Things to do in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has long been a fan-favorite holiday destination; located alongside Haiti on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean, this country is famed for its dazzling beach resorts and golf courses. However, there is far more to the Dominican Republic than first meets the eye!
We’re here to encourage you to look beyond the small corner of Punta Cana with a vacation-of-a-lifetime road trip around the country, where you can really immerse yourself in the authentic breathtaking scenery and experiences that this place has to offer! We’ve even done all the hard work for you and created the perfect two-week itinerary!
We highly suggest renting a car for ease of freedom with this road trip, although you can access each location via public transport if you prefer! Read on to realize the vacation of your dreams...
Day One: Santo Domingo
It’s your first full day in the Dominican Republic – what better place to wake up and begin your vacation than in the capital city, Santo Domingo?
After leaving your vacation rental, you’ll spend your day investigating the Zona Colonial, the most old-fashioned part of the city.
Zona Colonial is the oldest permanent European settlement in the whole of the Americas, and was deemed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990.
There are so many amazing landmarks to visit here; the Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, the statue of Christopher Columbus in the Parque Colón, the National Palace (pictured) and the ancient fortress Fortaleza Ozama.
Once you’ve taken in the sights, simply wander the pretty, pastel-hued streets, which make the perfect backdrop for a family photo.
Day Two: Santo Domingo
Today, you’ll continue to explore the capital, starting with a visit to Mercado Modelo, a bustling local market where you can shop for locally-crafted goods and souvenirs.
Perhaps you’ll take home some cigars, carnival masks, or amber jewelry! Next, you’ll stop at Mamey Libreria Café, a library-meets-coffee bar with its own art gallery! Enjoy a delicious local coffee and some fresh ceviche for lunch while you soak up the sun in their charming walled garden oasis.
If this has you itching to see some more natural beauties, spend your afternoon strolling through the tranquility of the National Botanical Garden (pictured).
Day Three: Barahona
Pick up your rental car and prepare to leave the capital!
The first leg of your journey takes you south-east down the stunning coastline to the town of Barahona.
The drive takes around three hours, but allow far more time than this, as you’ll constantly be wanting to jump out of the car and take pictures of the jaw-dropping views – Ocoa Bay is the perfect halfway stop to stretch your legs!
Check into your vacation rental in Barahona and then head to the delightful Los Patos beach for a relaxing afternoon.
Day Four: Barahona
Today’s itinerary will whisk you away from Barahona town on a fun-filled day trip to Jaragua National Park.
Spend your morning befriending some of the local wildlife, such as the endangered rhinoceros iguana, who call this park home, or take a walk alongside the largest lake in the Caribbean - Lago Enriquillo, where you can spot thick flocks of flamingos!
Afterwards, enjoy the rest of your day at Bahía de las Águilas, the most beautiful beach in the Dominican Republic, or even perhaps – according to some of the locals – the whole world! Sit back on the silky-soft white sands and unwind on this 5-mile stretch of spectacular rocky coastline, with crystal-clear water lapping at your toes.
In the evening, head back to your vacation rental in Barahona for a good night’s sleep.
Day Five: Jarabacoa
Head north to the small town of Jarabacoa, which will act as your base for the next 24 hours while you explore the hiking routes in the Cordillera Central mountain range. These trails vary in difficulty from easy to expert.
Embrace the lush nature that surrounds you as you explore this gorgeous area, and feast your eyes on Pico Duarte, the tallest mountain in the Caribbean!
If you’re a hiking fanatic eager to reach the summit you’ll have to allow an extra two days in your itinerary to climb this peak, which stands at 10,164 feet!
Otherwise, you’ll simply enjoy a day of ambling around in the hills before returning to Jarabacoa where you can grab a tasty dinner at the Barak restaurant and grill.
Day Six: Samana
The next step in your Dominican Republic adventure is the longest part of your trip yet – the four-hour drive from Jarabacoa to the charming beachside town of Samaná, which will be your home for the next four nights.
