10 Activities That Will Make You Fall in Love With The Dominican Republic

Jessica O’Neill falls in love with the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a tropical island paradise that truly has something to offer every type of traveller. While it is one of my favourite places to seek sunshine and laze around on the beach, it is also the perfect vacation destination for culture vultures, foodies, extreme sports junkies, beach bums and luxury seekers. No matter what value in a vacation, the DR is for you. Here are the top ten activities that you can enjoy in the Dominican Republic – I know I did!

1. Explore the history of Santo Domingo

When I visited the Dominican Republic I was shocked to find out that its capital, Santo Domingo, is the the oldest colonial city in the Americas. Strolling down cobblestoned streets, touring 16th century stone cathedrals and experiencing the vibrant street life – it’s worth spending at least a day exploring this historic city.

2. Sample the cuisine

One of my biggest pleasures when travelling is trying the local cuisine, and the DR has a lot to offer any foodie. From tropical fruit, achingly fresh seafood and a whole host of local delicacies, the food here is delicious and affordable. I especially loved the tostones (crushed plantain patties) and sancocho (flavourful meat and vegetable stew). Perfect with some local beers!

3. Unleash your inner daredevil with extreme sports

Ziplining through the jungle canopy, riding a dune buggy on a sandy beach, spelunking through subterranean caves, kiteboarding on the high seas –these extreme sports are not for the faint hearted. If you have a need for speed and adventure, the Dominican Republic is the place for you. I took a surfing lesson at Punta Cana’s Macao Beach, and while it was hard work, it was a thrilling day to remember (even though I spent more time in the water than on my board!).

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4. Get into the water – diving, swimming, and snorkelling

The crystal clear, ultramarine waters of the Caribbean beckon to anyone who loves taking a dip, and the Dominican boasts some of the finest coral reefs in this part of the world. Whether you love to snorkel, scuba dive or just spend your days bobbing in the sea, the DR’s coastline will exceed your expectations.

5. Spa treatments fit for a queen (or king)

Fancy a bit of pampering? The Dominican Republic is known for beautiful resorts operated by some of the best names in international hospitality – and these sprawling hotel complexes are home to some truly spectacular spas. Deep tissue massages, facials, body scrubs, and botanical treatments for your mind and body – allow yourself to relax and melt into the experience.

6. Safari tours into the countryside and jungle

The Dominican Republic is home to a dense blanket of lush tropical rainforest, and getting deep into the thick of it is one of the most interesting excursions you can do during your visit. Jeep based safari tours will take you off the beaten track and through the jungle, into small villages and to unexplored beaches.

7. Go to see a baseball game

Many of the great MLB baseball players over the past decades have been from the DR, and the entire country is wild for the ol’ ballgame. Games are played all over the country – this is a must for sport lovers.

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8. Spend time on pristine beaches

Is there anything more luxuriating, more relaxing, more decadent than spending the entire day on a stunning white sand beach, sipping fruity cocktails and occasionally dipping your toes in the crystal clear water? If there is, I don’t want to know about it; it is probably illegal.

9. Engage in cultural tourism and homestays

When I was in the DR, I really wish I had done more cultural tourism – visiting small villages and even arranging to stay with a local family. In my experience elsewhere in the world, this is often the best way to truly get to know more about a culture and learn about the things that truly make it unique (and its universalities).

10. Rum and/or coffee tasting

Did someone say rum? The DR has a long history of producing – and drinking – this delicious spirit (derived from sugarcane or molasses), and having a wee tipple during your visit is a right of passage. Don’t fancy alcoholic drinks? Dominican coffee is similarly spectacular, as the country has a coffee tradition that stretches back over two centuries. Whether you choose rum, coffee (or both), you’re sure to appreciate the DR’s signature drinks.

Is this list missing any of your favourite Dominican Republic activities? Please leave your suggestions, tips and memories in the comment section below.