Take just one step off the plane at Punta Cana or Las Americas Airport, and you’ll immediately understand why the Dominican Republic is by far the most visited tourist destination in the entire Caribbean. This exotic island nation has well and truly earned its reputation as the ultimate tropical paradise destination. Located on the eastern side of Hispaniola Island, visitors to this idyllic land are treated to blissful beaches, fantastic weather all year round, some of the most beautiful natural views in the world and rum-soaked romantic evenings at atmospheric venues.
However, holidays to the Dominican Republic have much more on offer than cocktails and sunshine. This is the most geographically diverse island in the West Indies, and here you’ll find an abundance of rare and exotic wildlife living in the vibrant rain forests, mangroves and alpine wilderness.
The Dominican Republic is a country that displays its culturally diverse and fascinating history at every opportunity. The famously warm and welcoming locals will proudly tell you that the Fortaleza Ozama is the most iconic, historic feature in the country. This 16th century castle was built by the Spanish at Santo Domingo, overlooking the Ozama River. The oldest military construction in the Americas, over its 500 year history it has served as many things (including a prison) and has flown the flag for England, Spain, France, Haiti, America and Colombia among others. As well as being a must visit spot for lovers of history and cultural heritage, Fortaleza Ozama is also a beautiful sightseeing opportunity and an incredible example of colonial architecture.
When you’re looking for the perfect place to stay during your Dominican Republic holiday, the tourist area of Bávaro is well worth looking into. It’s easy to see why so many holiday makers from around the world have fallen in love with this dreamy destination and return time and time again. Bávaro was first developed as a town for the tourism industry workers of the neighbouring seaside towns, but over time it has become a holiday hotspot itself. Some of the most luxurious and popular hotels in the Dominican Republic are in Bávaro, and whichever one you decide to stay in, you’ll be treated to world class views of Paradise Beach.
Consistently considered one of the most breathtakingly beautiful beaches in the world, Paradise Beach consists of a 10km stretch of smooth white sand and sparkling turquoise ocean. Reward yourself with a well deserved escape in the shade of one of the swaying coconut trees on this mangrove-backed beach and you’ll never want to leave.
Not only is Paradise Beach the ideal place to sit back, relax and soak up the sights and sunshine of the Dominican Republic, it is also a great destination for adventurous holiday makers to take to the water. Here you can try your hand at an exciting range of water sports such as jet skiing, windsurfing and deep sea diving. Scuba diving is especially popular off the coast of Paradise Island, thanks to the abundance of undersea life and the colourful seabed. Go for a dive underneath the crystal clear Caribbean waters of Paradise Island and you’ll get up close and personal with fish-filled vibrant reefs and dazzling caverns. If you’d rather stay on dry land, there is an 18 hole championship golf course just a short walk away from Paradise Beach, as well as some excellent horse riding.
On the other side of the island, nestled in the lush, rolling landscape of the Cordillera Central mountain range, behind towering stalks of sugar cane, lies the 27 lagoons and waterfalls of the Salto de la Damajagua. This natural monument, which is carved into awe-inspiring cliffs of limestone, has been officially designated a protected area, and as a result their beauty has remained unchanged over thousands of years. Helpful and friendly guides help tourists to swim and climb through the rugged rockery and glittering pools; once you’ve made it up to the top, the only way down is to take the 8m plunge into the waters below. To get through all 27 waterfalls you will need at least four hours, and it is advisable to start the trek as early as possible to avoid the crowds, and to see the waterfalls at their most spectacular.