Wild jungles, blissful beaches, and a lively Caribbean spirit: Our Dominican Republic travel guide

Published

12 August, 2022

Edited

6 September, 2022

The Caribbean island of Hispaniola is renowned for its rich and varied landscape of rugged mountains, unspoiled coastlines, and wild desert terrains. Encompassing over two-thirds is the Dominican Republic, a breathtaking country where dazzling white sand beaches and spectacular natural attractions await around every corner.

Adventure seekers, rejoice. The Dominican Republic’s lush jungles and national parks offer bountiful opportunities to uncover the wilder heart of the country. Meanwhile, closer to the coast, you can get a real feel for the country’s lively and exuberant spirit; where bustling beach bars serve up juicy rum punches while the locals showcase their dancing skills to fast-paced merengue beats.

Beautiful beaches, as far as the eye can see

From family-friendly hotspots to secret, secluded coves, the Dominican Republic certainly has no shortage of stunning beaches.

Bahía de las Águilas

With five miles of silky sand and crystal-clear shores, the beguiling Bahía de las Águilas is easily one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire country. Stretching along the southwestern coast, this stunning beach holds even more beauty beneath its waters. Snorkel just below the surface and you’ll discover a whole new world, inhabited by vibrant corals and tropical fish.

Playa Rincón

Ranked by Condé Nast Traveller as one of the top ten most beautiful beaches, Playa Rincón’s calm waters are perfect for children to swim and splash around. Lining the shores, you’ll find a lovely little collection of laidback beachfront cafes serving up fruity cocktails and local light bites.

Playa Coson

Backed by tall palms and offering miles of golden sand to sink your feet into, Playa Coson is a secluded beach nestled along the Samaná Península. A quiet spot to sit and appreciate the beauty of the Dominican Republic with little distraction, there’s always a secluded spot to be found along this vast stretch of coastline.

Discover the delights of the Dominican

While it’s tempting to spend every waking hour on the Dominican’s stunning beaches, there’s plenty more to be discovered.

Explore the beauty of Isla Saona

Part of the breathtaking Cotubanamá National Park, the idyllic Isla Saona sits just 12 miles off the south coast. Visitors can sail a boat or take a short yet exhilarating speedboat trip over to the island’s shores, where they’ll discover spectacular coral reefs, wild mangrove forests, and wonderfully remote beaches. The island is an important conservation site for sea turtles, with over four different species nesting on the south side.

Uncover the history of Santo Domingo

If you’ve overheard locals talking about ‘La Capital’, they’re likely referring to the historic city of Santo Domingo. As one of the largest cities in the Caribbean, there’s always plenty going on. Culture vultures will want to make a beeline to the impressive Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación and the Museum of the Royal Houses, while those seeking to sample authentic Caribbean cuisine will find endless options amid the pretty paved streets of Ciudad Colonial.

Reconnect with nature at Parque Nacional Los Haitises

The wild and wonderful Parque Nacional Los Haitises spans a huge 1,600 km² along the northeastern coast of the country. Home to one of the Dominican Republic’s few remaining rainforests, this extraordinary national park was once used in the filming of Jurassic Park; spend just a few hours exploring its dense mangrove forests and hidden sea coves, and you’ll soon see why.

Our favourite destinations for food and adventure

Dining out in the Dominican

Craving the bold flavours of traditional Caribbean cuisine? We’ve handpicked our favourite dining destinations serving up authentic regional dishes, as well those with fabulous food fusions.

Nakamura

Set within the eastern town of Punta Cana, Nakamura serves up innovative sushi dishes and Nikkei cuisine in an upscale dining environment. If you’re unfamiliar with Nikkei, this unique type of cuisine uses classic Peruvian ingredients and traditional Japanese cooking techniques to create a delicious fusion of both regions. Seafood ceviche, shrimp soup, and crispy tonkatsu are just a few of the delectable dishes featured on the menu.

Naca’n

An award-winning restaurant in the heart of Santo Domingo’s Ciudad Colonial, the elegant dining room of Nacan’n is set within a historic 1914 building. Influenced by both European and African cuisine, it serves up an array of tantalising dishes, using organic ingredients and locally-sourced seafood. From fresh oysters and Chilean sea bass to USDA prime steaks, there’s something to please every palate.

Ajuala

Ajuala serves up a delightful array of dishes, with a focus on utilising the native ingredients and cooking techniques of the Caribbean. One of the best ways to sample the restaurant’s flavours is through the excellent tasting menu, carefully curated by its Head Chef, Saverio Stassi. The dining ambience is just as impressive as the food itself; inside, dine under the tropical palapa ceiling or head out into the palm-lined courtyard to soak up the last of that blissful evening sunshine.

El Meson De La Cava

Since its opening in 1967, El Meson De La Cava has become one of the most recognisable restaurants in the Dominican Republic. Set within an ancient limestone cavern, this unique eatery offers an unforgettable dining experience accompanied by a diverse menu inspired by a blend of Mediterranean, Caribbean, and European fare. A lovely spot for a date night, before heading into the lively bars of Santo Domingo.

Uncover the country’s natural beauty

Tropical temperatures call for cooling dips in the country’s most spectacular natural pools and waterfalls.

Discover the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua

A must-do if you are visiting the Dominican Republic as a group of friends or with older children, the hike through the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua is somewhat of a challenge, but well worth the effort. The trail takes you through a diverse landscape of wild rainforests, rural hillsides, and sugar cane fields, as you tick off all 27 limestone waterfalls along the way.

Make a splash in the cool waters of Hoyo Azul

Discover the turquoise waters of Hoyo Azul, a hidden cenote on the Dominican’s scenic eastern coast. You’ll need to hike through lush rainforest to reach this enchanting natural pool, but you’ll be able to reward yourself with a refreshing dip - or a 10ft dive - into the cool water below.

The onefinestay experience

At onefinestay, we know that the perfect holiday can take a good deal of planning. To make your stay as stress-free as it should be, we offer an exclusive range of services alongside our dedicated concierge support. From grocery deliveries to arranging car rentals, we’ll take care of all the small details for you. We can also prepare unique experiences, including private chefs, in-villa spa treatments, and exciting outdoor excursions. Your personal concierge will take you through all the available options when you book with us.

Dreaming of a getaway to the Dominican Republic?

If you’re already dreaming of dipping your toes into the translucent shores of Playa Rincón or sampling fresh lobster in one of Santo Domingo’s fine dining eateries, speak to one of our Travel Advisors today. We’ll pair you with the perfect villa, and share all our insider recommendations on the best destinations and experiences in the Dominican Republic.