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Dominican Republic Holidays - Something To Interest Everyone

Mar 10, 2008
Experience the delights of the hot sun and sandy, lush palm tree lined beaches - no other island gives you the mood of the "Caribbean" quite like the Dominican Republic. There really is something for everyone, offering an extensive range of natural beauty, cultural monuments, excellent sporting facilities and fun filled nightlife for those who just don't want the party to end.

Santo Domingo

The oldest Spanish metropolis in the New World, with nearly 3 million inhabitants, is the political and cultural capital as well as the economical centre of the Dominican Republic. Founded in 1496, the old town of Santo Domingo, which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is a true treasure trove of colonial architecture.

The cathedral Santa Maria la Menor on the southern side of Columbus Square (Parque Colón) will captivate you with a harmonious vestibule with two arches in the west façade and an interior celebrating the three ships. After it was completed (1521-1540), it was extended with 14 side chapels in which precious objects of art, such as the crown of Queen Isabella, can be seen.

The Alcazar of Columbus (Columbus's Palace), which was the residence of the Spanish viceroy in the 16th Century, rises above the Plaza Espagna. From here, numerous adventurers made plans for crusades to the American continent. The Museo del Hombre Dominicano is dedicated to the history of the island and its indigenous, African and European roots.

The Samana Peninsula

The Caribbean in the travel brochures: small isolated islands, colourful coral reefs with an unbelievable diversity of species and forms, coconut palms swaying in the breeze, romantic waterfalls, dives to old Spanish wrecks, long walks to remote white sandy beaches. Nowhere else will you feel the true Caribbean flair as much as on the Samana Peninsula in the north-east of the Dominican Republic.

The main tourist areas, in addition to Sanchez, with its small harbour and wooden houses in the Victorian style, are Las Terrenas on the north coast and Santa Barbara de Samana in the south on the bay of the same name. The most popular activities in Santa Barbara are strolling to the attractive Malecon, extended visits to cafés and boat trips to Cayo Levantado - made famous throughout the world by the Bacardi advertisements. The absolute highlight from January to March is the numerous agencies offering whale-watching tours, when up to 3,000 humpback whales gather together to mate in the warm waters of the Bahia de Samana.

Los Haitises National Park

The Tainos, the original inhabitants of Spanish descent(Hispaniolas), named the impassable mountainous area between the Bahia de Samana and the Cordillera Oriental, which is protected as the Los Haitises National Park. Erosion of the limestone here has created one of the most geologically interesting types of landscape in the Caribbean: a distinct, lush Karst landscape with extensive cave systems, collapse craters (dolinas), impressive stone towers (mogotes), which sometimes appear as islands (cayos) off the coast.

Nature lovers can study the life of the cotica parrot, the national bird of the Dominican Republic, amongst the approximately 120 different species of birds in the vast mangrove belts and in the tropical rainforests further inland. Around 2000 BC, the Siboneyes, and later the Tainos, drew the fantastic primordial landscape combined with religious depictions in numerous cave drawings in which whales, fish and insects, as well as a shaman (behique), can be seen.

Lake Enriquillo

The 42 kilometre long Lake Enriquillo at nearly 40 m below sea level is an extraordinary natural spectacle. It is part of a former estuary, the salt content of which is three times higher than that in the Caribbean Sea due to high evaporation at temperatures of up to 50 °C.

In the midst of the lake, the Isla Cabritos National Park surprises you with semi-desert and briar vegetation which is unusual for the region. If you are lucky, in the early hours of the morning on this "Goat island" you may see the largest crocodile in the Americas which is threatened by extinction, as well as turtles, flamingos and rhino iguanas.

The sulphurous whirlpools of the Balneario Las Barias in La Descubierta in the heart of a wonderful oak forest promise refreshment and relaxation. In addition, on the north shore of the lake at the Postrer Rio you will find one of the most significant archeological sites of the Hispaniolas: the Las Caritas sanctuary with petroglyphics, which depict, amongst other things,small faces without ears.


Countless souvenir shops, diving schools, travel agencies, discos, cafés and bars and more than 100 guesthouses and hotels - all this makes Sosua the tourist centre of the northern coast of the island. By invitation of the dictator Trujillo, Jewish immigrants founded the city in 1940 and many Europeans from the most varied nations, in particular Germans, settled here subsequently and developed a unique multi-cultural society.

A 1 kilometre long sandy beach separates the two parts of the city from one another: the Caribbean-style Los Charamicos, which lies on a slope and is predominantly inhabited by Dominicans, and El Batey. Under the European influence of Calle Pedro Chisante, this area is dominated by the money-making tourist industry. A synagogue and a historical museum in the Calle Dr. Alejo Martinez district bear witness to the Jewish history of the area. Here bathers can also enjoy the sea from several small beaches, such as Playita and Playa Chiquita.

Puerto Plata

The history of the anchorage ground named "Port of Silver" at the foot of the Pico Isabel de Torres local mountain is characterised by a continual trend of ups and downs. After the initial boom in the 16th Century from trading leather, the area experienced its heyday in the 18th and 19th Centuries exporting tobacco, sugar, coffee and rum. After another decline, the 1980s saw the arrival of tourism to the lovely city centre with its numerous wooden houses.

The Fort San Felipe (mid 16th Century) towers majestically over the harbour entrance at the western end of Malecon. It was erected by order of Carlos V to protect the harbour from pirate attacks. Carefully restored, its rooms house a weapons museum which is well worth a visit. Not far from the contemplative Plaza Central in the Calle Duarte 61, the Museo del Ambar will fascinate you with a large collection of amber, including examples of embedded old leaves, lizards and insects up to 60 million years old.

Santiago de los Caballeros

The money spent in Santo Domingo is earned in Santiago. Nothing characterises the economical significance of the city in the prosperous valley of Rio Cibao better than this expression. Rum and tobacco in particular, along with bananas, sugar, coffee and rice have given the trade metropolis wealth and prosperity.

An unmissable symbol of Santiago is the 67-metre high column at the end of the Calle del Sol, often abbreviated to "El Monumento", which was ordered by the megalomaniac dictator Trujillo (1930-1961) to commemorate the heroes of the Restauration war in 1865. The history of tobacco cultivation and the industry as well as the skillful manual processing of it is documented vividly in the Museo del Tabaco in the city centre. With an extensive collection of richly decorated masks and costumes, the Museo de Arte Folkló rico Tomás Morel in the Calle Restauración y López is devoted to the carnival celebrated so enthusiastically in the Dominican Republic.


Set amidst wonderful pine forests at 530 metres, Jarabacoa boasts a pleasant spring-like climate with warm days and cool nights. This part of the Cordillera Central, named the Alpes Dominicanos, offers a range of rafting and walking activities and excursions for nature lovers and those seeking recuperation.

Only 2 km outside this small place, the natural Balneario La Confluencia at the confluence of the Jimenoa and Yaque del Norte rivers offers swimming and relaxation. The 20 metre-high waterfalls Saltos de Jimenoa and Saltos de Baiguate can be reached by foot or horseback. Both are also popular with Dominican holidaymakers.

In 3 to 4 day excursions you can explore Jarabacoa or the village of Cienaga as well as the extinct volcanoes in the Armando Bermudez National Park, the Loma de la Viuda (2,802 m), the Pico de Yaque (3,045 m) and the Pico Duarte, at 3,175 m the highest peak in the Caribbean.
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