A myriad of watersports, championship golf courses, great spas and luxury resorts mean a holiday here is about as relaxing and undemanding as you can get. Famed for baseball, beaches and a rich heritage of African, Spanish and Taíno Indian culture, the Dominican Republic is vibrant, exquisite and sublimely unhurried, and with 1,000 miles of stunning coastline this is a beach devotee’s paradise.
The island is known for its breathtaking beaches and glorious scenery, so if you aren’t a Christopher Columbus-type explorerthis is an idyllic place to simply stay put. If you do have a bit more get up and go, the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park in Punta Cana is well worth a visit, as is a boat trip into the wilderness of Los Haitises National Park near Samana. The world is your oyster in the Caribbean Sea with everything from deep sea fishing and kitesurfing to scuba diving and snorkelling, with schools of multi-coloured fish greeting you as you swim amongst the transparent waters.
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If you’re looking for a break from the beach then head to the historical Spanish colonial capital city of Santo Domingo for a combination of cobbled streets, Baroque architecture and the bewitching Catedral Primada de América, where Christopher Columbus’s son Diego put down the first stone in 1514. After all the walking, sightseeing and shopping, it must be time to eat! Try the aromatic flavours of fusion street food, or the Mesón de la Cava for fresh seafood in a unique cave setting.
Back in Punta Cana, the cuisine is a delicious blend of Latin American, Taíno Indian and European. Even if you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, it’s worth venturing out and exploring some of the excellent local restaurants; the award-winning Bamboo and the superb La Yola, both located on the Puntacana Resort & Club estate, are just a couple of our favourites.
Discover the Dominican Republic...
You’ll find variations of the outback safari being offered on most Caribbean islands, but this is one of our favourites, not only because you get to see so much of this beautiful country, but also because so much is included on this day out. You’ll be welcomed into a traditional Dominican home, pass by lots of local schools and villages, see coffee and chocolate plantations, watch cigars being expertly rolled and even have a chance to try boogie boarding on a secluded beach.
Whale watching in Samana
Considered one of the top ten destinations in the world to observe humpback whales in their natural environment, Samana bay offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness the impressive courtship displays of these magnificent creatures. The whale watching season runs from January - March and sightings are virtually guaranteed during these months.
Brimming with history and bursting with old colonial charm, a visit to Santo Domingo, the nation’s capital, will enhance any holiday to the Dominican Republic. Santo Domingo is a city of ‘firsts’ - founded in 1496, it was the first European settlement in the Americas, the first seat of Spanish colonial rule and established the first university in the New World. As well as all the historical sites, you’ll enjoy the fashionable shopping, great nightlife and superb dining.
Sail to Saona Island
This island off the south coast of La Romana is a true paradise. There are lots of catamaran trips available, but if you want something more relaxing and personal, take a private boat and avoid the crowds. This really is a chilled out day, where you’ll enjoy plenty of cocktails and a delicious barbecue.
Hit the fairway
You’ll be amazed at how many golfing options there are in and around Punta Cana. Play on picturesque, championship courses designed by legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Nick Faldo and P.B. Dye. You can try a different course every day of the week here, and you’ll find that each one is immaculately maintained and an absolute joy to play.
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Flights to Punta Cana are with British Airways; flying time is approximately 9 hrs. Flights to Santo Domingo are with Air France/KLM via Paris; total flying time is approximately 12 hrs 45 minutes.
British Airways Non-stop departures from Gatwick to Punta Cana 3 times a week in high season and twice a week in low season.
Air France/KLM Departures from Heathrow to Santo Domingo 3 times a week, via Paris in both directions.
Spanish. English is also widely spoken in tourist areas.
4 hours behind GMT and 5 hours behind BST.
Dominican peso. Major credit cards are widely accepted.
All British citizens require a tourist card to enter the Dominican Republic, which can be obtained on arrival at the airport at a cost of US$10 or equivalent. Passports should be valid for 6 months after the return date of your holiday.