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  • November 23, 2017
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Create Memories That Will Last A Lifetime

Dominican Republic offers a fantastic combination of environments to capture your imagination and refresh the soul. And with eight international airports, paradise has never been easier to explore. The Dominican Republic invites you to discover the breathtaking island sanctuary and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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Travel Information

Everything you need to know as you prepare for your trip to DR,

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Destination Overview

Combine beach hopping and zipline adventures in Samaná with history and culture in Santo Domingo.

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City Guides

Learn more about Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata and more!

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Things To Do

Activities

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Top Excursions

From Santo Domingo

  • Santo Domingo’s Colonial City
  • Cueva de los Tres Ojos (Three Eyes Cave)
  • Shopping, Casinos and Night Life
  • Boca Chica and Juan Dolio Beaches

From La Romana

  • Altos de Chavón
  • Saona Island
  • Cueva de las Maravillas (Wonder Cave)

From Punta Cana

  • Manati Park
  • Dolphin Island Park
  • Marinarium
  • Inland Safaris
  • Zipline
  • Caribbean Festival
  • Fun Fun Cave

From Puerto Plata

  • 27 Charcos de Damajagua (27 Falls of Damajagua)
  • Cayo Arena (Paradise Cay)
  • Ocean World Adventure Park
  • Mount Isabel de Torres & Cable Car Ride
  • Puerto Plata City Tour and Rum Factory
  • Zip Lines

From Samana

  • Humpback Whale Observation
  • El Limon Waterfall
  • Cayo Levantado Island
  • Los Haitises National Park
  • Zip Lines

From Santiago

  • Centro Leon
  • Tobacco Museum

From Jarabacoa

  • River Rafting, Horseback riding and Tubing

Golf
The Dominican Republic’s ideal tropical climate favors the golfer all year round. But don’t kid yourself. The tropical breezes have a way of kicking up at the many coast-fronting golf courses making or breaking any player’s game.

Rounds of golf are played in the scenic surroundings of Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Playa Grande, La Romana, Juan Dolio, Jarabacoa, Santiago, Bonao and Santo Domingo.

Here golfers enjoy manicured courses and can relax in a golf cart, listening to expert advice from caddies on how to play each hole as they move on to the next. There are six courses on the coasts, and 20 inland in operation, including a course on a river cliff and another in the mountains.

Of the coastal courses, Pete Dye’s “Teeth of the Dog” at Casa de Campo put the Dominican Republic on the world golfer’s map. The legends of golf-turned designers followed and have left their mark. Here you can play courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Fazio, Nick Price, Robert Trent Jones. They have sculpted bunkers and uneven terrain but let the natural contours of the land dictate the courses’ routing.

Arts

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Music
The Dominican Republic offers great diversity and a wealth of rhythm, harmony and instrumentation in its musical culture. Within the most representative genres, merengue comes in first place, followed by the bachata and the “son”, songs with a lively danceable beat.

The Merengue
Merengue is the Dominican national dance par excellence. Its origins coincide with the nation’s birth and developing identity anculture. Its influences are Spanish, African and indigenous, and its words are the narrations of daily life in the country. Merengue’sbasicmusical formation is made up of the “cuatro” a four- stringed guitar, the “guiro” a percussion instrument, and the tambourine. In 1870, the “cuatro” was replaced by the accordion, with the saxophone, the bass and the piano also appearing later.

One of the “merengue” variants from the end of the XIX century was the “Perico Ripiao” (literally “Ripped Parrot”), which originated in Santiago. It was played in a bar called Perico Ripaio by a musical band that substituted the guitar for the accordion.

Despite the merengue’s popularity and variations among the popular masses, the upper classes refused to accept it because its literary texts lacked lyrical elegance. But the essence of its rhythm reached popular festivals and the efforts of highbrow musicians ensured its later introduction into upper classes.

The wider acceptance started in 1930 with the arrival of the tyrant Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, who used merengue for his electoral campaign. At this time, merengue was circulated to areas in which it was not previously known. It was at a party for the elite of the city of Santiago when merengue managed to penetrate high society. The maestro Luis Alberti was requested to compose a merengue for the occasion. He agreed, writing and performing “Compadre Pedro Juan”(Friend Pedro Juan), which caused a furor and became the anthem of the merengues.

Merengue then began to spread around the whole country and became a launch point for the popularization of Dominican rhythms around the world. Today, it has an endless number of exponents who have spread it around the world including: Joseíto Mateo, Juan Luis Guerra, Johnny Ventura, Milly Quezada, Wilfrido Vargas, Fernando Villalona, The Rosario Brothers and Eddy Herrera.

The Bachata
Bachata originated as a string bolero and arose from popular spontaneity. Among its creators is the musician José Manuel Calderón from the 1960’s,whose greatest hits were “Salvame” (Save Me),“Luna” (Moon) and “Serpiente Humana” (Human Snake). Then the singers Rafael Encarnación and Luis Segura popularized bachata for the masses, followed later by Luis Vargas and Anthony Santos who contributed a new language. Finally, the musical group Aventura, created a very particular “bachata”, because of its fusion with other musical styles, creating a very young and modern genre.

The names of Juan Luís Guerraand Víctor Víctor should also be mentioned for the great wealth of lyrics and musical compositions they created for “bachata”.

The Son
Between 1870 and 1890 this genre appeared around the cities of Montecristi and Puerto Plata. There exists a theory that “son” is a hybrid between Hispanic and African elements, which appears to have been derived from the bolero. Its creation was attributed to the Cuban musician and composer Miguel Matamoros.

