If it’s picturesque beaches and beautiful sprawling resorts you seek, the Dominican Republic is an ideal choice. As far as Caribbean destinations go, the DR is big—really big—so read on to learn more about each of the country’s main cities before you decide where to land.
Though Punta Cana has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade, it remains the smallest city on our list. Tourism is king in Punta Cana, and it’s ideal for active families, with luxury all-inclusive resorts lining the region’s 20-mile-long coastline. Located on the island’s far eastern side, activities here are largely centered around nature. Zip lining at Scape Park is a great thrill, but it requires crawling through a small cave and scaling some rocks, so it’s an activity best suited for the physically fit.
Exploring by horseback is another popular activity. There are several different ranches to choose from, like Rancho Caribeno, which offers calm, well-behaved horses and guides who are knowledgeable and experienced, allowing you to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride through forested hillsides and along gorgeous beaches.
Located on the south shore, the Dominican Republic’s capital city is a cosmopolitan destination where history and culture are paired with the wide range of hotels, restaurants and attractions you’d expect to find in such a developed setting.
While there are beaches nearby, there are no swimmable beaches in the city proper, so plan to spend most of your daytime hours visiting historical sites like the UNESCO World Heritage Site Colonial Zone, an 11-block-wide area that’s home to museums and 16th century buildings, residences and churches.
When the sun sets, the city’s vibrant and diverse nightlife scene comes to life. Learn to dance the merengue in the company of Dominicans, then relax to the soothing sounds of live entertainment at a piano bar. Santo Domingo has a wide swath of restaurants and bars, from roasted duck brochettes at the upscale French La Residence to the crab and conch empanadas at Meson D’ Bari, both in the Zona Colonial.
The nature of this town, which grew very quickly over the past century and is largely owned by the Central Romana Corporation, is quite different than other Dominican Republic cities. But what it lacks in history and culture, it makes up for with its scenic coastline. From a day trip to Catalina Island, where incredible snorkeling awaits, to lazing under a palapa at the Blue Flag-rated La Laguna Beach, La Romana offers a different beach experience for every day of your vacation, and it’s the perfect setting for a romantic getaway.
Also, it’s perfect for golfing. Home to several golf courses, La Romana is a putter’s paradise. At Casa de Campo Resort’s Teeth of the Dog golf course, a gentle start draws you in and the difficulty peaks as you reach the seven seaside holes, where sweeping views help to counteract frustrations.