The newest cruise port in the Dominica Republic is Amber Cove, near the northern coast town of Puerta Plata. Built by the Carnival cruise line, Amber Cove opened in November 2015, and it’s a convenient jumping off spot for all kinds of activities, from snorkeling trips to ATV adventures in the nearby mountains. This area of the county is famous as the spot where Christopher Columbus first settled in the New World, and it’s also known for an abundance of amber, a rare orange jewel stone from ancient, petrified tree sap. The cove’s welcome center has myriad shops, bars and restaurants, along with a Sky Bar perched on a 60-foot hill, where visitors can get an overhead view of the port.
Adventure in the tropical forests of the Dominican Republic is just a quick ride away to the magnificent underground tunnels of Fun Fun Cave. Nestled in the Los Haitises National Park, these landmark treasures wind 65 feet underground and make some of the best exploring in the region (hence the name). Filled with West Indian rock art and the requisite cavernous stalagmite and stalactite mounds, an eerie repel to the base, a day spent learning about the history of the region, and a dip in the accompanying river allow this National Park live up to its name.
The unrivaled beaches of Punta Cana focus on Bavaro, the home of resort vacations in the Dominican Republic.
Most of Punta Cana’s resort hotels cluster around the long stretch of white sand Bavaro Beach (or Playa Bavaro) and its small collection of shopping plazas.
Along with its aquamarine waters and sandy beaches, Bavaro has world-class golf courses and offshore reef diving sites.
About 12km down a dirt road and tucked into a corner of the Dominican Republic lies one of the country’s most spectacular hidden gems: Los Haitises National Park. Extravagant landscapes and postcard-worthy waters make this place one of the Hispaniola’s most hallowed (and protected) sites. Untouched virgin rainforests house untold pleasures, while the unforgettable waters of shimmering Lorenzo Bay, the petroglyphs of the caverns, and the wilds of the mangrove swamps will deeply impress visitors.
Any trip to Los Haitises is special, but for bird-watchers, the park is a treasure trove of frigate birds, parrots, owls, brown pelicans, and royal terns. Winged wildlife flock by the hundreds around the bay’s transparent waters, and the mangrove swamps provide a safe home for all sorts of small sea creatures. Trails lead into the subtropical forest for 4x4ing, biking, hiking, and horseback riding adventures.
The sandy beaches of Saona island are a highlight of a visit to Parque Nacional del Este, along with the tropical moist forest and limestone karst landscape of the mainland.
The range of biodiversity preserved in this park is incredible, including more than 570 species of plants and 163 species of birds.
Much of this habitat is found in the mangroves fringing the peninsula and the sea grasses wafting in the water. The offshore coral reefs are popular with divers.