It is unquestionable that the influence of this Cuban musician crossed the borders, enveloping Dominican geography between 1930 and 1950. The Cibao region boasts various “son” groups.

Beaches

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White sand, golden sand, pebbles… Gorgeous beaches for snorkeling, surfing, kiteboarding, windsurfing and SUP fun. Walk along the surf, stretch out in the sun or veg out under the towering swaying palms with the gentle sea breezes dancing about. Enjoy beaches near the cities and beaches near jungles, isolated ones, and beaches with amenities.

What a fabulous activities menu awaits you at the various beaches. Take your pick of banana boat trips, kayaking, sailing trips, catamaran trips, two-story party boats or speed boats. Jump into a game of volleyball for a happy workout… dine with a beautiful view of a spectacular Caribbean sunset on a pirate-themed vessel…. get a close up view of marine life on a glass bottom boat. Land and water taxis make it easy to get around to all the attractions and restaurants.

Culture

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Dominican culture is as varied and colorful as the land itself. This culture was created from a legacy of races that came together in the country’s development forming the basis of the cultural and social identity of the people.

A variety of ethnic groups came together in the fascinating development of the Dominican Republic’s (DR) history forming itsunique and lively culture. European, African and to a lesser extent, indigenous Taino Indians’ influence are interwoven and expressed in the country’s art, music, gastronomy, sport, and religion all of which make up the identity of the Dominican people.

With regard to gastronomy, the country possesses a rich and multi-faceted culinary history, having been influenced by Spain, France and many other corners of the world, giving rise to Dominican food with delicious tastes and aromas.

In the early formation of the country, before much exploration and integration occurred, the main ingredients on the Dominican menu were rice, meat, beans, plantains and vegetables, as well as fish and sea food and others. These are still Dominican staples today, and give shape to the recipes that adorn the country’s tables on a daily basis.

The emblematic Dominican dish is called the “flag”, made using white rice with red beans, accompanied by a portion of meat (beef or chicken) and a salad or “tostones” (fried slices of green plantain), a dish that is served at lunch. This is followed by “moro” and “locrio” rice dishes. This list continues with tasty stews and soups, such as “sancocho” soup known as a “national dish”, also “asopao” stew, braised kid, and other dishes such as “mangú” (green plantain, boiled and mashed), casseroles, pasteles en hojas (turnovers wrapped and cooked in banana leaves), pork or chicken rinds and an endless amount of options.

From a crafts point of view, the DR has a rich artistic range, among which are those created with Taino Indian motifs. Dominican jewelry is made of amber, larimar, bone, horn and coconut husk. While clay, porcelain, wood, leather, hemp and guano also serve as the basis to create the most diverse articles and figures for personal, decorative, domestic and religious use.

Dominican cultural dances include the lively Merengue, Bachata and Son.

Baseball is the preferred sport of the Dominican Republic, not only as a game or pastime, but as a major source of national pride and identity. Almost 40 percent of players in the U.S. Major League Baseball (MLB) and minor leagues come from Latin America. The Dominican Republic produces the most MLB players outside of the U.S. including famous Dominicans such as Pedro Martínez, Alex Rodríguez, Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramírez, Sammy Sosa, Vladimir Guerrero and many more. “Ball”, as it is popularly called, arrived in the Dominican Republic during the last decade of the 19th century. Professional teams were organized at the beginning of the 20th century, and it is deemed that the best quality baseball in the Caribbean is played on this island.

In the DR, there is freedom of worship and the majority of the population are Christian, principally Catholic, followed by the Evangelists and others who belong to various beliefs.

Among Dominican festivals and holidays, there are the following national holidays:
January 1, New Year’s Day; January 6, Santos Reyes Day; January 21, Altagracia Day; January 26, birth date of father of the country- Juan Pablo Duarte; February 27, National Day of Independence; April 2, Easter Friday; May 1, International Work Day; June 3, Corpus Christi; August 16, Restoration of the Republic Day; September 24, Day of Our Lady of Mercedes; November 6, Constitution Day; December 25, Christmas Day. These are followed by numerous popular religious festivals in each region of the land, however, the most important of these in popular Dominican culture is the Carnival, a celebration recreating liberty, integration and identity, where masks, exaggeration, sarcasm, the unusual, the satirical, the grotesque and the imaginary are the basic characteristics. Carnival is celebrated in nearly all the villages of the country on Sundays during February and March.

As the first city founded in the Americas and the DR’s capital city (named the Cultural Capital of the Americas in 2010), Santo Domingo boasts a valuable collection of museums, culture, historic sites, monuments, arts and music and more. The Colonial City, located inside Santo Domingo is the first city of the America’s and features the first street, hospital, university and cathedral in the Americas, along with ancient buildings, parks and streets where Spanish conquistadors once strolled.

In Dominican museums, the displays guard the Dominican identity that is expressed in ancient objects, documents, canvases, sculptures, costumes, indigenous pictographs, and the furniture from the different centuries and religions. Among these are the Alcázar de Colon (Fortress of Colon), the Catedral Primada de América (the First Cathedral in the Americas), the Fortaleza Ozama (the Ozama Fort), the monasterio de los Padres Dominicos (the Monastery of the Dominican Fathers), the Casa del Cordón (the House of Cord), the Casa de la Moneda (the House of Coins), the Reloj de Sol (the Sun Clock), the Casa de Nicolás de Ovando (the House of Nicolás de Ovando), the Casa del Tostado (the House of Tostado), the Casa de Bastidas (the House of Bastidas), the Museo de las Casas Reales (the Museums of the Royal Houses) and the Panteón Nacional (NationalPantheon).

