The Dominican Republic is one of the Caribbean's most geographically diverse countries, with stunning mountain scenery, desert scrublands, evocative colonial architecture and beaches offering all manner of escape for every type of traveller. Exploring is a must, to do justice to this deservedly popular destination - and thanks to recent investment in infrastructure, it is more than possible to travel between destinations in one well-planned itinerary. Where to start? Allow us...
Seemingly endless coconut-palm-scattered beaches flank exotic rainforests on this lush island paradise; with planeloads of tourists making a beeline for the picture-perfect stretches of white sand around Baváro and Punta Cana and the long ocean corridor stretching from Monte Cristi to Rio San Juan. That said, the Dom Rep is far more than a fly and flop beach destination. The north coast and the area surrounding the Peninsula de Samaná is considered something of a mecca of water sports in the Dominican Republic, with wakeboarding, kitesurfing, canoeing and everything in between on offer. Surfing, snorkeling and scuba diving options are plentiful, active travelers will find it all here, as well as a community of experienced pros to show beginners how it’s done.
The heart of the Spanish empire’s original seat in the New World is chockablock with museums, sights and courtly looking plazas surrounded by exquisitely restored 16th-century buildings. Ordinary life contrasts its colonial-era backdrop at every turn - contemporary hotels sit on ancient cobblestone streets lined with wrought iron and bursts of bougainvillea.
Much of the country’s reputation as an indulgent holiday destination emanates from the resplendent Punta Cana region. Most of the stereotypes are true, and there's something very intoxicating about having every indulgence, food, drink, pools and beachfront, close at hand - and charming personnel on hand to reach anything you can't.
The contrasts between the colonial and the cosmopolitan continue into the country's culinary offerings. Contemporary restaurants serving exotic cuisine compete with street vendors specialising in traditional Dominican fare; and the plato del día often means feasting on locally caught seafood with a haute cuisine twist alfresco on the balcony of an ancient building.
The Dominican Republic is a golfer's dream, with no less than 26 meticulously manicured courses set against stunning scenery and shoreline. Play courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Fazio and Robert Trent Jones in a year-round tropical climate that beckons golfers during every season.
Wild swimming around waterfalls and in cenotes, snorkelling stunning reefs, hiking or horse riding through verdant hillside are just some of the ways to enjoy the Dominican Republic's natural landscape. For those looking to get the adrenaline pumping, the varied topography on offer across the Dom Rep lends itself as an ideal setting for a range of extreme sports. Be it kiteboarding, paragliding, ballooning, rafting, surfing or mountain biking, action sport aficionados have every opportunity on offer to get their fix. Traverse the stunning mountain scenery on two wheels, surf the biggest barrels you dare 350 days of the year, and view the dramatic natural skyline from above with the aid of a parachute.