Once you’ve arrived, spend the rest of the day taking some time for yourselves by sunbathing on the local beach Playa Cayacoa.
Be sure to take some pictures on the incredible bridge here – you won’t want to forget it.
Day Seven: Samana
This morning, you’ll have the marvelous opportunity to see humpback whales in their natural habitat, as you take a whale-watching boat tour of the Samaná Peninsula! Enjoy snacks on board your boat as you catch a glimpse of these enormous creatures, all narrated by a marine mammal specialist.
Spend the afternoon strolling through the idyllic Samaná town and promenade, and perhaps pay a visit to the 18th century La Churcha.
Day Eight: Samana
Today, you’ll embark on a true adventure! Ride on horseback through the coconut and palm forests, marveling at the lush wildlife that surrounds you. Led by an expert guide, you’ll reach the radiant El Limón waterfall, where you’ll stop for photographs, lunch, and a refreshing dip.
Day Nine: Samana
It’s another beach day today! This time, you’re heading to Playa Rincon just outside of Samaná, one of the country’s most picturesque beaches; a three-mile stretch dotted with swaying palm fronds. You’ll never want to leave!
For your final night in amazing Samaná, treat yourself to a romantic dinner at El Cabito. Watch the sunset as you dig into a delicious seafood paella at this quaint clifftop restaurant.
Day Ten: Punta Cana
It’s time to wave goodbye to Samaná as the final leg of your trip commences and you travel to Punta Cana, where you’ll be spending your final 5 days!
If you’d like to stretch your legs upon arrival, then head to the small town of Bavaro just outside the resort for a spot of shopping.
If not, simply check straight into your vacation rental so you can be well-rested before tomorrow’s action-packed day.
Day Eleven: Punta Cana
Today, you’ll ride a safari truck through local coffee and cocao plantations where you’ll taste fresh produce and learn local farming methods!
Next, you’ll pass on into the heart of the jungle to the Monkeyland sanctuary, where you’ll visit the botanical gardens and get up close and personal with the residents: squirrel monkeys! This 5 hour trip is a great way to get to know the local culture and wildlife, and the kids will love these furry, friendly faces!
Day Twelve: Punta Cana
After an energetic day yesterday, you’ll be sure to enjoy a calm day at a postcard-perfect beach. Recline on a sunbed at the Playa Juanillo and soak up some rays at this bohemian slice of paradise.
The fresh seafood restaurants here are not to be missed – our firm favorite, Little John, is located right on the beach and is famed for its fish tacos, calamari, and cocktails!
Day Thirteen: Punta Cana
Day thirteen of your itinerary will be just as memorable as everything you’ve already experienced!
Today will see you sailing down the Dominican Republic’s coast aboard the Paradise, for a day-long tour of Catalina Island and its surrounding underwater haven.
You’ll savor visits to the island’s beaches and a luscious lunchtime BBQ, as well as drinks throughout the day.
The highlight of the trip? Donning your snorkeling gear (which is included in the price of the tour) and taking to the clear water to inspect a marine area known as ‘The Wall’. Your experienced PADI instructors will guide you through the colorful eco-system where you’ll spot an astounding variation of fish and coral.
Day Fourteen: Punta Cana
It’s your last full day in Punta Cana (and the Dominican Republic), so take one last chance to head to the beach for a relaxing day basking in the sunshine!
We suggest Macao Beach, a more remote and rugged beach where you can enjoy its natural beauty away from the crowds of the resorts.
Try your hand at surfing or simply sit back and absorb the vitamin D!
And so, your time in the Dominican Republic comes to an end – bid farewell to this beautiful country and prepare for your flight home.
Your two-week itinerary was the perfect balance of adventure and exploration, peace and relaxation, and showed you hidden gems that you never knew existed!
After enjoying a jam-packed itinerary that took you off the beaten track, through mountains, beneath waterfalls and onto irresistible beaches, this holiday will certainly be one to remember!
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