Other important museums or historic buildings include the Altar de la Patria (Altar to the Homeland), the Casa de Juan Pablo Duarte (the House of Juan Pablo Duarte), the Palacio Consistorial (the City Hall), el Palacio de Borgellá (the Borgellá Palace), the Parque Colón (Columbus Park), as well as religious monuments such as the Iglesia del Carmen (Church of Carmen), the Iglesia y Convento Santa Clara (St. Claire Church and Convent), the Iglesia de Las Mercedes (Las Mercedes Church), the Regina Angelorum (Regina Angelorum) and San Miguel y Santa Bárbara(St. Michael and St. Barbara).

Events

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Whale Season
Between mid-January and mid-March, 3,000 to 5,000 humpback whales migrate to the waters of the Bay of Samaná in order to mate and give birth. Whale watchers can visit the Land Whale Observatory at Punta Balandra or in the surrounding area of the Marine Mammal Sanctuary in Samana Bay.

La Vega and Santo Domingo Carnival
Thousands of townspeople and visitors alike gather in La Vega every Sunday in February to take part in the annual celebration with colorful masks, music and dancing. La Vega is the country’s cultural capital during February, where the country’s largest celebration of Carnival features spectacular “diablos cojuelos” (mischievous devils) with their oversized masks and huge horns mimicking demons or animals. The Santo Domingo carnival parade takes place on the first week of March with a big celebration in the Malecón, Santo Domingo’s Ocean Boulevard.

Punta Cana Carnival
Visitors and locals alike celebrate Punta Cana Carnival in Punta Cana Village each March. The annual parade features carnival troops from throughout the country, costumed characters and live performances. The celebration showcases more than 1,000 carnival characters from 15 of the island’s provinces. Be one of the hundreds of spectators who gather to watch and join the parade.

Merengue Festival
Santo Domingo holds one of the most popular merengue festivals in Dominican Republic every July. The Malecón, Santo Domingo’s Ocean Boulevard, becomes a musical stage to celebrate the unique passionate and thrilling music of Dominican Republic. Another popular merengue festival is celebrated in Puerto Plata in October.

Kiteboarding Competitions
Cabarete’s idyllic bay is known for hosting some of the world’s most spectacular kiteboarding events during the summer months. The bay’s excellent trade winds and warm waters draw internationally recognized competitions that attract top-ranked water and wind sport champions globally.

Baseball
In December and January, Dominican Major League Baseball greats join their local teams in Santiago, San Pedro de Macoris, La Romana, San Francisco de Macoris and Santo Domingo to close the regular season and commence league season finals. The regular season opens in the middle of October and runs through the first week of February when the winner of the Winter Professional Baseball Championship gets to represent the country in the Caribbean Series. Every year the Caribbean Series rotates among Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Venezuela.

Dominican Republic Jazz Festival
Jazz aficionados travel from around the world each fall to the annual Dominican Republic Jazz Festival held on the beaches of Cabarete and Sosua, which is held every November. The event features an impressive line-up of jazz musicians, including artists from the U.S., Cuba, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic.

Explore The Outdoors

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Excursions
By Caribbean standards, the Dominican Republic is a big island: more than 18,533 m2 (48,442km2) in size. Tourists landing at one destination will want to see the others. A range of excursions makes this possible.

Independent travelers can always explore alone and do most of the excursions on their own. But as is the case all around the world, tour companies in the Dominican Republic have packaged all the ‘what to see / what to do’ attractions to make things easy for visiting tourists.

There are all-day tours, water tours, adventure tours, horseback tours, dune buggy tours, Segway tours, SUP tours, catamaran tours, cultural tours – you name it. It is best to check at your hotel tour desk to find out which will include transportation to and from your hotel.

Water Sports
The Dominican Republic has the second-longest coastline in the Caribbean at nearly 1,000 miles. Most of its coast has calm beaches, ideal for enjoying white sands and crystal waters. Other beaches, such as Cabarete’s Kite Beach, are perfect for water sports like surfing, kite boarding, boogie boarding and windsurfing.

Of course, the country has been a time-honored destination of fishermen, and for years has hosted several international bill fishing tournaments, such as the blue marlin fishing tournament at Cabeza de Toro, the ESPN Billfish Xtreme Tournament at Punta Cana Resort & Club and the new International Billfish Shootout at Cap Cana Marina, the largest marina in the Caribbean.

Diving
Comfortable water temperatures of 75-82°F (25-29°C) allow for year-round snorkeling and scuba diving in the Dominican Republic. Visibility is generally an underwater photographer’s dream.

The ultimate experience for a privileged few will be to dive with the humpback whales in the Silver Banks area off the North Coast. But for the less adventurous there are dives to coral heads, reefs, canyons, walls, caves, natural and artificial shipwrecks, some dating back to the 16th century.

Experts recommend the dive spots in Puerto Plata, Espaillat and María Trinidad Sánchez provinces, in Samaná on the north coast, and off Boca Chica, Juan Dolio and La Romana on the south coast.

Catch the diving bug in the Dominican Republic by signing up for a scuba diving certificate at one of the many dive shops located at resorts or in beach towns. There are courses for the diver-to-be and for serious aficionados, including night and cave diving. If you are already a diver, use your advanced skills to explore the deeper wrecks and walls.

Many excursions are open to visitors who will go snorkeling and scuba diving on the same trip. These trips will often take tourists to explore paradise-like beaches that are not easily accessible by land.

