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An island guide to the Dominican Republic – utopian beaches, sunset fiestas and colonial architecture

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Cradled in the Caribbean Sea, what the Dominican Republic lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in truly stunning vistas and island culture. Since Christopher Columbus first set foot on this tropical paradise, it has become an increasingly popular tourist destination and it’s clear to see why. Head to Santiago De Los Caballeros and learn Merengue, venture east to swim with the humpbacks, or relax upon any of the stunning beaches dotted along the coastline.

Ivo & Almudena Tonda

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Dominican Republic

North Dominican Republic

 

Shielded by the Cordillera Suptentrional, the nicknamed ‘Silver Coast’ of the north is one of the most popular regions for tourists. For adrenaline-fuelled fun, head to Cabarete and experience the famous winds and waves synonymous with kite and wind-surfing. Alternatively, heading west, indulge in the calm waters of Playa Ensenada.

 

South Dominican Republic

 

Divided by the capital, Santo Domingo, the south east and west areas provide wholly different experiences. Head east and visit the Parque Nacional del Este, abundant in plant, animal and marine life - it’s a must-see for nature lovers. Santo Domingo is home to the colonial capital; visitors can spend the day wandering the cobbled streets lined with stunning architecture and colourful facades. Further west, take a drive along the magnificent coastal road from Barahona, beautifully framed by the mountains.

 

East Dominican Republic

 

With spectacular mountains, turquoise blue waters, and dramatic waterfalls it’s easy to see why the eastern region is so popular. Perhaps most notable, Bahia de Samaná, is a prime location to see the island’s party piece: up to 10,000 humpback whales descend annually upon the bay, giving visitors a once in a lifetime exhibition. Further north, venture off the beaten track in search of Salto de Limón, one of the island’s most beautiful waterfalls.

 

West Dominican Republic

 

Remaining largely untouched, the western area of the Dominican Republic offers a delicate insight into authentic island life. Best known for its eco-tourism, the Pedernales Peninsular is an ideal place for bird-watchers. Also, nearby is the Bahia des las Aguilas, this breathtaking beach, although guarded by a steep incline, is well worth the effort and regarded by many as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

 

Central Dominican Republic

 

Patchworks of lush undulating terrain make up the heartland of the island, with the Cibao Valley providing a stunning backdrop of endless exploration. For the highest view on the island, why not scale the loftiest peak, Pico Duarte. Alternatively, the thrill seekers among you may wish to head for Jarabacoa, where a range of hair-raising pursuits can be organised. Or, how about joining in with the locals for one of the world’s most authentic carnivals in La Vega.