrain. After receiving basic safety equipment, the experienced guides help hikers traverse rugged trails to conquer the waterfalls one slippery boulder at a time using ropes, plunging into crystal clear pools beneath until reaching the final precipice dropping over 50 feet into a misty lagoon where cheers echo loudly for those surviving unscathed.

6. Wind Kitesurfing Cabarete

Professional kitesurfers consistently rank the northern coastline of Cabarete as offering ideal year round conditions for the fast growing extreme sport thanks to reliable winds and protected shallow beaches. Novices safely advance from beach skills like guiding specialized kite sails into mastering hydrofoil board techniques allowing experienced riders to burst from waves slicing effortlessly over glassy turquoise waters at 60 kph speeds with instructors standing ready to capture epic moments by drone cameras.

Authentic Flavors Showcase Melting Pot Influences

7. La Bandera

Dominicans take national pride in their version of the classic meal La Bandera meaning “the flag” thanks to the red beans, white rice and tomato stew mirroring colors emblazoned across their iconic national banner. Ask servers for authentic variations incorporating chunks of tender beef like carne guisada or slow roasted goat meat plus boiled green bananas called guineitos verdes replacing starchy tubers. Don’t forget ordering local rum or the ubiquitous ice cold Presidenté beer to wash everything down for complete immersion into Dominican food culture.

8. Sancocho

Trying variations of the hearty sancocho soup stew allows tasting influences from Spanish colonizers inclusions of olive oil and annatto seed plus native crop vegetables like yuca root or calabaza pumpkin. Household family recipes determine additional ingredients like juicy pulled chicken, chunks of tender beef or velvety strips of salted cod added into the simmering broth laced with cilantro before topping off your personal bowl with lime wedges, pickled red onion garnish or hot sauce to taste.

Key Planning Considerations

Peak visitor months fall between December through April bringing reliably dry sunny weather important for beach going travelers. Opt visit during late spring shoulder seasons means fewer tourists, juicy mangos ripening on trees and cooler temperatures although short rain showers happen occasional afternoons. 

Pack lightweight cottons and swimwear but toss in one sweater for adventures to mountainous interior highlands dropping into 50s Fahrenheit some evenings. Quadrupeds and scooters prove plentiful renting options for independent exploration but confirm quoted prices and insurance provisions before committing. Protect skin and hair using sun protective hats plus high SPF formulas to prevent burning – the tropical UV index registers “very high” over 300 days annually. 

Although Spanish reigns official language, English spoken commonly inside tourism centers yet venture off resorts downloading translation apps become essential. Notify banks beforehand about intended travel dates to prevent international withdrawal fees at abundant ATMs accepting major debit cards around cities otherwise expect transactions quoting USD instead of local Dominican pesos (DOP). Lastly quando in Roma applies here so embrace the casual flow Sabor Dominicano lifestyle permeating this vivacious island country.

Leona D. Hansard
Leona D. Hansard
Leona D. Hansard is not just a travel writer; she's a storyteller weaving adventures through her words. With a passport in one hand and a pen in the other, Leona explores the world, capturing the essence of each destination with vivid descriptions and immersive narratives. Her passion for travel is matched only by her love for discovering hidden gems and sharing them with fellow wanderers

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