The Island of Hispaniola
Travel to the Dominican Republic
Get maps and airports in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic is the fastest growing tourism destination in the Caribbean. The country now boasts well over 60,000 hotel rooms (in 670 hotels) including over 20 hotels built in the last two years alone. The Dominican Republic is a preferred destination for luxury in the Caribbean. It also offers gaming and casinos as well as pristine beaches and an abundance of eco-tourism options. Dozens of Dominican hotels have been nominated for best in their class at the World Travel Awards - a mark of distinction (the Acadamy Awards of the hospitality industry). The abundance of five-star resorts and amenities have attracted not only celebrities like the Clintons and Kardashians, but also bargain hunters and sports enthusiasts from around the world.
Despite international economic slowdowns, according to the D.R. Ministry of Tourism, arrivals increased slightly. Dominican Repubic hotels and resorts are now hosts to over 4.3 million (non resident) overnight visitors. Guests from the USA account for the largest group of overseas visitors, with more than one million arrivals for several consecutive years. As Europeans discover affordable, safe holiday options in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic has been a magnet for a quickly growing percentage of visitors from Russia and the UK (as well as France, Holland and Germany). Getting to and getting around the Dominican Republic is easy with many regional and international airports.
The cruise industry has also contributed to the economic health of the country, with 250 cruise ships visiting during 2010-2011 bringing 430,000 passengers into the Dominican Republic's four cruise ship ports.
Proud and protective of the beauty and legacy they oversee, the government of the Dominican Republic has set aside 20 percent of the country's land for preservation. This provides for 19 national parks, six scientific reserves, 32 natural monuments, 15 natural reserves, two marine sanctuaries and nine protected parcels of islands. Four of the tallest peaks in the Caribbean are here, the highest of which is Pico Duarte at 10,128 feet above sea level.
This is also one of the world's premier destinations for golf, with well over 20 golf courses designed by the industry's most famous names: Robert Trent Jones, Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Fazio to name a few. Relax on one of hundreds of unspoiled beaches. The country is surrounded by 800 miles of stunning sandy coastlines ringed by dense palm tree groves, with the azure Caribbean Sea on the South Coast and the rich blue Atlantic Ocean on the North Coast. Whale watching is a sport here from January 15th - March 15th each year when humpback whales take over Samana Bay.
So what else is there to do in the Dominican Republic? How about, sport fishing, spa days, some of the best casino gambling in the Caribbean, horse-back riding, scuba diving, tours of chocolate, rum, coffee and tobacco plantations, kayaking and canoeing, hiking, shopping, historic tours, museums, Meringue lessons or, sip an ice cold Presidente Beer while doing nothing at all in a hammock under a shady palm tree.
Book your hotel early for Carnival Season which runs from February - March! The Dominican Carnival is a tradition inherited from Spanish forefathers. Each city throughout the country throws its own unique celebration. Catch a parade in town, most Sundays or browse and shop for a hand-made Dominican carnival mask to take home. For a quick and complete list of hotels and resorts in the Dominican Republic, look in Accommodations - you'll get complete information and web links to book direct and save!
For what's new, current events and upcoming festivals check out, Focus On section. We hope the information in our site helps you plan a great weekend getaway, business trip, honeymoon or vacation.
Conquering Santo Domingo
Conquering Its history is more intense, dramatic and melodic than any of the bachatas (typical Dominican musical genre) that have come out of the Dominican Republic to wing their way around the globe.
Santo Domingo de Guzman, the capital of this nation that shares the island with Haiti, boasts a legacy like no other. And it's not because of its animated nightlife and numerous casinos; passion for baseball, song and dance; and its illustrious sons like the singer Juan Luis Guerra who've cemented Santo Domingo into the popular consciousness. It goes much further than that: This was the first city founded in the New World, and because of this unique status, it has also been first in a number of important social and cultural arenas.
Lacking a beach but blessed with a malecon (seaside promenade) that's more than once doubled for the famous one in Havana on the sister island of Cuba, Santo Domingo's beauty is reflected in its many historical and architectural jewels, in particular those of its so-called Colonial City.
A walled patrimony that transports both visitors and residents back in time, the city of Santo Domingo was founded in 1496, at the turn of the 15th century. Its founder was not just any conquistador, even if he'd been overshadowed a little by his more famous relative: Don Bartolome Columbus, the brother of Christopher, who laid the foundations of what's now a metropolis home to more than two million inhabitants in the region known as the Distrito Nacional (National District).
Santo Domingo is home to the first cathedral in the New World, Santa Maria La Menor; the first monastery and the first hospital; the first university; the first military fortress; and the first courthouse. Imposing houses with a Medieval air and cobblestone streets embrace centuries of history, and all of this didn't go unnoticed by UNESCO: The area was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1990.