Take note that all-inclusive hotels are perfect for the diver who has other non-diver responsibilities such as children, spouse or significant other who does not dive. Even if both parents dive, the children will be in a totally controlled and entertained environment while you are diving making the Dominican Republic great place for a vacation with diving.

Family

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Miles of unspoiled nature fill this island, ready for you and your family to discover, explore and experience together. An all-year-round family destination, the Dominican Republic boasts of its excellence in the all-inclusive resort category, probably the best invention for family vacations since the airplane. With money issues already resolved, everything is “free”! Included in the price are day- and night-filling activity programs, where everyone can do their own thing.

All-inclusives were invented for fun-loving adults, but children stand to gain the most. Children are free to order anything, to roam, to participate in their own activities… it couldn’t get better.

Take a baby to the beach and check out the smiley face baby will make when little chubby toes tickle the sand, magic moments to be captured on camera.

For older children and those who will always be a child-at-heart, forget Space Mountain in Disney World. For thrill-seekers, the eco and nature adventures in the Dominican Republic will show you the real thing. The waterfalls at Damajagua in Puerto Plata, Jimenoa in Jarabacoa and El Limón in Samaná are thrilling and unforgettable experiences.

Food

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Dominican food is unique and delicious. Try the popular “Mangú” (green plantains, boiled and mashed) with eggs, fried cheese or salami for breakfast; rice, red kidney beans), meat and “tostones” (mashed and fried green plantains) at midday. Also try pork rinds, “locrio de pollo” (rice with chicken, Dominican- style), shrimp stew, “mofongo” (plantain mash with fish or meat), fish with coconut, stewed crab and conch, roasted or stewed goat with boiled cassava and a “sancocho” (stew) accompanied byavocados for dinner. And of course, do not forget to try cassava bread and “queso de hoja”, a type of string cheese.

Delicious Dominican desserts include grated coconut, sweet beans, sour milk dessert, orange sweets, milk (papaya) desert and pineapple desert, and guava and cashew paste in syrup. Natural tropical fruit juices include: passion fruit, guava, pineapple, orange, strawberry, mango, mandarin and papaya juice with milk.

Do not miss out on tasting sugar cane juice from the abundant fields in the country. You should also sample Dominican coconut juice from the hundreds of coconut groves and forests in the country. Delight in Dominican coconut’s delicious pulp and refreshing milk

Dominican Republic is known for its top-notch rum production. Brugal, Bermúdez and Barceló are some of the best-known brands to come out of the country.

Mamajuana is a traditional drink of Dominican Republic – legend has it that it will cure all that ails you. Recipes vary, but ingredients typically include a combination of rum, red wine, honey, herbs and tree bark.

Monuments

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The Dominican Republic is home to many landmarks of worldwide cultural and historical significance.

The Clock Tower
The clock tower in the town square was designed by French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel of the Eiffel Tower-fame. The clock itself was built by famous French clockmaker Jean-Paul Garnier and shipped to Montecristi during the city’s glory days in the late 19th century.

Church of San Fernando
At one end of the town square you will find the historic church with striking stained glass windows and belfry surrounding an ornate mahogany altar. 18 historic houses, most in Victorian-style of the 19th and early 20th century, surround the attractive town square.

Villa Doña Emilia
One block from the town square, Villa Doña Emilia was the residence of the Rodríguez Jiménez family who imported building materials from France in the late 19th century and assembled the house at its current location. Villa Doña Emilia, currently under renovation, is just one of several Victorian-style houses still standing in downtown Montecristi.

La Churcha
A 19th century wooden church built by freed African-American slaves who immigrated to Samaná after being offered free land to farm. Samaná City.

La Inmaculada Concepción Cathedral
A large and imposing modern Roman Catholic Church dominates La Vega’s central square. The church took 15 years to build and was not completed until 1992. The architect’s intention was for the grey walls to express man’s limited capacity to reflect on divine illumination. The cathedral is one of the few in the world where Christ is portrayed as already having resurrected and not dying on the cross. The cathedral can accommodate more than a 1,000 worshippers and is one of the largest in the Dominican Republic.

Alcázar de Colón
This Gothic and Renaissance style palace was built around 1512 for Columbus’s son Diego and his wife, Maria de Toledo, niece of the King of Spain. It is the oldest vice regal residence in the Americas. The expeditions and conquest of the Americas were planned from here. Colonial City.

Palacio Consistorial
Check this place out to see the history of the city mostly through late 19th and early 20th century photographs. The Palacio Consistorial, located in a renovated 19th century neoclassic house, was once the city hall. Benito Monción and El Sol streets.

Fortaleza San Felipe
Built by the Spaniards in the 16th century to defend the north coast against English, Dutch and French pirates, San Felipe Fort is considered one of the most important colonial military structures in the Caribbean.

Santo Domingo Cathedral
500 years old and still standing in its amazing grace. Tourists love the ornate details of the first cathedral in the Americas. Well cared for and illuminated, the church has an impressive Gothic ceiling and colonial period oil paintings. Colonial City.

Museums

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The Dominican Republic (DR) has a rich and storied history that traces back over thousands of years to the times of the Taino Indians. Following the island’s discovery by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Republic had epic interaction with the Spanish, French, Haitians and Africans. Because of this blending of diverse cultures, today the DR boasts an impressive collection of historic sites and cultural relics from centuries past. The country has done a magnificent job of maintaining and preserving these artifacts as well as the historical structures in which they’re housed. Visiting the DR’s major cities, especially Santo Domingo, tourists can easily become engrossed in the historical legends that accompany some of the oldest museums and archeological sites in the New World.

