Oh yes indeed, there are plenty of reasons to visit the Dominican Republic. Do you see yourself sipping delicious frosty cocktails on a white sand beach with palm trees swaying in the breeze? Maybe you dream of dancing the night away, sashaying to a sexy salsa, or perhaps your ideal vacation is clambering through tropical jungle to spot exotic wildlife or examine an ancient ruin. Dream no longer because they all exist as reasons to visit the Dominican Republic, along with plenty more.
1. Perfect Beaches
For many, one of the main reasons to visit the Dominican Republic is its perfect beaches. Whether you like it busy and backed by all-inclusive resorts or whether you prefer secluded cays where you can hide away and go snorkeling or diving, you’ll find it somewhere along the coastline. The beaches of the Dominican Republic are renowned for their fine sand, which is usually either white or golden, and the clear waters of the Caribbean. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for water sports too.
2. Sultry Latin Rhythms
When you pack for a trip to the Dominican Republic, be sure to find a space in your luggage for your dancing shoes. The balmy tropical weather and Latin heritage of the island combine into the perfect place to shake those hips. The rhythms of salsa and cumbia are infectious already, but what better place is there to learn the steps of the merengue than in its birthplace? There are several clubs and dance schools, especially in the capital, where you can take merengue classes and in July or August every year, the city also hosts a merengue festival.
3. Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo is the Dominican Republic’s bustling capital and a great reason to visit the Caribbean island nation. It was founded in 1496 by Bartolome Columbus, brother of the famous explorer Christopher. Fascinating museums, tranquil parks, historical architecture and the first street of European origin in the New World, clubs, cafes and casinos all combine to make this a city where it’s impossible to be bored and are just some of the very best things to do in the Dominican Republic. If you can’t be here for the merengue festival in the summer, try to visit in February, when it’s time for the colourful Carnival.
4. The Highest Point in the Carribean
The Dominican Republic is home to the Caribbean region’s highest point, the Pico Duarte. Located in the Cordillera Central, the country’s most magnificent mountain range, it’s a popular destination for hikers and climbers. The climb can take between two and four days, depending on which route you decide to take. When you reach the summit with its elevation of 3,098 m, you’ll be blessed with fantastic views over the island, not to mention a real sense of achievement.
5. The Lowest Point in the Caribbean
Another of the great reasons to visit the Dominican Republic is Lago Enriquillo, the largest lake in the Caribbean. At 45 m below sea level, it’s also the lowest point in the region. The lake lies in a rather barren landscape and because of its low elevation and the fact that it doesn’t have an outlet, its waters are saline. Take a boat trip on the crocodile-infested waters to Isla Cabritos, an island in the middle of the lake where you’ll find ancient Taíno rock art, and don’t forget to take your camera because you’ll definitely want to photograph the flocks of pink flamingos against the greenish blue backdrop of the water.
The Dominican Republic is a popular destination for eco- and adventure tourists. The great biodiversity makes for fantastic wildlife viewing and you can explore the island on horseback, Jeep tours, mountain bike or on foot. If you need some extra adrenaline pumping through your veins, try whitewater rafting on one of the wild rivers or swoop among the treetops on a zipline adventure.
7. Caribbean Food
If you love Caribbean food with a Latin flavour, you have another of the reasons to travel to the Dominican Republic. Rice and beans, meat, fish, plantains and a variety of tropical fruits are some of the typical fare you can enjoy here. The country also puts its own twist on dishes that were brought over by the many immigrants that have come to the island throughout the centuries, from Spanish paella to West African fufu, known here as mangú. Kipes are derived from the Middle Eastern kibbeh and yanikeke is Dominican-style Jonnycakes. Wash it all down with fruit juice or one of the world-famous Dominican rums.
8. Ball Games
The Dominican Republic is the place to come to if you like ball games. It’s a premier destination for golfers with some spectacular courses where you can tee off. If you’d rather watch a ball game than play one, be sure to catch a baseball game on the island. Baseball is by far the most popular sport in the country and several legendary players have been of Dominican origin.
9. A Spectacular Cable Car Ride
If you love cable cars, head to Puerto Plata on the country’s north coast, where you’ll find the only one in the Caribbean region. It takes you up Pico Isabel de Torres and offers stunning views along the way. Once you’re at the top, take in the panorama of the city and the ocean but don’t forget to turn around and look up too, or you’ll miss the replica of Rio de Janeiro’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue.
Are you convinced by the reasons to visit the Dominican Republic? Putting it on your travel wishlist?
10. The People
No matter how amazing and beautiful a country is, if the people are impolite and unfriendly, you will likely be left with a negative overall impression of your travels. The people of the Dominican Republic are some of the warmest and most genuine people I have ever met. They are full of exuberance and love. They welcome visitors with such kindness and will have you feeling like family before you leave.
11. The Hotels and Resorts
Some may snub their noses at the Dominican Republic because of the overwhelming amount of ‘all-inclusive’ resorts. However, not every ‘all-inclusive’ resort is created equal. While some are extremely large and cater to the college crowd, there are also plenty of tiny, boutique-style resorts as well. No matter what your style is (college party, kid-friendly, or private and secluded), you can find it here. The added benefit of an ‘all-inclusive’ is that you can sit back and relax and not have to worry about all of the extra costs associated with standard hotels. However, if you prefer the basic hotel set-up, there are plenty of those as well.