Top 10 Things to Do in the Dominican Republic

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My trip to the Dominican Republic was a dream come true. I always wanted to explore a paradise-like place and I really wasn’t disappointed by the beauty this wonderful country has to offer. Welcome to the top 10 best things to do in the Dominican Republic!

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1 • Visit the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo

Get ready to go back in time and experience Santo Domingo’s vibrant old-city center called the Zona Colonial (Colonial City). This five-hundred-year-old area has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO due to its tremendous historical significance as the oldest permanent European settlement of the Americas.

Christopher Columbus’ arrival on the island in 1492 and the first settlement in 1493 make it the oldest colonial center in the Americas. The Spaniards used the Zona Colonial as the first point of influence in the New World, from there, they conquered other Caribbean islands and much of the Americas. In the Zona Colonial, you can find the very first street, the first hospital, the first cathedral and even the first university of the New World!

Travel tip: don’t forget to get a prepaid eSIM card to be able to get mobile data and reliable connectivity wherever you are!

2 • Go to the El Salto del Limón

There are three waterfalls at Limón and one of them is truly spectacular! They are such an opportunity to see the natural beauty of the Dominican Republic. The highest and main waterfall is truly gorgeous however it is the most touristy so I advise you to get there early. If you don’t manage too, no worries, just go a little more down and you will find a tinier waterfall that is wonderful as well!

One thing to keep in mind though is that the journey is usually done by horse (which is what we did).  However I would definitely not recommend it since the way to the waterfalls is badly maintained, rocky, slippery, muddy and truly not made for those poor animals. I would not go by horse again that is for sure. If you go to El Salto del Limón, please go there by foot! It is a long hike (maybe 45min-1h) but it is truly worth it and you would not put any horse at risk!

3 • Meet the people

Meeting new people and traveling go hand in hand. Many times, the memory of the people that you’ve met outweigh those of the actual destination you’ve been to. The people you meet when you visit a destination always transform the way you travel and are deep-seated in your wanderlust memory.

Dominicans are super friendly people and they radiate extraordinary joy. A lot of them don’t have much money or a lot of belongings but they always are happy. I think the answer is that they are not stressed at all! Living a stress-free is probably more important than being wealthy. But anyway, if you get the change to drive or take a bus through the local villages, it will give you a very deep insight into how locals live.  Try to talk to them, engage and get to know who they are. Immersing myself in the local culture is always my favorite part of any trip I take. Fortunately, I do speak a little Spanish so it was easier for me to speak with the locals but even if you don’t, everyone is so nice and approachable that language is never a barrier!

4 • Relax at Saona Island

Ranked among the top five most popular excursion in the Dominican Republic, I definitely needed to include Saona to this list. With its white sand, crystal clear water and swinging palm trees, Saona island looks like it comes straight from paradise. Actually, it has been used often by film-makers and advertisers looking for a stereotypical “desert island” to shoot in. The entire island is a government protected nature reserve and is part of Parque Nacional Cotubanamá. It is overtaken by tourists often but if you walk past the main touristy beach you can find really quiet and empty slices of heaven! You should definitely explore this island and get to know the very few locals living there.

The seas around the Island are rich in sea life. Around Saona, you can definitely do some snorkeling. The waters are warm, crystal clear and full of tropical marine fish and starfish. Fun fact, the island was named “Saona” by Christopher Columbus in honor of one of his Italian friends!

5 • Enjoy some bachata

If you like dancing and Latin music, the DR will be a paradise for you! Bachata is a style of music that originated in the Dominican Republic. The form of dance also called bachata, developed with the music in the first half of the 20th century. It includes African, European, and Indigenous musical elements.

The basics are three-step with a hip motion, followed by a tap including a hip movement on the 4th beat too. In the DR, in the evenings, people will dance in the streets in the cities and villages alike! Apparently, Bachata is one of the most popular and easy Latin dance for beginners. So you can try and learn it in the Dominican Republic. And even if you don’t dance (like me), you get to watch amazing dance performances almost everywhere. It seems like every Dominican is a dancing-master!

