There is no shortage of amazing things to see and do in the Caribbean, from luxury rentals to adventure tourism. If you’re lucky enough to be heading to the Dominican Republic, chances are good that you’re interested in discovering some of those things to experience. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best things to do in the Dominican Republic to help ensure that your vacation experience is as amazing as possible.
Head to the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo
No list of things to do in the Dominican Republic is complete without mentioning the Zona Colonia. Santo Domingo is one of the most popular places in the Dominican Republic for international travelers, and it’s also home to 2 million people. The city has stood for over 500 years, and most of that history and culture is centered in the city’s historic downtown, or Zona Colonial, area. This sector abuts the river, and features historic architecture, cobblestone streets, regal palaces, and more. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take time to stroll the streets, shop with the vendors, peek into the First Cathedral of America, and explore the ancient fort while you’re here.
Soak Up the Sun at Punta Cana
Another of the most popular things to do in the Dominican Republic is to visit Punta Cana, which is one of the most stunning areas on the entire island. Swaying palm trees, white sands, and crystalline waters await you here. Note that Punta Cana is more than just the beach, though. This area also includes golf courses, luxurious resorts, diving and other sea-based activities, and tons more. There are lots of things to do in DR here, so take your time and plan appropriately.
Head to Altos de Chavon
If you’re interested in things to see in the Dominican Republic, then heading to the Med in Altos de Chavon is an excellent idea. It’s located just outside of La Romana, and you’ll find it offering a commanding view of the river below. It’s a small town with some of the most interesting architecture you’ll ever encounter, from the Roman-themed amphitheater to the cobbled plazas, and the stunning St Stanislaus Church. While you’re exploring the city, also make time to check out the vendor stalls, particularly the arts and crafts ones.
Get Back to Nature
One of the most popular things to do in the Dominican Republic, particularly if you’re a nature lover, is to visit Los Haitises. It’s a national park located right on Samana Bay, and you’ll find mountains and valleys, mangroves and cliffs, beaches, and much more on offer here. Dominican Republic activities available in the park include hiking, viewing wildlife, spelunking in the Taino caves, viewing petroglyphs, and a great deal more.
Visit Playa Rincon
When it comes to things to do in the Dominican Republic, if you’re longing to experience the true beauty of the Caribbean, then you owe it to yourself to visit Playa Rincon. While it’s often billed as a single beach, there are actually three distinct destinations here. You can explore the coastal lagoon for some swimming and solitude. There are also beachside taverns for a quick drink, and plenty of sun loungers to enjoy while you’re there. Another area is wilder and more rugged, featuring mangroves and jungle foliage almost right up to the water. Finally, there’s the central beach area you can explore through swimming, sunbathing, and more.
Ditch the Ocean for the Lake
One of the best things about the Dominican Republic has nothing to do with the ocean or the beach. It’s inland – the largest lake in the Caribbean. You won’t find mangroves here, but you will find flamingoes and crocodiles. It’s not as frequently visited as other destinations on the island, either, thanks to its distance from the more urban centers. However, if you want to get a break from the crowds and enjoy access to some of the island’s most iconic wildlife, this is it. You’ll also find plenty of quaint little towns around the lake, giving you additional options for things to do in the Dominican Republic.
Still wondering about what to do in the Dominican Republic during your vacation? What could be better than spotting some of the creatures of the deep? The Samana Peninsula is the place to be for whale watching, although you can also hire a boat to get up close and personal with these sea-going behemoths. Humpback whales are the star of the show here, and they arrive during winter each year, with the migration peaking during January and early February. The sight is so inspiring that many people visit the area just for this spectacle. It’s definitely well worth the time.
Tired of the hustle and bustle? If so, then one of the best things to do in the Dominican Republic is to get into the natural world. You can do that by simply hiring a boat and charting your course for Isla Saona, which lies entirely within a national park. The island is minimally built up, meaning that you get a great look at what the Caribbean was like before the arrival of humans – unspoiled beauty! Unlike other Dominican Republic tourist places, you’ll find no lines to wait in, and no cars or scooters. There are no resorts and no sun loungers, either. Just swaying palms, deep jungle, and incredibly blue waters.
Get Higher Up
When it comes to things to do and see in the Dominican Republic, the highlands of Constanza rank very highly (pun intended). Located away from the beach and the crowded resorts, you’ll find a quilt-like patchwork of farms nestled within stunning mountain valleys. You can explore strawberry farms and apple orchards, go biking, head into the hills for a hike, or just find a hammock and while away the day in the shade.
Go Chasing Waterfalls
The 27 Waterfalls, or Damajaqua Cascades, are a series of stunning waterfalls that course through the hills. For anyone visiting the Dominican Republic, things to do should certainly include exploring these waterfalls and the surrounding jungle.
Surf’s Up, Dude!
Surfing is certainly one of the top things to do in the Dominican Republic. You can get your fill at Cabarete, whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been riding waves for years. Hang loose and catch some of the best swells in the Caribbean just outside of Puerto Plata.
Go to Church
Whether you’re a believer or not, one of the most famous things in the Dominican Republic to explore is the Basilica of Our Lady in Higuey. Combining unique architecture and design with a tropical location, this is a must-see for any visitor to the island.
Dining, Dancing, and Nightlife
When it comes to things to do in the Dominican Republic and Punta Cana, you’ll find that dining, dancing, and nightlife are high up on the list. There are thousands of restaurants, cafes, and little eateries to explore, as well as dance clubs, and even massive arena-sized venues that feature EDM and other music.
These are just a few of the fun things to do in the Dominican Republic. It’s an incredible destination with something to offer everyone, whether you love diving, want to explore ancient history, or prefer to get up close and personal with the wildlife. Of course, the Caribbean is replete with other options to explore, from St Barts villas to Turks and Caicos villas, ensuring that everyone can find their perfect tropical getaway.