The DR also has a unique collection of natural rocks and gems that can only be found on the island. Near Barahona, a turquoise-blue pectolite stone known as larimar has been cultivated from the volcanic rock that once formed the island. The country’s most popular gem, amber, is the result of tree sap that hardened millions of years ago, sometimes capturing small plants, animals and insects inside. These two geological imprints are used in jewelry, sometimes together and other times in single pieces.

The country’s museums and archeological sites intrigue adults and provide a historical lesson for children. From rare jewelry to historic relics and Taino Indian Drawings in ancient caves, each venue showcases a vastly different aspect of the island’s colorful heritage.

Historical Museums
North Coast

Amber Museum
61 Duarte Street, Playa Dorada, Puerto Plata
Phone: 809-320-2215
Hours: Open 9 a.m.–6 p.m., Monday through Saturday
This two-story Victorian museum contains a collection of the world’s most transparent amber. Well-preserved plants, insects and animals that were captured in prehistoric tree sap are on display.
Insider’s tip–The Puerto Plata Amber Museum contains the famous amber mosquito scepter seen in the box-office hit, “Jurassic Park." >

Jewish Museum
Sosua
Phone: (809) 571-1386
Hours: Open 9 a.m.–12 p.m.; 2 p.m.–5 p.m. daily
This museum is a tribute to the 700 Jewish refugees taken in by former president Rafael Trujillo in 1938 during the Nazi occupation of Germany. Exhibits showcase photos and personal memorabilia of the settlers and the dairy manufacturing facilities they developed in town.

Fort San Felipe
Puerto Plata
Phone:(809) 261-6043
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5p.m. daily
Constructed in the 16th century to ward off pirates, Fort San Felipe stands as an important remaining historical site on the North Coast of the DR.

East Coast
Altos de Chavon Regional Museum of Archaeology
La Romana
Hours: Open 9 a.m.–8 p.m. daily
Located on the Chavon River, this museum boasts a collection of more than 3,000 artifacts from the native Taino Indians who once inhabited the region.

The Punta Cana Ecological Foundation
Punta Cana on the East Coast
Phone: (809) 959-9221
Hours: Open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
With 1,500 acres of protected, biodiverse environmental regions, the Punta Cana Egological Foundation is a pillar in sustainable tourism and environmental education in the East. The property includes etymology exhibits with butterflies, moths and beetles and its own vegetable garden.

Casa Ponce de León
South of Higuey in San Rafael de Yuma
Phone: (809) 551-0118
Hours: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday
This palace and museum in San Rafael de Yuma houses artifacts from the famous Spanish Conquistador, Juan Ponce de León.

Basilica de Higuey Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia
37 miles west of Punta Cana in Higuey
Phone: (809) 554-4541
Hours: 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
Higuey’s basilica, built in 1972, contains beautiful stained glass, candle lighting altars and a statue of the DR’s patron saint, the Virgen de la Altagracia.

Museo Vivo del Tabaco
Higuey in Punta Cana
Phone: (809) 551-1128
Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
The tobacco museum in Higuey educates guests on the local methods of growing and harvesting tobacco and rolling it into cigars, which are also available for purchase outside the structure.

South Central Coast
Museo de las Casas Reales(Museum of the Royal Houses)
Calle Las Damas, Santo Domingo
Phone: (809) 682-4202
Hours: Open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily
Once the 16th century governor’s Supreme Court, this museum documents Santo Domingo’s rich history with tapestries, maps and other artifacts from 1492 to 1821.

Alcázar de Colón (Castle of Columbus)
Santo Domingo
Phone:(809) 686-8657
Hours: Open9 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday through Sunday
This palace, including artifacts from the Columbus family, was built in the 1500’s by Christopher’s son, Diego, and his wife.
Insider’s tip: Following a tour of Alcazar de Colon, venture out onto the plaza in front of the palace where you will find a large square lined with outdoor patios, shops and restaurants to enjoy delicious local fare and atmosphere.

Museo Del Hombre Dominicano (Museum of the Dominican Man)
Plaza de la Cultura, Santo Domingo
Phone: 809-686-2145
Hours: Open 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday
Set in the Plaza de la Cultura, this museum is reputed to have the country’s best collection of pre-Columbian artifacts including jewelry, religious pieces and sculptures. A favorite exhibit explains the effects of African slavery with displays of voodoo artifacts and carnival costumes.

Museo Nacional de Historia y Geografia (Museum of History and Geography)
Plaza de la Cultura, Santo Domingo
Phone: 809-686-2145
Hours: Open 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday
This museum contains a thorough collection of artifacts that contributed to the country’s historical timeline. Displays highlight the DR’s first inhabitants, American occupation and interaction with Haiti.

Museo de Larimar (Museum of Larimar)
54 Calle Isabel la Catolica, Santo Domingo
Phone: 809-689-6605
Hours: Open 8 a.m.–6 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 8 a.m.–2 p.m., Sunday
This new museum explains the island’s mining and jewelry industry. Exhibits demonstrate the extraction, shaping and jewelry-making processes of larimar.

Museo de la Familia Dominicana del Siglo XIX (Museum of the Dominican Family of the 19th Century)
Casa de Tostado, Calle Arzobispo Merino, Santo Domingo
Hours: Open 9 a.m.–4 p.m., Monday through Saturday
Built in 1503, this colonial mansion exhibits artifacts and personal belongings of a 19th century well-to-do Santo Domingo family. While its contents are intriguing, the best part of the museum is the house itself, which has the only double Gothic window in North or South America.

