On top of a first-rate shoreline, holidays to the Dominican Republic serve up forest-cloaked mountains and quaint Colonial towns.
This little island is a firm holiday favourite – and for good reason. Beyond the amazing beaches, it lines up rainforest-covered mountains, lively towns, and locals with a laid-back approach that’s textbook Caribbean.
Up on the north coast you’ve got lively Puerto Plata town, with its pretty old quarter and seafront fortress. For beaches backed by emerald hills there’s Playa Dorada or Costa Dorada. And a little further up the coast there are the palm-lined beaches of Bahia Maimon.
On the eastern tip of the island is Punta Cana, where the resorts skirt a 50-kilometre ribbon of white sand. Golfers can tee off at the Punta Cana Golf Club, where the greens come with sea views. Bavaro is the liveliest resort, while sleepy Uvero Alto sits at the opposite end of the spectrum.
On the south coast, La Romana’s got long sweeps of sand, pastel-painted fishermen’s huts and a sprinkling of luxe hotels in the resort of Bayahibe.
Then you’ve got the Samana peninsula. It’s all half-empty beaches and jade green countryside here, with go-slow towns like Cayo Levantado and Las Terrenas.
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Bookended by San Juan and Bahia Maimon, the Dominican Republic’s north coast packs a lot in. The tick-list in lively Puerto Plata town, for example, covers everything from a rum factory to a seafront fortress. The pretty old quarter is worth a wander, too. But Puerto Plata’s crowning glory has to be the cable car – it climbs a giddy 800 metres to the top of Mount Isabel del Torres.
Punta Cana’s plonked on the Dominican Republic’s east coast, and there’s no denying its beaches are the stars of the show. Its sizeable squad of white-sand, pillow-soft numbers are all fringed by lofty, coconut-shaking palms. Not only are they sun-worshipper and swimmer-friendly, but they’re prime snorkelling territory, too – snap on some goggles to see the rainbow-coloured reefs. You’ve got plenty of spots to choose from, but chilled-out Uvero Alto and energetic Bavaro Beach are our faves. Both have a solid selection of All Inclusive resorts.
If you see a flag waving in La Romana, chances are it’ll be blue. Strips of lily-white sand are standard practice for this stretch of the Dominican Republic’s coastline, and eight of them have been welcomed with open arms to the Blue Flag club. Thatched parasols and beach bars keep sunbathers company, and the electric blue waters pip hotel pools to first place in the swimming rankings.
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