The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean. This country, sharing the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, attracts millions of international tourists every year, and for good reason.
While the country is famous for its stunning sandy beaches, the Dominican Republic is one of the most geographically diverse countries in the Caribbean with its mountainous terrain, desert scrublands, historic colonial architecture, delicious food, and vibrant cities.
A trip to the Dominican Republic can be a relaxing holiday, cultural experience or full of adventure activities.
In this post, my fellow traveller bloggers and I put together a list of the most beautiful places in the Dominican Republic, to help you plan your trip.
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Punta Cana is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic, attracting more than two million international visitors every year. The reason for this is simple: Punta Cana is a tropical paradise destination in the Caribbean with 30 miles (50 km) of white sandy beaches and an incredible range of hotels and all-inclusive resorts.
Punta Cana is an ideal family holiday, romantic getaway, and adventure trip. Scuba diving, snorkelling, jungle zip-lining and swimming in the Hoyo Azul cenote are some of the best things to do in Punta Cana.
The most convenient way to get to Punta Cana is by air. Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) is one of the busiest airports in the Caribbean and there are direct flights from major American and European cities. British Airways and TUI Airways both operate direct flights from London Gatwick into Punta Cana.
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Located in the southeastern part of the Dominican Republic, Saona Island is part of the National Park of the East. It is also one of the most beautiful places in the country, famous for its idyllic white-sand beaches and rich biodiversity including dolphins, turtles, birds, whales, and manatees.
The island has a population of about 1,200 people who rely mostly on fishing and tourism for their livelihood.
Saona Island is inhabited by less than 300 people that live in huts made of palms and herbs, as it is prohibited to build there.
You can visit Saona Island only with a guided tour that departs from the mainland on a daily basis and stops in several places along the way. Most tours also include a stop for lunch, so you don’t need to worry about bribing anything on a trip, aside from good reef-safe sunscreen and a great attitude. You can check the tours and prices on Viator.
Salto El Limon Waterfall
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Without any doubt, one of the most beautiful places in the Dominican Republic is Salto El Limon Waterfall, hidden in a thick lush forest not far from the near Atlantic Coast side of the country.
Salto El Limon is a breathtaking fall that drops 40 meters (130 feet) from the top of Sierra de Samana. It is located in the Samana peninsula, a short drive away from Las Terrenas. If you are staying in Punta Cana, you can still visit the fall by taking a tour.
Getting to Salto El Limon is an adventure that takes you on a 2.5 kilometres journey through a thick forest. The terrain is mostly wet and rocky and you should cross rivers and hop over muddy rocks. That is why many visitors traverse on horseback, but it is easily doable on foot if you have the right footwear.
On the way, you will see a few small falls. It will take you around 30 to 60 minutes to reach your destination, where you can cool off in the spectacular swimming hole at the bottom of the falls.
If you are going without a tour, it is better to get there early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the crowds. Most of the tours arrive there around noon.
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If you are looking for places to visit in the Dominican Republic, consider the beachside town of Cabarete!
If you love beach towns, you will love Cabarete. It has a beautiful wide beach with clear water and great sand made for relaxing on. Many bars and restaurants line the beach so you can have whatever you need. This beach is particularly known for kite surfing and this is the time to try it if you’ve ever wanted to! But either way, you’ll enjoy the beach.
Cabarete is an easy place to base yourself and it’s easy to catch guaguas here in the surrounding towns of Sosua or Puerto Plata. Waterfalls and other water sports are close by too.
Cabarete is located on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic and it’s easy to reach. From Santo Domingo, you can take one of the regular buses that get here in three and a half hours. Or you can fly into Puerto Plata which is just 20 minutes away.
The best weather is from December to April although this is also the peak time to go so you can get better deals at other times of the year. February to August is the best time for surfers and kite surfers.
Bahia De Las Aguilas
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Close to the Haitian border, in the southwest of the Dominican Republic, lies one of the most beautiful and secluded coastlines in the Caribbean.
The tropical paradise of Bahia de las Aguilas (Bay of Eagles) is located at the edge of Jaragua National Park, a remote desert-like landscape filled with cacti and iguanas - a stark difference from the palm tree-lined beaches found across the rest of the country.
Known only to locals, this hidden gem of the Dominican Republic takes around 8 hours to drive from Santo Domingo, 2 hours of which are off-road, making it a journey not for the faint-hearted.
There are no hotels or resorts, however, there are 2 glamping sites set up on the beach, or bring your own tent and be serenaded by the sound of waves.
