Looking for a Caribbean island holiday in 2017? Head to the Dominican Republic to soak up the island’s culture and enjoy kicking back on the beach with a view that’ll take your breath away. And that’s just the beginning. Lying on the eastern half of dazzlingly beautiful Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic staggeringly diverse landscape offers visitors so much more than a fortnight lazing on the beach. While the beaches are stunning, with miles of coastline to bask on, the mangrove swamps, stark deserts, steaming rainforests and hot, hot savannahs are all wonderfully waiting to be explored. The island’s cities and towns are a glorious mix of ramshackle huts and cosmopolitan sprawl - offering beach lovers plenty of shopping, culture and entertainment away from the warm and welcoming sands.
Visit the offshore island of Cayo Paraiso to get a glimpse of this ‘paradise island’ treasured by locals and visitors alike. Back on the mainland, 4x4 safaris offer bone-rattling excursions across the island’s varying terrain; boat trips give you the chance to see the miles of coastline from a different angle and the superb hotel pools are the ideal place to relax after a busy morning exploring the hidden gems of the Dominican Republic.
There’s an attraction for every type of holidaymaker in the Dominican Republic. The main draw is the Caribbean beaches. Crystal clear waters, brimming with colourful sea creatures attract snorkelers, swimmers and scuba divers. Away from the pristine beaches, the Los Haitises National Park is an adventure playground for explorers. Mangrove swamps and the thick rainforest terrain is a haven for exotic birds and native wildlife. Uncover hidden cave paintings left behind by the Taino Indians or take a boat trip to navigate the waterways. In the island’s capital you can lose yourself in the metropolitan maze and stumble across Zona Colonial - an old world in the midst of the cosmopolitan buzz. A UNESCO World Heritage Site definitely worth a visit. Time your trip right to catch a baseball game in one of the island’s stadiums, go on a whale watching trip or get swept up in one of the many colour filled regional fiestas.
Wine and Dine
On a holiday to the Dominican Republic you might find yourself feasting on some familiar dishes from Spain. Once a Spanish colony, the island’s menus contain some of Spain’s most famous dishes - with a Caribbean twist. Some of the best dishes use ingredients native to the island. Foodies can try dishes and ingredients they may never have experienced before. True carnivores will want to try one of the island’s most popular recipes, the seven meat stew. Sancocho de Siete Carnes mixes plantain and vegetables with different types of meat from four animals to make a very rich, meaty stew. Some versions, just called Sancocho contain either chicken or beef and offer a lighter way to try this delicious dish. No visit to the Dominican Republic would be complete without trying the Tostones. Twice-fried plantain is served as a side dish, usually alongside the freshest seafood catches of the day. Indulgent and chock full of calories, you’ll be ordering them again and again once you try one. While the Dominican Republic is fostering its wine output and there are many to try on the island, don’t miss the chance to try a sip of Mamajuana. A mix of rum, red wine, herbs and honey, Mamajuana is said to have many health benefits - including being an aphrodisiac!
You’ll never have to worry about anyone in the family being bored on a Dominican Republic holiday. With a huge range of activities and adventures for all ages, plus plenty of beach-side fun and relaxation on offer, the island is a fun-filled family destination. Nature lovers can explore the Dominican Republic’s waters and coast, with a chance of spotting turtles and whales if you time your visit just right. Inland there’s a wealth of wildlife to discover on the mountain slopes and in the rainforests. The Laguna Oviedo is home to large iguanas, pelicans, Ibis storks and spoonbills - plus the ever popular flamingos. 4x4 island safaris take you to the remotest spots on a bumpy adventure across the island. The whole family can catch a baseball game at the Estadio Quisqueya - a must for any sports fan. Or, if you’re all done with adventures, hitting the beach is the perfect way for the whole family to relax … or think about taking up a new water-sport hobby.
