Top 10 Dominican Republic experiences
by lonely planet author: Paul Clammer
Much more than beach resorts, the Dominican Republic is one of the Caribbean’s most geographically diverse countries, from stunning mountain scenery to desert scrublands, evocative colonial architecture, buzzing city life and languid countryside, and famously warm welcoming people. Where do you start? Try these 10 top travel experiences:
The Caribbean’s only raftable river, the Río Yaque del Norte in the central highlands of the DR is tailor-made for those looking to recharge their batteries after too much sun and sand. Short but intense series of rapids will get the adrenaline going, as will a spill in the cold roiling river; fortunately, however there are as many stretches of flat water where you can loosen your grip on the paddle and gaze at the mountain scenery in the distance.
Mountain Vistas in Constanza
The scenery found in the central highlands of the DR is a surprise to most visitors. Cloud-covered peaks whose slopes are a patchwork of well-tended agricultural plots and galloping forest growth rise from the valley floor in ways not often associated with Caribbean islands. Truly a world away from the developing coastline, a stay on the outskirts of Constanza provides a front-row seat to often spectacular sunsets – it’s also this time of day when the temperature begins to dip and the chilly air calls for sweaters and blankets.
Take a walk through history in the oldest city in the New World. With its cobblestone streets and beautifully restored mansions, it’s easy to imagine Santo Domingo’s landmark quarter as the seat of Spain’s 16th-century empire. But the past and present coexist rather gracefully here; follow in the footsteps of pirates and conquistadors one moment, while the next pop into a shop selling CDs from the latest Dominican merengue star.
This sleepy fishing village at the far eastern end of the Península de Samaná is an escape from your getaway. Fewer tourists and therefore less development means the area around Las Galeras includes some of the more scenic locales in all the DR. Swaying palm trees back beaches ready made for a movie set and waves crash over hard-to-get-to cliffs. For at least one sunset, venture out to Restaurant El Cabito, where you might glimpse migrating whales and a dolphin or two.
Relaxing at Playa Rincón
Consistently rated one of the top beaches in the Caribbean by those in the know – people who courageously brave heatstroke and sunburn in a quest for the ideal – Playa Rincón is large enough for every day-tripper to claim their own piece of real estate without nosy neighbors peeking over the seaweed and driftwood. A thick palm forest provides the backdrop and fresh seafood can be served upon request.