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7 Best Vacation Destinations In The Dominican Republic

Infinite turquoise waves, swaying palm trees, and some of the world’s finest rum are a few good reasons the Dominican Republic should be your next vacation. The Caribbean is an undeniably attractive destination for your next tropical vacation. It sees over 32 million visitors to its approximately 100 inhabited islands each year. If you are thinking of heading to the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean for your next trip, the Dominican Republic is an excellent choice with many options for places to stay. 

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Table of Contents

What are the best places to visit in the Dominican Republic?

The Dominican Republic is an enviable blend of all the best components of a perfect vacation; tropical landscapes, watersports, and the best beaches on earth. Here are the best places to vacation in the Dominican Republic:

  1. Santo Domingo
  2. Punta Cana
  3. Samana
  4. Bayahibe
  5. Puerto Plata
  6. Cabarete
  7. Bahia de Las Aguilas

The Dominican Republic is as famous for its natural beauty as it is for its incredible accommodations. The Island of Hispaniola offers everything from significant city culture to off the beaten path undeveloped adventures. We jumped in head first into each place that makes up the unique fabric of the Dominican Republic to bring you the best places to vacation, where to stay, and what to do when you get there. 

We have consulted fellow travelers, the natural history of the island, and travel experts to bring you the absolute best places to vacation in the Dominican Republic. 

The Best Place To Vacation In The Dominican Republic

What You Need To Know Before Traveling to the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic makes up the eastern half of the island of Hispaniola, with the western half of the island belonging to Haiti. It is also one of the countries that make up the Greater Antilles, a grouping of islands in the Caribbean that includes Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Cayman Islands. 

How To Get There

The primary method of arrival to the Dominican Republic is by air, with major airports in Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, and Punta Cana and smaller ones in Santiago and Samana. 


The weather in the Dominican Republic is temperate year-round at 80 F. The wet season runs from May to November, with the highest chances of experiencing daily showers being in October. 

Traveler Tips

  • Although US dollars are accepted here, you will get a better exchange rate using Dominican Pesos.
  • October is the wettest season; if you are looking for a vacation revolving around sunbathing, it might be best to avoid this time of year. 
  • If you stay in a remote area outside of a resort and need internet, bring a portable wifi device.
  • Less than 1% of the population in the Dominican Republic speaks English. It is a good idea to bring a Spanish handbook. 

1. Santo Domingo

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Located on the Southern Coast of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo is the capital city of the Dominican Republic. Santo Domingo’s history dates back to the 1500s, and it is considered the oldest Caribbean city and the oldest European settlement in the Americas. 

Santo Domingo bears its age as a badge of honor, which you can see in the way it has carefully preserved the heritage of its buildings and how its history is honored in its many museums. 

It has a metropolitan feel, with almost a third (3.3 million people) of its population residing here in the capital. 

Despite its old age, Santo Domingo has gracefully entered the modern era, emphasizing culture, performing arts, and lively shopping and nightlife options. 

Although it is certainly not a beach destination, it is close in proximity to places like Boca Chica, making it an ideal place to get the best of both the cosmopolitan and tropical tastes of the Dominican Republic. 

What It’s Known For

  • Shopping (Dominican Turquoise and Handwrapped Cigars)
  • Historical Buildings
  • Museums
  • Gastronomic Scene

What To Do

Even if you are just passing through Santo Domingo, you shouldn’t leave without first checking out La Zona Colonial, the most historic neighborhood in the city. Here you can stroll the pedestrian cobblestone street of Calle El Conde, visit the numerous museums, and shop along the ten city block stretch. 

As the “Ciudad Primada de América” (“The First City of America”), it is a historical city of “firsts” to visit. You can also visit America’s first cathedral; Catedral Primada de America; the first university; the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, the first hospital; Ruinas San Nicolas de Bari, and the first military fortress here; the Fortaleza Ozama Fortress

Where To Stay

Arguably, staying anywhere in the La Zona Colonial will involve a historical abode in the middle of one of the city’s most interesting areas. The Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando Santo Domingo is a beautiful option featuring historical decor, a Spanish-style patio with a lobby bar, and a perfect location. 

