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What to see and do in the Dominican Republic – a guide to notable attractions and landmarks

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With such a variety in landscape, the Dominican Republic is brimming with things to see and do. Whether you decide to explore the cobbled streets of Santo Domingo, ride horseback through the Samana Mountains or jam with the locals playing Son Cubano, there is certainly plenty of opportunity to experience the real island culture.

Ivo & Almudena Tonda

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Dominican Republic

Playa Rincón

 

Framed by mountains and palm trees, the crystal clear waters and white sands of Playa Rincon, in the eastern region, have been voted as some of the best in the world. Although off the beaten track, the stunning scenery more than makes up for the somewhat precarious journey and, better still, ensures the beach is never overcrowded.

 

Whale-watching in Samaná Bay

 

During the month of February, there is one place to go for a truly special experience. Samana Bay becomes the breeding ground for hundreds of friendly giants. With your camera at the ready, join one of the boat charters into deep waters off the peninsular for a spectacular chance to see humpback whales in their natural environment.

 

Merengue dancing

 

Grab your dancing shoes and head to one of the many vibrant bars and learn this traditional dance. Provocative, fast-paced and lively, this authentic dance is innate to local culture and a familiar pastime to many islanders. Merengue nights are frequent all over the island, but a local favorite in Puerto Plata, for great atmosphere is Rancho Tipico. With live music and cheap cocktails, it tempts even the most timid to hit the tiles.

 

La Vega Carnival

 

Carnivals and fiestas are almost as common as sunshine in the Dominican Republic. Dating back to 1520, La Vega is one of the island’s oldest and most traditional. Although somewhat frightening, the elaborate and colourful masks make for a stunning spectacle, as crowds dance through the streets. La Vega is celebrated every Sunday during February; however, other towns host their own throughout the year as well.

 

Damajaqua Cascades

 

For the adventurous among you, nature has conspired to form an awesome playground. A short trip from Puerto Plato and you begin your hike into the mountains. Hidden within the lush green jungle are a series of 27 natural waterfalls and rock pools. Put your nerves to the test as you climb, jump, swim and slide your way through this remarkable landscape.

 

Ciudad Colonial

 

Nestled in the eastern quarter of Santo Domingo, this small block of historic architecture marks the first settlement in the New World. Still encased by its original surrounding walls, the cobbled streets are lined with beautiful stone-built houses and buildings dating back to 1502. Nowadays, this district is a perfect example of old meeting new. Clapboard houses sit alongside original stonework and the area has rapidly become the city’s top destination for food and drink.

 

Isla Saona

 

A short spring by speedboat from Bayahibe, and you arrive at the magnificent island oasis of Isla Saona. Populated by flourishing coconut forests and long stretches of white sand beaches this stunning island is the epitome of island paradise. Day tours will take you around the island, stopping to admire the mangroves, giving you the opportunity to get up close with the marine life and even taking you out to a ‘natural swimming pool’ in the shallows.