This tropical island in the Caribbean is remarkably rich in cultural and natural attractions, offering something for everyone. Sample Creole-inspired seafood, take a boat trip to the spectacular Isla Saona, or visit the striking Catedral Primada de America in Santo Domingo. From paradise-like beaches to tropical mangroves, there are endless places to see on your holiday. Here are some of the best things to do in the Dominican Republic:
1 Go on a boat to the Isla Saona
This gorgeous tropical oasis is home to some spectacular coral reefs, mangroves, and pristine white sandy beaches that almost look too beautiful to be real. Book a guided tour and enjoy a delicious lunch on the island while you take a break from all that snorkelling.
2 Spend the day in Santo Domingo
If you’re a culture lover, one of the best Dominican Republic things to do is to spend at least a day in Santo Domingo, the capital and one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean. See the Altar de la Patria monument, a white-marble mausoleum where the remains of the country’s founding fathers are housed. Observe the city’s impressive 16th century Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, which is the Americas’ oldest cathedral and has a stunning vaulted ceiling. Or spend some time at the city’s excellent zoo, have a coffee at the picturesque Plaza de España, then go straight to the historic Alcázar de Colón palace, which is home to some intriguing medieval and Renaissance artworks.
3 Explore the caves near Bávaro
Climb below ground level for the rare opportunity to explore the largest cave systems in the whole of the Caribbean. Join a group and travel to the site surrounded by thick forestry. A great alternative to the beach and bars of Punta Cana.
4 Visit Los Haitises National Park
To get to grips with the authentic Caribbean, you need to go out into the wild and immerse yourself in this country’s tropical scenery. If you’re looking for other things to do in the Dominican Republic that involve the great outdoors, visit the Los Haitises National Park. See the thriving flora and wildlife near the country’s wild north-eastern coast.
5 Go to the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park
Hike through this spectacular park and spot the colourful parrots, pink flamingos and scaly reptiles that reside here. The Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park was inhabited long before European colonialists arrived in the Dominican Republic, and you can learn about the park’s history and ecology by booking a half-day guided tour.
6 Explore the Altos de Chavón Mediterranean village
Near the outskirts of La Romana, under an hour’s drive from Punta Cana, the Altos de Chavón is a magnificent replica of a 16th century Mediterranean village in the Dominican Republic’s tropical landscape. Wander round the Art Gallery to see the great works of Dominican and international artists, spend some time at the archaeological museum, and enjoy glorious views of the Caribbean Sea and Chavón River valley. Altos de Chavón also has an enormous Greek-style 5,000-seat amphitheatre which holds high-profile concerts, and has welcomed well-known acts ranging from Elton John and Gloria Estefan to Julio Iglesias and Andrea Bocelli. For the perfect blend of history, culture and entertainment, don’t forget to put this on your list of Dominican Republic things to do.
7 Visit Catalina Island
Just off the coast of the southeast of the Dominican Republic, about a 1.5-mile boat journey away from the mainland, Catalina Island is like something from a film. Thanks to its special coral reef and rich marine life, it’s one of the most popular snorkelling spots in the Caribbean. Better still, if you’re staying in Punta Cana, you can go an excursion directly to the island, which runs once a week. This will certainly be one of the most memorable things to do in the Dominican Republic if you love exploring the underwater world.