By Chloe Govan | May 2019 | 3 minute read
With some of the most diverse landscapes in the Caribbean: waterfalls, mountains, mangrove lagoons, fishing villages and colonial towns, the Dominican Republic has lots to offer beyond its glorious beaches and all-inclusive resorts.
“Santo Domingo has buildings that date to the 1500s – that’s older than Havana – but for a beach holiday combined with city life, visit Puerto Plata, which has the largest collection of preserved 19th century Victorian-style buildings, street art, beaches, kite-surfing, a cable car and more.”
SABRINA CAMBIASO, DIRECTOR, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TOURIST BOARD
Despite its growing mainstream popularity, it is definitely a place for those seeking to go beyond the beaches. For whilst, say, regional rivals Saint Lucia and The Bahamas will likely always appeal primarily to honeymooners, DR is ideal for those tourists who don’t neatly fit into any ‘niche interest’ category.
As Sonja Rogers, Marketing Executive for the Dominican Republic Tourist Board points out, the island is well geared to cater for “families, adventure seekers, independent travellers and nature lovers”.
Plus, thanks to the launch of the new two-million-dollar spa at the five-star Eden Roc Cap Cana Resort, the Dominican Republic is also building a reputation for health and wellness holidays.
The opportunities for adventure are huge, from treetop yoga classes and beachfront horse-riding to ziplining, parasailing and quad-biking.
And for wildlife devotees, Carrier Product Manager Jenny Basham recommends Samana, “where you can see the migration of 4,000 humpback whales, or mating season.” For other quirky adventures, she suggests “taking a helicopter trip to the cigar factories, rum distilleries and chocolate factories”.
Twin-centre breaks are also rising in popularity, with Miami, for example, just a two-hour flight away.
Montana Redonda: This mountain hotspot offers panoramic views of the landscape below via an adrenalin-pumping swing at its summit. A new highway has opened up tourism opportunities in the rural Miches - often described as “the most photogenic town you’ve never heard of”. Package day tours include a session on the swing, buggy rides in the countryside and horseback riding on a virgin beach.
Off-Road Quad Biking: A typical tour will begin at Punta Cana, before venturing off-road through tropical rainforest, passing sugar and banana plantations. Cyclists often stop at an organic farm for tastings of local chocolate, coffee and rum, and visit the Taino Ecological Park to discover the heritage of the indigenous islanders of Christopher Columbus’s era. They can also take a dip in a cave, before ending at Macao Beach, one of the most picturesque in the country.
Wine Tourism: Growing grapes in this hot, humid climate is challenging, but Ocoa Bay has successfully created the region’s first major winery. Known as the ‘Napa Valley of the Caribbean’’ it boasts 27 acres of organic grapes, totally free from pesticides. Guests can tour the vineyards, eat in its restaurant and visit the tasting room and clubhouse.
For those interested in sustainable tourism that gives something significant back to the community, it also grows lemon verbena, which helps locals become self-sufficient by making and selling soap.
Spa Pampering: The luxury spa at Eden Roc Cap Cana opened in April with two treatment rooms, a gym with personal trainer, a yoga area and a bar offering tropical juices and smoothies. One treatment pumps oxygen molecules directly into the epidermis to re-energise over-wrought city dwellers’ skin.
The new Club Med hotel, Miches, is set to open before the end of 2019 with four theme villages: ‘Archipelago’ for honeymooners, ‘Caribbean Paradise’ for young couples or single-sex groups who love nightlife, ‘Emerald Jungle’, an adults-only escape, and ‘Explorer Cove’, with a huge range of kids’ club activities, for families. The resort, which is already taking bookings, will be on Playa Esmeralda, on the north-east coast.
Where to book it
Carrier has a seven-night stay in a luxury Poolside Suite at the Eden Roc Cap Cana hotel from £2,935pp including return flights, private transfers, selected meals and a spa massage treatment.
Barrhead Travel offers seven nights all-inclusive at Playa Bachata resort, close to Ocean World Park for swimming with dolphins, starts at £997pp.