National Parks

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A thought-leader in ecotourism, the Dominican Republic government has long been preserving its country’s magnificent beauty for the many generations to come. The DR created the first Humpback Whale Sanctuary in 1966 on its Northeast Coast. Today, over 25 percent of the country’s unique terrain and coastal areas have been protected in the form of national parks, reserves, monuments, and marine sanctuaries, granting unimaginable access to the land and seas. These beautiful and profuse ecosystems are within a conservation plan that boasts 83 areas, among which are 19 national parks, 15 natural reserves, six scientific reserves, 32 natural monuments, two marine sanctuaries and nine areas of protected islands with panoramic views.

Some of the most impressive and diverse array of untouched landscapes in the Caribbean abound among the country’s national parks. Visitors will find a variety of protected areas including mountains with pine forests and misty clouds. They can also visit untouched white sand beaches such as the Bay of Eagles at Pedernales in the southwest. Conversely, Los Haitises National Park on the Northeast Coast features untouched mangroves, while the National Park of the East along the Caribbean Sea boasts unique hiking trails and caves with ancient Taino drawings.

Places

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Santo Domingo
Dominican Republic’s capital city, Santo Domingo, is the Caribbean’s most diverse destination and, arguably, it’s most vibrant. The city’s restaurants specialize in gourmet Dominican gastronomy and cuisine from around the world. Boutiques and major chain retailers from the U.S. and Europe have set up shops, and a wealth of museums, galleries and theaters ensure no shortage of cultural experiences.

In Santo Domingo, by the Ozama River, lies the first city of the Americas, which was established by Christopher Columbus and his brother Bartholomew in 1498. Visitors can walk cobblestone streets that conquistadors once strolled centuries ago. The Colonial City is one of the most beautiful and romantic areas in all of the Caribbean at night, with beautifully lit restaurants, museums and stone structures dating to the early 1500s.

Just forty minutes east of Santo Domingo, visitors can escape to the resort town of Boca Chica, known as the capital’s beach town. Boca Chica beach is a family favorite for their coral reef protected lagoon, shallow waters and soft powdery sand lapped by turquoise waters. The area is surrounded by a variety of seafood restaurants; charming hotels, fun shops, pristine beaches and boasts perfect weather for sailing.

Further east, Juan Dolio is a slow-paced escape from the energetic capital city for Dominicans and visitors alike. The beach town lies along the Caribbean shoreline with a quiet main street where most hotels and restaurants are located. Two of Dominican Republic’s top golf courses are also located near Juan Dolio making this a favorite getaway with just the right amount of relaxation and recreation nearby.

La Romana and Bayahibe
Two hours east of Santo Domingo along the Caribbean Sea are two of the most popular destinations in the country. La Romana and Bayahibe, two of the fastest-growing parts of the country, rest amid vast sugar cane fields that surround some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful resorts and beaches. The area features a combination of picturesque beaches, chic accommodationsand desirable attractions.

With its brilliant waters, tropical forests and excellent range of activities, La Romana provides the ideal destination for families, honeymooners, divers and golfers. Within La Romana is Casa de Campo, a leading hotel of the world and one of the most luxurious and complete resorts in the Caribbean. Here golf enthusiasts can play golf on three magnificent courses: Teeth of the Dog, Dye Fore and the Links. Additionally, the resort boasts a marina with internationally renowned boutiques and restaurants that serve haute cuisine.

Your visit to La Romana won’t be complete without a trip to Altos de Chavón, a beautiful replica of a 16th century artists’ village overlooking the Chavón River. An equally delightful activity is to visit nearby Catalina Island and Saona Island.

Nearby, the local resort area of Bayahibe was founded as a fishing village in 1874 and is now known as a favorite destination for the beach and sun. This ecotourism-rich destination is located just 25 minutes east of La Romana. Bayahibe allows visitors to enjoy a tour of the surrounding nature and learn the history of the authentic fishing village.

Punta Cana
Dominican Republic’s east coast is a top destination for sophisticated luxury, championship golf, the world’s top beaches and exciting activities. The area flaunts a growing array of firstclass accommodations, marinas, and more than a dozen designer golf courses.

The Punta Cana region features a variety of world-class hotels in several distinct districts, including (from south to north) Cap Cana, Juanillo, Punta Cana, Cabeza de Toro, Bávaro, El Cortecito, Arena Gorda, Macao and Uvero Alto. Punta Cana is a place for relaxation and serenity with sumptuous resorts and miles of powder-fine white sand beaches and coconut palms.

In addition, exciting excursions such as zip line adventures, swimming with dolphins, jeep safaris, stingray and shark encounters, nearby national parks and other great attractions make for fun-filled and memorable family vacations.

Puerto Plata
The North Coast of the Dominican Republic will satisfy travelers wanting both a relaxing beach vacation and one filled with ecotourism adventures. Mountains and sugar cane fields serve as a backdrop to sunny coastlines with the best conditions for water sports in the world.

Puerto Plata’s centrally located international airport is less than a 20-minute drive from most hotels. Cofresí and Playa Dorada are the main tourism enclaves located near Puerto Plata city. In Cofresí, Ocean World Adventure Park Marina and Casino is one of the most important attractions. Here you can interact with marine animals, including swimming with the dolphins.

Playa Dorada, 10 minutes to the east of Puerto Plata, has the largest number of hotel rooms in the north. This vacation compound includes 12 low-rise resorts built in a “U” shape that share a common gold sand beach and the Playa Dorada Golf Course, an 18-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones.

