Rio San Juan sits in the centre of the Dominican Republic’s north coast, an area famous for head-turning beaches, top-notch watersports and marine life that would put a smile on David Attenborough’s face. The resort gets you a traditional town with just a few hotels, so things move at a relaxed pace – just like the mangrove lagoon at the heart of this place.
Rio San Juan doesn’t have a beach in town, but just a kilometre away you’ve got escape-from-it-all Playa Caleton. The waters here are calm and shallow, though the secluded spot doesn’t allow cafés and bars, so you might want to bring a picnic. Meanwhile, if you want a watersports fix, a 45-minute drive gets you to Cabarete for windsurfing, wakeboarding and kitesurfing.
Gri Gri Lagoon
Rio San Juan’s centrepiece is the Gri Gri Lagoon, which leads out of the resort to the Atlantic Ocean. Here, it’s all clear, snorkel-friendly water, mangrove trees and hidden caves. You can get round the place on a boat excursion, which gives you plenty of time for a picnic stop-off.
Day trips to Puerto Plata
About 50 minutes’ drive gets you to Puerto Plata, the island’s capital. There’s a 16th-century fortress and a Museum of Amber to root round, then after lunch in the colonial-style old town you could take the cable car up Mount Isabel. It’s 800 metres high, and comes with first-rate views and a botanical garden.