The first capital of Spanish America, Santo Domingo is now the largest metropolis with the most important port in the region. The most famous museum in the city is the Museo del Hombre. It focuses on artifacts from the time of the native people, the Taino. Here are some of the most important buildings and four universities. On the outskirts is the famous Les Tres Ojos Natural Park. You can visit the oldest cathedral in America and the Governor’s Palace, which is still used today for receptions and weddings. An important place of pilgrimage for tourists in Santo Domingo is the tomb of Columbus. The historic old town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.
- Andyeducation: Introduction to education system in Dominican Republic, including compulsory schooling and higher education.
Del Este National Park
The 400 m 2 nature park Del Este stretches from the southern tip of the Dominican Republic to Isla Saona. It is the island’s most visited national park. Here you will find mangrove forests and fine sandy beaches as well as cave systems that bear witness to the Taino people who lived 2000 years ago.
Jaragua National Park
With 900 m 2 of water, the Jaragua National Park is the largest biosphere reserve in the Dominican Republic. It is located in the southwest on the border with Haiti. Due to the drier climate you will find a desert-like cactus landscape that merges seamlessly into the rainforest. This unique contrast provides the ideal habitat for an impressive range of wildlife. The south is little developed for tourism, which is why you can experience nature there undisturbed. Caves with Taino paintings also invite you to explore.
Ocean World Adventure Park
Day tours depart from Puerto Plata to a huge water park with a marina, restaurants, aquariums and casinos. Ocean World Adventure Park offers shows with dolphins, sharks, sea lions and tropical birds. In the dolphin lagoon you can swim with the animals or learn about the conditions, care and forms of training in the “Behind the Science” tour.
Night owls get their money’s worth in the Dominican Republic. In all tourist centers there are numerous bars and discotheques. You can dance to the national dances of merengue and bachata or enjoy a typical Cuba Libre. Lively nightlife in Santo Domingo takes place on the promenade Malecon. The number one spot in Punta Cana is a four-room interconnecting club in a natural cave. Concerts are also held there.
Founded in 1496 by Columbus’ brother, Puerto Plata (translated: Silver Port) is located on the north coast. The town center consists of colored wooden houses. There is a lively flair. On leaving the city, one passes one of the three large rum factories, in which the sugar cane from the east of the country is processed. There are beautiful natural beaches three kilometers outside the center. Playa Dorada and Costa Dorada are among the most exclusive destinations in the area. From Puerto Plata you can take a cable car to the local mountain Pico Isabel de Torres or visit the amber museum in the former prison.
The strongholds of the carnival are the cities of La Vega and Santo Domingo. On the last weekend in February, more than 100,000 people roar and dance through the colorful streets. Weeks before there are smaller and larger carnival parades. On the north coast, in the town of Rio San Juan, a merengue festival is usually celebrated in August.
Lago Enriquillo is located in the west of the Dominican Republic near the border with Haiti. The 375 m 2 large salt lake is the remains of an inlet and is 40 meters below sea level. It is the largest lake in the Antilles and is part of the Parque Nacional Isla Cabritos. The last refuge of the Taino Indians is the island of Cabritos in the middle of the lake. Iguanas, crocodiles and a rare species of flamingos live on the shores of Lago Enriquillo. Because of the remoteness of the island, you should only do guided tours with sufficient supplies of drinking water in the morning hours.
A few years ago, windsurfers discovered the small fishing town of Cabarete on the north coast. It is now one of the best windsurfing areas in the world and attracts many individual travelers. Kitesurfers have their own section of beach, and there is enough space for visitors to watch the windsurfers on the kilometer-long beach. The place offers a good infrastructure without being overcrowded. Two miles inland is a cave area in El Choco National Park, the Cuevas de Cabarete. The caves are under Dominican nature protection.
In addition to baseball and diving, the Dominican Republic is great for many other sports. Surfing and kite surfing are popular. The waters around Cabarete offer the best winds. Beginners should use the slightly calmer morning hours. Surfing equipment is readily available for rent everywhere. Organized mountain bike tours are offered to the mountains inland. Excursions to the crystal-clear mountain lagoons of the Salto de Baiguate or Salto de Jimenoa waterfalls are also a must for every nature lover. Iguana Mama (website: www.iguanamama.com ) offers these and many other adventures.