Get your merengue on, ‘go black hole’ on one of the world’s best beaches and whitewater raft remote inland rivers. The Dominican Republic is large enough not to be overwhelmed by tourism. You get the feeling that it is just a part of island life, rich with its own vibrant culture of dance and music. This island packs it all in, white sand beaches, clear azure waters are plentiful, but it also has desert and its own alpine ranges. It is this variety that makes the Dominican Republic such a winning travel destination. So head out of the resorts and hit the road to really discover the magic of this island. Here’s some more fun itinerary ideas for your trip to Dominican Republic.
All the big beach resorts are found at Punta Cana and Puerto Plata on the north coast but travel further down the eastern coast to get a more authentic tourist experience. The Samara Peninsula rewards the hardy adventurer in spades. Playa Rincon is somewhere all beach lovers should make a pilgrimage to before hanging up their swim suit for good.
It is a 7 hour journey from Punto Cana and 4 from Puerto Plata to the fishing village of Las Galeras and from here you can catch a boat to be dropped at the beach or hire a ride with a local (this is a 4 wheel adventure for a gripping 40 minutes). This truly pristine beach is protected by a range of mountains and ringed by palm trees. It may seem to be at the end of the world but there is a friendly little restaurant at its western end, which is where drop off boats anchor.
If you are visiting over the winter months, the Samara Peninsula also has spectacular whale watching. Humpbacks come to these waters to court, mate and give birth in the Bay of Samara. Humpbacks are the most active whale species and will put on a display breaching and diving all around you. You can join a boat from Punta Cona and Bayahibe. At Silver Bank, a marine plateau 70 miles off the northern coast there is a marine mammal sanctuary. This is a more in-depth whale experience, you get to stay a week and swim among these magnificent species.
Santo Domingo on the southern coast is the capital city with a population of 4 million. It was founded by the Spanish in 1496 and its old city or Zona Colonial dates back to this early period. In fact Christopher Columbus was one of its first tourists. But this UNESCO world heritage site is not some fusty dry exhibit. Rather it is a living suburb with locals living and working it its streets. If you want to see the Zona Colonial at play head to the Ruinas de San Francisco on a Sunday night. Locals arrive at this old ruined site ready to dance to Grupo Bonye which is a group of gigging musicians and friends performing salsa, son and merengue numbers. Grannies, children and all ages in between take to their feet.
If you travel directly inland you will come to the Cordillera Central where you can white water raft in this temperate mountain region under the Dominican Alps. The most popular river is the Rio Yaque del Norte where there are white water rafting and kayaking trips running from the main township of Jarabocoa. This is a beautiful part of the country to travel through and although some sections of the river are rough and challenging there are also long sections where you can sit back and enjoy the scenery of this diverse, exciting country.
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