The best way to spend your time is to hire a small boat to transport you 15 minutes along the coastline to the bay where there are even more secluded beaches, perfect for enjoying the sunset from.
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Looking for a vibrant Dominican culture city? Santo Domingo is your place. Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic and the largest city in the country. Founded in 1496, it is the oldest European settlement in the Caribbean, making it an ideal destination for thoes who are looking to explore colonial-era architecture and enjoy authentic food.
The old part of the city, which is called Zona Colonial is where you will find the main attractions including museums, the ruins of Monasterio de San Francisco and the first Cathedral in the Americas. The entire colonial district is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is easy to explore on foot.
If you love chocolate as we do, you should check out the Choco Museum, where you can sample pieces of chocolate and chocolate drinks while learning about the cacao industry in the Dominican Republic.
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If you’re looking for a beach escape in the Dominican Republic without the over-tourism and high prices of Punta Cana, consider heading to Las Terrenas. Located on the northern coast of the Samaná peninsula, this beach town is known for its beautiful natural setting, peaceful atmosphere, and countless pristine beaches.
Las Terrenas is also home to plenty of expats, remote workers, and digital nomads in the Dominican Republic, which makes it a great place to spend more time if you’re slow travelling through the country.
Here you’ll find a mix of large all-inclusive beachfront resorts and smaller boutique hotels, but if you’re looking for a unique experience outside of the city, try the Clave Verde Ecolodge with its stunning pool overlooking the jungle and mountains for a true escape.
While Las Terrenas is filled with beautiful beaches, make sure you check out the hidden gem Playa Coson. Slightly outside of town, this beach is a favourite with locals and well worth the trip. You’ll find a river winding its way through the palm trees towards the miles of sandy shore, making this destination even more picturesque. Beach shacks serve fresh catch and cold drinks all day.
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If you want to skip the isolation of an inclusive island resort, consider visiting Playa Coson in the Dominican Republic. Winter is the best time to visit if you want to escape the cold weather.
The temperatures can reach 26 degrees (80°F) in February. Playa Coson is definitely one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, located a short drive from Las Terrenas and less than a two-hour drive from Santo Domingo International Airport yet a world away from the “packaged travel” experience.
The rustic roads to the beach run past old dwellings and farmhouses. You can expect to see roosters, goats, and hogs in the backyard of rustic homes. Packs of dogs will swarm around you.
The fence at Hotel Casa Coson is adorned with street art. It is a hodgepodge of images, including a swimmer, whale, and horse. There are miles for exercise on the white sand beach whether you walk north or south. Plus don’t forget to take a selfie hanging off the old-fashion swing hanging from a palm tree. Restaurant Luis serves the best Pina Coladas on the island in a carved-out pineapple. Bottoms up!
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Las Galeras, located on the eastern end of the island along the Samaná Peninsula is a must-visit in the Dominican Republic. It offers some of the best beaches in the region with white sand, crystal clear waters, great views, and an abundance of marine life.
This unspoilt area is off of the tourist trail and away from the all-inclusive resorts and is perfect for those looking to experience authentic local culture. Its remote nature attracts those looking to get away from the crowds for a quiet and relaxed time in nature.
Highlights of a visit include Los Haitises National Park, Playa Fronton, and Cayo Levantado while the trails along the beach lead to a pristine wilderness that is great for exploring.
The year-round warm weather means that a good time is guaranteed throughout the year. However, the best time to visit is between the months of December and February. A big reason why this remote fishing village remains undiscovered is that it is not easy to get here. Even though it is possible to arrive by bus from Santo Domingo, the easiest way to get here is by renting a car in one of the major cities.
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Sitting at an altitude of 4000 feet (1200 m), the Constanza offers some of the most beautiful scenery on the island. It is a popular tourist destination amongst locals and those who want to get away from tropical temperatures in a tropical country.
Probably the most unique place in the Dominican Republic is Constanza, known for having the highest elevation and coldest temperature in the entire Caribbean. It is hard to imagine, but it can snow in this mountainous region of the island. In general, the climate in Constanza is warm, humid, and partly cloudy and the temperature can vary between 11°C and 26°C (53°F to 78°F).
Constanza is the heart of agriculture in the country and it is known for growing fruits and vegetables, and also tropical flowers. This is a great destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers. One of the main attractions here is Salto de Aguas Blancas, an 80-meter waterfall.
Here is ideal for various outdoor activities such as trekking, mountain biking, canyoning and rafting.