6 • Try the rum, the cocktails & the coconuts!

In the Dominican Republic, Ron (rum) is a staple. No matter where you go you will find it!  It was really funny because every time locals would offer us rum, they would present it as “vitamina” like it is some sort of fuel helping you through the day! Rum is the essence of the Dominican spirit.

Dominicans obviously drink a lot of Cuba Libre but there is a more local cocktail called Santa Libre which is still made of rum but with Sprite this time. It is actually super good. Once again, they would offer this to you a lot! My other favorite was Coco Loco (rum and coconut milk). There is also something called Mamajuana which is a concoction made with rum, red wine, and honey mixed with tree bark and herbs. It has apparently a lot of medicinal value!

7 • Take a catamaran or boat ride

If you want to travel around and visit some islands, you will definitely have to take a boat ride.  It is a super amazing way to see the country from a different perspective. Usually, catamaran rides involve a lot of rum, Latin music, and dancing. Everything is a reason to party in the DR and doing it on a catamaran is a great experience! If you don’t really dance (like me again!) you can still chill on the main deck and sunbathe while listening to the rhythm of the waves.

8 • Visit Cayo Levantado

Cayo Levantado island, also known as Bacardi Island is an islet in the bay of Samaná.  There is a Bahia Principe hotel making it a one-hotel/one-island type of concept. However, the island isn’t private and you can go visit even if you are not staying at the hotel there. There is one public beach where you can find many restaurants serving fresh fish and seafood. The beaches are absolutely stunning: white sand, crystal clear waters… once again, the DR didn’t disappoint! The island is only accessible by boat and most departures are from the main dock of the Port of the town of Samana. Keep that in mind if you want to visit!

9 • Try the local food

Dominican traditional food is a mix of stewed meat, white rice, beans, and plantain. And obviously, there is also a lot of fish! Sancocho, which is a meat stew, is super popular and really delicious. Mangú (plantain mash) is super good also! The most popular dish is nicknamed La Bandera (The Flag). It is rice, red beans and meat (beef, pork, chicken or even fish). La Bandera is named like this because each food represents a color on the Dominican flag!

Let’s not forget about the fruit! Pineapples, bananas, avocados, coconuts, mangoes, papayas, passion fruit…. the list goes on! I ate the juiciest, sweet and flavorful piñas (pineapples) in my life. I would literally have piñas for every meal during my stay!

10 • Relax at any paradisiacal beach

There are so many unspoiled locations and especially beaches in the DR. I recommend you find your favorite place and allow yourself a day to just relax, drink some coconut milk (with optional rum) and take it all in! The Dominican Republic is a true dream and nature, people and food make it an absolute paradise. And nothing can get better than relaxing on an empty beach.

Have you been to the Dominican Republic? What were your favorite things to do, eat or visit? Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. Stephanie Yt
    June 6, 2018 / 12:51 AM

    Seriously girl, your blog posts are just of such a high quality!!! I love love LOVE this post about the dominican republic, i am 100% going to book a trip there now because of you!!


  2. Maira Ferreras
    June 7, 2018 / 10:39 PM

    Me encantó el relato. Soy dominicana, TAMBIÉN me encanta viajar. Te sigo en instagram y me llamo a la atención el POST, así que TENÍA que leer.
    me alegra saber que te gustó mucho mi pais, gracias por el escrito.
    bienvenida siempre a rd!

    • June 8, 2018 / 10:41 AM

      Muchas gracias por tu comentario Maira. Me encanta la RD! Tu país es muy maravilloso y me encantaría volver algún día. Me alegra que te haya gustado este artículo, significa mucho para mí!

  3. Tim
    April 18, 2019 / 9:01 PM

    Definitely, what a splendid blog and illuminating posts, I surely will bookmark your site.All the Best!

  4. Sara
    May 18, 2019 / 7:26 AM

    You have a lot of fantastic information! Thank you for sharing, I will visit your blog often 🙂

  5. Eliza
    May 19, 2019 / 6:31 PM

    Nice post. I was looking for this certain info for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

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