While in the area, don’t miss a visit to San Felipe Fort on Puerto Plata’s waterfront, built by the Spaniards in the 16th Century to fend off pirates. Another favorite for visitors and locals is taking a cable car to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres, which offers spectacular views of the environs and surrounding sea.

Cabarete, part of the Puerto Plata province, is a coastal village located just 25 minutes east of Gregorio Luperón International airport. The village is known as the world’s kiteboarding and wind sporting capital of the world due to its warm waters and perfect tradewinds. Cabarete is very popular among the young and adventurous for the aquatic sports offered on its beach, its famous annual jazz festival each fall and its eclectic bars, cafes, restaurants and shops. Nearby, Sosúa features excellent snorkeling and diving for those seeking an underwater thrill.

Samana Peninsula
The Samaná Peninsula on the Northeast Coast of Dominican Republic is one of the country’s most breathtakingly beautiful regions. This is the place many Dominicans choose as their vacation getaway for its secluded beaches, radiant turquoise ocean waters and lush green mountains covered with coconut palm trees, and the magnificent views of the Bay of Samaná. Three main towns located on the Samaná Peninsula are the focal point for tourism activities – Samaná, Las Terrenas and Las Galeras.

The Peninsula is a romantic destination with majestic waterfalls, the secluded Cayo Levantado island, tropical forests, the untouched mangrove reserves found in nearby Los Haitises National Park, and Dominican Republic’s Whale Sanctuary, where thousands of humpback whales return during the winter months to frolic, mate and give birth.

Santiago and the Central Region
Santiago, the second largest city and the heart of the central region, proves to be a cultured downtown area and a very active and productive city with vibrant restaurants, culture, shops and nightlife. Centro León is a world-class cultural center for the Dominican arts that includes a multimedia biodiversity show, a museum dedicated to the history of Dominican Republic, a replica of a typical local market, a dramatic showcase of Dominican art and sculpture, a reproduction of the León family’s first cigar factory and more.

Southeast of Santiago is La Vega. The city becomes one of celebration during the month of February, since it is the home of Dominican Carnival.

Those seeking more adventure can travel to Jarabacoa, a major draw in the country’s ecotourism industry. The rapids of the three rivers flowing nearby also make the area popular for outdoor activities. Similar to Jarabacoa, the Cibao Valley and Constanza are known for fresh products and flora.

Barahona
If Dominican Republic has a well-kept secret, it is the biodiverse Southwestern Region with amazing natural beaches juxtaposed to rugged ranges of mountain pine, and cloud forests leading to wetlands and cactus studded deserts.

The areas of Barahona and Pedernales are the most ecologically diverse in the country and the striking natural attractions of this region are incomparable, boasting the largest and only saltwater lake in the Caribbean, and a scenic highway with vistas along the coast.

Two of the country’s major national parks, Parque Nacional Jaragua to the southwest and Parque Nacional Sierra de Bahoruco to the north, serve as borders and make the village an excellent base camp for hikers.

Restaurants

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Experience the Dominican Republic through your taste buds. Start with the markets for stocking up on fruit so sweet you won’t believe it is real. Pineapples, papayas, melons, guavas, soursop, passion fruit, tamarind, strawberries, mangos and even dragon fruit… Taste the fruit bars and sherbets, macadamia and organic chocolate ice cream at the Helados Bon ice cream shops located all around the country.

Take note that lunch (noon to 3pm) is the big meal of the day, with many restaurants in cities and towns offering “executive lunch” or “dish of the day” deals. Dominicans are faithful to the so-called “Dominican flag:” stewed or fried meat with rice and beans and fritters. Rare is the tourist who is not hooked on chilly Presidente beer that goes so well with Dominican food. Head to the supermarkets to pick up locally produced rum, coffee and macadamia nuts to take back home.

Cooking from around the world is represented here.

Shopping

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Whether it’s for international brands, locally designed clothes, a handcrafted fishing boat, jewelry, or an unusual souvenir, shopping in the small shops on the side streets or in the mega-malls will prove equally as rewarding.

You’ll find local art next to fresh produce and Dominican sweets alongside coconut leaf hats… such a variety on the side-of-the-road vendors with their handmade rugs, carved wooden kitchen utensils and rocking chairs.

Enjoy interesting tours of some factories that sell their products such as coffee, rum, cigars, and jewelry, and pick up one of the special souvenirs at the carnivals celebrated in February. Each city entices the shopper to check out the many and varied items they offer.

Juan Dolio
On the main roads, there are small souvenir shops. For coffee, rum and cigars, head out to the Jumbo superstore in San Pedro de Macorís that is open until late in the evening. It is centrally located on Av. Luis Amiama.

La Vega
La Vega is a city with almost 400,000 inhabitants so expect all the basic conveniences to be available in the downtown area. Look for carnival souvenirs sold to the around half a million tourists who flock in from all around the country for the traditional festivities in February.

Pedernales
Capitalizing on the wind farm as an attraction, local community members have created a line of souvenirs with wind farm motifs, including wooden models of the windmills.

Boca Chica
Olé Supermarket on the north side of Las Americas Expressway is well stocked and has the best prices. In the town, Duarte and 20 de Diciembre streets are lined with small shops selling souvenirs. Compare prices before ordering goods and services from beach and street vendors and at shops, small restaurants and bars.

Bonao
Bonao is all about highway shopping. Check out the souvenir shop at Típico Bonao and buy sweets at Miguelina. The Santos de Palo also sell their outstanding art at La Gran Parada. Plaza Jacaranda is a favorite for stocking up on beer and Dominican food on the highway near the entrance to Bonao. In town, fine artwork and crafts can be purchased at both the Cándido Bidó and Tiburcio museums.