All of this history can be explored by foot, and in between your various tours, you can take a break at any of the area's picturesque restaurants, bars and cafes. As far as historical exploration, nothing surpasses the Colonial City: Here you'll also find the Diego Colon Palace (Also known as El Alcazar, which was ordered built by Christopher Columbus' son), the Museum of the Royal Houses and the 18th-century Sun Dial.
But if you want to do more than just explore its history or savor its delights with a refreshing Morir Soñando (a drink made of orange juice, milk and sugar that's named, literally, "To Die Dreaming") while imagining what the capital must have been like centuries before, you can get closer to the city's roots by staying at the Sofitel Nicolas de Ovando hotel (Calle Las Damas. Tel. 809-685-9955), named after the first governor in the Americas. The building that houses this luxury hotel was originally constructed in 1502 and is located in the heart of the colonial zone. Today it combines historical elegance with contemporary style, offering haute cuisine, tropical cocktails in the pool area and rum tasting in the Cibao cigar club and bar (the tobacco industry is one of the most important ones in the country, with the United States being its biggest market).
On the other side of the Ozama River that borders the Colonial City, the Faro a Colon (Columbus' Lighthouse) is illuminated at night by a spectacular light show. Designed in the form of a cross, this mausoleum was inaugurated in 1992 to honor the 500th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America. The remains of the famous admiral purportedly lie inside, although that's been disputed by Spain, a nation claiming he's buried in Seville (recent scientific testing with DNA seem to confirm the Spanish claims).
From its earliest years, the arts and culture were essential elements in the conception of this city, earning it the nickname "Athens of America." The reality today isn't that far off, as Santo Domingo is home to numerous museums and art galleries.
In the heart of the city lies an oasis called the Culture Plaza, which encompasses four museums-The Museum of the Dominican Man, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of History and Geography and the Museum of Natural History-as well as the National Library and the National Theatre.
But not everything here is frozen in time as if it were one of the beautiful and popular amber fossils that form part of the nation's jewelry offerings; both the ancient and the modern blend in a harmonious symphony here. This is a shopper's paradise, featuring modern stores and luxurious boutiques sharing space with handicraft booths and typical creations in the popular Central Plaza and Unicentro Plaza.
The nightlife in Santo Domingo is also just as exciting as the most lively of Dominican merengues, and there are nightclubs and dance venues for every taste. Some of the most outstanding are the Cafe Concierto Bachata Rosa, where you can enjoy live music by local artists, along with appreciating the art works on the walls (Calle La Atarazana 9, Zona Colonial. Tel. 809-688-0969); Guacara Taina, a three-level dance club that's memorable not only for its music, but for its location inside an enormous cavern (Avenida Mirador Sur, Parque Mirador Sur. Tel. 809-533-1051); and Jubilee, the dance venue in the elegant Jaragua Renaissance Hotel & Casino (Avenida George Washington 367. Tel. 809-221-2222).
One of the city's newest hotels is the Hilton Santo Domingo (Avenida George Washington 500. Tel. 809-685-0000, 1-877-GO-HILTON). Its imposing 21-story tower overlooking the Caribbean boasts 228 rooms and the largest casino on the island. Popular with executives, businesspeople and exclusive guests, the hotel lies some 10 minutes from the Colonial City.
The allure of the Dominican Republic
Punta Cana: beaches. Bavaro is the most popular of the wide variety of beaches on the island's east coast. Here, where the waters of the Atlantic and the Caribbean meet, the ocean displays all its majesty in tones of turquoise, cobalt and emerald. There are hotels and restaurants for every taste, Las Vegas-style shows and a vibrant nightlife. Entertainment and comfort in the best Dominican style.
Sosua: scenery and handicrafts. Sosua Bay, with its horseshoe shape and exuberant mountains as a backdrop, not only has a spectacular view but also offers the perfect surroundings for the great pastime of shopping. An eclectic mix of small shops and art galleries offer jewelry with Larimar (a stone which is only produced in the Dominican Republic), hand-painted handkerchiefs and ceramics, among other handicrafts.
Samana: the cycle of life. The solitary song of the male humpback whales is the natural soundtrack of Samana Bay, especially during the winter months, when these impressive creatures arrive from the Atlantic Coast of the United States and Canada to mate in the waters of Silver Bank and Christmas Bank. Female whales that have already given birth nurse their calves, and the youngest whales learn the tough art of survival.
Boca Chica and Juan Dolio: inside Quisqueya. Perfect postcards of the Caribbean's fishing villages, these sister towns are the quintessence of a peaceful life: walk on the beach at dawn and watch the fishermen preparing their nets for the daily labor, eat outdoors in the small restaurants, explore the sandy streets—submerge yourself in the true Dominican essence!
Diente de Perro: the best golf in the Caribbean. In Casa de Campo—the island's main resort—you'll find Diente de Perro, one of the world's best 100 golf courses. Holes overlooking steep coral rock cliffs, ocean breezes, majestic vistas and magnificent facilities… what else could a golf lover ask for?