2. Punta Cana

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Punta Cana is home to one of the Caribbean’s longest stretches of beach at an astonishing 30 miles in length. This is not a quantity over quality deal either; this stretch of sand has been voted one of the top beaches in the world many times over. 

Punta Cana is the epitome of beachfront living, with numerous watersports, miniature waterparks, and plenty of fine dining along its shores. 

What It’s Known For

  • All-inclusive resorts
  • Some of the best beaches in the world
  • Cenotes (caves submerged in water)

What To Do

Punta Cana is all about beach life. If you are a surfer or want to learn, check out Playa Macao, a great place to hang ten or rent a buggy to cruise on the soft white sands. It is also one of the only beaches in this area not directly surrounded by hotels, making it feel a little more raw and secluded. 

Hoya Azul is considered one of the Dominican Republic’s best cenotes to visit. A cenote is essentially a submerged cave whose azure waters you can swim through. These beautiful natural pools are formed when the roof of an underground river collapses. These amazing geological features are a rare world wonder only found in certain parts of the world.

Where To Stay

The Paradisus Grand Cana is a five-star beach resort located on a swoon-worthy beach whose amenities are above and beyond. They include water yoga, swim-up suites, a vast water park, and a sushi bar for good measure. It is also an all-inclusive resort, so you only need to bring your swimsuit along for the day.

3. Samana

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Samana is a rugged peninsula area jutting out of the Dominican Republic’s northeastern shore. It is a paradisiacal escape complete with wild coconut farms, hidden caves, and full of pirate folklore. If we needed to hide treasure, one of the many secluded beaches would also be our first choice. 

What It’s Known For

  • Pirate folklore
  • Ecotourism
  • Secluded beaches
  • Kitesurfing

What To Do

As with many of the Dominican Republic’s best vacation spots, Samana does not underwhelm in the beach department. What sets Samana’s beaches apart is the lack of huge resorts and polished shorelines. The secluded and pristine beaches of Playa Rincon– ranked by Conde Nast as one of the best in the world- and Playa Madama are two exquisite examples of the many beaches backed by dramatic rugged mountainscape in this area. 

Samana is a fantastic place for whale watching with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to see these graceful animals in an idyllic setting. Whale watching season in this area runs from mid-December through March when up to 300 migrating whales are in the area. Whale Samana is one of the most reputable and ethical outfits taking guests out on a custom-built double-decker boat with a naturalist leading the way. 

Where To Stay

Just because it’s Samana, we recommend keeping with the eco theme and checking into The Treehouse Village in the Santa Barbara area of Samana. This unique stay offers fully equipped treehouse style villas with on theme amenities such as a 17 zipline course above the jungle, rope bridges, and even rope swings above waterfalls nearby. 

4. Bayahibe

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Bayahibe is a scenic fishing town located within a bay. It is known for its low key vibe, with long stretches of diamond white beaches, an impressive local artisan scene, and the nearby Taino cave systems. 

What It’s Known For

  • Excellent scuba diving
  • Golfing
  • Fishing

What To Do

Scuba diving in this area is known for its comfortable surroundings as there are many nearby offshore dives, and the waters are generally protected by reefs and, therefore, reasonably calm. There are more than 20 official dive sites in Bayahibe, including three shipwrecks. 

Saona Island (or “Isla Saona”)  is a small island located just off the southeastern tip of the Dominican Republic. This island is easily accessible on a day trip from Bayahibe via a speedboat (30 minutes) or catamaran (90 minutes). It is part of the Cotubanama National Park, which is home to over 500 species of plants, 300 species of birds, and unparalleled marine life. 

Where To Stay

The Be Live Collection is an all-inclusive five-star hotel stay located right on the beach in Bayahibe. It is a beautifully appointed property with eight eateries, a full-service spa, and suites with whirlpool tubs and a full living room and kitchen setups. 

5. Puerto Plata

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Puerto Plata sits as Queen of the Dominican Republic’s “Amber Coast” and is known as the birthplace of tourism in the country. It contains all the best ingredients of Dominican culture; a fantastic gastronomic scene, vast expanses of mountains, wide swaths of beaches, and a lush jungle that is home to abundant farms of cacao and coffee. 

