Test your endurance while climbing the highest peak in the Caribbean, surf your afternoon away in the hot sun, or just rest in the sand as you bronze your body. The Dominican Republic has something for every time of traveler. You'll even have a choice between large, luxurious 5 star resorts and charming, romantic villas buried in the jungle. Brush up on your Español, and pack your favourite flip flops, but don't forget to make it home before dark.
Punta Cana - La Yola - $$$
Walk through the thatched gateway and choose your seat overlooking the bay. Fishing boats and small yachts sway in the gentle waters and the air fills with the sweet spices of the caribbean. If you're into dining on flavorful seafood by the sea, this is the place for you. Start with the fish carpaccio and try the salmon entree. You'll also have a selection of wine and cocktails to choose from, so plan on spending a long, romantic eventing here.
Puerto Plata - El Pilon - $$
Treat yourself to gourmet, Caribbean home cooking, with a fun staff and dancing after dark. To get the local experience, order the sancocho and the fried fish. If you're vegan, you wont have a problem finding something delicious for dinner. Afterwards, taste some sweet , sugary cocktails and get your heart-racing to the live local music.
Santo Domingo - La Residence - $$
Transport yourself back in time with a visit to La Residence in Santo Domingo. The setting is Colonial, and the food is plentiful. If you come for the breakfast buffet, come hungry, and sample smoked salmon, meats, cheeses, potatoes, lots of fresh fruit, fresh eggs of your choice, eggplant, tomatoes and lots of bread. When you're full, order a coffee and just soak up the atmosphere.
Punta Cana - Chateau Del Mar - $$
If you're staying away from the all-inclusive style trip, and want a more personalized and unique experience, you're in luck. Book a spacious, one bedroom apartment with a view of the pool and bar for easy access. Get up early and take a short walk where you'll find charming restaurants and a small local market. A short walk in the other distance will bring you to the gorgeous beach where you can sprawl out on your beach chair and nap the day away.
Puerto Plata - Tubagua Plantation Eco Lodge
Find your zen at this beautiful lodge in the mountains. You'll dine on a patio that overlooks the lush green countryside. You can spend your days birdwatching, hiking to the waterfalls or just basking in the nature of the DR. You'll eat fresh fruit for breakfast and sumptuous fish, rice and plantain for dinner. It's way off-the-beaten-path so if you're really looking for somewhere to just unwind and find some peace, this is your spot.
Santo Domingo - Casa Sanchez
Stay in the heart of the Zona Colonial, just outside of Calle el Conde. For exploring, this is the perfect location, surrounded by streets lined with stores, historical monuments and restaurants to suit every taste. You'll also be able to relax by the pool or even maintain your post-vacation physique in the small gym. What really sets this place apart from the rest is the impeccable service and attention to detail.
Take a day and get adventurous in the DR's wilderness. With rolling rivers, sweeping pine forests, plummeting waterfalls, and the highest peaks in the Caribbean, this is a hiker's dream. You can spend your time mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing, or find your seat in a dingy and have your hand at the white water rapids.
Bahia de Las Aguilas and Jaragua National Park
The DR has some of the Caribbean's most sprawling, glimmering white-sand beaches. It's also home to one of the most untouched, unspoiled and undeveloped stretches of beach. Bahía de Las Águilas is very remote, you'll actually have to find it by boat from the small village of La Cueva. Once you're there, it will become certain that you have found paradise. Flocks of beautiful birds speckle the skyline and the shallow blue waters are alive with colourful marine life.
La Flor Dominicana Cigar Factory
The DR has great beaches and hotels, but is also famous for flavourful cigars. La Flor Dominicana Cigar Factory is home the country's most popular cigars. Take some time to explore the tobacco farm and learn about how the plants are aged, rolled and finally packed. For the more seasoned smokers, they also offer a Master's tasting.
Isabel de Torres Mountain
Get high above Puerto Plata on the only aerial tramway in the Caribbean. The views are spectacular, as the mountain opens up and the city and Caribbean Sea unfold in front of your eyes. Try to come early in the morning, before clouds start to roll in. You can also spend some time gazing at vibrant plants and flowers on the botanical garden, and catch a quick snack from the full service restaurant. For the full tour, take the cable car up, and walk down the paths to the bottom, Just make sure you've packed your hiking shoes.
Find a beach and chill out
The Dominican Republic is riddled with gorgeous stretches of sand with turquoise waters lapping at the shoreline. Pick a beach, pull up a lounger and get your tan on while listening to the gentle waves and pleasant silence.