Dominican Republic Feature
Strolling Through Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial
If you believe in magic, you'll be enchanted with the Zona Colonial. Walk down Calle Las Damas, which may make you feel as if it were still 1590. The Zone is not just a medieval museum piece with cobblestone streets, but a hip, contemporary neighborhood. Tourists head to the bars and restaurants on Plaza de España, all with outdoor cafes. In-the-know travelers have their own favorites, including some landmark Dominican restaurants and the bar and fine-dining restaurant in the Hostal Nicolas de Ovando.
Whale-Watching Is Big in Samaná
To cruise alongside a school of whales and photograph their playful antics is an experience you won't soon forget. The season lasts from January to March, when the humpbacks delight in the warm waters of the Bahía de Samaná, their breeding ground for centuries. By the end of January, as many as 4,000 whales are courting and cavorting in the Bay of Samaná.
Beaching It in Punta Cana
Punta Cana is justifiably famous for its beautiful beaches, which ring the easternmost cape over the course of 35 unbroken miles of sand, from Playa Uvero Alto in the north all the way to Playa Juanillo in the south, now a resort area with the luxurious Cap Cana development. The beaches are sandy, white, and beautiful, and some of them are still unspoiled.
White-Water Rafting Is an Adrenaline Rush
For travelers with a bigger taste for adventure, the Dominican Republic's adventure-sport center is Jarabacoa, in the so-called Dominican Alps. From here several companies offer white-water rafting trips on the Rio Yaque del Norte's Class II rapids, a trip that will take you through wild canyons, past soaring waterfalls, and on to Class III rapids.
Playing Golf on an Illustrious Course
Golfers have long been drawn to the acclaimed courses at Casa de Campo in La Romana, but there are many other notable courses, including Playa Dorada's on the North Coast; Punta Cana's many great greens, such as the Roco Ki, La Cana, and Punta Espada at Cap Cana; and the Guavaberry and Los Marlins courses in Juan Dolio. More new courses are in development all over the Dominican Republic, including Las Iguanas, a Cap Cana course designed by Jack Nicklaus.
Snorkeling off Isla Saona
This beautiful national park off the island's Southeast Coast has beautiful beaches and is surrounded by crystal-clear, aquamarine waters that teem with sea life, particularly starfish. A day here is an extremely popular excursion for travelers in La Romana and Bayahibe, and even for visitors from as far away as Punta Cana.
Renting a Beachfront Villa
A superb option for family reunions, destination weddings, golf forays, corporate retreats, and other reunions, the Dominican Republic's beautiful villas will get you out of the all-inclusive throngs. Some of these are fully staffed with chef, butler, maids, and more. And you can have a luxurious vacation on the Dominican Republic's north shore for less than the cost of a comparable villa on most other Caribbean islands.
Kite- and Windsurfing Are Great Highs
Strong, steady winds and a clean shoreline have made Cabarete—especially Kite Beach—the North Coast's center for windsurfing, putting it on the map for sporty travelers with an adventurous spirit (and excellent upper-body strength). But now the more exciting sport of kite surfing (and kiteboarding) is overshadowing the original, helping fliers go even higher.
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