Dominican Republic Highlights
Though the Dominican Republic is set on two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (the other third is Haiti), many visitors head only to the exclusive beach and golf resorts of Punta Cana, on the far eastern coast. But for those who also explore the rest of the country, they’ll find the DR is full of unspoiled natural beauty and a fascinating, post-colonial mix of Latino, West African and European culture.
Since 2009, a handful of streamlined highways allow faster travel from the airport in the southern, capital city of Santo Domingo, which itself is full of Colonial-era attractions. Head west and explore the wildlife reserves at saltwater Lago Enriquillo, or climb Pico Duarte, the Caribbean’s tallest mountain. Or, head northeast to the wild Samaná Peninsula, home to Los Haitises National Park, a remote collection of islands and caves in the blue-green San Lorenzo Bay.
After hours, sway into a nightclub to sip Mama Juana liqueur and dance the fast-paced bachata, or a slower, simpler merengue. In the daylight, catch a baseball game at any public park or stadium; the Dominican Republic is collectively crazy for the sport, and produces more pro players than any other country. And aim to come home with some coffee, vanilla, coconut and cocoa, the DR’s most delicious exports.