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-cloaked mountains, lively towns, and locals with that 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, whose resorts skirt a 50-kilometre ribbon of white sand. Golfers can tee off at the Punta Cana Golf Club, where the greens come complete 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 emerald 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.
Made up of around 30 resorts dotted over hundreds of square miles, Punta Cana is where the A-listers like to lounge. The Clintons, Beyonce and Brad Pitt have all been papped here, and it’s easy to see why. The 50-kilometre coastline is a thick stripe of white sand fringed by giant coconut trees. Plus, beyond the beaches, you’ll find golf courses, tropical countryside and a sprinkling of colonial cities.
Tucked away in the south-east corner of the Dominican Republic, La Romana is beach central. The sandy swathes in this neck of the woods stretch along the coastline from La Romana City all the way to Bayahibe, and the locals reckon they’re the best-looking in the country. Playa La Minatas, for example, is a Photoshop-perfect stretch where jetsetters come to see and be seen. And Playa El Caleton’s pristine sands and shallow waters make it a big hit with families.