Action and Adventure
As one of the larger Caribbean islands, the Dominican Republic offers adventurers a diverse range of landscapes to explore. Dive under the waves to witness the rich marine life hugging the corals in the 39kms of reef. Above the surface, the swells and currents in Cabarete have the perfect mix of waves. Beginner surfers can learn their craft in the morning in the calmer seas and when the afternoon breakers hit, the pros show everyone how it’s done. Hikers can scale the Caribbean’s highest peak - Pico Duarte. At just over 3,000 metres it’s quite the climb! The ‘Dominican Alps’ offer explorers of all ability the chance to experience the national parks, valleys and streams in this breath-taking part of the island. Abseilers can head to Hato Mayor, where Stone Age caves are waiting to be discovered. A 20 metre abseil rewards you with 7kms of caverns to roam - with plenty of treasures to find. If you’re travelling in January to April, get your ultimate adrenaline fix by swimming with humpback whales. Conscious Breath Adventures take visitors deep into the whale’s swimming grounds on week long trips. During your time with them you can slip quietly into the ocean and swim alongside these gentle giants.
Life's a Beach
A Dominican Republic holiday guarantees miles of sugar white sand and turquoise blue waters on your doorstep. For a visit to one of the loveliest, most raved-about beaches in the Caribbean, head to Playa Rincón. Lapped by a turquoise ocean and flanked by a dense palm forest, it’s a quintessential Caribbean photo opportunity. Perfect for those all-important holiday selfies and clocking up some serious sun-hours, the beach is second to none. Beaches elsewhere on the island closely match it for soft, soft sands and stunning views. With water-sports and some amazing natural encounters on the menu, it’s sometimes hard to tear yourself away from the gorgeousness of the glorious beaches.
If you thought the Dominican Republic’s buzzy and lively daytime atmosphere was top-notch, you’ll love the nightlife. As the sun sets, head to Santo Domingo for the best of the island’s evening entertainment. Malecon is the city’s after-sundown hub. Don’t get there too early though because things really heat up after 10pm. The district comes alive with lights, voices and the irresistible smell of Domican Republic dishes cooking in the impressive array of restaurants. From classy bistros serving up gastronomic feasts to food shacks dishing up the island’s best street food, and everything else besides. Expect Japanese, Basque and North African menus on offer - there’s something for everyone. Bring your party shoes and quickstep your way to Avenida Venezuela to dance til dawn in the bars and clubs locals love to visit too.
A Dominican Republic holiday has something for every type of holidaymaker, but couples are truly spoilt for choice on this paradise island in the Caribbean sun. Idyllic moments are just around every corner and come with breath-taking backdrops for those all important holiday pictures. Nothing could be more romantic than taking a picnic into the ‘Dominican Alps’, where the lush green mountains are home to wild strawberries. Foraging for the sweet mountain fruits is a tranquil way to spend a couple of hours discovering the beauty of this inland mountain range. The miles of coastline were made for lazy days sipping tropical cocktails on sun loungers, taking a swim in the warm waters or scuba diving along the colourful reef. At night the lively bars and clubs are fun-filled places to make new friends, while more secluded bistros provide candlelit intimacy for those special occasions and nights to remember. Round the day off with a moonlit beach stroll for the ultimate romantic Caribbean moment.
With various cultural retreats, a Dominican Republic holiday can see you wandering through ramshackle fishing villages or delving into a metropolitan city-scape to experience the heritage and history of the island. Santo Domingo’s metropolis is a maze of contradiction. Wealthy suburbs sit alongside shantytowns, functional city buildings nestle next to world-class museums and serene parks and Spanish architecture mingles with Caribbean to create this sprawling city on the coast. The city’s historic quarter, Zona Colonial, is the place to discover a square mile of colonial-era buildings. A constantly evolving real-life museum, and once a base for the first Spanish conquistadors, this neighbourhood is just another of Santo Domingo’s many landscapes to enjoy. For an entirely different cultural experience on the island, head to Altos de Chavon. A replica of a 16th century Italian village was built by a Hollywood set designer in the 1970s. Despite being entirely fabricated, there’s enough authenticity to make it feel like you’re truly stepping back into Italian history.