Colonial architecture, warm and welcoming people, and a tapestry of mountains, rainforest, and pristine beaches are all packed into this small Caribbean country. Aquamarine waters are brimming with a rainbow of marine life, lush forests are filled with cascading rivers and waterfalls, and white-sand beaches thread their way in silky ribbons along the coast. Santo Domingo, the country’s capital pulses with music, nightlife, and vibrant cultural history. Head out of the city and farms dot the countryside and seem plucked from a different era— a pleasant, slow-paced atmosphere pervades the country’s small towns and coastal villages. Isolated and idyllic national parks and reserves protect the country’s incredible biodiversity and offer phenomenal opportunities to experience wilderness as part of a luxurious beach vacation. Enjoy the regal comforts of the resorts of Punta Cana, or the quieter ambience of Las Terrenas, and know that no matter your destination, beautiful beaches and pristine waters await.
Year-round sunshine bathes the glorious 20-mile stretch of palm-fringed, white-sand coastline of Punta Cana. Warm, turquoise seas lap against sprawling beaches that are lined with spectacular all-inclusive resorts with extravagant beachside pools and gardens. The soft, sand beaches of La Costa del Coco, or the Coconut Coast, are so expansive that they rarely feel crowded in spite of their well-deserved popularity. The region’s luxury hotels along the coast have grown independent of a main town or city, which makes an all-inclusive resort the best way to enjoy this slice of paradise.
The Dominican Republic’s vibrant capital is perched on the country’s southern coast, and is the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in the Americas. The metropolitan area has nearly 3 million people, which is closing in on a third of the population, so it’s no surprise that this is the cultural and financial heart of the country. Stroll the storied, cobblestone streets of the Zona Colonial where 500 years of history are on display in the well-preserved colonial architecture and stone walls of the New World’s first cathedral. Stop into the Alcázar de Colón, Columbus’ son Diego’s palace on the charming Plaza de España, which is now one of Santo Domingo’s many quality museums. Music is a constant in the city, and when the sun goes down, bars and clubs come alive.
A paradise of lush rainforest, crystalline seas, and white-sand beaches draped with palm trees, the Samaná Peninsula is a haven for adventurous travelers. Once the area was only accessible by narrow roads in a state of constant disrepair, but now a regional airport puts this beautiful landscape within easy reach. The peninsula is laced with hidden coves and beaches, and the pristine waters of Samaná Bay are home to seasonal pods of humpback whales. The town of Las Terrenas is a quirky mix of European and Dominican culture that has all the trappings of comfort with a laid-back aura. Take a tour of the mangrove forest, beaches, and caves of Los Haitises National Park for a taste of the more wild side of the peninsula.