Thanks to its bigger-than-average size, the Dominican Republic is one of the most diverse countries in the Caribbean. Along the coast, you’ve got the full spectrum of beaches, while inland, mangrove lagoons, mountain peaks and waterfalls are just the start of the story.
Up on the north coast is the Puerto Plata region. In the town itself, you can tick off rum factories, the old quarter and the cable car up to Mount Isabel del Torres. Nearby, you’ve got Playa Dorada, with its casinos and restaurant-packed Plaza. In Costa Dorada and Bahia Maimon, meanwhile, picture-perfect beaches and barefoot beach bars set the scene.
Puerto Plata is also the gateway to the Samana peninsula. Things are pretty laid-back here, with footprint-free beaches and sleepy resorts like Cayo Levantado and Samana Town tempting visitors from all over the world.
Punta Cana and La Romana
On the eastern tip of the country is Punta Cana. The big name here is Bavaro. It’s a lively resort with a beach that looks like it’s been plucked from the pages of a glossy travel magazine. Finally, tucked away in the Dominican Republic’s southeast corner is La Romana region. Locals claim that the beaches here are the prettiest in the country. The main resort is Bayahibe – a quiet fishing village with a sprinkling of hotels.
When to visit
When thinking about the best time to visit the Dominican Republic, it’s worth bearing in mind that there are two distinct tourist high seasons; the summer months of July and August, when travellers from the northern hemisphere fill the resorts and all but the most out-of-the-way beaches, and the winter season between December and late February, when the Dominican climate is at its optimum, having cooled down a little from the summer. If you arrive during the spring or the autumn, which is just fine, as the temperature doesn’t really vary all that much from season to season.
Keep in mind also that the Dominican Republic is in the centre of the Caribbean hurricane belt, and gets hit with a major storm every decade or so. August and September is prime hurricane season, though smaller ones can occur in the months before and after.