Barahona
Coffee from Polo, larimar from Paraíso, rocking chairs from La Lista, the fruit preserves and typical dolls made by the Coopdeci women’s cooperative in La Ciénaga. Barahona city market for fresh produce, including the famous Barahona plantains. Barahona caters mainly to domestic travel. The FestiCafé held in Polo in June every year is one great event for meeting the arts and crafts vendors of the region.

Punta Cana
Palma Real Village, Punta Cana Village and San Juan Shopping Center are the main shopping centers in Punta Cana, ideal for stocking up on coffee, cigars, beer and Dominican sweets. Bibijagua is the biggest arts and crafts market, right on Bávaro Beach.

Constanza
Taste the sweets prepared at Dulces de Doña Benza. These traditional sweets are made from milk, coconut, orange or papaya. She is also known for her savory and sweet “arepas”, traditional corn cakes. There are big food and supply stores in Tireo Arriba and Tireo Abajo, when coming in to the town from the Duarte Highway. Shop for fresh strawberries straight from the farm or enjoy a creamy and delicious strawberry milkshake, a regional specialty.

Jarbacoa
Well-stocked supermarkets in Jarabacoa have everything you need for cooking a good meal while staying at any of the hundreds of cabins or vacation homes in Jarabacoa. This is your chance to taste locally grown farm-to-table strawberries. Bamboo and wood furniture stores are aplenty, especially on the main roads. Art galleries sell paintings inspired by the forests and scenic views. See their art at the Escuela Amuca (Carretera de Jarabacoa), the MMVA Art Center at Calle Independencia, or the Guillermina Ylitalo Gallery of Art in Altos del Yaque.

Puerto Plata
La Sirena, the big national superstore, has a branch in Puerto Plata city. Visit the city market for arts and crafts. The Amber Museum sells jewelry and souvenirs. Downtown Puerto Plata is dotted with small shops catering to tourists. The Playa Dorada Plaza makes shopping easy for those staying in Playa Dorada hotels. Shopping in Cabarete for one-of-a-kind beachwear and water sports goods is recommended.

La Romana
The town of La Romana has many full service department stores (Jumbo, Plaza Lama, Sema, Iberia) open every day of the week. Major credit cards are widely accepted. Shop for Dominican coffee, rum and sweets at the stores, and take a look at the good prices for summer clothing.

Walk the streets of La Romana, Bayahibe and Dominicus, the three hotel areas, and you will find many small shops with arts and crafts. In Bayahibe local artisans work in wood, horn, shells and ceramics as well as embroidery and paintings. In the villages of Bayahibe and Dominicus artisans of the La Pereskia of Bayahibe Association make colored candles, jewelry and ornaments using local materials. The scale reproductions of Bayahibe’s traditional fishing boats are for sale.

Visit Altos de Chavón, check out the souvenir shop at the Archaeological Museum, learn about the mining of amber and larimar at the Amber Museum, and the lovely embroideries at Batey’s. Visit Arte Cuseco in Benerito, on the road to Bayahibe, and meet the enterprising women of the Association of Craftswomen of Villas Padre Nuestro. Take the Cigar Country Tour and learn all about cigar production from one of the largest producers in the world and then buy at factory prices. At Saona, there’s shopping at the Mano Juan village.

Samana
The best place for shopping is downtown Las Terrenas. Many locally made crafts, including jewelry, woodwork and clothing are available. Pick up a coconut leaf hat on the beach.

Santiago
The big Dominican superstore chains are all here – Jumbo, La Sirena, Plaza Lama, Nacional and Bravo, confirming Santiago’s role as the central Cibao Valley’s main commercial city. Shopping is diverse, with hundreds of stores dotting the city center (Calle del Sol and nearby streets) as well as in surrounding sections of the city (including Colinas Mall, International Mall and Bella Terra Mall). Check out souvenir shopping at the Centro León.

Santo Domingo
The Dominican Republic is at the crossroads of South and North America and has a free trade agreement with Europe. This is reflected in the diversity of shops on city streets and its many large malls, among the largest in the Caribbean and Central America. These include Bella Vista Mall and Acrópolis, Blue Mall, Galería 360, Plaza Central, Sambil in the centrally located shopping district of the city.

Local items to look for are designer clothes including guayaberas, original art, coffee, chocolate sweets, Dominican sweets, macadamia nuts, leather handbags and belts, amber and larimar jewelry, faceless dolls, beer, rum and cigars.

The largest collection of souvenirs can be found at the Mercado Modelo, walking distance from the Colonial City. On Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday arts and crafts are sold at the park on the corner of Padre Billini and Arzobispo Meriño streets in the Colonial City.

Many shops located in the malls will stay open even past 9pm, seven days a week. Here you can really shop ‘til you drop.

Sports

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As they say in the Dominican Republic, baseball is much more than a game.

In March 2013, the Dominican Republic won Major League’s World Baseball Classic with an 8-0 dominating performance. Visitors to the Dominican Republic can experience the passion and the heart that Dominicans put into the game in the annual winter season championship.

Later in the year, Dominican David Ortiz would lead the Boston Red Sox to win the World Series.

This is also the land of Baseball Hall of Famer San Francisco Giants’ Juan Marichal and of the trio of Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz that propelled the Boston Red Sox to win the legendary World Series in 2004. It is the land of Robinson Canó of the New York Yankees and José Reyes of the Toronto Blue Jays, the sluggers who made sure the Dominican Republic clinched the World Baseball Classic.

What kind of vacation would you like to take?