It’s no secret to anyone that the Dominican Republic is mostly famous for its popular beach resorts, sprawling beaches and fine selection of all-inclusive resorts. Yet, that’s not all there is to a holiday in Dom Rep, neither should you stop at beach-basking and forgo the opportunity of immersing in the nation’s wildest side. If you’ve got a thirst for adventure and discovery, the Dominican Republic has plenty to offer, probably more than you imagined.
Here we proceed to list five incredible adventures for experiencing the Dominican Republic’s rawest, most beautifully natural and wild side. For true nature lovers or adventurers at hearts, the places mentioned below will provide a fresh break from beachside monotony (and all-inclusive gluttony). So, if you can bear (or are desperate to) tear yourself away from the beach during your Dominican Republic holiday; these are your options.
The last two attractions on this list are close to coastal towns, which means you can combine a relaxing stay on the beach, digging your toes in the fine Caribbean sands and working on your suntan before kicking it up a notch with some livelier, action-packed pursuits.
The first in our list is not a single attraction per se, but a variety of them contained in one single place – the beautiful town of Jarabacoa, the second largest municipality in the province of La Vega, surrounded by misty mountains in the heart of the Cordillera Central mountain range (also home to Pico Duarte, the next attraction in our list). It´s home to Dom Rep´s tallest peak (we´ll get to that one in a minute) and is the complete antithesis to the typical Caribbean holiday, the very reason that makes it a very special place to take a break from sun and sand.
Take in the verdant countryside ambience, soak up the laidback charm and enjoy the scenic beauty of the “City of Eternal Spring”, one that has attracted hundreds of locals to set up holiday homes here. Choose from a variety of invigorating and engaging activities: hiking, canyoning, biking, river-rafting or horse riding. Or, take it easy and explore rural life at your own leisure.
This is not just Dominican Republic’s highest mountain, it is the Caribbean’s highest peak, simply no other mountain in the region quite compares in all of the region, making it a very special and challenging peak to climb for both advanced hikers and beginners alike. There are several routes to make your way to the top and conquer its admirable height, ranging in various levels of difficulty, from the most accessible, easier trails to follow to more strenuous (yet more rewardingly scenic) ones.
At over 3,000 metres high, Pico Duarte is indeed imposing, and the beauty to be found along the climbing journey, as well as the amazing views to be taken in from the top, is one of the most visually striking, not just in the Caribbean, but in all of Latin America. Climbing Pico Duarte is at least a two-day journey, (or longer, depending on the route you take) so you should come prepared to spend some time here. It’s the ultimate backpacking destination in the Caribbean, but can also be easily combined with a stay at the beach, with the seaside town of Puerto Plata just a 2-hour car ride away.
Famous for its outstanding whale-watching opportunities, the peninsula of Samana is not only blessed with beautiful beaches (ideal for wading and body-boarding) but it also has a more laidback, somewhat European feel to it that vastly differentiates it from other beach towns in the Dominican Republic. If you come for adventure and unique wildlife encounters, mid-January to mid-March is the time to head here and catch sight of North Atlantic humpback whales doing their migratory songs and dances.
The fact that many past visitors have come as tourists and later stayed while setting up businesses here, giving Samana a cosmopolitan vibe, make it a specially alluring place if you seek a lively social scene – you’ll find it in Las Terrenas. If sleepy seaside bliss is what you’re after Las Galeras offers the most secluded beach coves in the whole of the Dominican Republic, as well as beautiful nature trails for the most amazing trekking adventures.
27 Charcos de Damajagua
Easily accessible from the charming beach town of Puerto Plata, you could easily combine a stay on the beach with some splashing waterfall action at 27 Charcos de Damajagua, nestled in the hills of the Cordillera Norte mountain range. With a name that translates as “Damajagua’s 27 puddles”, calling it puddles is a bit of an understatement, given the amazing pools you can dive in from varying heights, up to eight metres high to be precise. You can opt to climb to the seventh, the twelfth or the 27th waterfall – the only requirement is that you are reasonably fit and over 12 years old.
Dipping into these 27 sparkling pools, flanked by the most stunning waterfalls, needs to be done with the aid of a local guide and it’s mandatory to wear a life jacket and helmet. All guides are trained in first aid and CPR so safety measures are at their highest to ensure the smoothest of climbing journeys. There’s no minimum group size so you can go on your own if you want and if get there early before the crowds arrive you might just get to have the entire place to yourself.
Bavaro Adventure Park
Of the whole list this is the one most suited to adrenaline junkies and those seeking the most thrilling action-packed pursuits. From ziplining adventures (with a splashing ending) to Segway tours through tropical jungle paths, flight simulator skydives, natural pools and even paintballing, there’s no shortage of activities for those craving their dose of actively engaging adventures.
The great news is that this amazing theme park is located near Punta Cana, right next to Dominican Republic’s most famous beach stretch, home to a wide selection of all-inclusive resorts and first-class hotels. You can easily take a break from all the beach-combing and sun-tanning and gear it up a notch or two with your choice of activity – there’s also bungee trampolines and a zorbing downhill revolution for those not scared of getting a little dizzy while watching the world spin round and round.