Experience the Caribbean: Dominican Republic

From mountains to rainforests, marine parks to bike tours, there are fantastic activities for all ages, plus lively resorts and amazing beaches

The Dominican Republic is great for families, offering animal and marine parks, aquariums, jungle river tours and all manner of exciting activities. But you don’t have to come with kids to enjoy the delights of the amazing beaches at Samaná and Punta Cana and lively resorts at Bávaro and Cabarete. One of the Caribbean’s most geographically diverse destinations, DR is well set up for eco and adventure tourism, with savannah, rainforest, spectacular mountain ranges, waterfalls, swamps and even deserts to explore. And that’s before you begin to discover a fascinating mash-up culture rooted in Spanish colonialism, African religion and indigenous Taino art.

Dominican Republic hot spots

  • A tour of the Zona Colonial

    © All images courtesy of The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

    See capital city Santo Domingo as Christopher Columbus did when he founded Spain’s first New World city here. An architectural masterpiece, it’s a delight to take in highlights like the palace, cathedral and hospital before taking a pit stop or two at some of the old town’s many restaurants and bars.

    A tour of the Zona Colonial
  • Wheelies in the mountains

    The five spectacular mountain ranges in the Cordillera Septentrional and Cordillera Central are lined with mountain biking trails, from beginner to challenging, through rolling hills and rugged peaks. Rancho Baiguate in Jarabacoa offers a good selection of bike excursions and outdoor activities, and is used by most of the north coast resorts.

    Wheelies in the mountains
  • An unforgettable ride

    Ian Cumming

    If you’ve never ridden a horse, now’s the time to try – on a Creole horse, sturdy enough for all terrains and placid by nature, so great for kids and beginners. A excursion to the 150m El Limón waterfall in the Samaná mountains makes an unforgettable first ride, and the timid or tiny can ride along the beach at Playa del Limón and Playa Morón. Or you can ride through the pine forests in Jarabacoa, and the waterfalls close to the Caribbean’s highest peak won’t disappoint.

    An unforgettable ride
  • Saint’s day street parties

    Ian Cumming

    Sharing the island of Hispaniola with Haiti to the west, religion here leans heavily towards a heady mix of Catholicism and African-influenced beliefs similar to voodoo. You can see some fascinating elements of it in the lively fiestas patronales – patron saint days celebrated with processions, parties and live music in towns and villages throughout the country.

    Saint’s day street parties
  • A baseball match

    Baseball is the major spectator sport in DR, and watching it live knocks spots off Premier League games, with live merengue bands, dancers and support cranked up to the max. Outside baseball season (Nov-Feb), check out some of the games at the major league baseball camps, including those of the LA Dodgers and Boston Red Sox.

    A baseball match
  • Spanish seafood

    If you want to splurge, be sure you’re getting the best. Head for Santo Domingo’s refined Don Pepe, where the Spanish dishes focus on seafood, including shellfish stew, paella, giant crabs and Caribbean lobster, but carnivores won’t be disappointed at this charming old-school restaurant.

    Spanish seafood
  • French gastronomy

    The whimsical original architecture of the Atlantis Hotel on gorgeous Playa Bonita at Las Terranas in Samaná gives you some inkling of its special status, and the restaurant doesn’t disappoint. Gérard Prystasz, former chef of president François Mitterand at the Élysée Palace, brings French gastronomy to local ingredients and creates some of the best dishes in DR, in one of its most beautiful spots.

    French gastronomy
  • Drinking and dancing

    A night of bar-hopping around Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial and Malecón will reveal all manner of wonderful music and characters. Or head to the outer barrios and Paraiso Musical, an outdoor son house where you can join the couples dancing to great local musicians playing this melodious Cuban-influenced vintage musical style.

    Drinking and dancing
  • Time your trip for...

    Watching the humpback whales in Samaná Bay (Jan-Mar) if you want to see nature at its most spectacular, carnival across the country in February if you want to experience partying at its wildest, and Santo Domingo’s two-week-long Merengue Festival each July if you want to dance your heart out.

    Time your trip for...

A tour of the Zona Colonial

© All images courtesy of The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

See capital city Santo Domingo as Christopher Columbus did when he founded Spain’s first New World city here. An architectural masterpiece, it’s a delight to take in highlights like the palace, cathedral and hospital before taking a pit stop or two at some of the old town’s many restaurants and bars.

Dominican Republic liveblog

Lucky Jeanette Kwakye is the winner of our competition offering the chance to write for Time Out from the Caribbean. Follow her live during her action-packed trip as she ziplines through Scape Park, swims in secluded lagoons and browses the vibrant markets of Punta Cana...


Book a holiday with BA: Dominican Republic Flights + 7 nights all inclusive hotel from £699pp

Availability may be extremely limited, particularly during peak periods. Price is in GBP per person based on two adults sharing 4* accommodation on an all Inclusive board basis and include return flights from LGW to Dominican Republic. Price correct as of 24 April 2014. Bookings must be made by midnight 25/05/14 for selected travel between 01/11/14 – 12/12/14. Some payment methods attract a handling fee. Holidays are ATOL protected (number ATOL5985). For full terms and conditions, visit ba.com.