What It’s Known For

  • Cacao and Coffee Plantations
  • Watersports
  • All-Inclusive Resorts
  • Rum Distilleries
  • Trekking

What To Do

For adventure lovers, the pinnacle of off-the-beaten-track challenges might just be at 27 Charcos of Damajagua which is a collection of 27 waterfalls and adjoining pools etched out of limestone in the Northern Corridor Mountain Range in Puerto Plata. This guided hike will take you sliding down rocks into pools and through sugar cane country. 

The absolute best way to see Puerto Plata is 2,600 feet off the ground on the Mount Isabel de Torres Cable Car. At the peak, you will see a Christ the Redeemer Statue which is one of the province’s most heralded landmarks. Going back down, you will take in a spectacular view of Puerto Plata’s mountainous landscapes and the Silver Coast. 

Ocean World Adventure Park is a popular family attraction famed for its interactive marine life experiences. It also includes a huge waterpark and a state-of-the-art Tropical Reef Aquarium. 

Where To Stay

The Senator Puerto Plata Resort is a five-star all-inclusive resort next to Amber Cove. The hotel sits on the idyllic location of Bahia Maimon Beach, where opportunities for water activities such as fishing, diving, and snorkeling are plentiful. The hotel itself has its own Caribbean Street with local shopping opportunities making this resort a great all-in-one fit for a  vacation destination. 

6. Cabarete

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When you are ready to shift your vacation style into high gear, Cabarete is awaiting. This small village is known as the aquatic and adventure sports capital of the Dominican Republic. 

This extremely walkable village is known to support the active theme of its environs with many wellness-themed restaurants and fitness activities. 

What It’s Known For

  • Windsurfing
  • Surfing
  • Horseback riding

What To Do

Cabarete is one of the best places to learn how to kitesurf in the Dominican Republic and possibly in the entire world. The aptly named Kite Beach boasts great conditions nearly year round for beginners and experts alike. Kite Club Cabarete offers everything from beginner lessons to intensive advanced certifications.

Located just 15 minutes from the heart of Cabarete, within Choco National Park is an incredible cave system called the Caves of Cabarete. Bilingual guides can take you through the tropical forests along cacao plantations to these water-filled caves that date back millions of years. 

Where To Stay

The Seahorse Ranch is a luxury oceanfront villa resort that offers premium amenities like access to a private chef and concierge. It also boasts an Equestrian Center, tennis club, and gourmet restaurant on the property, which sits over panoramic views of the Caribbean.

7. Bahía de Las Águilas

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Bahia de Las Aguilas is a protected area as part of Jaragua National Park that is located close to the Hattian Border. This coveted five-mile stretch of diamond white beach is surrounded by karst-like rock formations making for dramatic views and a secluded feeling beach. 

This area is for those looking for a secluded, peaceful relaxation filled type of vacation with most accommodations found in the Cabo Rojo area. 

What It’s Known For

  • Ecotourism 
  • Trekking
  • Glamping

What To Do

Jaragua National Park, of which Bahia de Las Aguilas sits, has extraordinary diversity in that it encompasses terrestrial, marine, and wetland ecosystems all in one area. It is one of the Dominican Republic’s most treasured natural reserves and became the first  UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2018. It is home to numerous waterfalls, short and long hikes, and opportunities to observe the pink flamingos in the Oviedo Lagoon. 

Scuba Diving in nearby Cabo Rojo is some of the territory’s best. The sea bottom in this area is renowned for having some of the best-preserved reef systems to explore underwater in all of the Caribbean. The sea life here includes sea turtles and even West Indian Manatees. 

Where To Stay

Eco Del Mar Natural Lodge is the perfect spot to feel one with the environment while not sacrificing all the amenities. Self-described as a “natural sanctuary,” its accommodations are a combination of wooden lux cabins, dome suites, and more earthy glamping tents. This accommodation also hosts many aquatic sports such as snorkeling, paddle boarding, and sport fishing.